Dell XPS 9550 vs 9560 i7 Laptop Comparison and Review

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Dell XPS 9550 vs 9560

The Dell XPS 15 is the larger version of the Dell XPS 13. Set them side by side and you can see that Dell didn’t want to mess with a good thing (there’s little variation between the two other than size and hardware). While the XPS 15 might cost a pretty penny, it’s also one of the best laptops on the market. But the introduction of the refreshed XPS 15 9560, refined to include a Kaby Lake processor and NVIDIA GTX 1050 GPU makes you wonder what the differences are between the Dell XPS 9550 vs 9560. Should you upgrade?

Dell XPS 9550 vs Dell XPS 9560 Comparison Table

For an interesting matchup, we compare the Dell XPS 9550 against the newer 9560 with similar key configuration options to be compared across multiple categories. Here’s how they stack up:

 Dell XPS 15 9550Dell XPS 15 9560
Display15.6-inch
• 1080p non-touch
• 4K touch screen
15.6-inch
• 1080p non-touch
• 4K touch screen
CPUIntel Core i7-6700HQ (6M Cache, up to 3.5GHz)Intel Core i7-7700HQ (6M Cache, up to 3.8GHz)
RAM8 and 16GB DDR4 @ 2133Hz8, 16 and 32GB DDR4 @ 2400MHz
Storage• 500GB MHD + 32GB SSD
• 1TB MHD + 32GB SSD
• 256GB and 1TB PCIe SSD
• 500GB MHD + 32GB SSD
• 1TB MHD + 32GB SSD
• 256, 512GB and 1TB PCIe SSD
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 530 or NVIDIA GTX 960M w/ 2GB GDDR5Intel HD Graphics 630 or NVIDIA GTX 1050 w/ 4GB GDDR5
Ports• HDMI
• USB 3.0 (x2) w/ PowerShare
• Headset jack
• SD card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
• Kensington Lock slot
• USB Type-C
• Thunderbolt 3
• HDMI
• USB 3.0 (x2) w/ PowerShare
• Headset Jack
• SD card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
• Kensington Lock slot
• USB Type-C
• Thunderbolt 3
Battery Life56 to 84Whr56 to 97Whr
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Dell XPS 9550 vs Dell XPS 9560 Comparison

Yes, it’s pricey but it’s worth it when you consider that what you’re getting is a powerhouse of a Dell laptop with top-notch features, a great build quality and excellent performance thanks to powerful hardware.

As you can see from the table above, the XPS 15 9550 and 9560 are relatively similar. But there are some big changes just under the skin that make the newer model even faster than the previous version, which we consider in this detailed review.

CPU

A key feature is that all the processors for the 9560 generation are from Intel’s 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake series. They come in the Dual-Core Core i3, or the higher-end Quad-Core i5 and Quad-Core i7 variants.

And it’s these Intel quad-core processors in the XPS 15 lineup that sets it apart from competitors like the Spectre x360 15, which only have dual-core CPUs.

But while there’s a huge difference in performance between a 15-watt dual-core CPU and a 45-watt quad-core CPU, you may not need the power of quad-core.

A quad-core processor is better suited for activities like gaming and creative work like video editing, architecture and crunching a lot of data. But casual use can go very far with just a dual-core Core i7.

While the 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor isn’t a huge upgrade over the 6th-generation Skylake CPU, it does give the XPS 15 9560 a bump in performance, power, efficiency and a more powerful integrated graphics card.

Kaby Lake processors can also handle 4K video much more efficiently than Skylake. So, if you want an XPS 15 with a 4K display, go for the 9560. It’s also an obvious choice if you want to do some light gaming thanks to its upgraded Intel Graphics HD 630, without having to spend a lot more money on a version with a full NVIDIA GTX GPU.

The newer XPS 15 9560 with a Core i7 is easily one of the most powerful non-gaming laptops on the market.

Graphics

Another big change to the technical specifications of the XPS 15 9560 from the 9550 is that Dell also upgraded the graphics processor. It introduces the Pascal based NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB of GDDR5 vRAM to the lineup, which is a big jump and a significant improvement over the 9550’s NVIDIA GTX 960M with 2GB of video memory.

In CUDA testing, which is NVIDIA’s technology that uses CPU and GPU together for intensive tasks like video encoding. The GTX 1050 fits between the GTX 980 (once the top mobile gaming GPU) and the GTX965M found in laptops like the Microsoft Surface Book. It puts the 1050 ahead of the GTX 960M its replacing.

When it comes to casual gaming, now you’ll be able to play pretty much any game you want with high settings. Meaning, that again, if you want to play games with your XPS, you definitely want to grab the newer XPS 15 9560.

But the XPS 15 9550 with the NVIDIA GTX 960 is still an attractive option if you’d like to use it for gaming. With 16GB of RAM, a fast SSD and a quad-core Corei7 CPU, you could even play high-end games with great framerates.

RAM

Other notable changes include memory. If you want more than 16GB of RAM, you’ll have to step up to the XPS 15 9560. You can get one that comes with up to 32GB of DDR4 at 2400MHz. Whereas the RAM in last year’s XPS 9550 is only clocked up to 2133MHz.

Battery Life

The XPS 15 series has always had a great battery life.

Still it’s refreshing to see Dell stick a bigger battery (up from 84WHr to 97WHr) into the higher-end version of the new 9560 model. There are two cell types for the XPS 15 depending on the configuration:

Lower end SKUs make do with a 56WHr battery, which is small enough to leave room for the physical hard disk drive and accompanying SSD. The higher-end XPS 15 uses a straight SSD, and with that reclaimed extra space, there’s room for a larger battery (if the battery were much larger, you’d have to check in your laptop on commercial flights).

There are two determining factors regarding battery life. One is whether the XPS 15 in question has a full HD or 4K touch screen. The other is whether the laptop is working with integrated or dedicated graphics.

Regular usage of the full HD version yields a nine-to-ten-hour runtime. Whereas the 4K version shaves about three hours off that number. Considering that these numbers are based on an XPS 15 9560 packing a quad-core Core i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM, those are very excellent results.

Also helping the upgraded 9560 achieve better runtimes is the fact that Kaby Lake processors are also a bit easier on the on-board battery than Skylake processors. And the battery is user replaceable should it ever wear out, which is a huge bonus.

Security

Windows Hello is a useful security feature that lets you sign into your laptop with bio-authentication instead of a password. The new XPS 15 9560 has the compatible hardware for an optional fingerprint reader, allowing for fast, secure logins which was a sorely missed opportunity with the 9550 model.

Made by Synaptics, it’s quite fast. But we wish it had an LED light or even some sort of bezel so that you can blindly feel for it in the dark.

Storage

Finally, turning to storage, Dell put in a new Samsung PM961 SSD into the new XPS 15 9560, which is a bump from the 9550’s PM951.

The new SSD is excellent. The 1,628 MB/s write speed is perfect for outputting video or transferring large files. That means read times are also 500 MB/s faster, as well as 3x faster for writing, resulting in performance that’s just behind the Razer Blade Pro (and that’s a gaming laptop that uses two SSDs in a RAID zero configuration).

Design and Build Quality

Above are the most major upgrades.

Like the XPS 13-line, Dell plays it safe with the XPS 15 laptops. Since the design and Infinity Edge display are already high quality and work so well for the manufacturer, there’s really no need to change things.

As such, the XPS 15 9560 has the same build as the 9550 model. It’s composed of a machined aluminum chassis with an aluminum lid and a combo of a carbon fiber deck and soft-touch paint on the inside. When closed, you get a beautiful hard-shell on the outside. Open the lid and inside is a soft, plush environment for your interaction.

And it’s not just about the plush interior for (which simply makes typing a joy), but the carbon fiber helps keep overall weight down, significantly.

But working against that effort is the new battery which give the 9550 a slight increase in weight up to 4.32 pounds from the previous model’s 4.29 pounds.

Then, if you decide to go with the 4K touch-panel version, the weight goes up to 4.4 pounds. But within context, that’s still a respectable number considering that competitors like the HP Spectre x360 15 is just over 4.4 pounds, while lacking the power of the XPS 15 9560. And it has a smaller battery!

Bottom line, the build of the XPS 15 remains rock solid even into the 9560 generation, providing a unique experience among competitors.

Display

The panel options for the 9560 are also the same as the 9550 with both screen types at the top of their game. As with the older XPS 15 9550, the updated 9560 lets you choose between a full HD resolution, or a jaw-dropping 4K (3840×2160) affair.

Supplied by Sharp, the ultra HD 4K version of the IGZO display is still remarkable and one of the best 4K panels on the market without exception. It’s brilliant with a very high color gamut, covering about a 97% minimum Adobe RGB spectrum with excellent contrast.

It even comes with Dell’s Color Premier app which lets you switch between Vivid and sRGB presets. Or you can customize it for your professional needs, which is especially useful if you’re a graphics professional, working in video or photography.

Opting for the full HD (1920×1080) matte screen means you can get an XPS 15 for much less than the 4K version. The FHD screen has a non-touch matte coating that offers a significantly different experience – you’ll find this anti-glare feature to be an important boon, especially if you read and write a lot on your laptop like us.

You can recalibrate or make adjustments using the Intel Graphics Settings located in the taskbar area. Not only that, but the Full HD choice gives you two to three more hours of battery life over the 4K option.

But gaming performance is impacted by the UHD screen for either generation (even with game settings at 1080p). This isn’t Dell’s Alienware, the XPS 15 simply doesn’t have the power to push pixels at 4K.

Even the Full HD versions suffers from higher-than-average ghosting due to low refresh rates. While that doesn’t matter for productivity tasks, it makes certain games slightly less enjoyable.

Audio Quality

Dell still puts two speakers on the bottom front edge of the laptop, a design feature that finds its way into the 9560 model. This gives the speakers the clearance they need to produce clearer sound. And if we may be so bold, it’s a better setup than you’ll find on most laptops with down firing speakers that end up sounding muffled.

Due to the laptop’s size, the XPS 15 can get resonance for bass. This keeps the speakers from sounding tinny like you’ll find on many ultrabooks, adding to a fuller sound.

Overall, audio is very good and there’s the included Waves MaxxAudio Pro software for fine tuning your jams. While there aren’t any presets, you do get a full equalizer, which is more useful. While the speakers are loud enough and sound okay, there’s nothing new for here for 9560 upgrade.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The backlit keyboard and touchpad remain solid performers with the updated version. You get the same plastic keys adorning the deck as with the XPS 15 9550, with the same shallow amount of travel.

The keyboard on a Lenovo laptop will almost always serve as the benchmark for what the typing experience should feel like on any laptop. As such, the HP Spectre line delivers a better typing experience than the XPS 15 laptops.

While the typing experience on both the new and old laptop are satisfactory. By comparison, the HP Spectre x360 15 has a deeper key travel with metal keys that offer a significantly better typing experience. However, the keys on the XPS 15 9560 are backlit. And like the windshield wipers on a BMW, they turn on automatically depending on the environment.

The backlight not only brightens the letters, but also the surrounding keys. You can select from two levels of brightness using the Function key. And since the keys are black and the backlight is white, there’s a good amount of contrast.

Lackluster as the keyboard may be, Dell redeems itself by providing both XPS 15s with a massive touchpad. The Microsoft Precision Touchpad relies on Microsoft’s drivers and settings for performance and that’s what Dell chose for the 9550 version. It has a very smooth glass textures, providing a very accurate and satisfactory experience. And you get all the Windows 10 gestures right out of the box.

The Synaptics touchpad is a rung down, and that’s the direction Dell went for the 9560. Though performance still manages to be nothing short of fantastic, the one on 9550 is better. That’s a massive, backhanded compliment for the XPS 15 9560.

Connectivity

Most laptops come with a wireless card that can transmit and receive two spatial streams at once. When used with the 802.11ac protocol, they have a maximum connection speed of 866 Mbps.

Dell uses the Killer Wireless cards in many of its high-end PC laptops like Alienware and the XPS line. They’re mostly well-known in the gaming world, but they have mixed reviews. For the upgraded 9560, Dell uses the Killer AC-1535 card, which supports the MU-MIMO (Multi-user Multiple-input and Multiple-output) protocol for newer routers.

It’s a 2×2 design with additional support for 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and two spatial streams. The max wireless throughput is an impressive 867 Mbps.

Regular Internet surfing, email, Zoom calls and video streaming appears to be just fine. It connects quickly and throughput seems stable. But when performance is maxed out, the driver can crash the laptop’s Wi-Fi.

The older 9550 uses a Broadcom 3×3 card, which means it can work with a third spatial stream for 50 percent more available bandwidth for a maximum connection speed of 1.3 Gbps. But wireless rarely gets those maximum transmission speeds. The problem is that the 3×3 is only slightly better than Broadcom’s 2×2 card, with a maximum speed of only 652 Mbps.

But what really tarnished the Broadcom 3×3’s reputation was its absolutely horrible real-world performance and the fact that it was notorious for dropping signals. That’s until Dell updated the Wi-Fi drivers.

Upgradability

A great thing about the XPS line is that Dell lets you swap out a few components to make their system your own. You can make it as powerful as you want if you like to do your own hardware upgrades. But like the XPS 15 9550, the 9560 still won’t let you change things like the CPU or GPU.

However, you can upgrade the SSD to a faster larger one down the road. You can also pull out that Killer Wi-Fi card in place of whatever you want. You can max out the two DIMM slots up to 32GB and 2400MHz.

If you purchased a cheaper, lower model of the 9550, for instance, you could swap out the mechanical hard drive with an SSD. You can even replace the battery!

Dells like Hondas are rather easy to work on, even for beginners. All you need to do is simply remove the 12 screws on the bottom to gain access to the internals.

And while it is admittedly tricky, you can even swap out the display for a 4K or FHD version if it cracks and breaks, or you just fancy an up or downgrade.

Cooling System

Due to the size of both XPS 15s, they’re able to stay quite cool, even under load. The dual fans are audible but only when pushing the CPU and GPU to the max for hours. Even then, you only get more of an aggressive whisper rather than anything annoying.

But during normal operation, you hardly hear the XPS 15 thanks in part to the efficiency of the Skylake and Kaby Lake processors.

Software Support

Dell is quite exceptional with support for new drivers and BIOS for its XPS line. On average you’ll receive a new BIOS update every six weeks or so even without outstanding issues.

As a result, battery life improves over time, and you get many fixes for things related to Sleep/Hibernate issues that some users had and improvements for Dell’s dock system.

Drivers even get the same attention as nearly every month there are updates for the Thunderbolt 3 Type C hardware, audio, display and various Intel components.

You can use the built-in Dell Update. But more often using Dell’s website and automated checking tool tends to find more updates.

Configuration Options

One of the most impressive features of the XPS 15 lineup since the introduction of the 9550 generation is the sheer number of variants on offer.

Instead of just one out-of-reach-top-tier-device, the entry-level price has dropped down a peg. While it’s arguably still on the high-end, it’s important to remember that this is a premium 15-inch laptop with punch.

Overall, there’s not much to complain about when it comes to hardware options. Even on a base model 9550 generation for example you still get an Intel Skylake Core i3 6100H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB MHD supported by a 32GB SSD and a full HD non-touch matte display.

Going the other extreme, the top tier XPS 15 9550 gets you a Quad-Core i7 6700HQ processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD and a 4K touch display.

Basically, there’s an XPS 15 for you (assuming you have the cash). But as expected there are tradeoffs with different configurations.

For example, the lower-end XPS 15s have smaller 56WHr batteries versus the higher-end ones supported by 84WHr batteries (94Whr for 9560 generation). And of course, the models offered at a lower price have slower MHDs for the storage of apps and games. But they’re boosted by a faster 32GB SSD for the Windows 10 operating system.

The XPS 15 gives you some wiggle room for hardware upgrades without you having to take big risks to get there. This gives you the option of purchasing a lower-end version of either the 9550 or the later 9560 so that you can upgrade internals to make it a beefier machine. Just remember that parts like the CPU and GPU are not upgradable.

Similarities Between the Dell XPS 15 9550 vs 9560

Everything else including the design, materials, USB ports and even the display types on offer for both the full HD and 4K variants of the 9550 and 9560, are the same.

The touchpad and keyboard also haven’t seen any significant changes or improvements since last year’s model that affect performance. And there’s no new color options (even the HDMI port and SD card slot on the side of the keyboard are the same).

No matter which generation you choose, the XPS 15 comes in an array of configurations as the table above demonstrates. That’s why it’s one of the most powerful, yet portable 15-inch laptops you can find.

Dell XPS 15 9550 Laptop 15.6" 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) Touch, Intel i7-6700HQ 3.5GHz Quad Core 16GB RAM 256GB SSD NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M w/ 2GB GDDR5 Windows 10 (Certified Refurbished)
  • This Certified Refurbished product has been tested and certified to work and look like new, with minimal to no signs of wear, by a specialized third-party seller approved by Amazon. The product is backed by a minimum 90-day warranty, and may arrive in a generic brown or white box. Accessories may be generic and not directly from the manufacturer.
  • Intel Core i7 6700HQ WITH TURBO BOOST UP TO 3.5GHz
  • 15.6-Inch 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdgeTouch Display
  • 16GB 2133MHz DDR4, 256GB NVME SSD
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5, Bluetooth 4.1, Windows 10

Last update on 2022-05-05 at 17:01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dell XPS 15 9560 15.6in FHD InfinityEdge Display Intel Core i7-7700HQ X4 2.8GHz 8GB 256GB SSD NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Silver (Renewed)
  • This Certified Refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, a minimum 90-day warranty, and may arrive in a generic box.
  • Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8GHz; 256GB SSD; 8GB DDR4
  • 15.6" LED display; 1920 x 1080; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Graphics
  • 802.11AC; Bluetooth 4.1; Microsoft Windows 10 Home
  • Backlit Keyboard; No Optical Drive; 8 Hours Battery Life

Last update on 2022-05-05 at 17:01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of similarity within the XPS line, but the XPS 15 in any generation is probably the most powerful productivity machine around – It’s designed for users who need the most powerful professional-class PC laptop on the market today.

Since the 9530, which made the near-bezel-less Infinity Edge display a thing (beginning in late-2013). The XPS 15 has grown to be one of the most respected powerhouse laptops for professionals, students and users switching from the Apple MacBook Pro.

There’s a lot to like about Dell’s upgrade of the XPS 15 in the 9560 version. Almost everything is better or faster with meaningful upgrades from the 9550.

While there aren’t many outward changes, the 2017 refresh features, among other things, an all-new GPU, updated CPU and an optional fingerprint reader. And it’s the sum of these parts that makes the XPS 15 stand out from the crowd.