After a ton of research and having damaged my ThinkPad in several unfortunate ways (it served me a good 3.5+ years) I have finally bought myself a new laptop. I have here the XPS 15 9570, with 3 Year Onsite Warranty for good measure. TBH my expectations were lowered given my research - good thing too…

Purchased from Dell eBay Store with a 20% Off code.

General impressions

The lid and base are physically constructed well and are very solid! I can chuck this into my backpack and not worry that too much pressure will damage the screen. Unlike my old ThinkPad T450s (See https://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?p=828964#p828964).

The CPU upgrade is MASSIVE. 6-cores is way faster than the 2-core CPU that I had been living on for the past 4 years.

Weight is good. Lighter than my rMBP 2015 from work.

Servicability is good. It was quite easy to open up to upgrade the RAM and repaste.

Display

Mine had a dead pixels right out of the box, and major ghosting on the right side. A really bad first impression!

[Also, over the phone Dell tech support said to contact Dell eBay support, who replied back and told me to phone Dell tech support… Shows once again how much in isolation each department operates within Dell.]

No problems once Dell replaced the FHD display assembly with a new one. Display is now good - clear, bright, sharp.

To turn off Intel adaptive contrast, head to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Class\{4d36e968-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}\0000]

Replace the dword value for FeatureTestControl:

Original value New value
9240 9250
c200 cff0
8200 8210

Keyboard

Coming from a ThinkPad, the keyboard travel is not as pleasant on the XPS 15. (If you’re a Macbook person you’d be okay. Because I don’t appreciate the Macbook keyboard either.) It is not a ‘clicky’ as the current generation Latitude keyboards either. But hey, it’s still an okay keyboard which does work. For mine I’d just wish the Enter key in particular would be as ‘clicky’ as the Space bar.

No dedicated Page Up and Page Down keys - I find them quite handy - but the touchpad makes up for this.

I won’t be typing on this keyboard for long periods at my desk - I have a much more comfortable wireless keyboard! (Microsoft sculpt keyboard, bought for my day job).

No defects or key skipping issues on mine, yay. This was one of my negatives during pre-purchase research.

Trackpad

No complaints! Great

Sleep mode

The battery drains during sleep mode as the laptop does not use S3 mode but C0. The drain is noticable but acceptable. Sometimes the fan runs/spins up and then down during sleep mode - I can even hear it when I am sleeping! And there was one morning when the laptop went really loud in sleep mode and WOKE ME UP FROM MY SLEEP!

Setting CsEnabled to 0 in the registry causes intermittent display flickering after waking, so I’ve just left it to the defaults and living with the slight drain.

Update: Best mitigation is to set Windows to hibernate after a timeout: https://code.luasoftware.com/tutorials/windows/win10-problematic-modern-standby/

Undervolting

Mine is stable at -155.3mV. I had one rare BSOD at -160mV though it could have been unrelated.

Repasted ofc, and chucked a thermal pad somewhere near the VRMs for fun.

Noise

My unit has hardly any coil whine. Or my hearing is getting worse.

No crazy fan noise problems. Noise sounds fine to me whilst ramping up speed, and also fine at both low and high speeds.

When a USB-C dock (Dell DA300) is connected, the laptop’s fan always run, but the noise level is at low and thus acceptable to me.

I find that the laptop is noisier with the lid closed during ‘sleep’, if the USB-C dock is connected. (?)

SSD causes BSODs [Update: this fixed itself]

I bought the SATA cable for the XPS 15 because mine didn’t come with one, thinking that I’ll just chuck in my trusty 850 EVO 500GB 2.5” SSD.

Turns out that the XPS did not ‘like’ the SSD I put in. Symptoms were system-wide stuttering (system freezes of ~2 seconds) and a Driver_Power_State_Failure BSOD!

See comments in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=564N84rN6iU

Removing the SSD immediately fixed the stuttering and BSOD occurances. I was really looking forward to making use of the extra storage and empty space since my configuration only has the smaller 56Whr battery :/

(This particular issue is not well documented. Perhaps I should make some noise about this as its firmware/hardware.)

Update - this fixed itself: https://www.dell.com/community/XPS/XPS-15-9570-DRIVER-POWER-STATE-FAILURE-BSOD/td-p/7244172

Everyone says the Wi-Fi chip needs replacing. They were right.

Killer networks… more like Killer notworks :>

I initially had troubles with the Killer Wi-Fi chip. When the chip stops working, not even pinging e.g. http://192.168.1.1 will work. Reconnecting to the Wi-Fi network immediately fixes this. This sometimes happened twice within an hour.

Fix: Buy a replacement Intel 9260 which costs $15.

Update: I create a ticket in SupportAssist but they NEVER replied. Fortunately dropouts have stopped happening - maybe because I upgraded my home to UniFi APs?

Update: On the phone, I tried to ask for the Intel chip as a replacement. Tech support effectively said “Nah, go bother the Dell Spare Parts team”. Haha I won’t be wasting my time with that department again. I also talked to 5 different people until someone gave me the correct contact details for Spare Parts:

        Dell Spare Parts (ANZ)

        Consumer : partssales_anzdell@dell.com

        ANZ_Consumer_TTS@dell.com (1800 505 180)

Everyone complains about audio crackling. It is real.

The audio on this machine will sometimes CRACKLE even if just playing music from Spotify or watching YouTube. I can guarantee you that Dell’s latest drivers have this problem 100%.

Best 2019 fix: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dell/comments/asdr64/dell_xps_9570_new_realtek_high_definition_audio/

I am 90% sure that if you did these steps right, MaxxAudioPro will be completely disabled on the system. But you can use the “FX Configurator” program from the “APO Driver” (google it) package to ensure that the MaxxAudioPro APO is completely disabled.

For nerds:

Dell Mobile Connect

Run the below to get it to install from the Microsoft Store:

REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Store" /v OEMID /f /t REG_SZ /d DELL

and

REG ADD "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Store" /v StoreContentModifier /f /t REG_SZ /d "DELL_XPS"

If the mobile connect driver shows a ‘load error’ message, it may just magically start working after a few days :S

Battery life

i7/16GB/256GB/FHD/56Whr runtime is 4:48 for me (this is no ultrabook)

Conclusion

It’s a powerful laptop with some shortcomings and major/minor nigling issues, depending on how you see things. Owners can only hope that the firmware engineers at Dell solve the remaining issues.

Other than the issues above I’m happy with the unit overall. It should be a handy laptop to get things/life admin/coding done and some light graphics work (cough PP6) and actually be able to play some video games for once.

Would I recommend this laptop to you? Only if you actually read and understood this blog post and NEED a 45W CPU and dGPU.

The audio and sleep issues with this laptop is a bit backwards and silly considering that it is a 2018 product.

My next option was to get the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, however that was considerably more pricey (to me). Well, perhaps not as much as a brand-new Macbook Pro. And probably has its own issues too.

Don’t they all?