After a ton of research and having broken my ThinkPad (RIP; served me near 4 years) I 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 20% Off.

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 easy to open up to upgrade the RAM, repaste, and add a thermal pad.

Display

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

[Also, Dell tech support said to contact Dell eBay support, who said to contact Dell tech support. Shows once again how much in isolation each department operates within Dell. Glad I opted for the ProSupport option!]

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:

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Class{4d36e968-e325-11ce-bfc1-08002be10318}\0000]

“FeatureTestControl”=dword:00009240

Replace 9240 with 9250 and reboot

…or in my case replace c200 with cff0

Thanks to https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/4p87qq/adaptive_contrast_fix_finally_sp3/ (the nv_gpu_pro_surface tool did not work for me, like it did on the SB)

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 good keyboard which does work. For mine I’d just wish the Enter key in particular would be as ‘clicky’ as the Space bar.

That said, after a month of usage I think it I can adjust to this keyboard.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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

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.)

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

Killer networks… more like Killer notworks :>

When the Wi-Fi stops working, not even http://192.168.1.1 will load (Server not found?!). Reconnecting to the Wi-Fi network immediately fixes it, but this is annoying. This sometimes happens twice within an hour :/

Replacement Intel 9260 costs $15. Or apparently Dell tech support can send you some Intel 8260 replacement too. Easy fix, but what a waste of human effort, resources, manufacturing and R&D for a defective product to have been mass produced and shipped??

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.

The best way to fix this I’ve found is to manually force install the classic “Realtek High Definition Audio” device driver and then disable/purge Waves Maxxaudio as much as possible.

In case you still want some form of audio processing, google “APO Driver” - but it won’t help much given that the actual speakers are not very great.

(https://github.com/kevinshroff/KSMRD-Modded-Realtek-Audio-Drivers/releases also seemed to help as an alternate fix)

https://twitter.com/AzorFrank/status/1069689106895122432 says that Dell are working on a BIOS fix.

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 good powerful laptop with shortcomings and minor nigling issues. 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 someone else? I will only if they need the 45W CPU and dGPU, else there are cheaper and frankly less problemative options out there with quad-core 15W CPUs. And nothing beats a good desktop computer build.

My next option was to get the ThinkPad X1 Extreme (either new, or refurbed from graysonline when it does get listed and then adding on post-sales warranty from Lenovo) but that has its own issues too.

Don’t they all?