The new XPS 15 7590 makes a case for itself by sporting an optional OLED panel, Intel’s latest 9th generation 6 and 8-core CPUs, Nvidia’s GTX 1650 GPU, and, finally, an above-display webcam. As I wrote in an earlier editorial, however, whether or not to give the 4th revision of the XPS 15 a chance might be a tough call if you’ve been previously burned by the line’s many issues in the past.As the XPS 15 has already been reviewed many times previously, we direct you to previous coverage (XPS 15 9550, XPS 15 9560, XPS 15 9570 and long-term review) for more detailed information about the chassis, keyboard, trackpad, ports, and audio, as these have not changed since 2015. This live review will thus mostly focus on the new UHD OLED display, sustained performance under CPU, GPU, and mixed loads, and general stability to help you determine if the likely final revision of the XPS 15 using this chassis is worth your hard-earned money.

This is a live review, meaning that I will be updating the article with fresh data as each section is completed. See log below.

Update Log:

  • 19/07/2019 – Review goes live with initial impressions, specifications, screen, latency, input, and basic performance
  • 20/07/2019 – Detailed performance & temperature scheduled

Specs as reviewed

Screen 15.6” 3840 x 2160 (UHD), glossy, OLED, non-touch, DCI-P3, 400-Nits panel
Processor Intel Core i7-9750H 2.6-4.5GHz, 6/12 Cores/Theads, 12 MB SmartCache
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 (4GB GDDR5)
Memory 16GB DDR4-2666 (2x8GB Dual Channel config)
Storage Toshiba m.2 NVMe 256GB SSD
Connectivity Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650x (802.11ac, 2×2), Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 1x Thunderbolt 3 (x4 3.0 PCIe), 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, 3.5 mm audio, SD card reader
Battery 6-cell (97Wh)
Operating system Windows 10 Home
Size (H) 357 x (W) 235 x (D) 17 mm
Weight 2 kg / 4.4 lbs (with 97WHr battery)

Design

Other than the webcam’s position above the screen, the XPS 15 7590’s chassis is unchanged from its predecessors. We suggest you read our reviews of the 9550 and 9560 for more detailed information on the look and feel of this series of notebooks.

Unfortunately, there is still only one colour available for the XPS 15, as well. There is a special “Titan Grey” finish available for lid of the Precision 5540 (which uses the same chassis), so it would have been nice to see that option for the XPS 15 7590 to help spruce up the 4-year-old design and appearance of the 7590.

Keyboard, Trackpad, and Fingerprint Sensor

Coming from my ThinkPad P1, which has one of the best keyboards you can find on a modern notebook, the switch to the XPS 15’s keyboard is a noticeable one ― but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad. The keyboard on the 7590 is unchanged from previous generations, and thus it’s the same shallow-but-crisp 1.3mm stroke and feedback.

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In the past, I have found some XPS 15 keyboards to be a bit more “mushy” in feel while others seemed a bit more sturdy (this is likely because of different keyboards from different suppliers in the manufacturing supply chain), but I would rate the keyboard on my unit to be on the firmer side of this spectrum: The keys are fairly stable and depress without wobble, though the feel cannot be compared to the stability and smooth action of a good ThinkPad keyboard.

By my estimation, the weakest aspect of the XPS 15’s keyboard is its shallow throw. You (or more accurately, your fingers) will notice the abrupt bottoming-out as you type. It isn’t exactly uncomfortable, but you won’t forget that there are better keyboards out there. On a positive note, however, there seems to be no issue with rapid adjacent keystrokes (“download” coming out as “downloda”) not being detected, as frequently happens with the ThinkPad X, P, and T-series. I am able to type between 90-110 WPM without any issues in key-detection, which is something I am happy to experience coming from the P1.

The XPS 15’s touchpad is the same Windows Precision glass pad as before, with full support for a number of settings including 1/2-finger tapping, 2-finger scroll and zoom, and 3 and 4-finger Windows gestures. My only gripe with the touchpad is that there is still no more setting in Windows to enable or disable palmcheck, with this setting instead tied in with the “sensitivity” option (highest sensitivity decreases the palm rejection and the keyboard typing delay after using the trackpad, and vice versa). This means that you will frequently either suffer from accidental clicks while typing, be forced to wait for a few split seconds to type after moving the cursor, or have to disable tap-to-click. I ended up disabling both tap-to-click options to avoid frequent annoyances while typing, which is not ideal.

The fingerprint sensor is the same Goodix sensor integrated into the power button as the 9570. The sensor works extremely quickly and accurately, reading prints successfully in ~0.2 seconds. This is a welcome change from the non-integrated fingerprint sensor on my ThinkPad, which is more secure but is frustratingly only able to read my prints around ~10% of the time.

Screen

A major point in focus of this review of the 7590 is its Samsung OLED panel, which is rated at 400-nits brightness and should cover the DCI-P3 gamut. As an interesting side note, DCI-P3 is the standard gamut for film per the major production companies, and as mobile computers like notebooks, smartphones, and tablets are used more and more for media consumption, manufacturers are pushing DCI-P3 displays more frequently. The FHD matte non-touch and UHD glossy touch IGZO IPS panels also available on the 7590 are rated at 500 nits brightness (100 more than last year) each, but otherwise should have the same operating specifications.

OLED displays are known for their excellent contrast ratios, and this panel is no exception.

Let’s get into the display then. In the past, I have found issues with backlight bleeding, uncentered panels, and uneven brightness on the FHD and UHD screens in the XPS 15 series. Because of the way the technology works, OLED displays don’t suffer from backlight bleeding, but other defects are certainly possible. Luckily, this unit has a centered panel and no issue with uneven brightness.

Even the best IPS panels show a little bit of backlight bleed or glow, but OLED skirts these limitations by the pixels being individually lit.

However, there is a (relatively) small issue with this OLED panel that seems to be reported by most users as well, and that is a slight graininess or “banding” when displaying certain colors such as lighter shades of grey. The issue seems to be most prominent when displaying the light shade of grey shown below. This is the only OLED laptop I have had a chance to test so far, so it is a bit early to tell whether the problem gets better over the panel’s lifespan or if this is not an issue generalized to all units. I have read online that OLED panels achieve better uniformity after 200 hours or so of use, but consider this unconfirmed for now.

There are some lighting/compression artifacts in this picture, but most of what appears to be dithering is actually banding artifacts from the OLED panel.

Hardware, performance and upgradeability

CPU benchmarks

  Cinebench R15 Single
Cinebench R15 Multi
Cinebench R15 10-Loop Average
XPS 15 9560 (i7-7700HQ) 157 735 680
XPS 15 9570 (i7-8750H) 173 1117  1128
XPS 15 7590 (i7-9750H) 176 1088 991
XPS 15 7590 (i7-9750H) w/ undervolt

As we can see by the table above, the XPS 15 7590 unit I have seems to perform worse in Cinebench R15 multi than the 9570. By examining the data from HWiNFO charted below, we can see clear temperature spikes up to 99C followed by a corresponding drop in CPU frequency as the system thermally throttles to MacBook-like clocks (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Temperatures and clocks during Cinebench R15 Multi 10-loop test via HWiNFO.

<more testing to be conducted with repasting and undervolting>

GPU benchmarks

This year’s XPS 15 utilizes Nvidia’s new GTX 1650 mobile GPU. Though it lacks the raytracing cores of the RTX-series, it should be a competent card and a solid upgrade over last year’s GTX 1050 and 1050Ti.

  Fire Strike (standard)
Fire Strike (Graphics)
Unigine Heaven 4.0 (basic)
XPS 15 9560 (i7/GTX 1050) 5597 6400 2875
XPS 15 9570 (i7/GTX 1050Ti Max-Q) 6875  7584 3066
XPS 15 7590 (i7/GTX 1650) 7597 9098
XPS 15 7590 (i7/GTX 1650) w/ undervolt

Running a Firestrike Stress Test of 10 loops yields a disappointing score of 60.7%.

While the Fire Strike test showed a solid score that champed the GTX 1050Ti Max-Q, running the stress test reveals something seriously wrong with the 7590’s ability to sustain GPU performance. HWiNFO charts reveal a frequent dropping of the GPU to a core clock of only 300 MHz that likely contributes to this poor score.
<more testing to be done>

Latencymon

Latency issues have plagued the XPS 15 line for years, but Dell has made a number of recent attempts to bring the problem under control so the 9570 and 7590 can be made suitable for real-time audio processing. Unfortunately, my testing so far has not yielded positive results.

It had been suggested to disable the dedicated GPU, which I tried next.

Disabling the dedicated GPU in device manager did not seem to help.

I will be running more tests with different CPU settings over the next few days.

SSD

The bundled Toshiba SSD puts up quite respectable performance, especially compared to the rather shoddy roughly 260 MB/s read and write speeds of the Lite-On SSD that came in my XPS 15 9570 last year. As usual with SSDs, the higher capacity the faster the performance should be.

The 256 GB Toshiba SSD in my unit provides fairly strong performance despite its smaller capacity.

In the past, Dell has shipped XPS 15s with Lite-on, Samsung, and Toshiba SSDs, with Samsung SSDs generally being the most performant. Unfortunately, which SSD and what performance you’ll get is just luck of the draw.

Upgradability

Unscrew the 10 T5 and 2 Phillips screws and you will have access to all that can be upgraded in the XPS 15 9570. Everything that was true for the 9550, 9560, and 9570 is still true here. The internals contain an NVMe PCIe SSD slot (m.2 2280), 2 SO-DIMM slots, an m.2 NGFF slot for Wi-Fi, and, if you have the 57WHr battery, a SATA III bay for 2.5″ storage. Compared to many ultrabooks, the XPS 15 has fairly good expansion. However, to compete against contemporaries like the X1 Extreme, it would be nice to see a second NVMe PCIe SSD slot.

Emissions (noise, heat) and speakers

Battery life

Roughly 7-8 hours so far using mostly dark-themed apps as well as WordPress. Batterybar Pro measures roughly 1W more power consumption on average looking at a light webpage vs a dark one, but I will be running more tests on it.

Price and availability

Bugs

Fn + F7 (unobtrusive mode) seems to crash the OLED panel and require a restart to fix it.

Final thoughts

 



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