Artist First Impression: Dell XPS vs Precision Workstation Laptop

Dell Singapore has sent me another laptop for review and it's the XPS 15.

This came at a good time because I plan on using it for intensive video editing at the Urban Sketchers Symposium at the end of this month. I'll be putting out 1080P videos daily while I'm there. I'm not going to be shooting 4K videos because I want to save time from having to export time-consuimg 4K videos, and they will also take too long to upload. By the time I'm back in mid August, I will be able to write a detailed review from the perspective of one who uses this for photo and video editing, graphic design and I'll test it with some 3D software too.

When I reviewed the Dell Precision 5000 series (5510) a few months ago, someone had mistaken it for an XPS laptop. It's not surprising because they look almost identical. Even the specifications are quite similar.

This article looks at some of the differences between the XPS and Precision laptops. I'm comparing the XPS 15 (9550) and Precision 15 (5510) that were released in late 2015. These are ones running on the 6th Generation Intel Core.

Let's take a look at the table for an easy comparison first.

Model XPS Precision
Processor i5-6300HQ (Quad 2.3Ghz), i7-6700HQ (Quad 2.6Ghz) i5-6300HQ (Quad 2.3Ghz), i5-6440HQ (Quad 2.60GHz), i7-6820HQ (Quad 2.70GHz), Xeon E3-1505M v5 (Quad 2.80GHz)
RAM Up to 32GB DDR4-2133MHz Up to 32GB DDR4-2133MHz
Storage Up to 512GB SSD Two storage slots, one for M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and a 2.5-inch SSD
Video card NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5 NVIDIA Quadro M1000M with 2GB GDDR5 dedicated memory,
Intel® Pro Graphics 530 & P530
Screen 1080P Anti glare or glossy 4K 1080P Anti glare or glossy 4K
Battery 54 or 84Whr battery 54 or 84Whr battery
Battery life Depends on screen resolution and tasks ~ 5-8 hours Depends on screen resolution and tasks ~ 5-8 hours
Ports 2 USB 3, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type C), SD card reader, headphone 2 USB 3, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type C), SD card reader, headphone
Weight 1.78 - 2kg 1.78 - 2kg

Customization options

Even though it's not clear from the table, the Dell Precision is much more configurable.

On Dell's website, you can only choose from the pre-configured XPS models. What you can change are things like service and software, e.g. warranty, Windows OS.

RAM: It does not seem that you can configure the XPS up to 32GB of RAM, although if you want to, the RAM are user serviceable.

Storage: Both XPS and Precision have two slots for storage which allows you to put in a M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and a 2.5-inch SSD. However, for XPS, you can only choose from the pre-configured models. For the Dell Precision, you can configure up to a total of 2TB SSD storage with 2 SSD. I've read on Dell's forum that people are having difficulty adding storage so it's best to get yours configured by Dell rather than adding one later on.

Graphics card: Precision uses the NVIDIA Quadro M1000M with 2GB GDDR5 and Intel® Pro Graphics 530 & P530, vs the XPS' NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5.

According to, the GTX 960M scores a 1,771 while the M1000M scores 1,637. The performance difference is not significant.

According to

The Quadro series offers certified drivers that are optimized for stability and performance in professional applications like CAD or DCC. OpenGL performance, for example, should be significantly better compared to GeForce graphics cards of similar specifications.

Ultimately, it will come down to the type of software you are using. For example, Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC and Lightroom CC use some form of GPU acceleration from the Quadro graphics card.

You can check out the specifications of the GTX 960M and Quadro M1000M at here and here.

Processor: There are the Intel i5, i7 and Xeon processors. You get a range from Quad 2.3Ghz to the Xeon Quad 2.8Ghz. Performance difference is not significant between processors of clock speeds that are close. Xeon processors are just slightly faster. If you want to read more about the Xeon vs i7, visit here.

Where you can buy it?

XPS laptops can be easily purchased from Dell's website.

As for Precision laptops, it depends on which country you're buying from. For example in Singapore, to buy a Precision, you have to contact Dell to ask. You can't just add a Precision to cart and check out. You can do that on Dell USA's website though.


To summarize, with the exception of the graphics card, you can configure a Precision to match the specifications of an XPS but you can't do it the other way round with the XPS. The Precision can be configured to a much higher specification, such as to a Xeon processor. The highest spec XPS runs a 4K monitor which may not be the resolution you want to work with -- you can't get a 1080P screen with top specs with the XPS.

If I were to buy a laptop today, I would go for the Precision. I want a matte 1080P screen with top specs and it's not available in any pre-configured XPS. I choose a 1080P screen because I don't want to spend unnecessary money to upgrade old Adobe software that are still working so well.

So it all comes down to how configurable the Precision is.

Come back again in a few weeks time for the full review.


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