Surface Book 2 vs Dell XPS 15 (9570) in 2020

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We tested and compared the Microsoft Surface Book 2 versus the Dell XPS 15 in terms of Display Quality, Performance, Battery runtime and more. You will find the results of test below in our Ranking. Below the Ranking you will also find the in-depth tests of each Laptop (also if they are suitable for video editing).

Winner
Dell XPS 15 laptop 15.6", 4K UHD InfinityEdge Touch, 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5, 1TB SSD storage, 16GB RAM, XPS7590-7565SLV-PUS
Best Price
Microsoft Surface Book 2 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB) - 13.5"
Model
XPS 15
Surface Book 2
Test Result
Test Result 9.7/10 Excellent April 2020
Test Result 9.3/10 Very Good April 2020
Manufacturer
Dell
Microsoft
RAM
16GB
8GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-9750H
Intel Core i5-7300U
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5
Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage Capacity
1TB SSD
128GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
5.50 lbs
7.15 lbs
Pros
  • Best Performance in the Test
  • Phenomenal 4K Display
  • Great Battery runtime
  • Good Performance
  • Touchscreen
  • Silent Worker
Cons
  • Only the Price Tag..
  • Table stand necessary
  • No LTE Modem
Winner
Dell XPS 15 laptop 15.6", 4K UHD InfinityEdge Touch, 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5, 1TB SSD storage, 16GB RAM, XPS7590-7565SLV-PUS
Model
XPS 15
Test Result
Test Result 9.7/10 Excellent April 2020
Manufacturer
Dell
RAM
16GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-9750H
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5
Storage Capacity
1TB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
5.50 lbs
Pros
  • Best Performance in the Test
  • Phenomenal 4K Display
  • Great Battery runtime
Cons
  • Only the Price Tag..
Best Price
Microsoft Surface Book 2 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB) - 13.5"
Model
Surface Book 2
Test Result
Test Result 9.3/10 Very Good April 2020
Manufacturer
Microsoft
RAM
8GB
CPU
Intel Core i5-7300U
Graphics Card
Intel HD Graphics 620
Storage Capacity
128GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
7.15 lbs
Pros
  • Good Performance
  • Touchscreen
  • Silent Worker
Cons
  • Table stand necessary
  • No LTE Modem

Ranking First: Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15

Pros

  • Best Performance in the Test
  • Phenomenal 4K Display
  • Great Battery runtime

Cons

  • Only the Price Tag..

There’s always something that turns out to be a drawback of the stylish new notebook – be it the display, the battery, the case or the overall performance. However, Dell’s current XPS 15 (7590) makes the search for faults difficult. It is one of the best 15 inch devices that Techtestreport has been able to test so far this year.

At least we can say that about our test sample, which isn’t necessarily cheap with a 4K OLED display, Core i7-9750H, 16 GByte RAM and Geforce GTX 1650. A worthwhile investment for in our opinion, as we can see in the course of the test. But not only the display is worth a look.

Design

Like the XPS 13 (9380), Dell also relies on a chassis that is as compact as possible in the new XPS 15. This is also successful: There are hardly any display edges and the case isn’t too thick. “This doesn’t look like a 15 incher at all,” say some Golem.de editors. It measures about 357 x 17 x 235 mm. A weight of 4.32 lbs is also a pleasant weight for a device in this category, although this is not a best value. The silver-colored metal lid and the lower shell in carbon fiber look also follow the style of the XPS series. That knows how to please.

Interestingly, Dell even copies the smaller model’s connections: Two USB-A sockets, a Thunderbolt 3 port and HDMI 2.0a are present. There is also an SD card reader, which is useful for using camera equipment on the go, for example. All in all, these are enough connections for most applications, but we could have easily imagined another USB-A or USB-C port or an RJ45 socket here.

Keyboard and Trackpad

Dell XPS 15 keyboard

Apart from the slightly larger keys, connoisseurs of the XPS series will quickly find themselves in the touchpad and keyboard. The chiclet keys have a fairly flat, but pleasant pressure point. The key layout also corresponds to the – in our test sample American – usual standard. Even the LED backlighting could sit unrecognizable in the XPS 13. Dell doesn’t make any experiments here, which we welcome.

The touchpad is also solid and somewhat larger than its 13 inch counterpart. Thus, it performs a bit better overall. Only the still a bit too much play between the keycaps and the case shell doesn’t seem to be something the manufacturer wants to improve yet.

The excellent OLED panel is a good reason to spend a few hundred Dollars more.

Display

After first turning on the 15.6-inch OLED panel – a 156WR04 from Samsung – we have to marvel at first. The Windows 10 desktop rarely looks so contrasty. In addition, the resolution is quite impressive with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels at a frame rate of 60 Hz. Another advantage of OLED is that mouse pointers and icons look sharper on a dark background. There is no backlight bleeding here because black OLED pixels are simply switched off instead of glowing.

No less impressive are the readings we documented at full brightness: A maximum of 507 cd/m² is an excellent value. In fact, this is so bright that we don’t run the display at full brightness level indoors because metaphorically, the sun rises when we do. The advantage of the very good illumination is, however, that we can still see content well even under direct sunlight – even though the panel is not anti-reflective. We couldn’t detect any disturbing reflections here.

It doesn’t bother us that the OLED panel displays colors in only 8 bits instead of 10-bit HDR. Experience shows that Windows 10 is still not optimized for high color depths anyway.

Performance

Dell XPS 15 2 in 1 review

Apart from really demanding games: The XPS 15 (7590) has enough power for almost any productive task in the configuration at hand. The Core i7-9750H’s performance is especially impressive. Dell has increased the performance budget from 45 to 55 watts, which also leads to very good results in the test.

The six-core Cinebench R20 reaches about 2,558 points with twelve threads in the multi-core benchmark Cinebench R20. Even the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which is designed for gaming with an identical processor, has to admit defeat to this value. It only achieves an average of 2,073 points. We measured similarly good rates in the Blender benchmark BMW27. The CPU needs 5:04 minutes for rendering in XPS 15, a good rate.

The Turing GPU Geforce GTX 1650 is not quite as impressive. However, it can, for example, support the processor in the video editing program Adobe Premiere Pro CC when rendering content. However, this strongly depends on the displayed content. So we can save a bit of time in effect-heavy scenes. The rendering of the Fairphone 3’s 87-second test video in 1080p takes about 4:29 minutes. The GPU can only subtract about one second from this already quite good time. In the right situations this can look different.

Gaming Performance

Some games can also be played through the dedicated GPU, although not in high details or native 4K resolution. In the tactical shooter CS:GO passable frame rates are also possible in native resolution. We set the graphic details to medium values for this, though. We achieve a well playable 83 fps in Full-HD. In 4K resolution, the measurement is not much lower with 79 fps, at least in this title.

In the medieval game Mordhau it looks quite different. Here we also set the graphic details to medium in advance. In Full-HD resolution we can still play very smoothly with 60 fps. In 4K the fps drop to unplayable 24 fps – with noticeable jerking that ruins our accuracy in the game.

But how far can we go with a Geforce GTX 1650? We start the graphically demanding third-person shooter The Division 2 and find out: not too far. In native resolution and medium details we only reach about 18 fps, which is unplayable, as expected. In Full-HD it’s also only 30 fps in medium details, which can be displayed very consistently, though. There is hardly any jerkiness.

Stamina is hardly a problem for the XPS 15.

Battery

The XPS 15 lasts comparatively long despite a 45 watt CPU and dedicated graphics unit. We measured 8:49 hours with 200 cd/m² illumination in the less demanding runtime test, Powermark in Productivity Preset. We can also carry out a Netflix continuous run away from the power outlet with the same brightness. The mystery series Stranger Things runs until the third episode of the second season – that’s almost 8:48 hours. However, if you need even more battery life, you should look away from the 15 inch range, for example on the XPS 13 (9380) or a Lenovo Thinkpad. You’ll also have to make concessions in terms of the built-in hardware. However, the XPS 15 is definitely a reference in its size category.

Hardware

A look inside the notebook also shows us why this is so. A large part of the space is taken up by the enormous 97 watt hour battery, which by the way can be replaced like many other components. There are two SO-DIMM slots for the RAM, as well as a slot for the NVMe SSD and for an M.2 WLAN module. Dell has already occupied all slots – with a Toshiba XG6 SSD, two 8 GByte DDR4-2666 modules from SK Hynix and a Killer Wireless 1650x, which also works in the not yet widely used Wi-Fi 6 standard.

Incidentally, the SSD is – typical for an NVMe module – fast enough for all practical applications. Toshiba’s XG6 even competes with, say, a Samsung PM981. We measured solid rates: 3,022 MByte/s in sequential writing and 2,740 MByte/s in sequential reading. These are good rates.

Noise

Dell XPS 15 review Pen

Noticeable are the large heatpipes and the two fans that cool the CPU, GPU and other components. The notebook is surprisingly quiet even under full load – for example in games or in the Cinebench R20 marathon. A hissing sound can be heard, but that’s not comparable to the high-frequency screeching of a Razer Blade 15, which is much louder even in the revised version. To be fair, we have to say that the XPS 15 has to cool a less potent graphics unit.

When watching Netflix episodes, surfing the web or writing, the XPS is not audible at all. But where we mentioned searching for flaws in the beginning: a quiet coil whirring can be heard when we move our ear close to the keyboard. However, this isn’t noticeable from a realistic posture and with ambient noises in the office.

Verdict

If the XPS 15 (7590) could be described with one word, it would simply be “Wow! Dell manages to build one of the most sophisticated 15.6-inch units of the year.

We think that the OLED panel is a highlight. It glows very brightly with a maximum of 507 cd/m² and the strong contrasts due to the display technology make even the Windows desktop look interesting. Icons and text look very sharp due to the 4K resolution. Not even the reflective display can diminish the excellent impression.

Dell doesn’t try anything new with the chassis. Basically, the predecessor’s case is recycled. The XPS 15 therefore looks like a larger version of the also very good XPS 13 (9380). This also applies to the connections, which are sufficient for almost all work processes. One or two more ports would have made the device a bit more practical, though.

In benchmarks, the XPS 15’s Intel Core i7-9750H is faster than the identical CPU in the gaming notebook Razer Blade 15 Advanced, which in itself is fast on the road. Accordingly, the chip is also suitable for rendering and image processing.

The Geforce GTX 1650 is less powerful, though. We can play less demanding games like CS:GO or Mordhau on it, but not many fps are possible in Division 2.

Apart from the display, we find the battery a second strong argument. We can watch almost nine hours on the Netflix device. Even light office work in continuous use gets a similar runtime.

If you can afford it, you’ll probably hardly find a better 15.6 inch notebook that works as a daily work tool (e.g. video editing) at the moment.

Ranking Second: Microsoft Surface Book 2

Microsoft Surface Book 2 review

Pros

  • Good Performance
  • Touchscreen
  • Silent Worker

Cons

  • Table stand necessary
  • No LTE Modem

In February 2016 Microsoft released a unique Detachable, a notebook with a removable display. In the Surface Book review, we wrote that it was actually almost the ultimate laptop when it was advertised by Redmond. Now the Surface Book 2 is available, although in Germany only the 13.5 inch version is available. We have tested the top model and apart from a few details we think that the Surface Book 2 is even better than its predecessor.

Like so many of its successors, the new Convertible does not differ from the first one in many respects: the iconic hinge, known as the Fulcrum hinge, is still there, and the dimensions are almost identical at 312 x 232 x 23 mm for 1,647 grams. The tablet unit is externally identical to that of the first Surface Book, as Microsoft has not changed or added any ports.

We think this is a pity, a USB-C socket would have been a welcome interface. The screen’s opening angle is only 130 degrees, and the cable of a headset dangles down from the top right where the 3.5 mm headphone jack is located. The tablet itself has no stand.

The base unit, i.e. the keyboard dock, has two USB 3.0 A ports as usual, a speedy SD card reader with half depth and the surface connector. Microsoft has replaced the mini display port with a USB C socket. However, it only transfers data at 5 GBit/s instead of 10 GBit/s (USB 3.0 instead of USB 3.1 Gen2).

After all, we can optionally charge the Surface Book 2 via this instead of just using the tablet’s power connection, and a display can also be connected via this. Due to a lack of access to the Intel and Nvidia driver panel, we couldn’t control 3,840 x 2,160 pixels on our 4K screen. Thunderbolt 3 would have made sense, but apparently there are technical hurdles.

Display

Microsoft Surface Book 2 review

We are once again very impressed with the touch display of the Surface Book 2: the IPS panel with a resolution of 3.000 x 2.000 pixels shines very brightly with 404 cd/m² and achieves a rich contrast with 1.823:1. The display has been excellently calibrated.

The 3:2 aspect ratio is extremely pleasant for working, but the reflections on the glare coating are disturbing in bright light. On the back of the display, the well-known 5 megapixel camera with autofocus takes decent photos, while the 5 megapixel model in the front is suitable for voice chats and is supported by an infrared sensor for Windows Hello.

Keyboard

The chiclet keyboard is one of the better ones on the market, as the keys have a comfortable stroke and release tightly. The multi-level white backlighting is unfortunately only helpful in fairly dark environments due to the silver caps.

The Fn key is still located to the right of the Ctrl key, as it should be. Generally, there are no changes to the layout. Under the keyboard, on the hardware side, on the other hand, a lot has changed: performance and runtime have been significantly improved.

Hardware

Microsoft Surface Book 2 review

The Surface Book is equipped with the new Core i7-8650U (Kaby Lake Refresh) and therefore has four cores with eight threads instead of only half as many. On top of that, the quad core can take up to 35 watts of power for a short time and up to 25 watts permanently, which is very beneficial for speed.

The CPU is twice as fast for light workloads as in the Surface Book, but still 50 percent faster under long loads. The best thing about it: Microsoft cools the Core i7-8650U passively instead of using a fan. In the one-hour video encoding test (4K30 with 10 bit), this is sufficient for an average of 2.4 GHz and fluctuating temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Celsius.

Microsoft relies on a current Geforce GTX 1050 (without Ti suffix) with 2 GByte GDDR5 in the graphics unit. Double video memory would help in scientific applications and for higher texture and shadow details in games. Compared to the Geforce 940M/GDDR5, the new Nvidia graphics is usually twice as fast, no matter if in current games or when computing for example at path tracing.

If a program runs on the Geforce, it must be closed before the tablet can be removed. A seamless transition does not work. The CPU and dGPU values are valid for both power supply and battery operation, as the power status ‘Recommended’ is preset.

Performance

Microsoft Surface Book 2 review

If you want to get more performance out of Surface Book 2, you can also use ‘Better Performance’ or ‘Best Performance’. Caution: The processor then clocks significantly higher and the Geforce increases from about 1.3 to 1.5 GHz. This drains the battery much faster than ‘Recommended’, and at the highest level the 95 watt surface power supply isn’t even sufficient.

Instead, the Detachable’s battery is slowly emptied and recharged, which is hardly beneficial for the battery life. Due to the lack of a USB-C power supply with well over 95 watts, we can’t say whether the problem can be circumvented this way.

Apart from much more power, the Surface Book 2 also runs longer than the original version, which is partly due to the 75 (57+18) watt hours instead of 69 (51+18) watt hours. At 150 candelda per square meter of brightness (corresponds to 60 percent) we achieve a good 12:29 instead of 10:35 hours in Powermark Productivity. The value for the old Surface Book was determined after the major firmware update (see retest), previously it was only 9:45 hours. The tablet streams movies at 150 cd/m² for four hours.

The new Detachable is silent in office mode and when browsing the web, and quite quiet in games in ‘recommended’ mode. The fan in the keyboard unit quickly gets loud in the two higher modes, though. A quick note about the rest of the hardware: The Surface Book 2 supports Bluetooth 4.1 and ac-2×2 WLAN, but LTE is missing. A PM961 from Samsung comes into play as the NVMe-SSD.

Verdict

Like its predecessor, the Surface Book 2 is uniquely Detachable: no other 2-in-1 unit with a 13.5-inch display delivers as much flexibility and power. Thanks to four instead of two CPU cores, the removable tablet calculates really fast, and on top of that it is now cooled silently. The Geforce-GTX-1050 graphics unit in the keyboard dock achieves twice the performance of the first Surface Book and the battery life increases by 20 percent in everyday use.

The great touch screen in 3:2 format is still convincing and we welcome the introduction of a USB-C socket. Unfortunately, Microsoft was not consistent, as there is neither full USB 3.1 Gen2 speed nor the option to connect an eGPU via Thunderbolt 3. The fact that an LTE modem is missing, is a point of criticism that was already present in the predecessor.

If you can come to terms with this, you’ll get a quite cheap and excellent Detachable Laptop with a beautiful look, which brings the Microsoft Surface Book 2 on the second rank versus the Dell XPS 15. If you are on a budget though, we would recommend to buy the Microsoft Surface Book 2, since it is way cheaper then the XPS 15, while still performing well.


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