Dell XPS 15 9550 vs XPS 15 9560: What's different and should you upgrade?

Dell XPS 15
Dell XPS 15

The refreshed XPS 15 9560 is now available from Dell, and you might be wondering whether you should stick with the older 9550 model or upgrade to the latest model. While there aren't any major outward changes, the new XPS 15 has been refined to include the latest Kaby Lake processors and a brand new NVIDIA GTX 1050 GPU. Let's take a look at all the differences between the XPS 15 9550 and 9560 to help you decide which one works best for you.

Quick-reference hardware specs

To help you decide which XPS 15 is best for you, here's a collection of the specs each model has on offer.

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CategoryDell XPS 15 9550Dell XPS 15 9560
ProcessorIntel Core i3-6100H (3M Cache, up to 2.7GHz)
Intel Core i5-6300HQ (6M Cache, up to 3.2GHz)
Intel Core i7-6700HQ (6M Cache, up to 3.5GHz)
Intel Core i3-7100H (3M Cache, up to 3.0GHz)
Intel Core i5-7300HQ (6M Cache, up to 3.5GHz)
Intel Core i7-7700HQ (6M Cache, up to 3.8GHz)
RAM8/16GB DDR4 at 2133MHz8/16/32GB DDR4 at 2400MHz
GPUIntel HD Graphics 530
Intel HD Graphics 630
NVIDIA GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5
1080p non-touch
4K touch
1080p non-touch
4K touch
Storage500GB HDD + 32GB Flash
1TB HDD + 32GB Flash
500GB HDD + 32GB Flash
1TB HDD + 32GB Flash
256/512GB/1TB PCIe SSD
PortsHDMI, USB 3.0 (x2) with PowerShare
Headset Jack
SD card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
Kensington Lock slot
USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3
HDMI, USB 3.0 (x2) with PowerShare
Headset Jack
SD card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
Kensington Lock slot
USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3

Two biggest changes to the XPS 15 9560

As you can see from the spec table above, the XPS 15 9550 and 9560 are relatively similar. There are, however, two big changes to note.

First, the 7th-generation Kaby Lake processors are here. While these aren't a huge upgrade over 6th-generation Skylake processors, they do give you a bump in performance, power efficiency, and integrated graphics power.

Kaby Lake processors can handle 4K video much more efficiently, so if you're going with the 4K display, you might want to splurge for the 9560. If you're interested in some light gaming — even Overwatch — without opting for a full NVIDIA GTX GPU, the 9560 will also be a better choice thanks to upgraded Intel Graphics HD 630.

The other big change to the XPS 15 9560 is the introduction of an NVIDIA GTX 1050 with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM. This is a significant improvement over the 9550's NVIDIA GTX 960M, and will allow you to play pretty much every current game with high settings. If you're looking for a laptop for gaming, you definitely want to grab the newer XPS 15 9560.

Other notable changes

Dell (Image credit: Windows Central)

When it comes to memory, if you want to get more than 16GB, you'll have to grab the XPS 15 9560 — it comes with up to 32GB of DDR4 at 2400MHz. You'll also notice that the RAM in the 9550 is clocked at 2133MHz, so if you're in the market for the fastest RAM, it has to be the newer XPS 15.

Kaby Lake processors are a bit easier on your battery, but to really improve life — especially on the 4K models — the battery has been beefed up to 97WHr on the 9560, up from 84WHr on the 9550. If working on the road is your thing and you want to worry less about power, definitely grab the XPS 15 9560.

One last thing: Windows Hello is a useful security feature that lets you sign in with bio-authentication. The XPS 15 9550 had no compatible hardware, but the newer 9560 now has an optional fingerprint reader for fast, secure logins.

Update: Regarding the fingerprint reader consumers will see the option to add one added to the website during the first week of February, so stay tuned for that

Which should you buy?

As it stands now, both models remain available for sale on the Dell store, and you can grab an XPS 15 9560 for the same price — $999 up to $2500 — depending on the configuration. If you absolutely want more than 16GB of RAM or Hello-compatible hardware, you have to go with the 9560. Otherwise, you have some choices, but they're relatively one-sided.

Until Dell stops selling the XPS 15 9550 and we start seeing some deep discounts, it makes the most sense to go with the newer model. The upgraded Kaby Lake processors deliver better performance and power usage, the bigger battery means longer use before looking for an outlet, and the full NVIDIA GTX 1050 means you can play pretty much any game you want.

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.