Best answer: It's not a good idea to get a Dell XPS 15 with an i9 processor due to issues with how hot the processor gets during use.
- Excellence defined: Dell XPS 15 7590 (From $960 at Dell)
Why shouldn't you get an i9 processor?
The reason why you shouldn't opt to configure the Dell XPS 15 with the i9-9980HK CPU option is because the processor runs way too hot in the laptop, and thus, it won't operate at full efficiency. This means that even though the i9 would better support your system on paper, it won't in practice due to heat problems. The only way you could make getting the i9-9980HK worth it is if you were to use a laptop cooling dock to counteract the overheating.
Update 8/1/19 Dell has a new BIOS for the XPS 15 (7590) that reportedly tunes the CPU for better sustained performance especially under heavy loads like gaming. We'll review the Core i9 XPS 15 with the new BIOS in the coming weeks to verify the improvements.
What processor should you choose instead?
While the poor performance of the i9-9980HK in the Dell XPS 15 is unfortunate, there are multiple i7 processors available that will run much better and perform excellently. Specifically, if you're looking to outfit your Dell XPS 15 with the best possible CPU you can that also runs with a good efficiency, I recommend choosing the i7-9750H version of the device, which starts at around $1,500 for a configuration with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid-state storage. This version also comes with an NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU, which means you can use this configuration of the laptop for nearly everything short of intensive gaming.
You can get the new XPS 15 with this i7 processor in multiple configurations, including one with 32GB of RAM and 1TB of solid-state storage. You can also opt for models with less powerful processors to save even more money.
If you want something capable that's more on the affordable end, you should opt for the older specs of the Dell XPS 15 that use the i7-8750H and start at around $1,300. You do get an older and less powerful graphics card with the GTX 1050Ti and you don't get the option for a 4K display, but there aren't too many differences between the two models.
One of the best laptops around
The Dell XPS may not have a suitable chassis for the i9-9980HK processor, but with an i7 processor and one of NVIDIA's GPUs, you can still use it for nearly anything you want to do.
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