1 Copper

Can the Dell XPS 15 be used as a desktop?

So, i'll explain my situation briefly.

I've had a desktop for about 3 years now. I've used it very heavily but it has held up. It's life is coming to an end though. The university I am transferring to requires laptops anyways, and after doing a lot of research I purchased the Dell XPS 15 with these specs:

  • Dell.com Order

  • Safety/Environment and Regulatory Guide (English/French Multi-language)

  • XPS 15 Placemat

  • Systems Management SW

  • E5 Power Cord for 3-pin Adapter (US/China)

  • Killer 1535 Wireless Driver

  • Backlit Keyboard, English

  • Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1

  • NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5

  • 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge, Silver

  • 256GB PCIe Solid State Drive

  • 8GB DDR4-2400MHz; up to 32GB

  • Windows 10 Home-HE (64bit) English

  • 7th Generation Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-7700HQ Quad Core Processor (6M cache, up to 3.8 GHz)

  • Additional Software

  • McAfee 30day Trial

  • Microsoft(R) Office 30 Days Trial

  • No Option Included

  • Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 Label

  • 130w Power Adapter

  • Shipping Material

  • 97WHr, 6-cell Lithium Ion Battery (integrated)

  • Mail In Service after Remote Diagnosis, 1 Year

  • Dell Limited Hardware Warranty Initial Year

Now, it will probably be used for a majority of the day that I am not in class, and it will be used to do some light gaming occasionally, such as league of legends and overwatch, but probably not that often as I am very busy with engineering. I would much rather do this than purchase a new desktop for a variety of reasons including costs (this includes having to purchase software on two different computers), convenience, etc. My idea was to purchase a docking station and just use my current dual monitor setup with my keyboard and mouse and plug them all into the laptop, making sure it is properly ventilated.

Will this ultrabook be able to handle this kind of computer usage? Since it's not a workstation laptop I want to make sure it is not going to die on me. What should I do to make sure that it is able to handle this?


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7 Gold

Re: Can the Dell XPS 15 be used as a desktop?

@konarktriv  I used an XPS 15 9530 essentially as a desktop by keeping it on my desk attached to a full range of external peripherals for years and it was fine.  If anything your system will probably last longer overall since you won't be carrying it around as much.  When I recently got rid of it after 6 years it still looked practically new because when it's sitting on my desk with the lid closed, I'm not even touching it.

A docking station would certainly make life easier.  To power an XPS 15, you'd need either the WD19 w/ 180W power adapter (130W USB PD) -- not the WD19 w/ 130W power adapter (90W USB PD) -- or else the WD19TB, which comes standard with a 180W power adapter.  The regular WD19 uses regular USB-C, whereas the latter taps into Thunderbolt 3, which on this system gives it access to 4x more video bandwidth than the regular WD19.  So if your dual display setup is anything more than dual 1920x1200, or you might want to have the option of going higher, you'll need the WD19TB, which can handle dual displays up to 4K 60 Hz each or triple displays up to 1440p each.

The only thing I'll mention since you're working in engineering and moving from a desktop system is that "performance ultrabook" laptops like the XPS 15 tend to throttle performance after a while under sustained heavy load, especially with both the CPU and GPU active.  This is due to the simple reality that the XPS 15 has relatively power internals for a chassis of its size, and the cooling system that can fit into a chassis that size can't remove heat from the system as quickly as those internals generate it when they're running maxed out.  The only way to avoid that is to get a chunkier system that has room for more cooling, such as a Precision 7000 Series system or an Alienware system -- but obviously those will be larger and heavier, and more expensive.  Depending on the exact type of engineering work you do, this may or may not be an issue, but I remember that on my XPS 15 9530 if I started playing a game, I'd have a solid frame rate for a while, and then when my GPU reached a certain temp, it would immediately and dramatically reduce its clock speed, which presented as an immediate and sharp drop in my frame rate.  It stayed that way until temps dropped to another specific value, at which point it operated full speed again.  This connection between temp and clock speed was crystal clear when looking at temp and clock speed data that I'd been logging while playing the game.  But this isn't unique to the XPS 15.  The XPS 15's most direct PC competitor (really its only direct competitor) is the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, and it throttles too.  Like I said, it's just the physics of small cooling systems and fast silicon.

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7 Gold

Re: Can the Dell XPS 15 be used as a desktop?

Curiosity: Did you buy this system used?  It's a 9560, which is now two model cycles behind being current.  This model came out in 2017 - so it's between 2-3 years old.

If it was represented as a new system, carefully verify the service tag with Dell -- it must have been sitting in a box somewhere for quite a while.  You may or may not have any remaining warranty.

If it IS a new system, consider upgrading it to a 3-year warranty if you won't be in a position to replace it (or fund an expensive repair) within the period of time you'll be using it.


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