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New XPS 13 Developer Edition Lands in Europe, United States and Canada (bartongeorge.io)
257 points by guifortaine on Nov 27, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 308 comments

A word of warning: German magazine c't tests this laptop in its newest issue, using the pre-installed Ubuntu but also with Fedora 25 Workstation Edition (also with a Linux 4.9 development kernel), as well as Windows 10. The results regarding Linux compatibility are pretty bad:

- The battery lasts for 13h under Linux, which is not too shabby. However, it lasts a whooping 22,5h with Windows 10.

- The headphone port is very noisy with Linux. No noise whatsoever with Windows.

- WiFi performance is dismal in Linux. No problem with Windows.

- The HDMI port on the separately sold docking station does not work correctly with Linux.

For a laptop that comes with Linux pre-installed, that's pretty disappointing.

Regarding 13h vs 22h battery life - I wonder if c't did any test with manually enabled SATA power management? This is a big deal on recent Intel hardware and unfortunately is still not enabled automatically by linux kernel, as described here:


Easiest way to enable this is to run "powertop", switch to "Tunables" tab, then toggle all lines that look like this:

  >> Bad Enable SATA link power management for host0
  >> Bad Enable SATA link power management for host1

Some people know how to tune and others just want to work on the laptop. As this one comes with Ubuntu pre install, in my opinion, Canonical should provide a patch or script to Dell which tunes this on par with Windows out of the box instead of having the user do it. Seems MS arranges aggressive powermanagement out of the box for Windows so Ubuntu should have the same. This is an example of the wrong way around anyway; you should not have to install and run powertop etc ; you should have to deinstall it if you do not want it... IMHO that it. I use powertop and some of my own scripts on my X220's (my go-to laptops for years now and hopefully years to come) and I get the same battery life as Windows on it.

That is a very good point. I would go even further and say that Canonical, too, shouldn't have to apply patches. That's upstream kernel's job.

But here's the rub - on some hardware enabling SATA PM can sometimes lead to various weird bugs - from failure to boot to crash with blank screen after few hours of working perfectly. And Intel would't release any sort of documentation that sheds any light on why that is the case, and what should be done to avoid it. Intel does know what to do, since (sic) Intel's storage drivers do the right thing on Windows.

Which brings us to even stranger point: Intel apparently doesn't share this documentation with Microsoft either. Hence new laptops with pre-installed Windows ship with Intel's storage drivers, while installing vanilla Windows 10 with Microsoft's storage drivers will give you as bad a battery life, as you get under Linux. This is an issue important enough that some laptop vendors employ hardware tricks to make storage hardware "invisible" for normal Microsoft's drivers for no good purpose other than to enable Intel's driver take over this hardware smoothly. See for example recent "Lenovo fake RAID" debacle:


There is a patch to make the nvme drive last a bit longer mentioned on the arch wiki (I've not tried it yet, tbh):



That is not quite the same thing. Andy's NVMe patches allow drive itself to go into deeper power-saving states, while discussion above was about power-management of SATA controller which is part of PCH (earlier known as northbridge), which in turn, on last 3 generations of Intel CPUs is integrated into the same die as CPU itself.

Unpleasant side-effect of SATA (or NVMe) controller being integrated onto the CPU die is that it now shares a power domain with the rest of the chip (i.e. PM being present or absent on SATA controller affects allowed set of C-states for the whole package). In other words, as long as SATA controller don't go into deep sleep (i.e. never - without power management enabled), whole CPU+PCH package would not go to deeper C-state. Thus, lack of PM in storage controller has disproportionately high effect on the total system power consumption.

Thanks that is very informative (as is your followup comment). And also it is kind of depressing; are there vendors more open or does that just not happen?

Or if you want to be a little heavy handed, you can run:

  powertop --auto-tune
That should add a nice boost to battery life.

Also, just enabling laptop_mode using laptop-mode-tools also improves the battery life a lot.

You can go and tweak stuff individually if you want, but these two are easy wins.

Honestly though in 2016 why can't whatever is done during auto tune be done without intervention based on a power profile?

"If laptop -> powertop --autotune"

I should submit a patch.

They do not explicitly mention link power management, but I'd be surprised if they were not aware of this, since I remember this issue being mentioned in c't several times. They did ask Dell about the discrepancies in power consumption, and Dell says that it's mostly due to the new Kaby-Lake Intel GPU, which is not yet properly supported by Linux, and that probably the combination of Xorg and Unity draws more power than Windows. They were able to reduce power consumption by 0,7W by setting i915.enable_psr, but that settings lead to temporary freezes of the screen.

I got a Developer Edition XPS 13 9360 two weeks ago. My compatibility experience:

- DisplayPort over USB-C alternate mode did not work at all in Ubuntu 16.04 (unplugging the USB-C cable froze the computer). So I upgraded to 16.10, and DisplayPort over USB-C now works, probably because 16.10 has a newer Linux kernel with better support for USB-C. I do encounter this bug (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1634449) where the external monitor will sometimes flash black when the mouse moves between monitors.

- The headphones are very noisy. When playing audio the hiss can be eliminated by running "alsamixer" and increasing the "Headphone Mic Boost" to 10 db gain. Depending on the monitor, there is 0 to very very little hiss when routing the audio through DisplayPort or HDMI and using my monitor's headphone jack. Annoyingly, when first playing audio, it takes about 2 seconds for the audio to start playing though the headphone jack on my DisplayPort monitor.

- Sometimes the touchscreen does not register touches after waking from suspend. A workaround is to close and open the lid.

- Occasionally (this has not happened in a few days), the wifi will disappear. Running "sudo systemctl restart network-manager.service" gets it working again. Also, iwconfig always reports "Bit Rate=1 Mb/s" even though the actual speed is much faster than that.

- Dell disables the super key out of the box. You have to uninstall the "dell-super-key" package, and add the super key keyboard shortcut with ccsm. (see http://askubuntu.com/questions/751661/dell-developer-edition...). Dell says that disabling the super key is not their choice (http://en.community.dell.com/techcenter/os-applications/f/46...)

Otherwise, everything seems to be working well. I have not tested it, but as far as I know Thunderbolt 3 does not work with Linux yet, so Thunderbolt 3 docks probably won't work.

Re: audio noisiness, it was a kernel bug with the older (9343) version, did it happen again? https://github.com/advancingu/XPS13Linux/issues/11

It took a couple of months to get it fixed...

"Otherwise, everything seems to be working well"

Sigh, back to Apple who don't seem to want to serve pro customers anymore, but apparently still do it better than anyone else (in nix land)...

Honestly, try Ubuntu on a ThinkPad. You'll have to install the OS yourself, but that's generally it.

How are their touchpads and screens nowadays? HiDPI support in Ubuntu?

Stick to a TSeries and the touchpads/screens are pretty darn good nowadays, just feel nice. I haven't put linux on one since my T42 though (still probably my favorite ever..)

Hmm. /r/thinkpad doesn't seem to agree with you [1]. Did something change in the last 9 months? Whenever I look into thinkpad reviews it's always the same - crappy screen, more expensive than macbook when specced similarly, but expandable. And when it comes to touchpads I've yet to come past something that can compete with Apple's, even though they're now actively making them worse as well.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comments/46jjdw/which_thin...

I have one of these laptops (since Friday):

* ) Batt -- Still tweaking things, I dropped the ubuntu install pretty quick for arch, but I recon 9-10 hours is where I'm sitting atm.

) Headphones sound fine here...

) Wifi Perf? I get ~250mbit on fast.com from my house

The bigger issue is the graphics card whine under high load....

A few more details:

Regarding battery: They mention they could tweak the power consumption from 4,7W to 4W by setting


but that this setting lead to temporary freezes of the picture on the screen for several seconds, so they don't recommend it.

Regarding the headphones they mention that it is worse when running on battery and when using the trackpad (they say it's a mosquito-like noise). They also say that there already is a fix for the audio driver but that it does not work.

As for WiFi: it's OK for for receiving (they measured 300MBit/s) but with sending they only got 29MBit/s.

In conclusion, they also say that except for the HDMI issues with the docking station, all those problems are driver issues which will eventually be fixed, but at the moment it is what it is.

Hmm; I've not tweaked that one -- I'm using:

options i915 semaphores=1 i915_enable_rc6=7 i915_enable_fbc=1 lvds_downclock=1

And things are fine graphics wise -- I'm going to give it a proper run in tomorrow @work and we'll see how it goes.. Played a 1080p film on it earlier with mpv and it ate about 20% -- had brightness at about medium.. Not sure if that's good or not..

4W seems a bit optimistic though doesn't it? I've tweaked things quite a bit, but maybe I'm missing some extra magic or I just don't know the machine enough to know what the baseline is...

I've got skype, spotify, maybe 20 firefox tabs, dozen terms or so, dwm, wpa_sup wifi, and some other stuff, and i'm currently at:

System baseline power is estimated at 11.8 W

Freq Throttling (this isn't controlable, seemingly, and handled by the intel_pstate driver) currently has me on: current CPU frequency: 526 MHz (asserted by call to hardware)

Don't really have a baseline yet -- I can drop a reply in here tomorrow if you're interested in how it holds up with some real use?

I'm disappointed, I own the 9330 model and at the beginning in a quiet room, the coil whine was very distracting.

I don't know if my ears are less sensible or the noise level is diminished but now it doesn't disturb me so much.

This is probably their 4th/5th HW iteration for the XPS model and still they didn't bothered to check for the noise emissions. In their support forum I was baited to wait for a HW solution from a Dell employee that never materialized for what I consider a macroscopic defect... T__T

Note: Unless I'm missing something, these have a max of 16GB RAM. Disappointing.

> The battery lasts for 13h under Linux, which is not too shabby. However, it lasts a whooping 22,5h with Windows 10.

This makes me wonder how it would fare when booting into Windows and running Linux inside a VM.

I'm pretty sure that's going to be my next laptop setup now that Apple's notebooks seem to have finally diverged too far from my needs.

I'm not in love with Windows, but as long as you don't go out of your way to screw it up it makes a pretty decent bootloader & hardware abstraction layer that also plays games. =)

>* I'm not in love with Windows, but as long as you don't go out of your way to screw it up it makes a pretty decent bootloader*

So, I've been running win10 on my games machine for about ten months now, and there's been two 'reboot now or in 15 minutes, no other choices' updates that I've seen, and a sizable number of times I've come back to it having autorebooted to a login prompt. Usually I'm just gaming, but I've had it reboot with open documents.

I could probably turn this off somewhere, but as it's not a mission-critical computer, it's still amusing to me.

Nope, the only reliable way to block it (that i know of) is to break reboot service by taking away permissions to run or edit it from your own OS

Possibly it will get overturned by autoupdate after a while anyway

Oh for Christ sake, just disable the Windows Update service and stop complaining. Done. No updates until you turn it back on.

It's two clicks.

Hahaha wow. Well, that's good to know. That would be a possible non-starter for a machine actually intended for "real work."

"I'm pretty sure that's going to be my next laptop setup now that Apple's notebooks seem to have finally diverged too far from my needs."

I'd be quite curious to know which specific "need" has been diverged from, given that these models have either the same limitations (max 16GB LPDDR3 RAM) or more-limiting ones (max 512GB SSD, no discrete graphics)...

I'm still on the fence if my next laptop will be an Apple. I have been squeamish about changes to the Macbook Pro over the years. I've had terrible luck with batteries. In every laptop I've had to buy a new battery after 2 years because it failed sooner than advertised (but outside of the warranty). I was skeptical when they got rid of the user replacement battery, but I was wrong. Battery reliability got better and it wasn't that difficult to actually replace the battery.

On every laptop I've owned I've also had to replace the hard drive and have upgraded the ram both because of failures and in order to upgrade. I still like having a DVD rom, but replaced my wife's DVD rom with an SSD without giving it much thought 6 months ago. She was in the hospital and her friends brought over a DVD box set and she had forgotten I had removed her DVD rom. I just paid for the series again on iTunes.

I'm also not yet ready to give up all of my ports for this next purchase. Thunderbolt had the same promise of being the uber-connector. There were eventually 1 or 2 hubs to be found, but they never came down in price or became ubiquitous even though Apple went all-in on them. I'm confident USB-C will eventually have wider adoption...I'm willing to wait.

Part of the problem is that everyone in my shoes have been waiting over a year for the next big upgrade so it makes it harder to deal with the compromises. I think I'm going to upgrade to a used Macbook Pro so I can get retina but still have the few last things I want. Maybe by the time I need to replace that I'll be ready for whatever Apple is currently selling (or another vendor fills the vacuum).

Right. I would not move to these Dell XPS models specifically, because of the reasons you said. My wording there was a bit vague. I meant that I was considering a move to a Windows+LinuxVM setup in general.

With Windows as your host OS though you are only as secure as Windows...

I don't think the difference between linux and windows in terms of security is as big as you're implying.



Windows is closed-source and edited by an American company, so I think there are security implications beyond the number of vulnerabilities that have historically been found.

You are comparing Windows 10 (just desktop OS) with Ubuntu for all versions, with all packages, including the server ones.

Windows Server, each version, has its own product for CVEs, as does Internet Explorer.

Wow are we still in 2003 with the security fud still?

My point was more that you can't treat Windows as "just a bootloader" as the parent to my post was implying. You also need to worry about security. I'm sure that a stock Windows install has more remote security vulnerabilities than lilo or grub.

No matter how much you lock down the guest VM, the host OS is still a weak point.

You need to get Pro version of Windows 10 to get full disk encryption...

To be fair, "battery life is fantastically good on Linux, and stupendously good on Windows" doesn't exactly sound like a downside to me.

50% worse is pretty bad no matter how you spin it.

13 hours is still 'good enough'. You could go a full day at work without charging it.

You're completely missing the point. You're paying for double of that battery usage and not getting it.

Imagine if Linux was so unoptimized that it needed twice the CPU cores and RAM; your argument would be that "but it comes with twice as much as the other guys" and ends up being twice as expensive and twice as big.

>>You're completely missing the point. You're paying for double of that battery usage and not getting it.

The point is that the marginal value of that extra time is absolutely negligible for most people.

I'm not sure I really believe any os can actually drive NVMe, 3somethingx1080 touchscreen, 16GB of ram and a quad core 17 for 22 hours with this hw setup while doing anything remotely resembling normal use.....

This machine will be my work luggable, I'm pretty sure it'll hold up all day.

First real run is tomorrow (dev+infra stuphz), I'll drop back in and let you know how it lasted if you're interested?

edit: anyone/any-os

I'm not sure that's true. Do you have data to back that up?

I love Linux as much as the best person but we really gotta get on that power thing.

I don't know, 10 hours of extra battery use on a laptop doesn't seem "absolutely negligible" to me.

10 more hours on 1 hour would be amazing. 10 more hours on 5 hours would be great. 10 more hours on 10 hours would be a fine thing, but most people's working day isn't that long. 10 more hours on 20 hours wouldn't be very useful.

This is the concept of diminishing marginal returns. You cannot look at "10 hours" in isolation; its value is lower when the baseline is higher.

You are impacting battery longevity though.

I'm not sure that someone spending over $1000 for a Developer Edition laptop falls into the "most people" category.

It seems strange to argue that someone buying a workstation device should be okay with half the battery as a Windows user because it's Good Enough.

I've bought these machines for years, at home and at work. I'm definitely not a "most people" in that I've happily used Linux as my desktop environment for the past 20 years. OTOH, I'm very ordinary in my battery requirements. To be honest, at work anything that covers a long meeting is probably 'enough'.

Also, real numbers on Windows are nowhere near 22h: http://www.laptopmag.com/articles/dell-xps-13-battery-life

And then there's the price difference to the US. For instance, the cheapest model:

    -  $949.99 in the U.S.
    - $1323.07 in Germany (1249 Euro)

A tad over 1100 USD when you account for the VAT. Still quite the difference.

Add sales tax, some forex risk buffer, and import VAT. Normally the difference is rather negligible...

Do not forget warranty! In Europe you must provide 1 or 2 year warranty vs 90 days in the US. We are also paying for this insurance.

Pick sales tax OR VAT. They are mutually exclusive. Import duties for computers are 0% in EU.

I'm curious, did they install and configure laptop-mode-tools, tlp and/or intel powertop on linux?

But that's the state of the art using Linux with bleeding edge hardware.

"Developer Edition" doesn't mean "built for developers", it means "fix your drivers yourself".

If Dell did their homework and ensured a silk smooth experience with Linux, the laptop would be priced higher and people would be upset that the Linux version is more expensive arguing that "Linux is free".

So bad performance is a short-term compromise. If you don't want to join the effort to fix the drivers, or you can't wait some months until the community fixes the drivers, you should get an older model.

I'm using Arch Linux on one of these and absolutely everything (including the touchscreen, suspend/resume, etc) has worked out of the box; the only things I had to mess around with were UEFI (since I've been on macs for years and just came back) -- "libvaapi" so that mpv uses hardware accel, and to install the intel-microcode initrd, and hacking dwm's config.h for ages...

Is this the article? https://www.heise.de/ct/ausgabe/2016-25-XPS-13-Developer-Edi...

With respect to the HDMI port on the separately sold docking station, define "does not work correctly" :)

Usually if people are having issues they post them to Barton's blog so that the issues get visibility and to discover whether other people are having similar issues. The problems that you refer to will probably be mentioned there in soon-ish.

Yes, that's the one. The problem with the HDMI on the DA200 docking station is that they tested several monitors and and they either did not work at all or only with low resolutions. They asked Dell about it and Dell itself says that they do not recommend using the DA200 and similar docking stations with Linux.

Gah, that's not good. Thanks!

As an owner of a previous generation XPS 13 I have a couple of comments.

> The battery lasts for 13h under Linux, which is not too shabby. However, it lasts a whooping 22,5h with Windows 10.

Not likely Dell's fault. User "aexaey" commented about this.

> WiFi performance is dismal in Linux. No problem with Windows.

There were some driver issues in my generation for WiFi but this was eventually sorted out. I would prefer Intel wireless cards over Killer since Intel typically has better Linux drivers but this is usually not up to Barton and/or the Sputnik team.

> The HDMI port on the separately sold docking station does not work correctly with Linux.

If this is talking about the USB 3.0 dock from Dell (http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l...), this is because the underlying USB to display driver is from DisplayLink (http://www.displaylink.com/) and (last I checked) they have repeatedly refused to support Linux due to lack of perceived market demand. No USB dock is going to work with linked displays over Linux (that I know of/use DisplayLink under the covers).

However, TB3 docks do not typically suffer from this same problem. So now with the Sputniks coming with Thunderbolt, look at TB docks (you should be anyway) and this won't be a problem.

> The headphone port is very noisy with Linux. No noise whatsoever with Windows.

Had a similar problem with mine. Can't remember how I fixed it.

If you want to buy a laptop that has a team dedicated to supporting Linux on the hardware, you can't complain to much about Dell Sputnik. Dell has been doing good work and overall I think has made a positive impact on the Linux laptop/hardware support market. You are also more or less paying for support. It's a pretty neat thing to be able to file a support ticket with someone like Dell regarding a hardware issue on your laptop running Linux.

But this is still Linux we are talking about...and it is still very much a second-class citizen at Dell. So as long as you know this, I have to say I rather enjoy mine still.

If it is a driver issue, it should improve other time, shouldn't it?

I had the first XPS13 developer edition and it had so many driver issues. After one year things were better.

Here is the link to the test. Only in German and behind a payment barrier: https://www.heise.de/ct/ausgabe/2016-25-XPS-13-Developer-Edi...

I had a noisy headphone port on a slightly older XPS 15. There was a simple `echo 1 > ???` fix, but I have no recollection of the specifics. I could probably look for it if someone else has the problem and needs it, though there's no guarantee that the new XPS 13 would be fixed the same way.

This is only from little experience with Ubuntu and the like, but it seems that mainstream Linux distros, by their very nature, contain many separate components installed by default that could be doing something with the CPU despite not really being necessary, with no one group responsible for overall power management/resource use (unlike Windows or MacOS).

It may be open-source and free, but if the user doesn't want or need it and it's installed and actively consuming resources, it's bloatware nonetheless. I'd be interested in knowing the battery life with a far more minimalist distro.

Did a fairly standard install of Lubuntu 16.04 + full disk encryption, and I seem to get about 10 hours (i5, 8GB, 128GB). I'll have to try powertop and see if that changes anything.

Just as a note to anyone wanting to pick one up. The webcam is down by the keyboard, and not in the bezel above the screen. So if you work remote, all your fellow workmates will be staring up your nose.


Might be good if you don't type touch then. It'll look like you're looking at the camera (them) more often. (As for myself, I'd just look arrogant...)

The minute someone can magic out a way to turn a monitor into a multi point camera, add some eye tracking logic and integrate that with the conference display, we'll have a small video teleconference revolution on our hands.

Unfortunately, doing a search I see that Apple has already thought of that.. http://appleinsider.com/articles/09/01/08/apple_files_patent...

A bit 1984 for my tastes. I still put tape over my laptop webcam.

As you should. If Zuckerberg does it so do you.

The real answer is a 3d camera. That way you can actually make eye contact and interact much more realistically. Fortunately the apple patent doesn't seem to apply.

Ah, yes, that sounds like what we need! Eye contact is lost with today's cameras, and solving this would have a great impact on remote communications.

Given the security fears of cameras, I think it would be nice to have a no-camera option. Those that want a camera can then use a USB one, the main feature of which is that it can be unplugged when not in use.

Go old school and use a tape, it should work just as well.

How do you deal with the microphone?

Take a needle and punch it

I can't tell if it's a serious comment or not but in case it's serious: Why even buy a laptop? If you're paranoid enough to want to do this sort of thing to something you're paying over $1.5k for, have you realized the consequences of what other things a bad agent can do?

Your data, your files are more valuable to the NSA than your microphone. If they care about what you're saying, your house is already bugged.

What if you need it one day? You can remove tape from the web cam, but a needle is quite permanent.

I would think that the microphone is connected to the motherboard with a plug of some sort. So just open it up and disconnect that.

External mic I guess.

I think the least of my concerns would be the camera - at least if they are doing that, they might trigger some data usage that I could catch on my modem/little-snitch, etc....

If they are able to access the, then odds are they can access things like my keyboard, 1password passwords, banking, etc...

In BIOS, the camera and microphones can be fully disabled.

Specifically to this model?

No, it's been a long-standing option in the XPS BIOS. Here's a photo of the option on my 9343.


That's why I asked because I have a Dell Inspiron and I don't have that option sadly.

Thank you for the picture!

Seems like it might work fine on a couch or such.

It really doesn't. I've got the XPS 15 and the camera is similarly placed. The optimal solution is to just run a USB webcam to the top of an external monitor.

On the go, you're SOL. Not only can everyone see up your nose, but don't even try typing unless you want to distract everyone with some nice finger close-ups.

I do the same - first so my clients aren't looking at the side of my face as I'm looking at them on my main monitor and second because the built in webcam quality is pretty horrible.

Every xps 13 review I've seen mentions this as a big minus. I haven't used it yet, so I don't know, but is it really that big a deal? Seems like its a fair trade off for an edge to edge screen?

> but is it really that big a deal? Seems like its a fair trade off for an edge to edge screen?

It was one of the major reasons I went with a Lenovo x250 when buying a new laptop ~18 months ago. I really liked the XPS13, but I do use my webcam regularly and having it so low just seemed like it would be very awkward. (The other major reason I went with the x250 is that I'm a big fan of the trackpoint).

> The other major reason I went with the x250 is that I'm a big fan of the trackpoint.

The trackpoint is the only thing that keeps me on Lenovo laptops (Carbon X1, probably P50 next). I keep the touchpad disabled on my laptop.

Same here, I cannot work without a TrackPoint. I'm told the Toshiba work as well as Lenovo, but seeing this market shrinking every time I shop for a laptop is saddening.

Ehh, I used to feel the same but once you use something nice like a Macbook for a while you'll come to realise that trackpads are better on larger work areas and multiple workspaces and you can always still use your thumb to do small hops quickly.

I personally wouldn't ever consider a trackpoint again until they do something major to improve the feel/sensitivity actual sensor or allow us to directly edit the force/velocity curves directly. God damn thing is impossible to use on a 4k/5k native display.

I was forced to use a Mac and hated it partly because of this.

Why are you saying a trackpad is better for a large area? Don't you end up having to lift your finger, go back to the other end of the pad and drag it across again, instead of just applying constant pressure on the TrackPoint?

Just increase your sensitivity. I can click a button 7000 pixels away with about two or three quick and light motions. The whole process takes less than a second vs the 2-5 seconds I'd need with my X220 depending on speed/accel settings which IMO is lacking. Again if they just allowed me to easily edit the sensitivity curves on the trackpoint or made the displacement more linear I wouldn't mind nearly as much but as it stands I have to trade off speed/accuracy between short and long distance clicks because the sensor isn't linear and reliable enough to do both well.

For short clicks it's just a matter of preference, IMO. When I first switched to the macbook it felt strange for about a week but after that I didn't miss it one bit.

What OS were you using on the x220?

On gnome I set the pointer speed to very (almost maximum), and am able to zoom across any screen under a second, simply by applying more pressure.

When using your webcam, do you look at its lens or the screen?

I usually look at the screen, to watch the other person's image, so a high-mounted webcam makes it seem that I'm looking at their chest. Which may or may not be appropriate.

> When using your webcam, do you look at its lens or the screen?

It varies. If I'm listening to someone else I usually look at the screen, if I'm speaking I'm looking at the lens.

To echo what @StavrosK said, I don't think that looking at the screen when the webcam is above the screen would be perceived as inappropriate.

I don't think anyone finds you looking at the screen inappropriate because it looks like you're looking at their chest if it were real life. Maybe someone who's never seen a camera or screen.

I don't even remember when I actually used a webcam on a laptop. I'm either in a conference room with dedicated camera, or doing voice-only meetings when traveling.

Remote workers, who represent a growing population of developers, use their webcam daily to chat with colleagues.

some remote workers.

Ive worked remotely for... 7 years now and Ive probably had no more than 10 video calls for work in that time.

My experience is similar; this is definitely a company/team culture thing. At my workplace, if you see someone on camera the assumption is that it's accidental and you should let them know so that they can turn it off.

I've recently switched from project which extensively used Hangouts in meeting rooms into project that uses Lync and dinky Windows machine.

Asides from being much worse experience in terms of dialing in, sharing screens, etc, not seeing faces is so much worse. Inability to see emotions is terrible for team trust. We have 200 facial muscles that carry tons of information. We should use them.

I've worked remote for 3 years and I've never done a video conference call. I go into the office once every two weeks. Not an option for everyone but I'm sure I can't be the only person who works like this

Sure, there may be people who are used to / need to do video from the laptop. FWIW I do work remotely / from home, and I do chat with my coworkers and customers regularly, but we only do voice.

If I needed to do video more often, I'd probably get a dedicated cam anyway, as it works when using external screen with laptop lid closed (which is what I do at home). But sure, that's not an option when traveling.

No one on my remote team uses cameras. Voice only for them. It's their choice.

nope. just voice or chat. when I need video I'm probably in a meeting room with other peoplr joining a remote stand up

For the screen, I'd suggest checking it out in the store first and making sure it feels right. The 13" on a macbook (air/pro) feels larger imo because of bezel and the different aspect ratio (16:10 vs 16:9).

yes, if you type while using it your hand also cover the camera. it is useless. its only there to tick the box on their marketing material

Are webcams that hard to configure?

I think you misunderstood. The physical location of the webcam is so low on the device that it can only show the user from slightly underneath. This can't be fixed in software.

I think he meant an external webcam, which I suppose works well enough if you work at the same desk most of the time.

Camera focused on fingers: the digital era!

My boss has an older model. Every time he's on Skype, and he's typing, his hand is huge ,on the screen

What would be the reason for such (seemingly bad) decision?

Due to "InfinityEdge Display", there's no room to put it anywhere else. It does make the built in webcam rather useless, I've got an external (Logitech 920) webcam.

Look at the InfinityEdge Display here: http://www.weboo.co/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/New-Dell-XP-1...

Strange, that link redirects to http://i77.photobucket.com/albums/j53/colgate12/weboo-co-img... when I follow it in my normal browser session. It works as expected from incognito mode.

Why couldn't they do something like this?


They should have done something like this, but it's Dell, not Apple.

I've used a number of their top of the line products over the years, and they've always been riddled with cost-saving compromises like this. If they put the bezel on top, they'd have to invest more money into the display hinge as well instead of whatever cheap plastic parts they currently use. That would eat into their profits, so it won't happen until the competition forces it.

it is a usability choice.

camera up top = screen down a inch. Camera on the bottom = screen up a inch.

I rater the camera be clumsy since i use it 0.001% of the time, and the screen be 1" up since i use it all the time.

1" seems small. but that is probably 10 degrees on your neck if you have the laptop at half arms reach.

Why on earth would they place the webcam there?

The XPS 13 pioneered ultra-thin bezels which really are quite cool[0] -- not just visually: they shrunk the device footprint while keeping the screen the same size. The poor webcam position was a casualty of that design.

What's a bit weird is that even in this, what, second or third revision, they haven't managed to engineer around this issue despite it being mentioned as a major downside practically every time the laptop comes up.

[0] Striking comparison with a contemporary MBP: https://www.windowscentral.com/sites/wpcentral.com/files/sty...

Yes, because you can't buy a standalone webcam...

  *Killer cards are a branding of Qualcomm Atheros.  Their Linux drivers are open source and the firmware is now upstream.
This is very interesting. I am glad they are trying to include as many open source drivers as possible!

On a side note, Dell seems to be putting a bit of effort into this series. Do you guys think they are selling well enough for them to continue doing this or are they doing this as a hedge against Microsoft ?

I switched from a macbook to the previous model a year ago and put Arch on it. The machine is really really excellent.

I recently walked in a cafe in NYC and saw 6 of them and two macbooks, which I was shocked at.

So I hope Dell keeps it up. It's about time we had someone make decent laptops, besides apple, again. I was really missing the IBM Thinkpad series until these came along. Lenovo did not carry the torch well.

Nice! I have a developer version of the Dell precision series that is 2 generations old at this point. It has one of the best screens I have ever seen.

> I recently walked in a cafe in NYC and saw 6 of them and two macbooks, which I was shocked at.

Interesting! Is there any chance you caught what OS they were on (i.e. Linux vs Windows).

I saw two people running ubuntu unity. But I didn't go around and check the rest.

That is great to hear!

The Ubuntu XPS 13 has been on sale since early 2012. With 3 versions released in the last ~2 years.

I guess, after almost 5 years, they are quite serious about it? Although the effort is shared with their Windows siblings.

> This Kaby Lake-based system comes with Ubuntu 16.04LTS preloaded and features the InfinityEdge display.

If you haven't had the personal experience yet: stay away from new Intel processors on linux for at least a year post release. And if you must purchase something with a new Intel processor - do yourself a favor and pick a rolling-release distribution like Archlinux. -- but seriously I advice against it, I tried an XPS 15 with Skylake a little over half-a-year ago and it was extremely unstable at the time (even running the kernel of git-master).

Cannot up vote this enough. Same experience with a current generation Razer Stealth Blade. Power remaining jumps from 6 hours to 1 on the UI and only lasts 45 minutes at best.

Dual boot into Windows 10 and everything is great. This is 100% a Linux kernel and power management issue.

This is why I like buying used laptops - they're cheap and the kinks are already worked out.

Where do you usually buy them? Any recommendation?

Usually is a bit strong - I'm only on my third, since I tend to keep them until they fall apart - but I try to look for people selling off company laptops on Craigslist and equivalent. They're usually well taken care of and reasonably good quality. I found a 12" Thinkpad for $250 that was as good as new. I got a new battery, since I prefer 9 cells over 6, but the original still held 90%+ of the charge.

And how do you know it was related to the kernel and CPU combo? Do you have some series of patches that have been landed in the kernel since that claim to fix the issues you've had and have you tried those?

Skylake support only really landed in 4.4 and ramped up in 4.6 to be release-ready, it's fairly well known and you can ready any release vote from 4.4 to 4.7 to see commits pertaining to Skylake or the XPS13.

This may sound snarky but we've run the 7370 version of their lineup and chosen to abandon them for T460s at the time being. There are some pretty not cool things going on with the thunderbolt subsystem when it comes to displays and network cards.

Edit: to go into a bit more detail, we seem to see arbitrary packet loss on the thunderbolt based network cards (pigtails and docking stations), as well as sometimes the MAC changes, which messes with our radius system.

Furthermore, there are some issues with hardware acceleration on skylake so having a QHD screen is basically a waste if you want to try and view any QHD video content.

We ran Arch the entire time my team was on these and we kept the wiki up for this product. It just seemed that we were fighting a loosing battle with Dell's docks and with Intel's skylake stuff.

I have a Precision 5510 (XPS 15 Pro model), and was having nothing but trouble with their Thunderbolt/USB Type C docking station. After I threw that away and bought a pair of these [1] USB 3.0 to HDMI/VGA/Eth/USB dongles plugged into a 7 port USB hub, I've had no trouble, and no sacrifice in convenience. This was on Win 10. I believe those dongles are now useable also on Linux.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Dell-DA100-Universal-Adapter/dp/B00O0...

Do you recommend the 5510? I am seriously considering replacing my MacBook Pro with this. I currently get an hour and change of battery life when running my Windows VM even though OSX gets 7 hours easily.

It's a nice piece of kit for sure. I have the smaller battery, and it lasts about 4-5 hours. Would recommend skipping the second SSD and getting the bigger battery if you're off-power alot.

On the negative, Windows 10 HiDPI scaling is still flaky, especially if you have a 1080p external monitor plugged in (then it's essentially broken), so I'd recommend skipping the 4K version.

Also, you might want to set aside a few hours for driver upgrades, unless they've updated the install image since April. Both the WiFi, graphics and USB drivers that shipped on my machine were really flaky.

I haven't tried dual booting it with Linux yet, but it runs a Linux VM just fine. The heaviest application I run on it is probably AutoCAD, which makes it struggle sometimes, especially on battery power.

You might want to also look at the HP EliteBook lineup, I've heard that they're good solid machines, perhaps with less fuss out of the box.

I run Ubuntu on a 5510 and I love it. I get between 5 and 7 hours of battery life with it. Using the NVidia card will kill the battery, so be careful and make sure you set up Bumblebee/BBSwitch on Linux (or the NVidia settings on Windows). Otherwise, it's a great machine. I picked up the 32GB model with a 1TB NVMe drive and QHD+ display.

However, it is a bit too large for a bike commuter and I'll be selling it on eBay shortly.

A word of warning for those interested in this machine or the 15 inch version: there are issues with the keyboard resulting in double characters when typing fast [1]. I have the precision 5510 (basically an XPS 15) and have the same issue, it's driving me nuts and Dell won't (can't?) do anything about it.

Also, I'm currently on an old (1.2.0 instead of 1.2.14) bios firmware because they managed to introduce display flicker on on all but the highest brightness setting.

In short: there are real problems with quality assurance at Dell - be ready for this if you decide to buy one of their laptops.

[1] http://www.dell.com/support/Article/nl/nl/nlbsdt1/SLN297563/... - here they suggest to adjust the key repeat/delay settings as a last resort (doesn't help on my 5510)

I have this same problem and it drives me nuts. I can type "asdf" and instead of the correct key responses, I get "asdsafdf". No joke. You can see that they've released 6+ BIOS updates to try to fix this but it's still broken. Further, control, shift, and alt are extremely sensitive on where you apply pressure. If you press one of these keys on the side or the corner, it doesn't recognize that. Super frustrating.

With regard to the debounce issue, if you're running Ubuntu you can use dconf to set the slow keys timeout to a few ms (set slow keys to true as well) which will prevent basically all spurious extra keypresses. The theory being that your finger pressing a key sends a 'longer' signal than the bounce that sometimes occurs.

A side affect on my machine is that controlling brightness using the keyboard no longer works (other fn combinations still work) and pressing the power button no longer brings up the logout/suspend/etc menu. Somehow these keys always fire a really short press signal :|

So there's that.

Since the post had mentioned what Linus uses...

For the OS, Linus had been using Fedora Workstation at least until a year ago, last I heard. Linus doesn't like how Gnome deals with the 2016 XPS 13 Developer Edition either: http://www.zdnet.com/article/linus-torvalds-reveals-his-favo...

"...has the same resolution as my desktop, but apparently because the laptop screen is smaller, Gnome seems to decide on its own that I need an automatic scaling factor of 2, which blows up all the stupid things (window decorations, icons etc) to a ridiculous degree.".

To fix he said: "You need to go to the shell and run: gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface scaling-factor 1."

Here's what Linus had at home, desktop-wise, as of Jul 18, 2014:


But personally...

My ultimate Frankenstein laptop in would be something similar to the dimensions of a MacBook Pro (2016), but with a few USB3 ports, memory card reader, headphone jack, function keys and full length touch bar atop the function keys. Then just max it out so I can run intense builds/tests, and emulate Windows, macOS, and Linux.

As for the OS, for now I would use macOS. I like Pantheon in ElementaryOS, though. I like that Elementary tries to emulate what drew developers to macs 2006-2010 (prior to Mac App Store when you got apps by downloading them and didn't have to control-click to open unsigned ones and have both Launchpad and Appstore when before it was just the /Applications directory). I've used various Debian-based distros, but could be swayed to Fedora, maybe.

If I had money, I'd have a nice desktop and have all of the coolest games. But I don't, so I have a thin factor laptop that just works and just big enough to read comfortably.

While I think that the Dell XPS is the most beautiful of the Dell machines, I think that the lattitude, especially the e7470 model[0] is a better development machine as they're more easily upgradable (at least regarding the RAM and SSD).


The Precision 5510 is basically the XPS but with far more upgrade options.

But skylake, not kaby lake...

Agree. I use E7470 too. And it can run Windows 7. The only grief I have is the useless fingerprint reader.

Latitudes also have a WAY better keyboard.

Judging by the pictures, the new models have pretty much the same keyboard as XPS. And the 15" models only come with numpad, which is a bit silly IMNSHO.

If you get this laptop don't make the same mistake I made (I have the Skylake version). Don't waste your money buying the Dell™ USB 3.0 Ultra HD Triple Video Docking Station D3100 (which is not even a real docking station cause it won't charge your laptop while connected). This thing uses a proprietary technology called Display Link and the support for Linux is just awful, there's a closed source driver but I wasn't able to connect more than one monitor and the Display Link process uses >30% CPU most of the time.

This is so true. I have the Broadwell laptop, which is great, and the D3100 docking station, which is an utter piece of garbage, for all the reasons above. If you used or tried to use it for even just half an hour, you'd probably resort to even more inflammatory language. For me, it has become a very expensive USB hub. I gave up on it completely when I realized that its USB audio feature locked up the machine.

Thankfully, I found that the XPS13 has a DisplayPort output that is capable of driving two daisy-chained monitors in addition to the internal screen (no mirroring!), even at 2560x1440 on each. I use it with two Dell 27" monitors. They must support DP1.2 for chaining to work. To be fair, there was a regression for hotplug detection from Ubuntu 15.10 to 16.04, but it was recently fixed.

Beware. The Skylake XPS13 has a DP output, but the Kaby Lake XPS13 doesn't seem to.

I already complained on https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11815107 concerning the older edition that it is ludicrous to call a laptop "Developer Edition" that does not even have an ethernet port. It seems Dell makes again the same mistake.

For protocol: For selling a "hipster model" it should better be thin, well-designed etc. For something that targets developers you want

- Ethernet port (ideally 10 GBit/s instead of 1 GBit/s if possible)

- Easily available maintaince manual and easy to open case to replace/extend RAM, replace SSD, clean fan etc.

- Hardware for which open specification is as much available as possible (which is a much stronger condition than "open source drivers on GNU/Linux are available")

- But besides GNU/Linux it also should be able to run Windows (often it is really import to be able to test software on Windows)

- Non-locked UEFI bootloader (including possibility to enable/disable secure boot) with ability add own keys and also remove existing secure boot keys (e.g. Microsoft's one if you really are a FOSS fanboy).

- Ideally possibility to compile UEFI firmware from source code on your own such that as few blobs as possible are compiled in (this probably also implies a necessity that a way exists to reset the UEFI to the factory state if you bricked the UEFI by too much experimenting).

- Long lifetime (5 years +) from purchase for which the device is officially supported by the manufacturer

It appears your definition of Developer is more on the "Open source enthusiasts" (for lack of a better term).

Most developers don't care about their hardware being open source, or maintenance or unlockable UEFI, and they definitely would never compile a UEFI firmware.

Most of them probably can ignore Ethernet in favor of wifi most of the time, and can use a usb-to-ethernet adapter when really needed.

Long life is probably as important to them as it is important to everyone else.

The only real issue I think is being able to run windows, though if you are buying a linux laptop when a windows laptop of the same ilk is available, I'm not sure how much you care.

I personally do care about the open source aspect - not only because I work on open source projects, but because it means I'm not so awfully dependent on the manufacturer. Does the proprietary driver support the kernel version / distribution / whatever you wanna use? No? Bummer. The more the stuff is open, the higher the chance someone will make it work.

Well the announcement has Torvalds as posterboy (quite plausible he compiled UEFI a few times), boasts upstreamed sources for the drivers and the laptop comes with Linux pre-installed. While I generally agree with your sentiment, GPs expectations are not surprising, even if over-optimistic.

Aside from Ethernet, aren't all the other requirements depend on the kind of development you do? For me, if keyboard is convenient and I get enough Ram/CPU/Disk space I don't care how serviceable or moddable it is, I still can do my Java back-end work. The 5 year lifetime is more of a money question, I'd prefer a new system in 3 years.

I think quite many of us developers are happy with not having the thickness of the laptop doubled just to add an ethernet port. You already need to carry a chunky ethernet cable with you, so adding an usb-ethernet dongle isn't that big of a price to pay.

Are there dongles that can do 10, or even 1Gbps?

There are definitely 1Gbps dongles, I bought one at Best Buy for a USB-only laptop I picked up. Now, in hindsight, I'd probably go for integrated Ethernet, but I also do a lot of embedded development for which I'm going to be highly dependent on dongles and hubs anyhow.

Yes, 10 Gbps through a Thunderbolt port.

Not sure about 10, but I have a dongle for my XPS 13 (older version) that can do 1 Gbps.

There are plenty cheap and fast USB3 GbE adapters.

My experience with ethernet dongles is terrible. The biggest problems I have are erratic behavior on wake up. Like 1Gbps switching to 100Mbps, the device taking forever to be recognised when it is not simply not recognised.

Does anybody remember those Ethernet ports that popped out to full size when pressed?? May be due for a return...

Yeah, that's not going to happen any time soon. I think the version you are looking for is "GNU Advocate Edition". Other than the Ethernet port and the camera placement, it seems like an excellent notebook for developers.

Most offices I visit no longer provide RJ45 to the desk. It's all wifi nowadays, which makes sense since you're supposed to get 600+Mbps on a modern access point (which never happens, but that's the sales pitch).

At least the Lenovo Carbon X1 has a dongle for RJ45. Useful when that `docker pull` ends up downloading a 1.5GB container...

Regardless how fast wireless is, wired connections is always faster. It helps for installing the OS, pulling large data sets, etc... Also few USB-ether dongles support pxe boot.

And more stable mostly

To be honest, WiFi stability is a question of architecture and implementation. With the right hardware, and enough of it to avoid the issues associated with APs overload, you can make WiFi very reliable.

If it's a primary development machine then sometimes it's going to need to do some number crunching. It doesn't matter that it's not made for it, sometimes you don't have time to spin up an aws instance.

Some of these times internet access is needed for number crunching. This is when it really comes in hand

That and moving around 30gb backups of numbers you've crunched.

Those must be very small startup offices.

Even moderately sized still have copper to every desk. Latency wins when doing development.

Our office is 200 seats. While getting wired was true in the past new cubicles are going without. We have a few users that request a LAN connection for their hard IP phones.

Would you mind satisfying my curiosity, what part of your development cycle is hindered by not having 10GbE links on your laptop?

Loading and transfering VMs

> Ethernet port (ideally 10 GBit/s instead of 1 GBit/s if possible)

There are several vendors that make thunderbolt network adapters that support 10GbE SFPs. I think supporting this within the laptop would increase the laptop's size significantly. You can even go up to 40 GbE.

I really wish I could get 16gb RAM without paying for a touchscreen. It was possible to get an Ubuntu XPS configured that way as recently as two weeks ago. Should have pulled the trigger then.

Have a look at the precision series on their small business site. I am getting one of those with 32gb for myself this Christmas.

I wonder if they've fixed the coil whine problem with this iteration. That's the sticking point for me currently.

I've just got the previous version and the coil whine is really annoying. I'm debating whether to keep it. I actually wouldn't mind as much if it's constant, but hearing a "brbrbrbrbrbr" whenever I scroll is very irritating.

There's a lot of static on the headphone port too, which is disappointing.

I have one and the answer is no.

I had no idea this was actually a thing before this morning :(

It seems to only happen when there is graphics stress -- using "semaphores=1 i915_enable_rc6=7 i915_enable_fbc=1" seems to help, and once I started playing videos with --hwdec it was quieter also..

As it only happens during video, and I usually have headphones or the speakers going at those times I'm not too bugged by it yet..

Doing a kernel compile or something noisy in a term doesn't seem to trigger it..

This also highly influenced my decision to buy a Lenovo T460 which is silent (even no noise under load) and long lasting too and Linux runs well on it too and is a lot cheaper for the same hardware, but does not look that pretty ;)

Same here. As soon as they have that fixed I'll buy one.

Does any potential buyer has given serious thought to Intel NUC products instead of a laptop?

I see several advantage of owing it like

1. portability

2. connects to extenal GPU (it already has integrated Iris Pro GPU)

3. optical audio

4. upgradable/future proof

5. my choice of keyboard/mouse/os/display

6. Thunderbolt™ 3



Yeah (not a NUC specifically, though I considered that), but a small formfactor PC.

I really like having that little bit of friction keeping me tied to an actual workstation. If I'm feeling antsy like I should be sitting in a coffee shop or office lounge area, that's usually a good signal to me that it's time to take a break.

A workstation isn't a computer form factor, it's a comprehensive suite of ergonomic and self mental conditioning decisions. As a side benefit, it's very easy to find / build a ludicrously performant computer, for not much money, that runs Linux (or even OpenBSD!) like a dream.

I was genuinely sad when my most sign-on with a job didn't give me a non-laptop option. I'm increasingly of the opinion that kind, humane IT departments offer workstations and allow people to borrow chromebooks for rare travel or working from home. The alternative sets up a subtle expectation that you could / should be working outside work. Plus I have to schlep the stupid thing home or lock it up in a cabinet every night. If only I could epoxy it to the desk...

You heard it here: 2017 is the year when startups, to demonstrate work-life balance friendliness, advertise big desktop workstation options for employees.

I was talking from a point of view of a student and a light gamer. Due to issues of transportation, it would not be feasible for me to have a ludicrously performant computer or a gaming rig. I use portability in the sense of being able to move across country with my device. I have a loud speakers, Das mechanical keyboard and a gaming mouse along with ergonomic chair and desk to help me type faster. That's my mental conditioning which I cannot have on the move. After that there is always something on download/upload on my laptop, so I never like disconnecting my laptop from ethernet. So problem solved.

You can do what I am doing, plus get multi monitor set up too. So unplugging your laptop becomes pain in ass. You can try love to hate your laptop touch pad and keyboard, so always crave using a mouse and mechanical keyboard set up. Uninstall wifi drivers too. That will help to keep your laptop locked in with an ethernet cable.

I want a powerful PC which can be easily transported without any damage to it. Mini PC seems to be better option than a gaming PC. As it has the option of external GPU which allows me share it with others, instead of it being hooked inside my laptop/custom pc all the time. Sharing decreases the cost. I know about decreased performance of external GPU over USB C in comparison to internal GPU.

I am not fan of so much power on the move. I don't even use a smart phone and I am fine with a flip phone. It has 16GB SD card and a headphone jack. Today, we see that in name of making devices thin and powerful companies are soldering RAM and SSD to motherboard. That's the reason I have decided to move away from laptops and depend on mini/custom PC. I can triple boot Windows/macOS/Linux. I also use persistence installation of Linux or even Windows using Windows to Go. So in case of emergency, I always have a way to get back to where I left off. Portable softwares, Teamviewer and SSH is always there too.

It seems to me that carrying powerful machine all the time must make one feel obligated to get back to work and hence more hectic life. I just cannot afford to pay premium price for additional power in portable form factor while losing options of upgradability.

I also welcome desktop workstation as long as I can hook a NVIDIA 1080 and play Crisis game.

PS: I read the review of Intel NUC, and it has graphics driver issues. Sad.

any opinion on this

Cubi 2 Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7500U DDR4 mSATA HDMI Wifi Bluetooth SFF Barebone PC (Cubi2-005BUS)


I'm currently using the skylake nuc, all maxed out. That's dual Samsung 950 pro in raid0 and 32gb ram. Plus when I get home I hook it up to a razor core with gtx1080 inside. The only problems that I see are raid drivers for rapid storage controller and the fact that it can't draw power through the Core's thunderbolt connection. Windows 10 is currently the host os with ubuntu running in virtualbox.

I was concerned after reading this article.

Skull Canyon Graphics Output Problem https://communities.intel.com/thread/102260 https://communities.intel.com/thread/108306

Anyway, it has been trickier to make full use of external GPU without performance sacrifice. NUC has it's own power brick, do you use that or trying to get power supply through USB C port?

From the benchmarks that I've seen you lose about 5-10% of your GPU's performance compared to what you'd get on a pci-e 16x interface.

As for USB-C, I use its thunderbolt3 properties to enable Razer Core. Haven't used it that much as just a usb-c port. My idea was that it would be nice to be able to power it up through something like Razer Core since it has more than enough power output through this port. According to the documents it is not possible with the NUC. Maybe next gen version will provide such a feature.

I used a Mac Mini as my main machine some time ago when I was a student. Carried it between home and uni each term, and sometimes to offices where I had a monitor set up. My argument for getting one was similar: I spend 95% of the time with it plugged into big monitors and keyboards anyway, I can upgrade the disk/memory/etc, still portable enough, and much cheaper than an equivalent Macbook Pro.

But when it was time to upgrade, I got a laptop again. Because even if 95% of the time you use it plugged into big monitors and keyboards, you really miss the 5%. You still need a laptop to go to client meetings, conference rooms, conferences, hotels, hackathons, airports, etc.

And if you're getting both a portable desktop and a "basic laptop", might as well buy a good laptop for the same total price, and avoid the effort needed to keep all the data and configuration in sync on two computers.

However, if you are sure that you can live without having a computer that is usable outside of places where you have previously dropped off a monitor, it might be the most economical option.

Over the years, my basic operational distinction between laptops and desktops comes down to Uninteruptable Power Supplies. It's not just working in the coffee shop [though that matters]. Thunderstorms matter too.

By the time I put a NUC on a UPS, and a monitor, keyboard, mouse, what advantage does it have over a regular desktop if I need computing power, or an rPi if I'm just noodling around in the terminal.

As you can read my above response, it makes my life easier while transportation.

I certainly will choose desktop tower in comparison to this miniPC but that just isn't possible for now for me.

Some use it as their media center in living room instead of work station.

That makes sense. It seems like a different use case than is typical for a laptop. Though one that I used laptop might readily fill...there's some nice kit available for the price of a new NUC.

I don't see how anyone can call this a developer edition laptop if it has the same keyboard as the rest of the XPS line. XPS keyboards are mushy chiclets with big gaps between keys.

Meanwhile, Dell's Latitude line has excellent keyboards, at least as excellent as you're likely to get in a laptop these days.

I've always been a fan of the Latitude series, they are (in my experience) the best combination of quality components, cost efficiency, and are easy to repair/upgrade. The only negative is that they tend to lag behind Dell's other series when it comes to having the latest CPU/GPU.

How's the Linux support?

From Dell, no official support, but my experience over the years has been that they are well supported by the Linux community for network drivers and things like power management (sleep/wake). The biggest downside (for me) is the lack of a good GPU beyond the Intel HD series; the models I've dealt with are most often equipped with Quadro NVS chips. The NVS just barely outperforms the Intel HD series, but requires the closed source driver to do so.

I haven't messed with them since the Sandy Bridge days though, so your mileage may vary with more recent models.

This version has been out in the US for over a month now, I bought it directly from Dell in October. I have the non-developer editoin and installed Arch Linux on it as my primary OS. It did not require any hacks and the process is well-documented on the Arch Wiki.

If you qualify for Dell EPP, you can get a non-developer edition with the same specs as the developer edition and a Windows license for the same price.

Not quite the same specs, the wireless card is different.

That was the case with the last (9350) model, but now both have the same "Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1."

Ah sweet, thanks!

For F sake! Why can't I get a 16Gb without this freaking touch screen? This "Customize and Buy" section is a joke, there is nothing to customize. So I get either a garbage laptop with 8Gb and 128Gb SSD and a decent battery, or I spit $1800 for a decent config with a stupid touch screen that will kill 3 hours of my battery life?

Am I doing something wrong and just not finding the page to really customize the specs?

I have the same problem. I don't even see an option to change a spec all I get is the 256GB/8GB/i5 base model in all the configurations. It's also not possible to change the keyboard layout for my region (CH/DE).


They currently offer only one low end model with the non-touch screen. I wish they would offer a few better options with that screen. The regular HD screen meets all my needs and takes much less power.

Anyone know if they fixed the long-running keyboard debounce issue with this version? I remember it was 'fixed' with a few BIOS updates but they never seemed to actually get to the root of the problem with the model I had and I eventually returned it.

I have the skylake precision 5510; it also has the keyboard debounce issue, and it hasn't been fixed. Contacted Dell, had the keyboard replaced but that hasn't helped. I don't have faith in their ability to fix this - it's been an issue going back all the way to 2009 and affects multiple models (latitude, inspiron, xps, precision)

Used an external keyboard for the first few months, so money back is not an option anymore. Terrible experience!

Never experienced it on the 9350.

<snark>But it only has 16GB, obviously that's not enough for developers!</snark>

(Typing this on the new MBP that people tell me is not a "Pro" machine -- but it's the best laptop I've ever owned!)

I just upgraded my XPS 15 to 32GB, 2400MHz RAM. Unfortunately with the XPS 13, it seems the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. Personally I wouldn't get the XPS 13 for work, but go for the more powerful XPS 15.

An MBP with the same configuration as the Dells priciest model costs $700 more.

I've got last year's model and the ram has never been an issue for me, in fact I manage to run 6 to 7 workspaces, each with a chrome window with a few hundred tabs, terminal windows and an atom window all running really well. I do have the great suspender installed which obviously helps.

You have 1800 tabs? How do you cognitively manage that?

It becomes a problem when you need to do integration tests with several VMs and data stores + video conf.

Is Ubuntu substantially lighter on system resources than macOS? I used a MBP for a few years during the OS X Lion/Mavericks era, and the system struggled on a 4GB/500HDD machine whereas a comparably specced Linux laptop would just fly.

I haven't run Linux on my MB's, so I can't say how same-same hardware performance would compare between the two. I always have a Linux machine around, though, and have for the last 20+ years (Slackware on floppies!) -- and it always runs faster than Windows. Much of that probably has to do with the fact that it's simply running a lot less code, and that a lot of what I would do with an app you do from the shell in Linux.

Regarding the narrow question of memory usage, I'd be surprised if Linux uses as much memory as MacOS, again because of the more extensive set of system services that runs in MacOS.

But wait: this XPS actually has 'only' 16GB RAM.

Why doesn't this seem to be a problem now? Is it replaceable?

Dell also make laptops with far more ram, so it's not a choice of ">16GB or dell" it's just with this specific line of laptops.

The current gen XPS 15 can be upgraded to 32gb. Not sure about the 13.

I have one of these at the moment, with 32GB of ram.

Definitely the fastest machine I've ever owned/used.

How's the extra ram affect the battery life? Recent HN discussions seems to point toward a heavy battery penalty because of the type of ram needed. (NB: I am not a hardware nerd, looking for actual information here, not just an idle question)

I'm honestly not sure, good question though.

I guess it's difficult to test, would also be interested to know if somebody has tested the different versions against each other.

Good point—I guess a better question would be "hows your battery life?" :)

I have an i7 one, and I mostly love it. The issues though, they irk.

- I can't get over the battery life difference, it actually tempts me back to Windows.

- If you get the highest resolution screen I've found that not all programs in Linux handle the scaling correctly and if you don't scale the text is unreadably small. This is especially telling with notifications.

- If you have DisplayPort requirements you're going to be in trouble, there are few to no DP dongles and the ones that exist don't pass through USB Type-C and so you need multiple dongles off of dongles because there is only 1 USB Type-C.

- If you did go for the touchscreen version, the touchscreen doesn't seem to always work after waking from sleep.

Aside from those things, the Ubuntu install went smoothly with everything being recognised immediately and no need to muck around with anything.

Still... that battery. Makes me wonder whether I should switch to VMWare on Windows to run my Linux.

Planning my next computer purchase and going full VMware on the surface is starting to seem like the best solution. Currently on MacBook Pro but that situation is just such a shitshow now.

So aggravating that the closest we can get to a gold standard for a native Linux laptop is more like a bronze standard...

I run Linux VM on windows and would definitely say I got more battery life out of the machine. Not sure how it affects non-battery life performance as I haven't run anything intensive yet, but it was worth it for me.

Did you try TLP and tuning with Powertop?

Powertop I did not know about, just googled and it looks nice, will definitely investigate more.

And the laptop is a few weeks old. I spent 24 hours on Windows just to see how it has changed as I haven't used Windows in about 5 years (used to be 50% Linux, 50% Windows, last 5 years 100% Linux).

I didn't enjoy Windows, and sorely missed i3wm. But in it's favour, the scaling was perfect everywhere, the battery life really blew me away, and it the boot and shut down times were incredible.

I was tempted, for a moment, to consider Hyper-V Linux on Windows 10 Ent, but just went Linux instead. Knowing it has that battery life under Windows means this temptation remains.

`powertop --auto-tune` will turn all power-related settings to their most conservative settings. You can adjust them individually by running `powertop` interactively afterwards.

I would love to see power estimates before and after that command! In my experience it increases battery time by 30-50%.

The I/O ports on it seem wrong. It would be much better if it lose the power plug and one of the old USB ports for two additional TB3 ports. Love the power gauge, although I rarely use it I really like it on my old MBP and miss it on the new ones.

If you're looking for a larger laptop with the same design, look also at the Dell Precision 5510 line, not just XPS 15. I've been waiting for an XPS15 with a good CPU and without discrete GPU, and gave up - they only do i3 version.

Then I've noticed the new Precision 5510 uses the same XPS-like design, gives you i5-6640HQ with Intel GPU (not sure why they don't offer i7 without Nvidia too).

Anyway, got mine a few days ago, seems working flawlessly (except the usual UEFI / Secure Boot stuff). Comes with Ubuntu out of the box, seems to work fine with Qubes so far.

I am in the same boat. I read that the 5510's fan is quite noisy so I am still thinking of the xps (it's really important for me).

I don't think it's particularly noisy. Sure, you can hear it when doing CPU-intensive stuff (say, doing "make -j4" on a large project), but well - the heat needs to go somewhere, otherwise the laptop would get quite hot (like the MBP, for example). The fan opening is on the bottom, not on the side/back as on other laptops, so perhaps this also dampens the noise.

I've heard there were issues with proper power management on skylake when it was new, so perhaps they fixed it in the kernel - no idea. Or maybe the noise is worse on the models with Nvidia, which is one of the reasons why I wanted a model without it. It's also possible that the fan will get more noisy over time, so let's see.

Update: The one thing I'm only 95% happy with is the keyboard - it's way better than on all the other 15.6" laptops I've tried (in particular no numpad stupidity), but I'd still prefer the keyboard from my old t420s. The enter is way too narrow on the "EN international" keyboard, should get the US keyboard instead, for example.

Fan operation is pretty much dictated by physics. Higher wattage CPU's will generate more heat as a tradeoff for less throttling. The two ways standard ways to deal with heat are more aggressive cooling profiles or a bigger heat sink (i.e. a larger and heavier laptop overall).

The 5510's are packaged to be relatively smaller and lighter. The Precision 7500 models are heavier and larger. The additional volume also allows more expansion (and accommodate significantly more powerful hardware at initial build).

In terms of fan noise, choice of CPU and workload is probably going to make more difference than anything else.

Have a 15 XPS that I installed Ubuntu on.

I tried the 13 but I personally like bigger screen to work on.

Everything worked perfectly with Ubuntu 16.10 except the headphones which I found a pretty simple solution for online.

I love it! Highly reccomended.

I bought an XPS 15 a few weeks ago and couldn't be more happier. The build quality is great and an amazing step up from the flimsy XPS I bought 4 years ago. It's a beautiful machine. But, the entire case is a fingerprint magnet though. I recommend some dBrand skins. The "carbon fiber" top cover is the worst. You'll have to carry some cleaning cloth with you. The 1080p screen is awesome. Perfect colors. So good I started editing my photos on this laptop vs my high-end monitors. The keyboard is great. The track pad is great as well. I know there were some driver issues with the track pad. It seems like all is well now. Audio quality is terrible. My older XPS sounded amazing. The screen has very very thin bezel. So because of that the web cam is awkwardly positioned at the bottom of the screen just above the keyboard. So everyone gets to see your chin when you're video conferencing. The battery life is alright. If you want to squeeze more life out of the battery you'll have to start undervolting, which isn't too bad. I run Windows with a couple of VS instances and typically a bunch of Chrome tabs open. I get 6 hours with fairly heavy usage. I get about 9 hours with some undervolting techniques (You can find them online. Lot's of folks doing this). I really suggest the power companion Dell sells as an accessory to this laptop. It'll help get you through the work day. Goes without saying, If you want more battery life do not buy XPS with the 4k screen.

No overheating issues. I haven't even heard the fans yet. So quite and cool so far.

I also love the form factor. It doesn't feel like a 15'' laptop. Overall a great buy. It's not the MacBook Pro but i think it's getting there and it's definitely worth the money.

They should have included at least two USB Type-C ports (or all of them as far as I'm concerned), also use them for charging. I have 2015 Chomebook Pixel for 1.5 years now and going back to a dedicated proprietary charger/charging port now seems so backwards. I am by all means no fan of Apple, but they sure had the right idea with going all USB Type-C. This laptop is not future-proof in my opinion.

If I recall correctly, the XPS can charge either through USB-C, or through the dedicated port.

But then why would they include a dedicated charging port? That doesn't make any sense.

It's just an extra option, as I understand. It may also be because the hardware for USB charging in laptops is still emerging. Current chipsets seem to offer what they call 'USB-C charging', but not yet the higher power USB-PD spec. So perhaps in their judgment the offerings haven't developed enough for USB to be the sole mechanism.

Note that DELL is offering these with only 15W TDP CPUs:

- i3-7100U https://ark.intel.com/products/95442

- i5-7200U https://ark.intel.com/products/95443

- i7-7500U https://ark.intel.com/products/95451

The most important determiner of machine performance is how much power the CPU can use. CPUs turn watts into performance. A 45W CPU will deliver 3x the performance of a 15W CPU. I'm disappointed that reporters continue to leave out this crucial information in their reviews.

Upgrading from an i3 to an i5 CPU gives you about 10% better power efficiency. Going to i7 gives another 10-15%. So for $650, you can upgrade to the i7 and get a disappointing 25% increase in performance.

DELL is still charging an extra $400 for a 256 GB SSD. Last year, I bought the 2015 XPS 13 and immediately replaced the SSD with a $200 500GB Samsung 850 EVO. Then I wasted several hours using DELL's disgracefully buggy installer. Then it was 5 more hours spread over the next weeks to solve other problems like slow wifi, video decoding becoming slow after resume, and random freezes during resume. I still have problems with sound sometimes not working. Overall, the experience has been disappointing.

It seems that DELL is releasing buggy laptops again this year. These laptops should be usable after a few months, once the Linux community has fixed the worst of DELL's software bugs. I wish DELL would put more resources behind their products and make them really good.

> CPUs turn watts into performance. A 45W CPU will deliver 3x the performance of a 15W CPU.

Can you provide a reference for this?

I'm pretty sure a CPU turns watts into HEAT and PERFORMANCE,

The 15W you're talking about is the TDP, which describe HEAT. This tells you about battery life mainly. Ghz is the unit of PERFORMANCE.

Is it actually available in Europe?

Here in Germany it always displays "Product currently not available", regardless how many times I visited the web site.

Website is a complete mess and the page you refer to was probably about the previous model which was withdrawn. Anyway, after some search I managed to find it here in Spain and even order one (they have a nice discount these days due to Black Friday). This one should make it for you: http://www.dell.com/de/unternehmen/p/xps-13-9360-laptop/pd?o...

I've just ordered it with Ubuntu in the UK.

I bought the previous version a few months ago, and it was particularly difficult to find on Dell website.

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