Want to buy new laptop: Dell XPS15 i5-6300HQ vs Asus N551VW i7-6700HQ? Thoughts please!


Feb 10, 2016

I am deciding between a Dell XPS15 i5-6300HQ and an Asus N551VW i7-6700HQ. I was originally set on the Dell XPS 15 but some research made me stumble upon the Asus which seems better in many ways, as well cheaper!

Dell XPS 15 - 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-6300HQ Quad Core (6M Cache, up to 3.2 GHz)
(£1,099: http://www.dell.com/uk/p/xps-15-9550-laptop/pd?oc=cnx5510&model_id=xps-15-9550-laptop-laptop

Asus N551VW 15.6-Inch Notebook (Black) - (Intel Core i7-6700HQ, 16 GB RAM, 2 TB Plus 128 GB SSD, NVIDIA GTX960M, 2 GB Integrated Graphics, Bluetooth, Webcam, DVDRW, Windows 10)
(£915): http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asus-N551VW-15-6-Inch-Notebook-Black/dp/B017PE18IQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455098765&sr=8-1&keywords=Asus+N551VW+15.6-Inch+Notebook+%28Black%29

On paper, the Asus seems like it would have a better performance compared to the Dell XPS 15 I listed above? AND its cheaper!?

Any reason for this price discrepancy? I mean according to the numbers/stats, it beats the XPS on all counts right? i7-6700HQ beats i5 6300HQ and it has more storage and RAM? Is it just the brand name that makes the Dell more expensive? Or am I genuinely getting a better product (the Asus) for a cheaper price than the Dell? Or is there something not as good about the Asus as it first might seem? Like maybe it won't last as many years, or is battery life an issue? Or does it not feel as good as the XPS to type/work on? What would be your advice/recommendation?

What I will use my new laptop for:

1. Microsoft Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint; this seems basic but I work with very large spreadsheets (im talking like 20 sheets each with 10,000 rows and 100's of columns of data) and very large PowerPoint presentations (with lots of images/graphics/colours etc), and I will have multiple of these excel and powerpoints open at any one time, as well as Outlook running the whole time. Don't really use Word that much but do on occasion; but Word docs will not be that big usually.

2. Factset - a data and research application (http://www.factset.com/) - I dont think its too processing heavy but on my work station at work I do notice that this can be a little slow/laggy if I have loads of excels and powerpoints running (which I almost always do)

3. Other things include like (a) hectic browsing of the internet (eg 2 chromes up with 20 tabs loaded on each + 1 internet explorer up with a few tabs open + 1 mozilla up with a few tabs open) and (b) having iTunes/Windows Media Player up

TO BE CLEAR: All the above needs to happen concurrently; so I need a laptop that is super quick whilst running ALL of the above AT THE SAME TIME.

In terms of the other particular specs that I want:

1. I want at least 500GB hardrive, but the more the better and am happy to pay extra for extra space
2. At least 8GB of RAM, but again the more the better and am happy to pay extra for extra RAM
3. Atleast 2 USB ports (preferably 3.0)
4. An HDMI port
5. Dont care about a graphics card or memory card or DVD drive
6. I want an HD display but dont need (or in fact want) a 4K

So that you know, I plan on hooking the laptop up to 2 24" screens so whatever other specs I need from the laptop to allow me to do this, I also need (but I think I would only need USB ports and HDMI port for this?).

I think the Dell XPS range of laptops is what I want (although am happy to hear other suggestions if there is something more suited to my needs), I dont want to spend too much more than £1000, but my main question is, for what I want to use the laptop for, should I go for a 6th Gen core i5 or core i7? What is better for my performance needs? I wont be playing games on it, just intensely using Excel/Powerpoint etc with some heavy use of Chrome (ie. multiple heavy data sites open at the same time).

Please let me know what is best for me.

I would opt for the Dell XPS 15.

Its Infinity Display means the think bezel around the 15.6" screen makes the laptop closer to the size of an average 14" laptop. It is also relatively light at 3.9lbs / 1.78kg. Based on reviews "typical" average usage means the laptop has about an 8 hour battery life. "Typical" generally means no gaming, maybe a bit of interest surfing, speadsheet work and maybe a few short videos.; but that varies.

One thing that is lacking is that there is only the one drive bay. There is not even a m.2 slot for a SSD stick. But that is a drawback for being smaller than a typical 15.6" laptop.

The quad core i5-6300HQ lacks Hyper Threading (HT) so programs that have been designed to take advantage of HT would perform a bit better on an i7-6700HQ in the Asus laptop.

The price discrepancy is due to the smaller size and lighter weight (3.9lbs vs 6lbs) of the Dell XPS 15. That generally means more engineering is involved which includes proper cooling. And the use of more expensive lighter material that is also strong like carbon fiber. That generally increases the production cost. Plus some people are will to pay a premium for a light yet powerful laptop.


Feb 10, 2016

Many thanks for your reply! Yes I am also thinking that the Dell XPS 15 is the best option here. Given that I am only going to use the laptop to do a lot of Excel/Powerpoint and heavy internet surfing (and not using any specialist programs), how important is hyperthreading for me? What is / how does hyperthreading work? (I am a novice when it comes to computers!).

Also, you mention the upgradeability (or lack thereof) of the SSD - are you saying that I couldn't remove the 32GB SSD and replace it with say a 128GB later? What options would I have here? And also, apart from loading the OS from the SSD, would I really miss the fast speed of the SSD when doing non-intensive stuff? In other words, do I really need an SSD other than for booting the laptop up?

Based on your intended usage, Hyper Threading will not really benefit you unless you are doing data mining and / or financial modelling in Excel.

Sorry about the mis-information regarding the M.2 32GB SSD cache. I am actually helping out several people at once regarding laptops in general. Some of the laptops have hybrid HDDs with an internal SSD within the HDD casing. Yes, you can install a M.2 SSD in the Dell XPS 15. However, I do not know if the BIOS will allow you to boot from the M.2 SSD though.

Windows will load the SSD cache with data it believes the programs you use will need based on what you are doing. If some data / files needs to be load in a program the SSD cache will be search first before going to the hard drive.

Not sure if Windows will boot faster with a SSD cache, but if you replace it with a higher capacity SSD and set it up as the C: drive (instead of just as a cache drive), then you will notice a dramatic decrease in boot time compared to just having a standard HDD.