MS Surface


I’ve been following the XPS 15 for over a year, last generation and this one, and I’m just too put off by the overwhelming number of threads on significant problems with it, So I’ll just keep looking.


Yep, I’d also recommend the XPS15.

The U-series CPUs are all dual-core and really not what you want for video editing. 35w i7s in 15" notebooks like the XPS15 are real quadcores. You likely want a GPU also for CUDA in video rendering, and the XPS15 has one of 'em. So does the Surface Book with the GPU keyboard, if you really prefer it.

The HP Spectre X360 15" is also well-reviewed, as is the Lenovo Yoga 720.


I used a Surface Pro 3 as my main work machine for a couple years, then got the surface book to replace it. I do like the surface pro form factor more though and am thinking of selling the book to get the new pro. Can probably sell the book for nearly the same price as the pro since it has the dGPU in it that I just barely ever use and really don’t need.

Seems like most places got the i7 for review though. I’d get the i5. Any credible and thorough benchmarks of the i5 out there yet?


I’ve been using my Surface Pro 4 as my home work machine since last November. It is far, far more capable and less frustrating than my oldish MacBook Pro, and I have used the tablet functionality in meetings and critiques to good effect. I also use it as the machine for giving presentations at different places. I’ve been quite pleased with it overall.

I don’t game on it or use it for anything but writing, presentations, that sort of thing though.


I may end up with an XPS 15, but as I’ve said, the hundreds of posts in numerous threads on including many returns are what keep me looking elsewhere.

The HP Spectre 360x 15 was on my radar screen but I think it maxxes at an i7-7600u.

The Lenovo Yoga 720 is interesting, though, I did not realize the Yogas had a quad core option, I’d looked hard at the Thinkpad Cabon, as it is a very well made system, but as of now no quad core option. Quad core really limits the options in terms of thin, light, and long battery life.


What’s interesting about that: my Alienware M17x has a GTX 680M and an Intel HD4000. For some reason the older version of Cyberlink Powerdirector stopped recognizing older versions of the nVidia cards, including mine. I was pretty upset, but then I realized that rendering (e,g. 1 hour video 1080p res) with the Intel card was no slower than using the CUDA on the nVidia. For editing, it’s all about the CPU.

I’d love to just get the performance of this old laptop (Video above, i7-3630QM at 2.40GHz) in a thin, light, long battery life ultra book. I’d thought that wouldn’t be a problem as so much time has passed by - but it is.


The flipside is that there is an established user base with known workarounds, supplies, accessories, fixes. You are your own support if you go with a v1.0 model.


Dell’s Quality Control is maddening. They could totally create a loyal XPS following if they just spent a little more money on manufacturing reliable devices. They nailed the design, but they won’t commit to going all the way.


Yeah, you’ve got a great design that gets good reviews, but when you read the forums (and I realize most posts on any forum are complaints) they are nothing but complaints. Everyone says it can be a decent system if you aren’t plagued with many of the serious problems AND if you format the drive, install a variety of drives from sources they post, repaste, and even then live with a variety of nagging problems (latency, etc,) And this is with the latest version and isn’t just gamers overclocking.


I’ve seen photos from XPS owners showing that somehow Dell skipped the thermal paste-on-the-CPU bit of manufacturing, or they glopped on a ton of thermal paste, which is also not good for thermals. (The ideal is just a dollop of paste the size of a grain of rice).

It’s that kind of bullshit that shouldn’t fly at all, yet Dell lets it happen all the time. C’mon, guys. A little more care in manufacturing and you’ll turn your customers into evangelizers.


Ominously the XPS 15 we bought at our company had two hardware screen problems so far :( so you were right to be concerned. Not sure what’s up with quality control at Dell…


My wife got one of the most recent XPS15’s (the 9560, just after the refresh in late winter / early spring) and it has been solid, fast, and error free. As someone who was a mac only user, she’s thrilled with the hardware on this machine.


Not many 15 inch laptops have good battery life. Maybe a quad core Lenovo ThinkPad T470p with a 72 Wh battery option. Expensive versus the alternatives though.

If you order from their web site make sure to grab a corporate perks code discount at least:

Probably the Dell XPS 15 with the 97-Wh battery option is the way to go though.


I picked up the latest XPS 15 in feb, been very happy with it. I went from a Surface 1 and then 3 and in the end I have to declare that form factor as ‘not for me’. Glad to be back to the traditional laptop model, it just fits me better.

However I do the reformat and reinstall from scratch as a matter of course for any machine of mine, so this isn’t a negative for me. The only issues have been the killer wifi card - it’s slightly wonky and caused a couple of blue screens that have since apparently been sorted out by the latest driver update. I wish I could have gotten an intel wifi to start, still might order one of those and swap it out.

The other minor issue is the fingerprint scanner. It works really well for the MS login, but I have been unable to get lastpass to work with it. Everytime I try it somehow trashes the stored fingerprints and I have to redo them before I can log back into windows with the fingerprints.

The best surprise is how much I can game on it. I didn’t want a bulky gaming laptop but I was still able to play quite a bit of Dark Souls 3 on it.


Sure, the GTX 1050 in the latest XPS15 is quite a bit faster than the PS4 or Xbone S. It’s a pretty good GPU for 1080p gaming. You won’t be locked at 60fps with maxed settings, that’s all.


Everyone on the forums says a first step needs to be replace the Killer network card with the lastest Intel one; the Killer apparently has a lot of documented problems in the XPS 15.

The fingerprint scanner, from all the reading I’ve done, was a very last minute “hack” that Dell did for this gen XPS 15, and not part of the original design. It even kinda looks like it when you look at the pad itself vs. the one in other laptops. Again, a lot of people reports issues with it. Also kind of a pain that Dell gives you so few configuration options, I don’t want a touchscreen or anything higher than 1080 (battery life is much more important to me) but that locks me out of certain options such as a 1 T SSD.

I’m still looking, and don’t wanna take this thread too far off of the OP. This would be a LOT easier if I didn’t need to do occasional video editing on the laptop, since I don’t really need it for gaming, I’d just pick from the multitude of very cool ultrabooks,


I tried out the new Surface pen in the Microsoft store over the weekend - really impressed. I never liked using the previous iterations because of the input lag and high activation force required. My handwriting is already terrible and I’m not artistic at all, but those two factors made it even more difficult to use than it should be.

The new pen on the 2017 Surface Pro made all the difference, to the point that I finally prefer it to the Apple Pencil even on the 120Hz iPad Pro. Tried them back to back and the 2017 Surface Pro with the 2017 Surface Pen is definitely the winner, at least in terms of comfort writing or drawing simple shapes. I cannot speak to the artistic merits of either.


Are the new pens backwards compatible with, say, a Surface Pro 4?


Yeah, except for the Surface Pro 1 and 2 which were based on Wacom tech, all of the pens and Surface devices based on n-Trig are interoperable with each other.

This provides a full matrix of support between each pen and each Surface device:

In short:

  • Better input activation force of the new pen works on all Surface devices
  • Tilt support of the new pen works on all Surface devices (older devices do need a firmware update though, ETA next month)
  • Input latency improvements is based on the Surface, not the Pen: Old pens on the 2017 Surface Pro also get the input latency improvements
  • 4096 pressure levels instead of 1024 requires both the new pen and the 2017 Surface Pro


Jeff, if you have a store that sells Surface Pros, check them out before you write them off. Though it’s a great tablet, the keyboard is shockingly good for something hiding behind a felt cover. :) I’m a demanding touch-typist and I loved my Surface Pro 3, and the newer keyboard on the 4 and Pro2017 are even better. The form factor with the kickstand is a little weird, but I adjusted and used my SP3 mostly in a recliner on my lap for a year or so.

I have a Surface Book at work, but I’d actually choose the Surface Pro 2017 if I was buying a new laptop.