Inside Dell XPS 15 (Skylake, 9550) – disassembly, internal photos and upgrade options

Despite the obvious advantages of Dell XPS 15 like superb screen and impeccable build quality and design, as we stated in our full review, there are a few drawbacks that should be considered. When we first opened the notebook, we were quite disappointed by two facts. Firstly, the notebook offers too small M.2 SSD stick for the asking price of little more than €2 200 and also, the model we got was with considerably smaller battery capacity than it should have been. Let’s see what else is under the hood.

You can lookup Dell XPS 15 and its available configurations at Amazon.com.

1. Removing the bottom plate

This one is quite easy like most XPS devices up to date. You just need to remove the internal torxes around the casing on the bottom. Don’t forget to lift up the XPS cap in the middle as it hides another two normal frearson bolts.


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2. Cooling system design and hardware arrangement

After you’ve removed all the screws, carefully pry up the bottom piece with a plastic tool or a thin card should do as well. The bottom part contains the 56Wh battery, which we will talk about later, and the 2.5 HDD. The center has the RAM slots and on the left side resides the M.2 SSD slot.


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The cooling system resembles some notebooks like Y50, Y700 and other high-end gaming notebooks on the market, but the effectiveness is far from good, though. As we saw in our full review, the notebook easily throttles under heavy load and doesn’t utilize the Turbo Boost feature of the CPU very well. Also, the extremely thin chassis doesn’t allow enough airflow and Dell has sacrificed cooling capabilities for mobility.

3. Upgrade options

We can’t expect anything less than a 2.5-inch drive slot and an M.2 SSD slot for storage options. And the Dell XPS 15 delivers. Unfortunately, though, the provided M.2 stick is 2242 with just 32GB of storage capacity. Originally, the motherboard is compatible with M-edge key or B&M connectors for the SSD with 2280 standard, but the extension here makes the 2242 mount possible.


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The HDD is 2.5-inch by Western Digital with 1TB of storage capacity spinning at 5400 rpm. And finally – the battery. On Dell’s official website is listed that the high-end 4K model comes with 88Wh battery, but it seems that this isn’t always the case. Probably the whole eastern European region gets the UHD screen variant with the smaller 56Wh, which is a huge letdown. So be careful when buying the XPS 15 and ask your retailer specifically for the battery capacity.


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You can lookup Dell XPS 15 and its available configurations at Amazon.com.

List of hardware inside

  • 2.5-inch Western Digital Blue 1TB HDD @5400 rpm
  • M.2 2242 SSD with 32GB storage capacity by Lite-on
  • Dell 3-cell 56Wh battery
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Dave
Dave
6 years ago

Models with HDD come with the smaller battery. You must buy with just SSD if you buy XPS 15. I don’t know why Dell made HDD variant it is embarrassing.

brandycmc
brandycmc
6 years ago
Reply to  Dave

Probably so that (a) they could offer a cheaper entry point for those who aren’t rich, and (b) so you can have an SSD as your boot/program drive, but still have a massive 2TB HDD for media.

Waypoint
Waypoint
5 years ago
Reply to  brandycmc

Yep, I need both epci and msata hard drives in mine! Battery is allot less important to me since I can charge from my vehicle or desk. I’ve been waiting years for a machine with this capability and configuration options (non-soldered ram), 2 HDD options – in this case pcie and msata, minimal weight, and professional design.

brian
brian
6 years ago

I Buy this notebook with 256 ssd. can i add 1 tb hdd? the battery is 56whr.
I have this question because of factory models that have only hdd comes with 32 gb ssd

Harry
6 years ago
Reply to  brian

I have just switched the 32GB ssd for a 256GB ssd. I then transferred the OS from the HDD to the larger ssd keeping 64GB for the cache using intal rapid storage technology. This still gives you about 100GB storage on the SSD + the HDD. It has transformed the start up time from about 2 minutes to about 30 seconds and the whole machine feels more responsive.

Sabina
5 years ago
Reply to  Harry

Hi.

What model of SSD did you buy? Is it full-length or half length? What compatibility issues
did you encounter when installing Windows on it from the 1TB HDD?
I’m interested in doing the same thing, but I’m not able to find enough information about it.

Many thanks!

Harry McBride
5 years ago
Reply to  Sabina

Hi Sabina – I used a Transcend MTS400 which is SATAIII 6Gb/s M.2 SSD with dimensions 22 x 44 mm. I think this is the full length module with the notch B+M and form factor 2242-D2-B-M. I also used Paragon Drive Copy 15 to transfer the OS. I had no issues doing this but you must remember to disconnect the Intel Rapid Start Utility before you do the swap and reinstall it once the swap is done. Once you are happy everything has been completed successfully you go into the BIOS and switch the BOOT drive to the SSD. Obviously… Read more »

Harry McBride
5 years ago
Reply to  Harry McBride

Sorry the 2242 is the smaller format so I had to use the extension

Trance
Trance
6 years ago

Just ordered mine, same xps specifications as yours, 2 storage slots is an advantage and smaller battery is not an issue for me(make this xps specs lighter than the one with bigger battery)

Eyeing to upgrade the 32gb ssd to 1tb m.2 ssd in the near future.

Harry McBride
6 years ago

Using just the large m.2 ssd without using the 2.5 inch drive location has the advantage of being able to install the larger battery – if Dell will sell it. however as for 90% of the time I am able to use a mains supply I feel this it not a major problem. I have kept the OS on both the 256mb m.2 ssd I installed and also on the HDD. This does have the advantage that should the m.2 ssd fail catastrophically I can always go into the BIOS and re-select the HDD to boot from.

linh
linh
6 years ago

Is it possible to upgrade to a samsung 950pro?

2pha
6 years ago
Reply to  linh

yes, search youtube for a video that shows how to upgrade to 950 pro

James Fletcher
James Fletcher
6 years ago

Can you upgrade to this SSD: SanDisk X400 SSD M.2 2280 1TB?

Tran Duy Khiem
5 years ago

I bought version with 32GB SSD and 1 TB HDD, battery 54whr. if I remove HDD and replace SSD so can I swap battery for larger one ( 84whr ) ?

Vingles
Vingles
5 years ago
Reply to  Tran Duy Khiem

Judging by the look of it, you can’t. That’s a solid plastic space specially made for HDD. I don’t think you can just throw in a larger battery and call it a day.

LukeVG
5 years ago

So must I replace the 32gb SSD with a 2280 or 2242 SSD?

Vingles
Vingles
5 years ago
Reply to  LukeVG

I think both work. 2242 needs that extension to fit in while 2280 does not. That’s the only difference afaik.

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