back to article Teardown nerds delve into Dell's new XPS 15 laptop to find – fancy that – screws and user-serviceable parts

Infamous tech vivisectors iFixit have dug into the innards of Dell's latest XPS 15 ultrabook. And what did they find? Philips screws, user-serviceable components, and very little adhesive. That's a good thing, as Reg readers will know. This discovery puts the equivalent MacBook Pro in an ever dimmer light. Apple's laptop fare …

  1. Robert Grant Silver badge

    Weird to compare only to Apple. Are they the ones to beat?

    1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

      Not too hard to beat Apple on anything than esthetics.

      Don't believe me? Check out Louis Rossman's channel out on Youtube.

      1. Spacedinvader
        Headmaster

        upvoted but...

        Rossmann

      2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        + for Rossman, if he's the hardware chap I'm thinking of.

        Although I'll add as caveat that, anti-user-repairability aside, the actual Apple hardware tends to be near best-in-class for whatever formfactor/market-segment. Hence usefulness as a known-benchmark for comparo purposes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Eh, no

          "the actual Apple hardware tends to be near best-in-class for whatever"

          Not in this Universe. Maybe some other one. In CPU's alone they run a generation behind.

      3. Anal Leakage

        I tried to

        But after about three minutes of his voice, I wanted to gouge my eardrums out with a multimeter. I chose to continue being able to hear.

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      It was compared to MS too, but perhaps the price point, aesthetic design and specification most closely matches the compared Apple product.

      Or maybe Apple are just renowned for doing their best to stop you repairing your own property.

    3. keith_w Bronze badge

      Apparently you missed this comment: ". Indeed, it surpasses the latest 15-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop in many areas – including a battery that's easy to remove."

    4. Anal Leakage

      In Regland, it’s either bash Apple or keep fapping off to a crumpled 90s magazine advertisement for a Psion, and the doc said the skin needs to grow back.

  2. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Well done Dell

    And well done the industrial design team behind this.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HP Microserver Gen8/Gen9 and their failiing NAND chips used for iLO system monitoring.

    It's not always the obvious things like soldered SSD's that cause built in obsolence, a less obvious issue that's coming to light more and more is the onboard failure of NAND chips used to storage health monitoring info / diagnostic data where servers have remote management chips+small amount of NAND (4Mb) combined storage for the firmware/realtime data.

    HP Microservers Gen8/Gen9 have a dedicated iLO management chip. the onboard NAND chips that store this data can wear out pretty quick if the controler gets into a race condition and keeps reporting the same fault repeatedly, continually writing to the NAND chip, until it's failure, you don't always find out until you upgrade the firmware which can be several months down the line.

    HP released modified firmware so that the new firmware supposedly now caps the number of writes per day to the firmware, but it doesn't help consumers using these for development work where the NAND has failed prematurely, or where the firmware hasn't been updated to deal with this issue, before the NAND failed, (most people only find out about the issue once the NAND chip fails).

    HP should really come clean and offer replacement boards for those suffering from this issue, as it's clearly a design fault present on the board from the word go, and we're supposed to be covered for upto 6 years in these circumstances under consumer law in the UK, but doing that is easier said than done with HP's support's warren of dead ends to nowhere.

    1. TheRealRoland

      Re: HP Microserver Gen8/Gen9 and their failiing NAND chips used for iLO system monitoring.

      Didn't something similar happen with Teslas? Logs would be written on an eMMC flash memory card. And once that one dies, you're looking at repairs

    2. Displacement Activity

      Re: HP Microserver Gen8/Gen9 and their failiing NAND chips used for iLO system monitoring.

      Hadn't heard of the flash problem, but I reckon GenX in general is pretty much done. Gen8 excellent, I had to give away my Gen9 after it bricked, Gen10 ok but too much cost cutting. Pity.

  4. Keythong
    Meh

    Cans of Compressed Air, how quaint!

    I have a mains-powered ITDusters Compu Cleaners Xpert, which mocks feeble, short-lived, cans of compressed air; no mains-powered area blowers are not equivalent.

    1. rcxb Silver badge

      Re: Cans of Compressed Air, how quaint!

      Shop-air. An endless, 200psi supply of shop air.

      After removing all the dust and debris, it kindly also spins your fans fast than their failure speed making interesting noises you've never hear before, and quite effectively eliminates any other pesky protrusions, such as capacitors...

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Cans of Compressed Air, how quaint!

        Other thing to bear in mind is that the fan's spinning backwards. The resultant reverse current created by its motor can scramble/bugger components on your motherboard.

    2. yoganmahew

      Re: Cans of Compressed Air, how quaint!

      Lidl portable compressor. Not powerful, so perfect. Cleaning everything from PS4 to laptops to filters on the vacuum.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Cans of Compressed Air, how quaint!

      A solid blast with compressed air. Solid? That takes compression to new levels.

      1. quxinot Silver badge

        Re: Cans of Compressed Air, how quaint!

        It's easy to have a solid blast of compressed air.

        Leave it in the can.

  5. rcxb Silver badge

    Why so few size options?

    If it's any bigger than a Sony Vaio C1 Picturebook, I'm not interested...

    Who really LIKES resting their palms on the touchpad and causing all kinds of spurious changes of focus in the middle of typing?

    Has anyone EVER built a desk with a recess for the keyboard so it would be flush with the area they're resting their hands on? Why do ALL notebooks force you to type like that?

    Wish I could find good notebooks these days, instead of the lowest-common denominator generic junk they all peddle.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why so few size options?

      Maybe an Asus 14" Zenbook duo UX481 would fit the bill? Portrait oriented trackpad is positioned to the right of the keyboard, no palm rest and a full width stylus/tablet area behind the keyboard.

    2. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: Why so few size options?

      I disable the touchpad on my Lenovo laptop wherever possible because it is so sensitive that i end up accidentally touching it while typing and it clicks onto other parts of the document I am trying to write. So i nearly always have a USB mouse plugged in,

      I never had that problem on my old Dell latitude laptop so it must be something about is location or just the general sensitivity of the touchpad that doesn't work well with the position of my hands while typing.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Why so few size options?

      "Who really LIKES resting their palms on the touchpad and causing all kinds of spurious changes of focus in the middle of typing?"

      I can't say I've ever had that problem. Getting a big enough screen to be readable with a useful amount of information displayed is another matter.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why so few size options?

      "Who really LIKES resting their palms on the touchpad and causing all kinds of spurious changes of focus in the middle of typing?"

      I hear you; I've experienced it on a number of brands including Dell. Interestingly enough never on MacBooks though, Apple seem to have figured that one out.

    5. Sampler

      Re: Why so few size options?

      Why would you cut a wedge out of your desk for a laptop that will vary in sizes as they're upgraded and replaced and also, you know, want to vent and, occasionally, have access to ports.

      If you're working at a set desk that you'd want to cut a hole in, why not just get a decent keyboard for that desk, your wrists will thank you..

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The battery is affixed with screws and a bit of tape"

    I'll stay with laptops where you can just clip the battery in and out without dismantling.

  7. J27 Bronze badge

    I've worked on a lot of Dell Laptops. They're always designed to be repairable. I think the reason is that Dell sells a lot of repair contacts to companies and then has to repair their own laptops. It makes sense to build a repairable laptop to reduce cost of repairs if you're the one paying for the repairs.

    1. keith_w Bronze badge

      A couple of years ago I was doing a deployment and Dell sent us 275 Latitude 9450s and 20 XPSs with French keyboards rather than English ones. I had the joy of doing the replacement. The 9450s weren't too bad. 8 screws in the back and 4 or 5 for the keyboard itself. Perhaps 15 minutes start to finish. The XPSs were a bit different. 8 screws in the back, 4 for the speakers, 5 for the battery, 10 for the motherboard, and 26 for the keyboard itself. I think there are some I forgot, as there were 56 to be removed in total. Following the manual would have included removing some other parts that did not actually need removing to perform the work. Total time to replace the keyboard, approximately 1 hour.

  8. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    >Fans get clogged with dust and debris... techies can easily solve this by giving the fan a solid blast with compressed air

    That doesn't do it, you need to find or make a hole in the fan for a very careful drop of 4-in-1 self lubricating sewing machine mineral oil

  9. SuperGeek

    "the USB-C ports are part of the logic board. If you bend or break these, you could be looking at an arse-clenchingly expensive motherboard replacement."

    Not always. As long as it's just the port being stressed from normal insertions (oo-eer!) the port support solder joints (the port casing to board support and earth) just loosen. If you get it fixed quick enough and are lucky enough to not have the pads or traces on the motherboard of the actual connector break, a simple desolder and resolder is enough. Even the pins can be resoldered with a soldering iron and fine tip, if you have a shop magnifying lamp to hand.

    I've even re-traced them with solder wire, and epoxy, but Micro USB and C are near impossible without eye strain and stress migraines from concentrating too hard. A connectors were easy. I wish we'd go back to the old days. Do connectors for frequently inserted and unplugged stuff REALLY have to be so small?? Goes to prove that they never perform "accelerated wear tests" to real world standard!!

  10. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Currently writing this...

    Currently writing this on my 2016 XPS-15 and I've been immensely happy with it. Looking to upgrade in the next 6 months and my first point of call will be the 2020 model.

    Great job Dell.

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