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Dell XPS 15 laptop #3028492 02/11/20 02:57 PM
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MrVegas Offline OP
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I'm thinking pretty seriously about pulling the trigger on a Dell XPS 15 laptop (with i9-9980HK processor) for music production. My usage will be using Ableton Live and Omnisphere to create music at home and then take it to small venues and connect it to a midi controller keyboard.

Should I go with 64 gig of Ram or is 32 gig enough?

Regarding storage, I have heard people say that using the internal hard drive for running applications is best and loading the massive content of VST's is better to be saved on external SSD drives like the LaCie. Is that true? Is it better to have a 2TB internal hard drive or a smaller 512 gig internal drive and then put all the VST's on an external 1TB or 2TB drive?


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Kronos, Yamaha MOXF8, Motion Sound KBR-3D

KC Island
Re: Dell XPS 15 laptop [Re: MrVegas] #3028497 02/11/20 03:48 PM
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Steve in VA Offline
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I have a 2017 XPS 15 (9560 model) that I use for similar purposes. I have optimized it to its limits: 32 GB RAM and 2TB Samsung EVO NVME SSD.

On RAM, 32 GB should be more than enough unless you create enormous projects with huge amounts of sample-based instruments. You can always upgrade the RAM later if you need to. RAM usually only gets cheaper over time.

Regarding SSD storage, if you get a fast NVME SSD such as the Samsung EVO 970, they provide more than enough throughput for everything. No need for separate drives or partitions.

One common issue with Dell laptops (and many others) is DPC latency, which means system drivers may consume more CPU time than they are supposed to and can cause audio drop-outs despite all your optimization efforts. I was able to tame these problems by keeping WI-FI disabled when doing audio, turning off bluetooth, and disabling all unnecessary Windows services. I also have a totally separate boot partition for audio, since applications such as MS Office tend to wake up and do things at random times and wreak havok on audio.

Despite the challenges, I do like the laptop and the fact that it cost about half of a MacBook with similar specs.I also use it for work.

Last edited by Steve in VA; 02/11/20 03:48 PM.
Re: Dell XPS 15 laptop [Re: MrVegas] #3028498 02/11/20 03:53 PM
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Mark_OA Offline
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Hi,

I use a Dell XPS 15 (2017) with 16 GB and a internal SSD for my music production and as of yet have no issues with it in that regard.

Several XPS models throughout the years have issues with low power and or sleep/hibernation states. Mine has too. This results in the notebook not really switching off from time to time, although it looks that way, and will drain the battery because it's still running. It occurs less when disabling all hybernation, sleep and C-state modes and also disabling fast start. No solution has been offered as of yet.

Furthermore, it has coilwhine, which is a constant, high-pitched "whining" noise coming from capacitors/inducers/electric coils inside the machine. This is highly irritating, but doesn't affect your music.

Do consider the amount of USB-ports available. I ran out rather quickly and needed to use a high-quality USB-hub.

Last thing you need to check is the Wi-Fi network card drivers. If it has a Killer Networks Wi-Fi card, update to the latest drivers from Killer Networks, not Dell. Older drivers tend to have issues with finding Wi-Fi networks and/or stability issues.

All these things aside, it's a bloody fast machine.

Using the internal drive for loading everything, including VST's and samples is that it's always faster than an external drive. I'd recommend that above an external drive. People tend to recommend and external drive because it can offer more storage, is easier replaceable and is cheaper. I rather spend some more money on a large internal drive and not having to wait for something to load. But, to each his own.

A large amount of RAM can be helpful if you run large projects with a lot of VST's. If not, 32 Gbs will be fine. I manage with 16.


Trumpet player by trade, but fell in love with keys too.
Re: Dell XPS 15 laptop [Re: Mark_OA] #3028506 02/11/20 04:39 PM
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Steve in VA Offline
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Originally Posted by Mark_OA

Furthermore, it has coilwhine, which is a constant, high-pitched "whining" noise coming from capacitors/inducers/electric coils inside the machine. This is highly irritating, but doesn't affect your music.


I have not had this problem with my XPS 15. Unless the fan cuts on, it is dead silent.

Re: Dell XPS 15 laptop [Re: Steve in VA] #3028515 02/11/20 06:13 PM
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Mark_OA Offline
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Originally Posted by Steve in VA
I have not had this problem with my XPS 15. Unless the fan cuts on, it is dead silent.


That's great. I'm not the only one though. The Dell community has or had a lot of posts about this issue with XPS models. Dell offered a replacement motherboard to some, but that didn't solve the issue.


Trumpet player by trade, but fell in love with keys too.
Re: Dell XPS 15 laptop [Re: MrVegas] #3028781 02/13/20 11:46 AM
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MrVegas Offline OP
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Here's another question about the size of the hard disk. My current plan is to use Ableton Live Suite and Omnisphere. Would a 1TB ssd be big enough to handle their libraries, fully loaded? I thought I heard that Ableton required 700 Gig but that's absurd, isn't it? Probably more like 70 Gig?

Also, trying to order on the Dell website and it says it would not be delivered until March 17. If I could find 32 Gig Ram and 1TB SSD on Best Buy, any reason not to buy one there?


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Kronos, Yamaha MOXF8, Motion Sound KBR-3D

Re: Dell XPS 15 laptop [Re: MrVegas] #3028825 02/13/20 04:18 PM
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Mark_OA Offline
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Ableton Live Suite is 70Gb, Omnisphere 2 is 64 Gb so yeah, 1 TB is more than enough for Windows, Ableton, Omnispheand then some ;-)

I have no experience with Best Buy, so can't comment on that. I bought mine straight from Dell. If you do, read the support options carefully. Standard support isn't all that great, but you should be able to expand support options. It will cost you though.


Trumpet player by trade, but fell in love with keys too.

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