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What to do upon first receiving an XPS 15

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This section is likely to be a mish-mash of OS-specific tips and OS-agnostic tips.  But I'm guessing it will be one of the most-read content sections of this entire wiki, so it might be useful for it to be a hodge-podge of information.

Create a Recovery MediaEdit

  • As soon as you boot up the system, create a recovery media. Once you resize or repartition the drive, the recovery partition will become inaccessible.  If you deleted your recovery partition you can download the recovery disc from the Latest Drivers section.

Run a Diagnostic Scan of Your New HardwareEdit

  • To ensure everything is being recognized properly by the system, you may wish to enter Dell's Diagnostic Mode and get a baseline.
  • Run the Complete system Diagnostics from Dell site  

Update Your DriversEdit

  • Go to the Latest Drivers page and install the latest drivers for your XPS 15!
  • Flash the latest BIOS, as this underpins everything that runs on the machine.

Protect Your InvestmentEdit

  • You may wish to install a hard shell to protect the aluminum exterior from scratches.  As of December 2013, however, there are no hard shells being marketed.  They're coming, though! [Note: As of May 2015, there's still no sign of a hard shell/snap-on case for the 9530.]
  • Invest in a sleeve (Dell even offers a leather sleeve specific to the XPS 15).

Normalize the DisplayEdit

  • Sadly, Dell ships IGZO-equipped laptops pre-set to garish settings.  You should correct the color settings soon after powering up your XPS for the first time.  If you find that your display automatically changes brightness on you and that your brightness controls don't work as expected, you may also want to disable adaptive brightness.

Sort Out Exaggerated BassEdit

These systems come with MaxxAudio "enhancements", managed in the Dell Audio application.  Regardless of the chosen mode, MaxxAudio significantly inflates the bass in order to compensate for the smaller speakers necessitated in thin and light systems.  Experiment by turning MaxxAudio enhancements on or off and set it to your liking.  This contributor has found that while the audio quality is noticeably improved when using the built-in speakers, it is noticeably worse when using external speakers attached via the headset jack. 

My system is setup so that MaxxAudio has a preset that I like with the internal speakers. When I plug in external speakers another preset becomes active, that reduces the bass and other enhancements.

Create a Power ProfileEdit

  • In all likelihood you have a sense for how conservative you want the laptop to perform when running on battery.  for those users interested in maximizing performance on AC/mains and maximizing battery life when away from a power outlet, jphughan offers the following suggestions (originally posted to the user forum on NotebookReview on 02 December 2013 and reproduced here verbatim):
The High Performance profile gives you maximum performance when on AC and battery, it doesn't give you max performance on AC and max battery life on battery; the latter is achieved with the Power Saver profile. If you want to create a profile that does both, I've posted the settings I recommend below. Anything I don't mention here should be obvious and/or left at defaults. Other than Power Options, the only other thing I can think you might have to do in order to get max performance is force games to use the NVIDIA GPU if some of them are buggy and for whatever reason default to the Intel unit. That should be pretty obvious if that's happening though. Power settings below:
  1. Turn off hard disk: 5 minutes for battery, 20+ for AC. If you're SSD-only this doesn't matter at all unless you have an external hard drive that responds to this setting, in which case you might want to disable this feature entirely because constantly spinning hard drives up and down isn't great for them especially when you don't even get any battery savings out of the deal.
  2. Wireless Adapter: Max power saving on battery, Max performance on AC. Obviously if you find that your Wifi throughput and/or range isn't good enough on battery, you might need to switch to a less aggressive power saving mode.
  3. Sleep: I set this to never on both because I prefer to sleep my system manually, and I don't want my system to go to sleep if an app I'm running needs to stay running while I'm away. But if you're not judicious about that, obviously enable a timer here.
  4. Hibernate: Never on both for the same reason I described above.  If you use Rapid Start, you will definitely want to set this to never or it could preempt Rapid Start's hibernation mode.  However, be aware of some issues with Rapid Start.
  5. Wake timers: Disabled on both. They're a cool idea, but unless you actually have IMPORTANT tasks that use them, best to leave them off, otherwise your machine might spontaneously wake up inside your laptop bag in order to install Windows updates or update anti-virus definitions or something. And those tasks don't put the machine back to sleep when they're done.
  6. Intel Graphics: Max battery on battery, Max performance on AC.
  7. PCIe Link State Power Management: Max power savings on battery, moderate power savings on AC. Turning it off completely apparently can cause some systems not to be able to go to sleep at all, and this only affects how long it takes to wake up PCIe devices when they're needed, not how fast they perform once they're awake.
  8. System cooling policy: Passive on battery (prefer throttling over fans), active on AC (prefer fans over throttling).
  9. Display: Brightness varies based on your environment, but I turn adaptive brightness off because it makes manual adjustments more confusing. I also set my dimmed brightness to 20% on battery (still totally readable on the QHD panel even in lit areas).
  10. Critical battery action: Change to Sleep if you wish to use Rapid Start (more info) or Hibernate if you wish to use regular Windows hibernation.

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