More than simply a frequently asked questions list, this section also includes any questions whose answers don't neatly fit anywhere else in this wiki.


Q:  What kind of screwdriver do I need to remove the base plate (so I can access the battery/hard drive/etc)?

A: Torx T5.  The most consistently high-quality torx screwdrivers out there are German-made or Swiss-made, like those by Wiha, Witte, Bondhus,SwissGrip, or Wera.  If you're only buying the one, the price premium isn't all that much and you have a tool worth keeping forever.

Q: Is there an adapter to allow me to use Dell's regular AC adapters on this system with its smaller power connector?

A: Yes (US store link).  This is also typically listed as an accessory option when ordering the system, priced the same as buying it separately.

Q:  Is it possible to disable NVIDIA's Optimus switch in BIOS?

A:  No, but it shouldn't really matter.  It takes the system a fraction of a second to make the switch from integrated to discrete and back again, and the switching should happen faster than the user could perceive - hence, lag doesn't change perceptibly whether one has the GT-750M running full-time or on-demand.

Q:  How do I know which GPU is in use at any given moment?

A:  Use the nVidia configuration tool, per these instructions posted by Acer UK's online support team.

Q:  If I'm not gaming, is there any benefit to the NVIDIA GT 750M discrete graphics card?

A:  There are many productivity applications that benefit from the capabilities of that card.  Image editing software, video editing software, 3D modeling software, etc, all work more smoothly thanks to the additional GPU horsepower.  It also helps with multi-monitor setups to push all those pixels.  GPUs have a different architecture from CPUs and perform some calculations more efficiently.  The stronger the GPU, the more benefit to the user who is running software reliant on those types of calculations.  In any event, the benefit to any given user of a discrete graphics card is largely dependent on workflow or entertainment; if you are not using video production or modeling software and if you are not gaming on your laptop or spreading your desktop across multiple screens, the discrete graphics offer much less benefit to you.

Q:  How good is the IGZO QHD+ display?

A:  Each display will reflect some variances in quality that affect color accuracy. For those that need a color-accurate display, note that at least one user (using an i1Display Pro) calibrated his XPS and achieved an average ΔE of 0.88, another achieved an average ΔE of 1.0.  To learn more about what this means,  Andrew Ku's review of several monitors on Tom's Hardware, published 21 February 2012, has some pretty useful comments about this topic and is worth reading.  In addition to color accuracy, sRGB gamut is 100% covered, NTSC is 72+%,  and at least one tested sample exhibited an 800:1 contrast ratio.  Please note, however, that the review at Digital Trends showed sRGB coverage of 94% and a disappointing contrast ratio of only 390:1.  Sharp claims that their IGZO displays ought to have a 800:1 contrast ratio, so the 390:1 is a bit troubling and is (hopefully) anomalous.

Q:  What's the best way to upgrade to Windows 8.1 Pro if my system shipped with Windows 8.1 Core (i.e. non-Pro)?

A:  Buy the Windows 8.1 Pro Pack.  As of this writing, it's $99 from Microsoft and $95 from Newegg.  Note that this will NOT require (or allow) you to install 8.1 Pro from scratch.  A Pro Pack key allows you to switch an existing 8.1 Core installation over to 8.1 Pro, a process that involves just two regular-length reboots, i.e. no lengthy software installations or reconfigurations (NOTHING like upgrading from 8.0 to 8.1).  Instructions for that are here.

Note that if you ever wish to wipe your system, you will have to use your system's embedded 8.1 Core key (discussed in a moment) to install 8.1 Core first, and THEN use your Pro Pack key to switch over to Pro.  Your Pro Pack key will NOT allow you to peform a clean install of 8.1 Pro, nor will it allow you to activate such an installation.  Your system has a Windows 8.1 product key embedded into the BIOS, which Windows 8.1 installation media should detect and use automatically during a clean installation.  If you receive a replacement motherboard, it will come with a new product key (you will not however be required to reactivate Windows).  If you wish to back up your embedded key, you can retrieve it either from your existing activated Windows installation with a keyfinder program (such as the Magical Jelly Bean) or directly from the BIOS ACPI tables.  Instructions for both methods here.

Q:  My computer arrived without an install USB.  What do I do if the restore partition should fail?

A:  You may, at any time, contact Dell and request that they send you a USB recovery drive.  However, this seems to be just a standard Windows install drive, NOT a factory restore drive, in which case you would need to reinstall drivers yourself.  Either way, this drive is typically free of charge, though this may vary based on time and geographic region.  Make sure that when you boot that device you choose Legacy or UEFI as appropriate, since this will determine how the OS is installed.  If you'll be running Windows 8.x, UEFI is the better choice.  Windows 7 can also support UEFI, but the benefit is not as significant and the install media must be modified a bit to allow it to be booted in UEFI mode, so in those cases you can boot in Legacy mode if desired.

Q:  My touchscreen sometimes fails to work.  What is causing this?

A:  See Touchscreen Issues.

Q:  Why is the max brightness of my display dimmer on battery than it is on mains/AC?

This image was reproduced without permission from a posting by rplst8 to the user forum at NotebookReview on 14 November 2013.

A:  It has to do with the power options set for your laptop.  To adjust this, you will need to change the advanced power settings, open the expandable menu for "display," and disable adaptive brightness when on battery.  See the attached pic for an illustration of the dialog boxes involved.

Q:  What are the differences betwen the XPS 15 and the M3800?

A:  Nearly all components are identical between the systems, however, the latest M3800 now has a Thunderbolt 2 port.The key difference is in the discrete graphics card; the XPS 15 has a consumer-grade nVidia card (the GT 750M) and the M3800 has a commercial-grade nVidia card (the Quadro K1100M).  The M3800 is the better choice for those that need to do a lot of OpenGL, AVID, CAD work (or similar 3D modeling), as the Quadro line is optimized for those calculations.  For multimedia work, the XPS 15 should do fine with its GT 750M card.  There are also differences in the preconfigured hardware specs between the two systems (CPU, display, and hard drive options and combinations for each spec "tier" of the model); these spec combinations vary by market.  Lastly, the M3800 includes additional bundle features as standard in the US market; it may or may not get them as standard other markets:

  • The Dell USB to Ethernet adapter.  It's USB 2.0 only, but it's also the only adapter guaranteed to support PXE booting for enterprises that require it for imaging systems, especially since this system has neither built-in Ethernet or an optical drive.  More information on the No Ethernet Port page.
  • The Dell AC adapter dongle.  Since this system uses a smaller power connector than the standard, the dongle allows you to use Dell's regular-sized AC adapters with this system.  This dongle can be bought separately here (US store link).
  • Dell ProSupport.  This is actually included on the XPS 15 if you order it from the Business store, but otherwise the XPS system gets Premium At-Home support.  The differences between regular and ProSupport may only matter to enterprises that support multiple Dell systems, however.  For a while ProSupport used to guarantee immediate access to North America-based support reps, but that verbiage seems to have been removed from the Help Me Choose page covering ProSupport.
  • A Windows installation USB flash drive.  This drive contains basic Windows 8.1 Pro installation media, NOT a factory image restore device.

Q:  I never use the touchscreen.  Can I disable it completely so that it can't drain my battery?

A:  Theoretically, if you're not using it the hardware should be put to sleep and should have minimal effect on your battery life.  At present, however, I am unaware of a battery endurance test that measures the difference.  To guarantee that your touchscreen never draws on your battery, you could physically disconnect the power/control cable.  That cable (ribbon) is held in place with a piece of tape and is opposite the wifi card in the back corner near the power connector.  For a soft approach (no tools required, but it may or may not stop power from being drawn by the touchscreen), see Disable the Touchscreen.

Q:  I like to play GPU-intensive PC games.  Can the XPS 15 manage the heat of heavy use, or will it throttle back performance and limit the games I can play or the duration I can play them?

A:  The jury is still iffy on this one, but the general consensus is that the XPS 15 will only throttle if air flow into or out of the laptop is restricted, or if there is an issue with the drivers (so make sure you're running the current drivers.  Some users have experienced drastic throttling and others have experienced no throttling, even under the heaviest of loads.  In general, users have claimed that they experience the least amount of throttling when they have the laptop resting atop a hard, flat surface.  The presumption is that the heat management design of the XPS is maximized for those conditions.  One user posted that after ~60 minutes of playing Call of Duty: Ghosts at low settings but 2048x1152 resolution, the max internal temperature recorded was 91°C (room temperature was 14°C) but that the palm rest remained comfortable throughout the session.

Q:  I saw a YouTube video in which the XPS 15 demonstrates poor WiFi performance.  What gives?

A:  Bokeh, an owner of a pre-production M3800 (which has identical WiFi hardware to the WiFi in the XPS 15) posted to NotebookReview's user forum on 14 November 2013 a video in response, and suggests using the latest driver from Intel to achieve strong WiFi performance.  My presumption is that the XPS 15 in the previous video had a malfunctioning WiFi driver, not a malfunctioning WiFi card/antenna.

Q:  There is a small button next to the headphone jack on my XPS.  What's that for?

A:  When the power is off and the laptop is not plugged in, this button will use a 5-LED array to give you a rough sense for how much charge remains in the battery.

Q:  What is the SSD in the 512 GB variant of the XPS 15?

A:  As of December 2013, Dell was shipping the XPS 15 with a Samsung SM841, a drive using MLC memory.  Performance of this drive is similar to the performance of the Samsung 840 Pro.  It may be useful to note that a 512 GB drive shows only 476 GB of capacity in Windows due to the fact that Windows counts memory blocks in a different way from the method used by manufacturers of storage media (binary vs decimal).  In March 2014 it was reported that some systems with 512GB SSDs were receiving the Samsung PM851, which seems to resemble the 840 Evo and uses TLC rather than MLC flash.  Benchmarks between the two place them within 5-10% of each other in all tests, with the original SM841 having an edge in some write tests.  The reason for the switch is unknown, nor is it clear whether the SM841 has been replaced entirely or whether the PM851 is simply another alternative that's been added to the supply chain.

Q:  How many cells does the large battery have?  How many cells does the small battery have?

A:  The number of cells in a battery doesn't tell you much about the battery, especially with lithium-polymer batteries (that don't have standard cell volumes).  Focus more on the Watt-hours each battery provides, given a 100% charge.  The larger XPS 15 battery offers 91 WHr and the smaller XPS 15 battery offers 61 WHr.  The XPS 15, at idle, will consume between 10 and 20 Watts, meaning that the smaller battery should offer 3-6 hours of idle and the larger battery should offer 4.5-9 hours of idle.  Since laptops will not run a battery down to 0% charge, those theoretical values are unlikely to be experienced in the real world.

Q:  Can this system drive external 4K displays via Mini-DisplayPort or HDMI?

A:  No one has confirmed this, but the specs suggest that it should be possible.  The HDMi port on this system is version 1.4, which means can push 2560x1600 @ up to 60 Hz (already confirmed via testing) or 4K @ up to 30 Hz.  The Mini-DisplayPort output on this system is 1.2, which means it should be able to drive any of the following (multi-display configurations require either a DisplayPort MST hub or use of DisplayPort displays that have a DisplayPort passthrough port for daisy-chaining):

  • 6x 1680x1050 @ 60 Hz displays
  • 4x 1920x1200 @ 60 Hz displays
  • 2x 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz displays
  • 1x 4K @ 60 Hz display

Q:  Will it hurt my battery to have my XPS plugged in all/most of the time?  How much life can I expect from my battery?

A:  No, it doesn't hurt the battery to leave your laptop plugged nearly all the time.  Lithium batteries seem to last longer if they occasionally are allowed to run down to a point somewhere between 40% and 20% of the maximum charge (so try to do that every once in a while), but the laptop is designed to stop current flow to the battery when it is already full, and computer usage should be simply drawing from the power cord at that point.  According to the owner's manual the battery is expected to perform within specs for at least 300 charge cycles.  Beyond 300 charge cycles, users will begin to notice a gradual decline in battery endurance.  Also keep in mind that lithium batteries strain when almost completely depleted of charge and when almost fully charged, such that the rule of thumb is that if you constantly use your laptop away from a power outlet, you should see the least strain on the battery if you keep the charge above 20% and if you avoid charging it more than 80%.  This is easier said than done, of course.  Fortunately, the battery can be changed out by the user (with a T5 torx screwdriver); unfortunately, Dell has the 91 WH battery listed as a US$160 part (part number 7D1WJ).  I am less familiar with lithium polymer batteries, but when I lived in China lithium ion batteries typically cost between US$8 and US$12; these weren't knock-off batteries, mind you, they were batteries that otherwise would have ended up in the parts chain for major manufacturers, and the two back-up batteries I purchased for my XPS M1330 performed just as well as the one that shipped with the laptop direct from Dell.  Theoretically, then, some enterprising third party may well offer replacement XPS 15 batteries on eBay or some such, and they clearly can afford to offer them at a fraction of Dell's asking price, though you have no assurance that the batteries are made to Dell's specs for endurance, capacity, or safety.  Caveat emptor, indeed.

Q:  I've never used a HiDPI display before and everything is hard to read.  How do I fix this?

A:  The good people at How-To Geek have an article just for you, titled "How to Make the Windows Desktop Work Well on High-DPI Displays and Fix Blurry Fonts."

Q:  What activity lights does the XPS 15 have (e.g., hard drive activity)?

A:  The only status light (activity light) on the XPS 15 is for displaying a rough estimate of charge remaining in the battery.

Q:  The SD card slot on my XPS 15 does not have a spring-assist for ejecting the card.  What's wrong?

A:  Technically, nothing.  The SD card slot on the XPS 15 has been designed without spring-assist.  Many (most?) users would agree, however, that the decision to omit the spring was a bad one.  On the plus side, at least there is no concern of having a spring-assist catch fail....

Q:  What is the subpixel arrangement used in the QHD+ display?  PenTile or RGB stripe?  Something else?

A:  According to a photo on this web site, IGZO panels have a 2x2 subpixel arrangement with an added white subpixel.

Q:  What's the big deal with IGZO displays?

A:  IGZO (Indium Galium Zinc Oxide) display technology offers a lot of advantages and is likely to be the standard approach to display designs in the next few years:

  1. An IGZO TFT can pass 20+ times as much current as amorphous silicon, which means you only need 1/20th the TFT material to pass an equivalent (or more) current.  You want your TFT to be as transparent as possible since it blocks light.  So switching to IGZO enhances display brightness while requiring less material to make.
  2. IGZO TFTs leak less current than amorphous silicon TFTs when in a static state, meaning that if your laptop is showing the same image (say, because you're reading the screen or because you've gone to get something to drink) an IGZO display requires much less current because it doesn't have to continuously refresh the static image the way an amorphous silicon display must.
  3. IGZO TFTs produce less electronic noise than amorphous silicon TFTs, meaning that a touch sensor in an IGZO display is less likely to mis-read a touch because it doesn't have to read that touch through a haze of noise.

Q:  I've read that the XPS 15's QHD+ displays is IPS-like.  Does this mean it's not IPS?

A:  Correct.  Instead of IPS, Sharp (the company providing Dell with QHD+ IGZO displays) has decided to go with UV²A (ultraviolet/induced multi-domain vertical alignment).  UV²A has been around since 2009 and is an example of current-day nanotechnology - its subunits are aligned by ultraviolet radiation working at the picometer scale, pushing around liquid crystal modules that are only two (2) nanometers in diameter.  This technology has the potential for a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, but Sharp indicates that the IGZO UV²A panels they're actually manufacturing only have an 800:1 contrast ratio.  These panels have IPS-level color accuracy, but their off-angle viewing characteristics are not as good as IPS (but still significantly better than TN).  In short, on paper the technology is amazing; in practice it has some of the benefits of IPS, but sacrifices some of the viewing angle to achieve pixel density and energy efficiency.

Q:  If I order an XPS 15 but want a keyboard in a language other than the default for my region/country, how do I make that happen?

A:  At least one user (living in Belgium, but wanting a US-QWERTY-International keyboard) succeeded in ordering a Dell M3800 with a non-local keyboard by placing the request with a local Dell reseller.  Others have expressly asked Dell during the ordering process and were told that it is not possible.  If that is your experience, it might be worthwhile to point out to the Dell representative that the rMBP (the XPS 15's targeted competition) is available with any keyboard layout Apple offers and you'd like to know if Dell is recommending that you simply order the laptop (Apple) that has the features you are willing to pay for.  It might not work, but it seems harmless to try.  Eventually, replacement keyboards will become available and you can theoretically order one in the specific language you wish to use and install it yourself.  It's not a trivial operation, but it is possible.  Unfortunately, those replacement keyboards do not appear to be publicly available at this time.  In the meantime, for about US$15 you can apply your own labels (though you'd be giving up the backlit aspect of the XPS keyboard). 

Q:  I bought the mid-tier XPS 15 and want to take advantage of Rapid Start.  The Dell sales rep insists it works fine out of the box, but I've heard elsewhere this isn't possible.  What's the truth?

A:  See Windows Fails to Resume from Hibernation for more information about Rapid Start.

Q: What's with all of these Intel technologies anyway?  Rapid Start?  Rapid Storage?  Smart Response?  Smart Connect?

A: Here's a breakdown:

  • Rapid Storage: This is often confused for one of the other technologies (usually Smart Response or Rapid Start), but is actually just the name for the Intel AHCI/RAID driver on the system, which you should definitely install for performance reasons and which I believe is required for ANY of the other technologies to work.  It is also the name of the application in Windows used for monitoring your RAID setup (if you have one) as well as enabling cache acceleration, aka Smart Response, on a system appropriately equipped.  Smart Response is discussed more in a moment.
  • Rapid Start: This should technically be called Rapid Resume because it deals only with accelerating resume from hibernation, not accelerating boot times.  It requires an SSD, but not necessarily ONLY an SSD. Opinions here vary, and it certainly doesn't help that Rapid Start has been shown to have issues resuming and can't be used on systems with a 32 GB cache and 16 GB of RAM anyway (if you have such a system and have Rapid Start enabled, you can repurpose that storage for additional caching performance by doing this.)  But for those who are interested, on a system with an mSATA cache unit (and only 8 GB of RAM, not 16), it will give you SSD-level resume times rather than hard drive-level resume times.  On the other hand, you have to carve out a partition on an SSD equal in size to your total installed RAM to use as a hibernation partition (ON TOP OF the hibernation file on your C drive, which you have to keep if you're running Windows 8.x and want to take advantage of Fast Boot), and if you're running system encryption, the data written to the Rapid Start hibernation partition isn't encrypted, whereas with traditional Windows hibernation written to the hibernation file, it would be. Rapid Start warns you about that. The exception to this is if you're using a self-encrypting SSD, in which case everything is always encrypted. And on an SSD-only system, resume time from even regular hibernation is really fast, so the difference is slim to nothing -- and thus probably not worth having to allocate the extra storage for its hibernation partition.  One perk of Rapid Start is that you can configure it to hibernate only after it's been asleep for a configured amount of time. I also believe that if you want to use Smart Connect, you have to either use this method of hibernation or only regular Windows sleep, never Windows hibernation since Smart Connect can't work when you're using regular Windows hibernation.
  • Smart Connect: Requires an SSD-only system or a system with a spinning hard drive and an mSATA cache unit.  The author of this description has it installed to keep Device Manager happy but keep it turned off since I don't use any of the very few applications that support it and have no need for my data to be refreshed while my system is asleep anyway.  Read Intel's description here.
  • Smart Response: Requires a system with a spinning hard drive and an mSATA cache unit.  More about it here.

Q:  I've only owned my XPS 15 for a couple weeks and BatteryBar shows my battery wear at 7% already.  What is normal?

A:  Laptop batteries have a highly variable life expentancy.  For aggressive users (who alternate daily between battery and plug-in and run the battery from 100% down below 20% every day), their laptop battery should show between 30% and 40% wear at the end of the first year of use.  For most, that's about the wear level meriting replacement.  Judicious use of your battery (avoiding hot environments, relying primarily on plug-in power with the occasional run of the battery down to 20%) should produce a more mainstream lifespan of 10% wear per year, meaning that after 3 or 4 years you might feel a need to replace your battery.  At $160 per replacement, the 91 WHr battery in the top-tier XPS 15 is pricey.  The 7% wear you mention represents about 10 months of light use or 3-4 months of intense use of the battery; either way, to see this kind of wear in under a month is cause for concern.  Contact Dell.  The sooner you do so, the more likely they are to recognize that you have not had the computer long enough to wear out the battery normally.  You might also want to confirm that 7% wear figure by using other apps to monitor battery health, such as BatteryInfoView or Battery Status Monitor.  It is important to note that the battery longevity advice suggested here (above) conflicts with the suggestions of Battery University, a by-product of a Canadian electronics company that has specialized in battery technologies.  Battery University recommends an elaborate scheme of pulling the laptop off AC when it reaches 80% and plugging it back in at 40%, constantly bouncing between these two numbers.  If you can actually do that in practice, kudos to you for finding a benefit to having OCD.  For the rest of us this is an unrealistic prescription, hence the advice indicated above to mostly leave the machine plugged into a power outlet.

Q:  I like the price offered by Costco, but I'm nervous about giving up Dell's warranty support.  How is the Costco plan different?

A:  DISCLAIMER:  I've never tested Costco's warranty, nor have I confirmed any of the following from Costco, Square Deal, or Dell.  That being said, my understanding is that if you buy your XPS 15 directly from Dell, it comes with a 12 month warranty during which time if you have an issue that merits warranty action, Dell will contract with a local technician to come to your address and attempt to resolve the issue on-scene.  This warranty can be extended and accidental damage protections can be added to the coverage for an additional fee.  Although expensive, it is easily the most convenient warranty plan I've ever encountered.  If buying through Costco, however, things are rather different in the following ways:

  1. Costco offers a 90-day guarantee.  Return the merchandise undamaged for any reason within 90 days and Costco will accept it as a refund without giving you crap about restocking fees or requiring an RMA. 
  2. Costco doubles the duration of the standard warranty to 24 months, but you have to give up on-site repairs as a trade-off.  If you have a warranty claim (not an accidental damage claim), you'd have to bring your XPS 15 in to the nearest Costco Warehouse and hand it over to them.  They'll ship it to Dell for warranty repair, Dell will ship it back to Costco, and you'll pick it up where you dropped it off.  This could be a *serious* inconvenience, so brace for the possibility of spending a few weeks without your laptop if you need warranty work and you bought through Costco.
  3. For $100, a company called SquareTrade will extend that service warranty by offering their own repair solutions (at their discretion) at their cost, for the third year of ownership with an upward limit of $1250 of coverage, or roughly half the replacement cost of this laptop.  In addition, they apply this level of coverage for accidental damage for the entire first 36 months (3 years) of ownership.  So if you drop your XPS 15 at any time in the first 3 years of ownership, you should contact SquareTrade.  They'll send you a postage-paid box; you just secure your wounded XPS within and send it to them at their expense andthey promise to turn it around within five (5) days of receipt or cut you a check for up to $1250 if they are unable to repair the problem for less than $1250.
  4. In sum, the Costco coverage is dramatically cheaper (knocks about $300 off the initial price of the laptop + first year of coverage, then knocks another $250 off the second and third year of warranty coverage), but if anything goes wrong you will be without a computer for at least a week.

Q:  The nVidia GT-750M is a bit weak for my needs; is there any way to upgrade the GPU on the XPS 15?

A:  Sadly, no.  The GT-750M is soldered to the motherboard.

Q:  I thought the XPS 15 is supposed to be an Ultrabook, but those are required to have much better battery life than I'm getting out of my laptop.  What gives?

A:  First, to improve battery endurance, consider some of the suggestions in the section on battery life.  Second, Dell isn't actually claiming the XPS 15 is an Ultrabook, meaning they don't have to meet any of Intel's requirements for that label.  By designing the XPS 12 to meet Ultrabook requirements, however, Dell is able to lump all XPS models into a section they call "Laptops, Tablets & Ultrabooks for Business" and since the XPS 15 looks like an Ultrabook, buyers may well make that mistake.  And the fact that Dell is rather optimistic about the battery life of the XPS 15 (there are as yet no reports of an XPS 15 in the wild lasting within 2 hours of Dell's claimed battery life of 11 hours of web browsing).  As in all things subject to marketing hyperbole, caveat emptor.

Q:  What do QHD+ and HiDPI mean, anyway?

A:  QHD+ is a designation indicating that a display has at least four times the resolution of the minimum specs for HD (high definition) designation.  In the case of the XPS 15, the 15.6" display has a resolution of 3200x1800, significantly more than the 2560x1440 minimum resolution qualifying as QHD, hence QHD+.  HiDPI is shorthand for displays that have a density of pixels intended to make individual pixels difficult or impossible to identify at normal viewing distances.  The presence of these displays on the market today is largely thanks to Apple's determination that these displays ought to be the standard; Apple's subsequent ability to sell expensive products with these displays justified their inclusion on high end devices and they are rapidly becoming the standard across platforms.  For an Apple-oriented discussion of HiDPI, consider this essay by Richard Gaywood, published 01 March 2012 on TUAW.

Q:  I just plugged in a USB mouse, set it to its maximum motion speed, and find that with the QHD+ real estate, it is too much work to push the cursor from one end of the screen to the other.  Are there any fixes for this?

A:  Note that there are two basic ways to define the behavior of the mouse.  One is through OS (in the case of Windows, using the slider under just Control Panel => Mouse => Pointer Options) and the other is using the softwware (if any) supplied by the mouse manufacturer.  At least one user on the NotebookReview forum has commented that there might be some driver conflicts between independent mouse software and the Synaptics touchpad driver, so install that stuff with the understanding that some conflict is possible.  Beyond these two approaches, I am unaware of other methods for adjusting mousing behavior.

Q: When playing Steam games in full screen at non-native resolution, I see black bars around the image

A: The combination of Steam, Windows 8.1, and the XPS 15 has problems scaling arbitrary resolutions correctly. To ensure you're image is scaled correctly, choose one of the listed resolutions in the Windows screen resolution control panel. On the XPS 15 with latest Intel/Nvidia drivers, these resolutions are:

  • 3200 x 1800
  • 2048 x 1152
  • 1920 x 1080
  • 1600 x 900
  • 1280 x 720
  • 1024 x 768

You don't need to change the Windows screen resolution in this scenario. Simply select one of the resolutions above in the game itself. As of current writing, you'll need to restart Steam after making the change for scaling to work properly. Until you restart, the image will still have black bars around it.

Q: Which port is USB 2.0, which are USB 3.0, and which can be used to charge my phone while the laptop is asleep or powered off?

A: The USB port on the right side toward the back (closest to the security-cable slot) is USB 2.0. All others are USB 3.0. All of the device's USB ports support PowerShare, which allows them to charge other devices when asleep or powered off. The diagram noting this information and more is located not in the Owner's Manual, but is instead located in the Setup Guide.

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