[WORK-IN-PROGRESS] Dell XPS 15 9530 laptop Windows/Linux setup & dual-boot install

17 minute read

I just bought the brand new top-of-the-line Dell XPS 15 9530 laptop.

Here’s how to set it up for dual-booting Windows 11 and Ubuntu 22.04 LTS.

This is the fastest home or work computer I’ve ever had in my life, while being portable enough (1. as a laptop, 2. both thin, and light, and 3. only ~4 lbs) that I can carry 3 of them in the same backpack when I travel by plane. Here is a speed test/PassMark benchmark I performed on it in Windows 11: https://www.passmark.com/baselines/V11/display.php?id=197601456490


  1. 13th Gen Intel® Core™ i9-13900H (24 MB cache, 14 cores, up to 5.40 GHz Turbo) - has 20 logical cores (6 cores have hyperthreading), so to the OS it looks like 20 cores
  2. Windows 11 Home (from the manufacturer) and Linux Ubuntu 22.04 (installed by me))
  3. NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4070, 8 GB GDDR6 video card
  4. 16 GB: 2 x 8 GB, DDR5, 4800 MT/s, dual-channel removable RAM
    1. After purchase: upgraded to 64 GB 2x32 GB DDR5 5200 MT/s
  5. 512 GB, M.2, PCIe NVMe, SSD in slot 1 [for Windows]
    1. After purchase: added a 2nd 2 TB M.2 7450/6900 MB/s read/write SSD in slot 2 [for Linux]
  6. 15.6”, FHD+ 1920x1200, 60Hz, Non-Touch, Anti-Glare, 500 nit, InfinityEdge display
  7. 130W USB-C power adapter

In order to end up with the absolute top-of-the-line model possible at the cheapest cost, I intentionally got the smallest SSD and RAM possible, then I manually upgraded them myself after purchase. Almost any computer manufacturer overcharges by 2~3x for RAM and SSD upgrades, so you can save perhaps $300~$700 or so on the upgrades by doing this yourself.

I chose the non-touchscreen display because:

  1. It’s less glossy and will have less glare and reflections when working with a backlight behind you.
  2. I don’t use touchscreens much, and don’t like fingerprints on my screen.
  3. It has better brightness at 500 nit vs 400 nit.

I’ll dual-boot Windows 11 and Ubuntu 22.04 LTS. To make it simple, Windows will remain on the first SSD, and Linux will be on the second SSD.


This article it intended as notes to myself, and to others with some technical experience. It also contains my info. to get started setting up a software developer environment in Windows.

For brand-new beginners, please post questions in the comments below, or do some additional googling or talking to AIs (Bing Chat/Copilot, ChatGPT, Google Bard, GitHub Copilot, etc.) for help. And I’ll try to reply to your comments.

While this article is a work-in-progress, I’ll update it as I go, and check steps off as I complete them.


1. Buy everything

  1. Dell XPS 15 9530 laptop, $2000~$3000
    1. When you buy the laptop from Dell, if there is a place to do so, add a note to the order requesting that they install the second (right) SSD thermal plate and screw, even if no SSD is in it, or else it won’t come with one. If it doesn’t come with one, you can either fight with them over support and possibly get it for as little as $1.99 with free shipping and 2 to 8 weeks waiting, plus dealing with some of the lowest quality support in the world, for many hours on the phone. Or, you can just buy it yourself on Amazon. If you want, do both and return the Amazon one if the Dell one comes in time. Or, to save hassle, just keep the Amazon one and avoid the hassle with Dell and be done!
    2. Note that even if you do get Dell to send you the thermal plate, it won’t come with the screw, so you’ll need to buy that anyway unless you somehow managed to get them to sell you a screw too (I was unable to get them to, even after 3 hours dealing with them, mostly on the phone).
  2. 2nd (right) SSD slot 2 thermal cover and screw
    1. Option 1 (recommended, to avoid dealing with Dell’s insanely lousy service): Deal4GO Slot 2 2280 M.2 SSD Heatsink Thermal Shield for Dell XPS 15, $21 - It comes with 2 pcs M2x2 (2mm diameter x 2mm length) screws. You only need one of them. This kit works fine.
    2. Option 2:
      1. Open a support ticket with Dell and ask them to send you an order form for the thermal plate and screw. Hours and hours and hours later, and weeks of waiting, you may still not get it. I can’t emphasize enough how bad Dell support is. They are very polite, but incompetent.
      2. Then also buy this pack of screws on Amazon: Akuoly Laptop Screw Set PC M2 M3 M2.5 Screw Standoffs for Universal Laptops and Hard Drive Disk M.2 SSD, 355 Pieces, $10. The screw size you need for the SSD and thermal cover is M2x2 (2mm diameter x 2mm length) or M2x3 (2mm diameter x 3mm length). This kit comes with high quality stainless steel screws in that size with a larger head diameter specifically for installing SSDs. It’s a good kit to have around regardless.

    Right (SSD2) thermal cover/heat sink for Dell XPS15 9530:

    1. Top side (Original Dell one on left, Amazon Deal4GO one on right):

    2. Bottom side (Original Dell one on left, Amazon Deal4GO one on right):
      • be sure to peal the film off of the blue thermal pad before installation, so that it sticks to the top of the SSD to sink heat out of it

  3. iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit, $75 with fast shipping and easy returns; or from iFixit.com: https://www.ifixit.com/products/pro-tech-toolkit
    1. You’ll need plastic prying picks from this kit, a spudger (plastic prying and poking tool), a tiny phillips screwdriver, and a T5 Torx screwdriver.
    2. If you plan on doing only this one job and nothing else, a cheaper kit may work, but if you plan on doing any more than one computer upgrade in your life, this iFixit Pro kit is totally worth it. I got the cheaper iFixit kit originally and regret it.
  4. 64 GB RAM:
    1. (Recommended): Crucial RAM 64GB Kit (2x32GB) DDR5 5200MT/s (or 4800MT/s) CL42 Laptop Memory CT2K32G52C42S5, $219 - is perhaps up to 4.9% faster than the one below, in real-world tests I did on my Dell XPS 9530.
    2. Also works fine, and is $55 cheaper: Crucial RAM 64GB Kit (2x32GB) DDR5 4800MT/s CL40 Laptop Memory CT2K32G48C40S5, $164
    3. The XPS 9530 manual states that the maximum memory supported is:

      64 GB, 2 x 32 GB, DDR5, 4800 MT/s, dual-channel

      …so I’m not 100% sure if the 5200 MT/s RAM is fully worth it, but the BIOS does recognize that its speed is 5200 MT/s, and it works fine and ran 4.9% faster in my tests, so I’m keeping it.

      If you do decide to buy a different RAM kit, shoot for a lower CL latency. CL42, which is what I got, is on the high end, and this video indicates that lower CL latency is better, and can sometimes beat higher speed RAM when the higher speed RAM has a higher CL latency.

  5. SSD: Samsung 990 PRO Series - 2TB PCIe Gen4. X4 NVMe 2.0c - M.2 Internal SSD (MZ-V9P2T0B/AM), $175+ - lightning fast with “read/write speeds up to 7,450/6,900 MB/s”.
    1. Get the one without the heat sink. Technically (I tried so I know), the one with the heat sink will fit well enough that the computer case will still close, but it presses against the inside of the case, bowing it out a couple mm and prevents some of the metal grounding sponges in the case from making contact with the case, as well as some of the thermal cooling locations on the case from making contact with certain chips, so it’s not ideal.

2. Set up Windows

  1. Log into Windows 11:
    1. When the computer first arrives, without opening up the case to install hardware yet, boot into Windows 11, which comes on the computer, and log in with your Microsoft account. Set up Windows as you wish.
  2. ///////// can’t!–no drivers to download; see: https://www.cablematters.com/pc-1536-125-foldable-usb-c-multiport-adapter-with-hdmi-usb-power-delivery.aspx ///////Install Windows drivers for “Cable Matters Foldable USB-C Multiport Adapter with HDMI”, Model #201378. ////////// (link)
  3. Plug in any external monitors you’d like
  4. Change screen size (resolution and scale)
    1. Right-click on desktop –> Display settings –>
      1. Click on your screen you’d like to change if you have multiple monitors –> scroll down to the “Scale & layout” section –> change “Display resolution” to the largest value, and change “Scale” to 100% to make things small. (You can use 125% or larger if it’s too small).
      2. Click “Multiple displays” to expand it –> uncheck the box for “Ease cursor movement between displays”. Leaving this option on re-guides your mouse from monitor to monitor when you drag a window between monitors or move your mouse to a dead-end edge of a monitor. And, when monitors are different sizes and offset, it feels really weird and annoying, and it makes it impossible to drag a window to certain parts of the edge of a monitor to make the window expand or snap to a 1/4 of the screen or to 1/2 of the screen, which is immensely frustrating.
  5. Install the “Logi Options+” Logitech software app for Logitech mice and keyboards:
    1. Add my MX Vertical mouse. Change the pointer speed button so that in “Pointer speed 1” mode it is 50%, and in “Pointer speed 2” mode it is 75%.
      On the mouse itself, click the “Change pointer speed” button on top to go to the faster 75% mode.
    2. Update mouse firmware: in the app, click on your mouse image –> Settings –> under the “About” section at the top, it will show the firmware version. Click “CHECK FOR UPDATE”, and follow the steps.
  6. Change mouse and trackpad settings
    1. Mouse:
      1. Press the Windows key, type “mouse settings” and click on it –> drag “Mouse pointer speed” to 13 out of 20 or so, which feels pretty good with my Logitech mouse itself set to 75% above.
      2. Set “Scrolling” to “Multiple lines at a time”, then drag the “Lines to scroll at a time” to 10.
    2. Touchpad: press the Windows key and search for “Touchpad settings” and click on it –> drag the “Cursor speed” bar to 10 out of 10. Check all 4 boxes under the “Taps” settings. Under “Scroll and zoom”, set “Scrolling direction” to “Down motion scrolls down”.
  7. Disable adaptive screen brightness ///////
  8. Install and sign into browsers
    • Google Chrome
    • Microsoft Edge
    • Firefox
  9. Install MS VSCode
  10. Install Sublime Text
  11. Configure File Explorer (was formerly called “Windows Explorer”) views and behavior:
    1. Change the view settings:

      Open File Explorer –> click “Home” in the top left –> double-click “Documents” –> View –> List. Now, click the 3 dots at top –> Options –> View –> check the following boxes:

      1. Display the full path in title bar
      2. Show hidden files, folders, and drives

      Uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types”.

      At the top, click “Apply to Folders”, then “Yes”. Click “OK” to close the window.

    2. Enable the delete confirmation dialog when deleting files and folders:

      Press Windows + D to show the desktop –> right-click the “Recycle Bin” –> Properties –> check the box for “Display delete confirmation dialog” –> click “OK”.

    3. Create folders at C:\Users\my_username\GS\dev. Then, right-click dev and go to “Pin to Quick access”. This puts a shortcut to it in the left-hand “Quick access” area of File Explorer. Do the same for the GS folder.

  12. Add Task Manager to the startup applications so that it starts up at boot.
    1. Open File Explorer –> navigate to C:\Windows\System32\Taskmgr.exe. Right-click on Taskmgr.exe –> “Show more options” –> “Create shortcut”. A popup window will say:

      Windows can’t create a shortcut here. Do you want the shortcut to be placed on the desktop instead?

      Click “Yes”.

    2. Cut the shortcut to Taskmgr.exe on the Desktop and paste it into the %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup dir.
    3. Now, Task Manager will start up automatically at boot (I think), for your user only. If you want it to start up for all users, put the shortcut into C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp instead (I think).
    4. Right-click on some empty space in the bottom-right taskbar area to the left of the icons in the far right –> click “Task Manager” to open it up. Now, with it open, right-click down there again –> click “Taskbar settings” –> “Other system tray icons”. This allows you to “Show or hide additional system tray icons”. Turn ON the slider for “Task Manager”.
  13. Configure OneDrive to not sync the “Pictures” (and screenshots) folder:

    Open File Explorer –> Home –> right-click “Pictures” –> OneDrive –> “Manage OneDrive backup” –> in the window that pops up, click the slider for “Pictures” to turn it off –> click “OK”. This leaves only the “Documents” and “Desktop” folders syncing to OneDrive.

    Note: to get back here to Configure OneDrive settings, you can also do this:

    Open File Manager –> This PC (bottom left) –> C –> Users –> my_username –> right-click OneDrive –> go to “OneDrive” –> Settings –> this brings up a “Sync and backup” “OneDrive Settings” window.

  14. [nah, disabling OneDrive for the Pictures folder just above is fine instead] Change the default save location of screenshots to not be in your cloud-synced OneDrive folder:
    1. See here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/topic/operation-to-change-a-personal-folder-location-fails-in-windows-ffb95139-6dbb-821d-27ec-62c9aaccd720
    2. Note: by doing the registry change and then putting it back again, I may have actually finagled the default screenshots dir when I use the PrintScr button to become C:\Users\my_username\Pictures_NOT_on_OneDrive\Screenshots. It’s not clear if or how I did that exactly, but the only key I changed was HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\My Pictures. I set its value to C:\Users\my_username\Pictures_NOT_on_OneDrive and then back to C:\Users\my_username\OneDrive\Pictures.
  15. Enable “Developer Mode”
    1. Windows key –> search for “Use developer features” –> click on it –> click the slider to enable “Developer Mode” –> click “Yes” to the popup window.
  16. Install LibreOffice (Microsoft Office alternative)
  17. Run Windows Updates
    1. Press Windows key –> search for “Check for updates”, and select it. Click “Check for updates” and “Download & install” if any are available.
    2. /////////
  18. Install Git for Windows
    1. Follow my installation notes and screenshots here:
      1. Adding Git-Bash to the new Windows Terminal
      2. Installing Git For Windows
  19. Install Python
    1. Install it directly from here (not from the Windows Store!): https://www.python.org/downloads/
    2. Follow my steps here to configure it to run in Git Bash: Python doesn’t work in Git Bash (it just hangs or freezes forever); and getting Linux hash-bangs to work in Windows
  20. Install MSYS2 and gcc in Windows
    1. Follow my steps here: Installing & setting up MSYS2 from scratch, including adding all 7 profiles to Windows Terminal
  21. Run PassMark benchmark performance tests
  22. Back up Bitlocker recovery key

3. Install new RAM and SSD, and configure the BIOS

  1. Install new RAM and SSD
  2. configure BIOS
    1. Change from RAID to AHCI; this uses 3x less power when sleeping in Linux
    2. Disable Secure Boot
  3. try to turn on; configure BIOS F-keys; install RAM and SSD; turn on again

That was awful. I felt like poking my eyes out at times using Windows. It is impossible to stop syncing the C:\Users\my_user\OneDrive\Pictures\Screenshots folder to OneDrive, for instance, while still keeping the other C:\Users\my_user\OneDrive\Pictures content synced. And, you can’t change the automatic save location in the Snipping Tool program! And the 125% display zoom is too much on my external 4k 32” curved display, and the 100% zoom too little! Aaaagh. Back to Linux!

4. Install and set up Linux Ubuntu

  1. In Windows, install the Samsung Magician SSD software since I bought a Samsung 990 PRO SSD and need to make sure it has the latest firmware to avoid the bug where it wears out rapidly.

  2. Run speed test in Windows. Here are my results:

See also

  1. My article: How to clone your hard drive using free and simple open-source tools (w/any OS on your cloned drive!)

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