A lot of assumptions get thrown around in this argument - Elan being a 'cheap' brand and Synaptics being the 'gold standard'.
However, since the introduction of Windows Precision Touchpad drivers, the tables have turned. For example, the Elan touchpad in the Dell XPS 9550 compared to the Synaptics touchpad in the Dell XPS 9570:
- Acceleration cannot be disabled on the Synaptics - the HonorMouseAccelSetting registry tweak does not work
- Less jitter in small movements on the Elan
- Smoother physical surface on the Elan
- Lower input lag on the Elan
- In a laptop that has never supported anything other than Precision Touchpad (such as the 9570), all of the usual Synaptics settings in the registry are absent
With all this in mind, the Elan on the 9550 is comfortably the best touchpad I have ever used on a laptop. (Mac touchpads disregarded because of forced acceleration and bad windows drivers)