Review: Dell’s XPS 13 Plus pulls high performance out of frustrating design

Dell XPS 13 Plus Unlocked Front
Zoom / Dell XPS 13 Plus clamshell laptop.

Sharon Harding

Specifications at a glance: Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320)
worstBetterAs reviewed
Monitor13.4 inch 1920 x 1200 IPS non-touch screen13.4 inch 3840 x 2400 IPS touch screen or 13.4 inch 3456 x 2160 OLED touch screen13.4 inch OLED touch screen 3456 x 2160
The operating systemWindows 11 HomeWindows 11 ProWindows 11 Home
CPUIntel Core i5-1240PIntel Core i7-1280P
RAM8 GB LPDDR5-520032 GB LPDDR5-520016 GB LPDDR5-5200
storage512 GB PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD2 TB PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD512 GB PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD
GPUIntel Iris XE
NetworksWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
ports2 Thunderbolt 4
size11.63 x 7.84 x 0.6 inches
295.30 x 199.04 x 15.28 mm
Weight2.71 lb (1.23 kg)IPS: 2.71 lb 1.23 kg)
OLED: 2.78 lbs (1.26 kg)
2.78 lb (1.26 kg)
battery55 watts
a guaranteeOne year
Price (MSRP) 1300 dollars$2,3602000 dollars
elseUSB-C to 3.5 mm and USB-C to USB-A 3.0 adapters included, Ubuntu-based developer version Available

The Dell XPS 13 laptop has been a staple among ultra-light Windows machines, usually offering decent performance for the price, maximum portability, and good looks.

Apparently, that wasn’t enough for Dell, so they released a version Dell XPS 13 Plus. Introduced this year (along with the more traditional 2022 XPS 13), it’s a revamped version of XPS 13 that puts performance over everything else.

Unbridled design options allow the system to support a 28W CPU. With the 2021 XPS 13 carrying a 15-watt chip and the 2022 XPS 13 supporting up to 12 watts, this is a notable achievement. But it is also a function of the image. Quite simply, using the XPS 13 Plus was weird. From its tightly spaced switches describing capacitive touch functionality to minimal port selection, questionable build quality, and extremely high temperatures, this device can be frustrating to use for everyday tasks.

As an artist, the XPS 13 Plus has its advantages. But as a laptop, some design choices may push you towards other powerful laptops that are thin and lightweight.

Touch the Bar-esque function row

Describe the most interesting job in ages.
Zoom / Describe the most interesting job in ages.

Sharon Harding

Dell hasn’t given up on soft-touch input on top of its laptop keyboards. You can find a similar setting at MacBook Pro 13 inch, although every MacBook has gone back to the real keys. Dell’s approach to capacitive touch is more limited than Apple’s Touch Bar.

It is not programmable, for one person. It can display Esc, media keys (including an easy-to-use mic mute button that lights up), brightness controls, a Windows project button, and some navigation keys. Alternatively, pressing Fn displays the function row Esc and F1 – F12, and you can lock this layout in place by holding down Fn + Esc.

Dell did not provide a file Top row that looks like a touch bar Just to be different. Because the keys use capacitive touch, they are 1.4mm thick instead of the 3.2mm of vertical space that would be required with traditional buttons. The company said that this decision saves space and allows Dell to move the hinges to wider points to improve system cooling. But when pressing the laptop for maximum performance for long periods, the row of functions became so warm that it was uncomfortable to touch.

Functionality isn’t an area of ​​frequent innovation, and I appreciate that Dell redesigned it in the name of performance rather than just a gimmick. But as a person who prefers mechanical keyboardsIt’s hard to like capacitive touch input. During my weeks with the laptop, I sometimes mis-press the keys on the top row when I’m probably not using them if they have standard buttons. Rarely have I accidentally cleaned up the row, logging an entry or two, when I was trying to use the number row.

Since the function row has controls assigned to it, there is no need to customize it. But there is still room for more jobs. For example, there are no rewind or fast-forward media controls, and unlike many of the super lights I’ve tested lately, there is no button or light on the keyboard to tell you that the webcam is off. There is also no indicator light showing when to mute.

I’ve found the job row’s bright lighting to be distracting at times, but it’s impossible to turn it off. An ambient sensor near the webcam automatically adjusts row brightness based on the lighting in the room.

However, there are far worse things than the ho-Hum function row, especially if the rest of the keyboard is great. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

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