Assessment: Dell’s XPS 13 Plus pulls excessive efficiency from a irritating design


Enlarge / Dell’s XPS 13 Plus clamshell laptop computer.

Scharon Harding

Specs at a look: Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320)
Worst Greatest As reviewed
Display screen 13.4-inch 1920×1200 IPS non-touch display 13.4-inch 3840×2400 IPS touchscreen or 13.4-inch 3456×2160 OLED touchscreen 13.4-inch 3456×2160 OLED touchscreen
OS Home windows 11 Dwelling Home windows 11 Professional Home windows 11 Dwelling
CPU Intel Core i5-1240P Intel Core i7-1280P
RAM 8GB LPDDR5-5200 32GB LPDDR5-5200 16GB LPDDR5-5200
Storage 512GB PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD 2TB PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD 512GB PCIe 4.0 x4 SSD
GPU Intel Iris Xe
Networking Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4
Measurement 11.63 x 7.84 x 0.6 inches
295.30 x 199.04 x 15.28 mm
Weight 2.71 kilos (1.23 kg) IPS: 2.71 kilos 1.23 kg)
OLED: 2.78 kilos (1.26 kg)
2.78 kilos (1.26 kg)
Battery 55 Wh
Guarantee 1 12 months
Worth (MSRP)  $1,300 $2,360 $2,000
Different USB-C to three.5 mm and USB-C to USB-A 3.0 adapters included, Ubuntu-based Developer Version obtainable

Dell’s XPS 13 laptop computer has been a staple amongst Home windows ultralights, sometimes providing first rate efficiency for the value, excessive portability, and beauty.

Apparently, that wasn’t sufficient for Dell, so it launched the Dell XPS 13 Plus. Launched this 12 months (alongside a extra conventional 2022 XPS 13), it is a revamped model of the XPS 13 that places efficiency over the whole lot else.

Wild design decisions permit the system to assist a 28 W CPU. With the 2021 XPS 13 carrying a 15 W chip and the 2022 XPS 13 supporting as much as a 12 W one, this can be a notable achievement. However it’s additionally a case of operate over type. To place it merely, utilizing the XPS 13 Plus felt bizarre. From its tightly spaced keys and capacitive contact operate row to its minimal port choice, questionable construct high quality, and intensely excessive temperatures, this machine could be irritating to make use of for day by day duties.

As a performer, the XPS 13 Plus has its pluses. However as a go-to laptop computer, some design decisions might push you towards different highly effective thin-and-light laptops.

Contact Bar-esque operate row

The most interesting function row in ages.
Enlarge / Essentially the most fascinating operate row in ages.

Scharon Harding

Dell hasn’t given up on soft-touch enter above its laptop computer keyboards. You could find an identical setup on the 13-inch MacBook Professional, although each different MacBook has gone again to actual keys. Dell’s tackle the capacitive contact row is extra restricted than Apple’s Contact Bar, although.

It is not programmable, for one. It may show Esc, media keys (together with a helpful mic mute button that lights up), brightness controls, the Home windows Mission button, and a few navigational keys. Alternatively, urgent Fn makes the operate row show Esc and F1–F12, and you may lock that structure in place by holding down Fn + Esc.

Dell did not introduce a Contact Bar-like high row simply to be totally different. As a result of the keys use capacitive contact, they’re 1.4 mm thick as a substitute of the three.2 mm of vertical area that may be required with conventional buttons. This determination saves area and allowed Dell to maneuver the hinges to wider factors for improved system cooling, the corporate stated. However when pushing the laptop computer to max efficiency for sustained intervals, the operate row obtained so heat that it was uncomfortable to the touch.

The operate row is not an space that sees frequent improvements, and I respect that Dell redesigned it within the identify of efficiency moderately than simply as a gimmick. However as somebody who prefers mechanical keyboards, it is exhausting to like capacitive contact enter. Throughout my weeks with the laptop computer, I often mispressed keys within the high row after I most likely would not have if it had commonplace buttons. Hardly ever, I by chance brushed the row flippantly, registering an enter or two, after I was making an attempt to make use of the quantity row.

Because the operate row has set controls, there is not any must customise it. However it nonetheless seems like there’s room for extra features. As an example, there aren’t any rewind or fast-forward media controls, and in contrast to many latest ultralights I’ve examined, there is not any button or mild on the keyboard to inform you that the webcam is off. There’s additionally no mild indicator for when the amount is muted.

I discovered the operate row’s brilliant illumination distracting at instances, but it surely’s inconceivable to show it off. An ambient sensor close to the webcam robotically adjusts the row’s brightness based mostly on the lighting within the room.

That stated, there are far worse issues than a ho-hum operate row, particularly if the remainder of the keyboard is incredible. Sadly, it is not.

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