DELL XPS13 (9310) – 2021 REVIEW – STILL THE BENCHMARK IN 13-INCH ULTRABOOK CATEGORY

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DELL XPS13 (9310) – 2021: When we reviewed the Dell XPS 13 last year, we dubbed it the “Thin & Light” King. The new Dell XPS 13 9310 has arrived and is expected to remain so.

The Dell XPS 13-9310 ticks all the boxes. It delivers in the most important areas and doesn’t let its shortcomings take over the user experience. Although it’s not perfect, the Dell XPS 13 9310 is a top-rated notebook that does everything better than most other notebooks in its category.

DELL XPS13 (9310) – 2021 DETAILED REVIEW

As we all know, Dell has been pushing the limits in the laptop market for years with its XPS line of notebooks.

Since their inception, almost all of the XPS series notebooks have been receiving rave reviews from enthusiasts and us.

We are still impressed by these laptops’ beautiful designs, impressive displays, solid performance, as well as their incredible design.

DELL XPS13
DELL XPS13

We review the latest XPS laptops every year to see how they have improved. Is the Dell XPS 13 9310 Ultrabook the best 13-inch Ultrabook? Is it the best laptop in this category of ultra-light laptops? We’ll find out in our complete review.

DELL XPS 13 9310 – SPECIFICATIONS

The specifications of the Dell XPS 13 9310 are impressive, despite the small form factor. The Intel Core i7-1185G7 quad-core processor is what powers it.

Its 13.40-inch 4K UDH+ display with a 16 to 10 aspect ratio is probably the highlight of this laptop. Before we get into the details, let’s take a look at the specifications.

DELL XPS13 9310: PERFORMANCE

As mentioned, the Dell XPS 13 9310 is powered by an 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1185G7 processor. It is a quad-core processor based upon the Tiger Lake-U generation (UP3).

It has 8 cores that support Hyperthreading, which allows multiple threads to run on each core. This ensures the highest performance.

Core i7-1185G7, the fastest model in the lineup at the time of its launch, had a clock speed 3.0Ghz with a turbo frequency 4.8Ghz.

You can also expect the Dell XPS 13 9310 to perform super fast in everyday workloads, including boot times. How does the Dell XPS 13-9310 perform?

To compare it with other notebooks of this type, I ran the standard benchmarks. The laptop scored 4755 in PCMark 10, which is slightly higher than the average score for this CPU on other notebooks.

The CPU has a maximum TDP of 28 Watt so it won’t be as powerful as a gaming laptop, or any other mainstream notebook. It works well and produces the expected results Cinebench R20 scored 1405 points for the laptop.

During these CPU-centric tests, I noticed that CPU clock speeds fluctuated a lot. This could be because of Dell’s Dynamic Power Policy, which addresses throttling issues on newer laptops.

This allows the CPU to run at close to its throttling temperatures without actually allowing it to exceed that number. This behavior will be obvious when you are paying attention to the numbers.

I don’t believe that it should have any significant performance impact in daily usage. You may sometimes notice frame rates changing while playing games.

It’s not enough to cause problems in tests. The CPU will actually be allowed to reach its turbo frequency more often, without actual throttle.

While running Cinebench R20, I was able to plot the Core Speeds graph. You will see how Dynamic Power Policy tried to keep core clocks up towards the end of the test when the CPU began to show signs of throttling.

This type of clock speed fluctuation is not common on desktops or laptops, as they tend to slow down after reaching throttling temperatures.

What is the result? It performs better than last year’s Dell XPS 13 powered by the Intel Core i7-1065G7.

All benchmark tests showed that we got better results, so the 11th Gen processor is clearly benefiting the laptop’s performance. This laptop’s results were comparable to a gaming laptop running an H-series processor.

To give you an idea about the CPU performance, here’s a Cinebench comparison graph. The GPU is the Intel Iris Xe graphic which you will most often see in these ultra-thin laptops.

Graphics performance is significantly improved when the Tiger Lake platform’s Iris Plus is replaced by the Iris Xe.

The Dell XPS 13 with Intel Iris Xe graphics scored big in 3DMark’s suite application tests. It outperformed other thin laptops that Digit has tested.

The Dell XPS 13 scored 1,444 in 3DMark’s TimeSpy, while I scored 10,274 on the Sky Diver test. This is better than the score that the HP ProBook Aero G7 notebook scored with its Radeon RX Vega 6 GPU.

Gaming is possible despite not having a discrete graphics card. The laptop’s small chassis doesn’t have a sophisticated cooling system so I wouldn’t recommend it for intense AAA games.

You may experience a significant performance drop. You can play lighter titles such as Dota 2 and CS: GO, but it is best to limit your gaming time to shorter sessions that don’t put too much pressure on the machine.

When gaming on ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13, it’s important to be realistic about your expectations.

DELL XPS13 9310: THERMAL EXPERIENCE

The thermodynamics of ultrabooks that are thin or light is often a problem, especially when the CPU is high-performance and rated for a maximum TDP of 28 Watt. It doesn’t help that the chassis has no advanced cooling system.

Dell claims that the XPS 13 has dual fans and a single Heatpipe with a single evaporator, dual condenser, and single heat pipe to provide solid performance. Is that really useful?

The Dell XPS 13 runs hot, just like the previous versions. Although the thermal management is not poor, you will notice that the bottom panel gets hot when you start opening Google Chrome tabs. During stress tests, the whole chassis felt warm to the touch.

The fans will start up when you switch the thermal setting to Ultra Performance. However, they aren’t very loud. Although you won’t be able to hear them, they will do an amazing job keeping temperatures under control.

This setting will not cause the CPU to throttle as much, and you won’t experience any performance problems. The temperatures are within acceptable limits and the clock speeds are maintained.

This is true for the GPU too, since it’s not an integrated chip. Thermal throttling is not uncommon in these thin laptops, particularly in the XPS line because of the thin chassis.

The Dell Dynamic Power Policy, which I mentioned earlier, will guarantee smooth and reliable performance.

If you continue to perform resource-intensive tasks, the laptop’s chassis can reach 50°C. The laptop will not perform well if you’re running stress tests for an extended time.

The CPU and GPU will not be overwhelmed by day-to-workloads. It is encouraging to see the new Dell XPS 13 putting large numbers on the performance board each year in order to keep the competition high.

To test the 1TB PCIe GEN3 x4 SSD NVMe SSD in the Dell XPS 13, I also tried it out. Dell uses storage units from many suppliers, including Samsung, Intel, KIOXIA, and others.

My review unit contains a Western Digital SN730 unit that can read at speeds of up to 3,400 MB/s. CrystalDiskMark recorded 3396.91MB/s read speed and 3095.03MB/s sequential write speed.

This unit seems to be faster than a few other SSD units from Micron and Intel.

DELL XPS 13 9310 – DISPLAY

For review, the unit came with a 13.4 inch 4K UDH+ panel (3840×2400). This is the Dell InfinityEdge touch screen display with 500 nits brightness.

According to Dell, this 16:10 panel is extremely color accurate and has an anti-reflective coating and anti-smudge coating.

Before I jump to conclusions, I wanted my own testing of the SepctraCal HDR2000 colorimeter. The display performed very well after I ran the standard tests. The Dell XPS 13 has undoubtedly one of the most impressive displays I’ve ever seen on a laptop.

The Colour Volume analysis shows that the display covers 100% of sRGB as well as 81% of DCI–P3 color space. This is in keeping with Dell’s claims regarding the display.

Further, the volume extends towards the red and yellow areas. This is typical behavior you would expect from a DCI/P3 compliant panel. The average color corrected temperature was also 6987.

This means that the colors are cooler with a slight blue bias. It also boasts a contrast ratio of 1546 to 1, which is quite good.

DELL XPS13
DELL XPS13

The display is also very accurate in color, with a peak luminance at 481 cd/m2. Black luminance was 0.311 cd/m2, which I think is one of the lowest I’ve ever seen.

The ColorChecker analysis report will show that the display had an average DeltaE value of 1.8 and a maximum DeltaE value of 3.4. These are solid numbers that show that almost all colors are accurate. All skin tones, from dark to light shades, are accurate.

It’s an excellent panel for reading any type of content. This panel is also great for content creators. However, the hardware may prevent you from doing heavy editing or photo/video work.

Since these numbers were already recorded from the box, manual color calibration is not required. This is quite admirable, I would say.

I dislike the glossy display. It attracts fingerprints, and you will have trouble viewing it outside, especially in direct sunlight.

It’s not going to change that the peak luminance value recorded isn’t going any different. However, it will be extremely reflective outside making it difficult to use.

DELL XPS13 9310: BATTERY LIFE TEST

The 53WHr battery in all Dell XPS 13 9310 models is integrated into the chassis. It is not replaceable. The 45W AC adapter can be used to charge your laptop via one of the USB Type-C ports.

As usual, the battery life depends on how bright the laptop is and what kind of task you are doing.
The Dell XPS 13 was able to last for just over 8 hours in PCMark 10’s Modern Office Test.

That is approximately 480 minutes. You can lower the brightness to get more time. It could even reach 13 hours in the same test.

The OLED version, which has yet to arrive in India, will likely have a much longer battery life, especially if you use darker colors.

You should be able to get about 6-8 hours of use at 75% brightness in real-world usage. If you really want to get the numbers right, I recommend that you reduce the brightness level as much as possible.

You can even change to 1080p resolution. It’s still a very popular machine when it comes to battery life. If you use this machine, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your charger at home. Keep that in mind.

DELL XPS13 9310: KEYBOARD & TRACKPAD & IO

It’s been a great experience to type on them since Dell switched to a new keyboard for the XPS machines. This laptop’s keyboard is very good, with easy-to-hit keys.

They are comfortable to touch and have sufficient travel. The keyboard is a chicklet-style keyboard with two-stage lighting, in case it’s not obvious.

It’s also very good to have a trackpad on the Dell XPS 13 9310. Although there isn’t much space to work with due to the chassis, the experience of using it can be quite rewarding. The glass surface is smooth and easy to use.

The Microsoft Precision drivers are also included, which allow for gestures and tracking to be performed very well.

The IO has only 2 Thunderbolt4 ports, one on each side. It supports DisplayPort and Power Delivery. This variant also has a microSD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack.

Although the lack of ports might be annoying to some, it’s not surprising that there are fewer ports in a smaller chassis.

If you’re not used to only having two ports, Dell includes a Type C-to-USB Type-A adapter in the box.

DELL XPS13 9310: DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY

The Dell XPS 13 9310 laptop is one of the most stunning in the ultra-portable laptop market. The Frost White finish is very elegant and looks great as a photo.

The laptop’s elegant sides make it look even more stylish when closed due to its beveled edges. The lid features a glossy Dell logo with no branding elsewhere on the chassis.

You will be greeted by the stunning display and the woven fiber keyboard deck as soon as you open the lid.

The woven glass fiber keyboard deck makes it very easy to use while typing. The touchscreen version of this laptop weighs in at 1.27Kgs. It is one of the most lightweight you’ll ever use. This compact laptop can easily fit into a backpack or sleeves.

You already know what you can expect from this device. It is a little thinner and lighter than the MacBook Air M1.

The Dell XPS 13 will make you feel as if you’re looking at and holding a beautiful computer every day. It is rare that a Windows laptop can make you feel this way, and the XPS line continues to be an exception.

Dual 2.5W stereo speakers are included on the Dell XPS 13 at its lower edge. They are placed in a not-so-ideal location but they produce clear sound and are loud enough to be quite loud.

Waves MaxxAudio Pro and Dell CinemaSound 2.0 can be used to further adjust the sound quality. The laptop also has far-field microphones at the top of the screen, which provides a good output for Zoom calls or Google Meet calls.

DELL XPS 13 9310 – VERDICT

The Dell XPS 13 9310 remains one of the most expensive 13-inch Ultrabooks available. This newer model also has the 11th Gen Core processor.

It performs much better than the XPS 13 with the 10th Gen one last year, as you can see in the performance section. This is a noticeable performance improvement that adds value to an already excellent ultrabook.

Although battery life can still be a problem, it’s not a major issue with the XPS 13. While there are some issues with the webcam quality and lack of ports options, as well as 4G LTE connectivity, the pros such as a stunning display, excellent keyboard & trackpad, and impressive build quality far outweigh those shortcomings.

To save money and get all the features, I recommend this Core i5 model. Overall, the Dell XPS 13 9310 is still my favorite 13-inch Ultrabook. There are many other laptops available from HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft.

There are many options on the market for this laptop, but I have provided enough information in this review to make this one of my top picks.

Also Read: HP Chromebook 11A Excellent For Students

PROS

  • Amazing build quality
  • High color accuracy and exceptional display
  • Excellent keyboard and trackpad
  • Amazing performance and Intel EVO certified

CONS

  • Runs slightly warm
  • Webcam continues to disappoint
  • Port selection limited
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