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Review: Dells XPS 13 Plus pulls powerful from the frustrating design

Function over form

Sustained peak performance produces a robust 13-inch XPS. But you can find costs.

Dell XPS 13 Plus open, front-facing

Enlarge / Dell’s XPS 13 Plus clamshell laptop.

Scharon Harding

Specs instantly: Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320)
Worst Best As reviewed
Screen 13.4-inch 19201200 IPS non-touch screen 13.4-inch 38402400IPStouchscreen or13.4-inch 34562160 OLED touchscreen 13.4-inch 34562160 OLED touchscreen
OS Windows 11 Home Windows 11 Pro Windows 11 Home
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
Size 11.63 x 7.84 x 0.6 inches

295.30 x 199.04 x 15.28 mm
Weight 2.71 pounds (1.23 kg) IPS: 2.71 pounds1.23 kg)

OLED: 2.78 pounds (1.26 kg)
2.78 pounds (1.26 kg)
Battery 55 Wh
Warranty 12 months
Price (MSRP) $1,300 $2,360 $2,000
Other USB-C to 3.5 mm and USB-C to USB-A 3.0 adapters included, Ubuntu-based Developer Edition available

Dell’s XPS 13 laptop is a staple among Windows ultralights, typically offering decent performance for the purchase price,extreme portability, and visual appearance.

Apparently, that wasn’t enough for Dell, so that it released the Dell XPS 13 Plus. Introduced this season (alongside a far more traditional 2022 XPS 13), it is a revamped version of the XPS 13 that puts performance over the rest.

Wild design choices permit the system to supporta 28 W CPU. With the 2021 XPS 13 carrying a 15 W chip and the 2022 XPS 13 supporting up to 12 W one, it is a notable achievement.But it is also an incident of function over form. Putting it simple, utilizing the XPS 13 Plus felt weird. From its tightly spaced keys and capacitive touch function row to its minimal port selection, questionable construction, and intensely high temperatures, this machine could be frustrating to utilize for daily tasks.

As a performer, the XPS 13 Plus has its pluses. But as a go-to laptop, some design choices may push you toward other powerful thin-and-light laptops.

Touch Bar-esque function row

The most interesting function row in ages.

Enlarge / Probably the most interesting function row in ages.

Scharon Harding

Dell hasn’t abadndoned soft-touch input above its laptop keyboards. You can get an identical setup on the13-inch MacBook Pro, though almost every other MacBook went back again to real keys. Dell’s undertake the capacitive touch row is more limited than Apple’s Touch Bar, though.

It isn’t programmable, for just one. It could display Esc, media keys (including a handy mic mute button that lights up), brightness controls, the Windows Project button, plus some navigational keys. Alternatively, pressing Fn makes the event row display Esc and F1F12, and you may lock that layout set up by holding down Fn + Esc.

  • Option 1.

    Scharon Harding

  • Option 2.

    Scharon Harding

Dell didn’t introduce a Touch Bar-like top row merely to be different. As the keys use capacitive touch, they’re 1.4 mm thick rather than the 3.2 mm of vertical space that might be required with traditional buttons. This decision saves space and allowed Dell to go the hinges to wider points for improved system cooling, the business said. However when pushing the laptop to max performance for sustained periods, the event row got so warm that it had been uncomfortable to the touch.

The event row isn’t a location that sees frequent innovations, and I appreciate that Dell redesigned it in the name of performance instead of in the same way a gimmick. But as somebody who prefers mechanical keyboards, it’s hard to love capacitive touch input. Within my weeks with the laptop, I occasionally mispressed keys in the very best row when I probably wouldn’t have if it had standard buttons. Rarely, I accidentally brushed the row lightly, registering an input or two, when I was attempting to utilize the number row.

Because the function row has set controls, there is no have to customize it. Nonetheless it still feels as though there’s room for more functions. For example, you can find norewind or fast-forward media controls, and unlikemany recent ultralights I’ve tested, there is no button or light on the keyboard to inform you that the webcam is off. Additionally, there is no light indicator for once the volume is muted.

I came across the event row’s bright illumination distracting sometimes, but you can’t really transform it off. An ambientsensor close to the webcam automatically adjusts the row’s brightness in line with the lighting in the area.

Having said that, you can find far worse things when compared to a ho-hum function row, particularly if all of those other keyboard is fantastic. Unfortunately, it is not.

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