Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320) designer review

arnia

Review unit on loan from Dell Singapore

My review is from the perspective of a visual content creator, someone who does digital art, graphic design, edits photos and videos.

The Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320) released in 2022 is a compact and sleek looking laptop with interesting design choices that make it stand out among competitors. The keyboard is flushed to the extreme sides, physical function keys are replaced by touch capacitive ones and the touchpad does not have a visible boundary. Overall performance is fast and smooth thanks to the 12th gen Intel processors. There are some notable downsides though which I’ll expand on later…

Note that there are two XPS 13 models. The 9315 model is using the typical laptop design. The 9320 is the XPS 13 Plus with the sleeker design.

The base model comes with Intel 12th gen i5-1240P, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Xe and 13.4″ FHD+ LCD display. The price here in Singapore starts from SGD 2199. In USA, price starts from USD 1299.

The review unit that I have comes with the following specs:

  • 12th gen Intel i7-1260P
  • 32GB RAM
  • 2TB storage (1.84GB usable)
  • 3840 x 2400 IPS LCD, 60Hz, 500 nits
  • Intel Iris Xe
  • Windows 11 Home (22H2)

Things included


These are the items included in the box:

  • Laptop
  • Power cable
  • 60W USB-C power adapter
  • 3.5mm to USB-C adapter
  • USB-A to USB-C adapter
  • 1.8m long USB-C charging cable
  • Quick start guide, safety info

Note that the USB-C cable is not a video cable.


The laptop body is made with metal so the build quality is excellent. The surface is matte textured and feels nice.


On the bottom are two long pieces of rubber feet and downward facing speakers with decent audio quality and volume. There are exposed screws to open the back. Maintenance is limited to cleaning the fans or replacing the M.2 NVMe SSD.


There are three options for the display:

  • 13.4″. FHD+ 1920 x 1200, matte anti-glare, 60Hz, 500 nits
  • 13.4″. 3.5K 3456 x 2160, anti-reflective touchscreen, 60Hz, 400 nits (SGD 300 more over base model)
  • 13.4″. UHD+ 3840 x 2400, anti-reflective touchscreen, 60Hz, 500 nits (SGD 400 more over base model)

The UHD+ display on my review unit looks fantastic. Colours look great out of the box. Visuals are sharp with no visible pixelation. The thin bezels make the display look more immersive.

I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 72% NTSC, 77% AdobeRGB, 82% P3 and a maximum brightness of 368 nits. This is essentially a 100% sRGB display. Colour accuracy is pretty good and suitable for graphic design, editing photos and videos. Graphic designers working with CMYK may appreciate higher AdobeRGB.

This is a stunning display to work and watch shows with. It is however SGD 400 more compared to base model with 1920 x 1200 matte display though. I personally prefer matte displays. 1920 x 1200 resolution still looks quite sharp with a 13.4-inch display. Battery life should be better with lower resolution too. FHD+ resolution is still very usable. But if you have the budget for a beautiful display, go for the 3.5 or UHD+ displays.


For graphic design work, I feel 13.4-inch is on the smaller side. You can attach a larger external display to get more productivity.


My first impression of the laptop is it looks like a tablet with a keyboard attached. If Dell can squeeze a camera within the small bezels, I don’t see why Apple can’t and instead went with an obnoxious notch.

I really appreciate the anti-reflective coating which is quite effective.

The 720P webcam is serviceable.


Weight is 1.23 to 1.26KG depending on the display. The weight and compact design makes this laptop very portable.

There’s only one USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port on each side. There’s no 3.5mm audio jack. At least Dell has included a USB-C to USB-A 3.0 adapter and a USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter.


The keyboard design will take some time to get used to. The keys have good travel and feedback. There’s no space between the keys though which affected my typing accuracy until I developed muscle memory.

The touchpad does not have a visible boundary and is just part of the whole glass top wrist resting area. The touchpad is quite big though with the left edge starting at the left side of the spacebar and right edge at the ride side of the Alt key. If you can type without looking at the spacebar, you will not have problems finding where the touchpad is. The touchpad supports finger gestures and uses haptic feedback for clicks which feels just like physicals clicks.


Physical function keys are replaced my touch sensitive capacitive keys. These keys work well and without issues.

You can use the FN button to show either the Function keys or the shortcuts. The Escape button is visible at all times. One issue I always face with physical shortcut buttons is I don’t know whether I’m in Function mode or shortcut mode, but this keyboard won’t have that problem because the keys are labeled.


Overall performance of the laptop is fast and smooth thanks to the 12th gen Intel processors. You can play some games too, but not the 3D graphics intensive ones. I could get 60 FPS with Hades.

I was able to edit photos and do graphic design work without lag or issues. So it’s just the smaller display that I’m not used to.

I measured read and write speeds of 6.9GB/s and 3.9GB/s with the gen 4 PCIe NVMe SSD.

One downside is the laptop can run hot when you’re multi-tasking with many apps or doing processor intensive task. It’s hot to the extent where you can’t put it on your lap, and the wrist resting area will be warm and uncomfortable too. There’s no heat issue with web surfing, doing office documents, watching Youtube videos.

Battery capacity is 55 Wh. I was able to get 5+ hours of battery life while streaming videos at maximum brightness.

Video editing
It is possible to edit videos on this laptop but it’s more productive to edit videos on larger displays, and this laptop gets hot and uncomfortable with video editing. If you do want to edit videos, you can of course attached a keyboard, mouse and external display for a more pleasant experience.

I tried editing 4K 25FPS videos with DaVinci Resolve 18 and there were some drop frames. It’s not too bad but it’s not perfectly smooth. I recommend working with 1080P videos for a smoother video editing process.

Glitches

There seems to be some software issues with the driver for the speaker. Sometimes the audio will not play for the Youtube videos or other apps even though when audio works fine while testing with Windows settings.

There are also other customers talking about the issues on Reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Dell/comments/w3k1wg/xps_13_plus_no_audio_speak…
https://www.dell.com/support/kbdoc/en-sg/000179019/how-to-troubleshoot-a…

I was able to get audio to work after trying the solutions mentioned above. Audio works fine most of the time but it’s a hassle to have to troubleshoot when there are audio issues.

Another thing is during setup, I may have messed up the keyboard settings and that had the laptop typing “” instead of “. So I had to add another language, then reinstall the English (United States) language. I personally use English (United Kingdom).

These two issues are just software issues.

Conclusion


This is good looking portable laptop that performs well. The 12th gen Intel processors are powerful but if you push them, the laptop can get warm, so getting the i5 vs i7 may be a better choice, and you may get better battery life too.

Availability

If you’re interested to get this laptop, consider supporting my blog by buying through the affiliate links listed below at no extra cost.

The Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320) is available from Dell online store.

They can be found on Amazon too via these links
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.co.jp

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