XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 Review: Great Output, Lackluster Input, User Experience and Buying Guide

Dell’s latest convertible is a powerful machine that’s held back by a shallow keyboard.

XPS 13 2-in-1 9310

OUR VERDICT

Under the hood, Dell’s Tiger Lake update to its XPS 13 2-in-1 convertible makes it the best iteration of the line yet. But an unreasonably shallow keyboard makes utilizing it as a laptop a chore.

FOR

  • Strong performance
  • Bright screen
  • Clear audio

AGAINST

  • Low keyboard travel
  • Few ports
  • Not upgradeable

Dell’s latest iteration on the XPS 13 2-in-1 brings Tiger Lake to this popular line of convertibles, full with Intel Evo certification that promises greater cellular expertise. That means you’ll be getting as much as 11 hours of battery life, plus features like instant wake. You’ll also get Intel’s new Iris Xe integrated graphics, plus Thunderbolt 4 ports.

That’s a lot of quality-of-life improvements (or at least quality of your PC life), and our benchmarking reveals which you could expect sturdy efficiency on CPU-heavy duties like Geekbench and video enhancing as nicely. But that arguably doesn’t matter if the laptop itself is troublesome to make use of, particularly provided that convertibles promote themselves on their all-in-one nature. We had complaints about Dell’s new keyboard course for this line of computers on last year’s model, saying it resembled Apple’s much-maligned butterfly keyboard. How does this new model hold up?

XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310) Specifications

CPU Intel Core i7-1165G7
Graphics Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Memory 16GB LPDDR4x-4267 MHz
Storage 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
Display 13.4 inches, 1920 x 1200, WLED, multi-touch
Networking AX1650 Wi-Fi 6
Ports 2x Thunderbolt 4, 1x 3.5mm combination microphone/headphone jack, 1x microSD card reader
Camera 720p
Battery 51 Whr
Power Adapter 45W
Operating System Windows 10 Home
Dimensions(WxDxH) 11.6 x 8.2 x 0.6
Weight 2.9 pounds
Price (as configured) $1,650

Design of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

Dell’s latest XPS 13 2-in-1 updates last year’s model with a silver and black color scheme that makes it look largely generic on the outside, but far more premium on the inside. While the silver case does have a barely glittery end that gives it some texture, its noticeable hinge means it doesn’t give too sleek of a first impression –that is, until you open it up.

Opening the XPS 13 2-in-1 reveals an all-black keyboard surrounded by a comfortable black “woven glass fiber” cushion that has a leathery appearance. It feels nice on my wrists while typing, and its checkerboard sample immediately makes the laptop look boardroom-level fancy.

That impressive look means you might need to take this machine into the convention room with you, but because it’s sacrificed most I/O choices in alternate for a thinner type issue, you’ll most likely have to bring a dongle or two. There’s a single Thunderbolt 4 port on the laptop’s left facet together with a microSD card reader, in addition to one other Thunderbolt 4 port on the laptop’s proper facet next to a 3.5mm mixture headphone and microphone jack. That’s all of the connectivity you’ll get out of the field, though our overview unit did include a USB Type-A to USB Type-C dongle for connecting older units to the laptop’s Thunderbolt ports extra easily.

That lack of ports does mean the 2-in-1 is impressively skinny, although different latest machines have supplied extra connectivity while still hitting the same thinness. At 11.7 x 8.2 x 0.6 inches, it’s roughly on par with the 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inch non-convertible XPS 13 9310, as well as the 12 x 8.3 x 0.6-inch Zenbook Flip S. The Dell clamshell has the identical ports because the 2-in-1, whereas the Asus has a full HDMI connection and a USB Type-A port. The non-convertible Zenbook 13 is barely thinner than the XPS 2-in-1 at 11.9 x 8 x 0.5 inches, regardless of also having a full HDMI connection and a USB Sort-A port.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is also barely heavy for an ultraportable, though definitely not clunky. At 2.9 pounds, it’s heavier than its 2.8-pound nonconvertible cousin, as well as the two.7-pound ZenBook Flip S and the two.4-pound Zenbook 13.

Productivity Performance of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is the first Evo-certified Dell convertible, which means it packs a Tiger Lake i7-1165G7 chip and has numerous cellular optimizations such as better than 9 hours of battery life and the power to wake from sleep in lower than 1 second. The laptop’s Evo features held up in our testing, however even past that, it was capable of excel towards different i7-1165G7 laptops like the non-convertible XPS 13, the ZenBook Flip S and the ZenBook 13 in most tests.

In Geekbench, which exams common system efficiency, the 2-in-1 snagged 5,571 factors, more than some other contender. The non-convertible XPS 13 was the closest, with a rating of 5,254 points, whereas the Zenbook 13 was next with 5,084 points and the ZenBook Flip S lagged behind with 3,880 factors.

Each of Dell’s recent XPS choices lagged behind on file switch speeds, although. The two-in-1 transferred 4.97GB of files at a price of 503.1 MBps, whereas its nonconvertible cousin was sooner at 806.2 MBps. However both Dells lagged behind Asus’ machines, as the ZenBook Flip S was a lot speedier at 1,297.2 MBps and the ZenBook 13 was respectable at 966.8 MBps.

Nonetheless, video editing as soon as once more put the 2-in-1 within the spotlight. On our Handbrake video enhancing benchmark, which tests how lengthy it takes a pc to transcode a video down from 4K to FHD, the XPS 13 2-in-1 was simply the quickest computer we tested, with a time of 15:52. The next quickest contender was the ZenBook 13, with a time of 17:51, whereas the non-convertible XPS 13 had a time of 18:22 and the Flip S was the slowest with a time of 22:05.

New to Intel’s Tiger Lake chips are Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, which we examined utilizing 3DMark’s Hearth Strike benchmark. The ZenBook 13 carried out best right here, with a rating of 4,407, with the 2-in-1 coming in next with a rating of 3,847. The non-convertible XPS 13 and ZenBook Flip S rounded out the list with scores of 3,598 and 3,351 respectively.

When you’re curious how those numbers translate to games, we additionally performed a few half hour of Overwatch on the XPS 13 2-in-1 at numerous settings. Despite some hiccups on the first attempt, the system ran principally easily after a reboot. At 1920 x 1080, we were most comfy enjoying on low settings, which tended to hover around 60 fps exactly and had the fewest drastic framerate drops. Medium settings will drop you down to 30-40 fps, however, runs the chance of occasional dips into the 20s.

We additionally stress tested the XPS 13 2-in-1 by working it via Cinebench R20 on a loop 20 occasions. It began off with pretty sturdy efficiency at 2,056.3 factors, earlier than dropping off to a mean of 1,584.Eight factors. Throughout this benchmark, its CPU ran at a mean clock pace of 2.53 GHz and had a mean temperature of 60.3 levels Celsius.

Display on Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

XPS 13 2-in-1 9310

The XPS 13 2-in-1 has a primary 13.4 inch LED touchscreen that, despite not being IPS or OLED, makes an impression because of a bright backlight and a 16:10 1920 x 1200 side ratio.

I tested the 2-in-1’s screen by watching the trailer for The Devil All the Time on it. The first factor I observed was how vivid the image was, although this didn’t save the screen from having poor viewing angles. No matter how a lot surrounding mild I had on it, the 2-in-1’s screen tended to wash out whenever I acquired greater than a 45 diploma angle away from the middle. Nonetheless, the blacks have been deep and the colors were correct, if not particularly vivid.

The taller side ratio also proved useful when scrolling via webpages, though that feels extra intuitive in vertical orientation in tablet mode.

According to our tests, the XPS 13 2-in-1 has a mean brightness of 488 nits, which was the very best among the many laptops we in contrast it to. By comparison, the non-convertible XPS 13 had a mean brightness of 469 nits, whereas the ZenBook Flip S and ZenBook 13 had common brightnesses of 370 nits and 375 nits, respectively.

The color rankings have been a bit nearer. According to our colorimeter, the 2-in-1 covers 70% of the DCI-P3 shade gamut, which is indistinguishable from the convertibles XPS 13’s 69% score. Asus’ laptops carried out typically better right here, with the ZenBook 13 covering 76.1% of the DCI-P3 spectrum and the ZenBook Flip S hitting a lot wider 113.1%.

Keyboard and Touchpad on Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

XPS 13 2-in-1 9310Keyboards are sometimes the bane of convertible laptops, and the XPS 13 2-in-1 is a great of this kind issues best weakness

The difficulty with placing a keyboard on a convertible is ensuring it doesn’t grow to be distracting or cumbersome when the laptop is in tablet mode. One reply to this difficulty (while also protecting the system skinny) is to closely scale back key travel distance. This may make the keys appear flatter and fewer current when not in use. That seems to be the reply Dell has gone for right here, however, the difficulty with this solution is that it vastly hampers the keyboard’s comfy usability in laptop computer mode.

The XPS 13 2-in-1’s keyboard easily has the shallowest journey distance of any laptop keyboard I’ve reviewed yet, which makes it difficult to really feel a lot feedback when typing. This meant that not solely did I make frequent typos whereas utilizing it, but I also needed to completely change up my typing fashion. While I usually kind with all of my fingers, I found that I frequently lost track of where I was on the keyboard as I typed, and that the best way to maintain observe of my finger placement and thus improve pace and reduce typos was to restrict my typing to just my two index fingers.

This may sound like overkill, however this technique isn’t too dissimilar to my strategy when utilizing a touchscreen keyboard, which the XPS 13 2-in-1’s keyboard shares some similarities to as a result of lack of noticeable feedback on every keypress. Even so, my pace on 10fastfingers.com tended to hover anyplace from 59 wpm to 70 wpm, with my average being nearer to 80, as well as having far fewer typos.

Whereas your mileage might fluctuate on typing pace or accuracy, the keyboard also simply isn’t very comfy. The dearth of journey distance additionally made the keyboard feel arduous and hard to press, like I used to be repeatedly jamming my fingers up towards a wall versus urgent buttons. Even Apple’s much-maligned butterfly keyboard, which has similar points, feels comparatively cushiony when bottoming out.

In tablet mode, I also nonetheless found myself accidentally pressing keys extra usually than I’d like. Keyboard input is disabled in tablet mode, so this doesn’t have any impact in your exercise, however it nonetheless felt clumsy and made me marvel if the sacrifices to the keyboard’s journey distance have been worth it.

With all that said, the 2-in-1’s touchpad and touchscreen input are each glorious. The laptop computer uses Windows precision drivers and expertly handles multi-touch gestures on both system, and the 4.4 x 2.6 inch touchpad specifically is clean and feels nearly cushiony to the touch. This mirrors the cushiony, leathery materials on the laptop’s wrist relaxation space, which can be comfy.

Audio of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

The XPS 13 2-in-1 has bottom-firing speakers on both facet, which I examined by listening to Be Ready from the Lion King soundtrack — the unique one. I discovered that regardless of being considerably quiet, the laptop packs impressively true-to-life audio.

Be Ready is arguably extra dialogue than music, which turned out to be a good way to exhibit the XPS 13 2-in-1’s voice quality. Scar’s actors on this scene (he really swaps from Jeremy Irons to Jim Cummings partway via, fun reality) sounded clear and unmuddled all through, with a wealthy high quality that each expressed efficiency and readability. That’s despite the music’s quite a few background sound results, like hissing geysers, which did not distract and sounded as atmospheric as ever.

The backing music additionally didn’t lose its bass, nor did the xylophone segments sound tinny, no matter how excessive I raised the amount.

That leads me to the speakersgreatest difficulty: They don’t get very loud. Even at maximum volume, I had problem filling a couple of room with sound. Still, if you happen to’re sitting next to the laptop computer, it gets lots loud for private use.

Upgradeability of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

XPS 13 2-in-1 9310

There’s not much level to opening the XPS 13 2-in-1, although Dell hasn’t gone out of its approach to make it too troublesome. Simply use a Torx screwdriver- we used a T5 bit- and remove the Eight screws alongside the bottom, then pry off the case with a spudger.

When you’re inside, the one component you’ll have entry to is the battery. The RAM is soldered in and the SSD and networking cards are sadly inaccessible. That’s not too surprising for an ultraportable convertible, but it does imply you’ll need to make sure you like your laptop’s configuration before you purchase it.

Battery Life of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is Intel Evo licensed, which implies Intel has verified that it has a minimum of 9 hours of battery life on FHD screens. That held true throughout our testing, although the 2-in-1 confronted some stiff competitors from different Tiger Lake laptops.

Throughout our battery benchmark, which continually browses the net, streams video and runs OpenGL exams over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the XPS 13 2-in-1 held out for 10 hours and 52 minutes. That’s considerably longer than the 8:11 battery lifetime of the nonconvertible XPS 13, however not fairly as prolonged because the 11:07 lifetime of the ZenBook 13 or the 13:47 ZenBook Flip S’s endurance on the same check.

Heat of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is thin and designed to be held when in use, which makes strong heat management vital. Luckily, the XPS 13 2-in-1 greater than meets the duty.

We took the 2-in-1’s temperature after streaming 15 minutes of video over YouTube. The touchpad was the good spot, at 74.7 levels Fahrenheit (23.7 degrees Celsius), whereas the keyboard (between the G and H keys) was the next coolest location at 81 degrees Fahrenheit (27.2 degrees Celsius). The underside of the laptop jumped as much as a nonetheless manageable 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31.1 levels Celsius), whereas the hottest location was close to the print screen key. Even this simply ended up being 92. 3 levels Fahrenheit (33.5 degrees Celsius), which is still lots comfy to the touch.

Webcam on Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

The XPS 13 2-in-1’s 720p webcam won’t match the webcam constructed right into a devoted tablet, however, it nonetheless manages to come back out above most laptop webcams, which regularly really feel like afterthoughts.

That’s as a result of its image lacks any type of noticeable grain or shade inaccuracy, which implies that any images you are taking will seem true-to-life versus distorting your image. This extends to texture too, and the camera works nicely throughout lighting ranges, capable of carry out nicely in low mild and solely bettering extra with better ambient brightness.

The camera also intelligently swaps to a vertical orientation when utilizing the 2-in-1 in tablet mode and holding it vertically. Whereas your selfies aren’t bound to look pretty much as good as these taken on an iPhone, it’s good to know you’ll be able to recreate that informal expertise right here.

The two-in-1’s camera additionally has an IR sensor for Windows Hello.

Software and Warranty of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 packs the usual Windows bloat, like Netflix and Microsoft Solitaire Assortment, however the actual depth of this laptop’s pre-installed software is within the 13 utility applications Dell consists of alongside it.

A few of these programs are useful, like Dell Mobile Connect, which lets you entry your phone’s capabilities and mirror its screen to your laptop computer. Dell Update, in the meantime, allows you to update your BIOS and drivers. However loads of these programs are both area of interest, or simply hidden storefronts.

As an illustration, Dell Cinema Information allows you to consolidate your streaming apps right into a single program, whereas “MaxxAudio Pro by Waves” attempts to make use of your webcam to make spatial audio extra practical on headphones. These is perhaps useful to some customers, however most will likely end up skipping them. Most egregious are inclusions like Dell Digital Supply, MyDell and “Dropbox promotion,” which attempt to get you to buy much more software.

Because these applications are so hit or miss, it’s very likely some customers will ignore them completely and thus miss out on the extra useful utilities. In the meantime, opponents like Lenovo are making the utility experience extra accessible by bundling programs like these collectively into one bundle — Lenovo’s is known as Vantage.

We’d want an answer that lets us choose whether we need to activate a film or nighttime display color mode without having to click on “Dell CinemaColor” and hoping that’s how we access it.

Configurations of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)

XPS 13 2-in-1 9310

The XPS 13 2-in-1 9310 starts at $1,099 with options ranging up to $1,949, so it’s acquired plenty of configurability.

Our $1650 review unit packed an Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU with 16GB of LPDDR4X memory and a 512 GB SSD. When you don’t fairly need that much power, there are additionally Core i3 and Core i5 choices that can minimize your worth down by just a few hundred {dollars}, plus you’ll be able to decrease your memory and storage all the way down to 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for much more financial savings. Conversely, you may as well select as much as 1TB of storage if you happen to want more room.

Our overview unit additionally used a 1920 x 1200 WLED display, however, if you happen to’re a 4K fanatic, you may as well improve to a 3840 x 2400 WLED screen instead.

Bottom Line

XPS 13 2-in-1 9310

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is a powerful convertible with a bright screen and loads of cellular comfort because of its Intel Evo certification. However its keyboard hampers its laptop usability.

In the case of performance, it’s arduous to beat the brand new 2-in-1. It leverages the identical CPU as each other latest convertibles and different latest ultraportables to a lot better impact in exams like Geekbench and Handbrake, although it may be on the gradual finish on file switch speeds. Nonetheless, it’s in-app efficiency is impressive.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 has also acquired a vivid (if not overly colorful) screen, a more-than-decent webcam and clear audio for such a small size. Have been it not for one obtrusive flaw, the brand new XPS 13 2-in-1 could be a no-brainer.

The largest issue drawing this convertible down is the keyboard. Whereas your expertise might differ from mine, I found it inaccurate and uncomfortable, because of the smallest journey distance on keypress I’ve encountered yet. Typos were prevalent after I was utilizing it, and I used to be a slower typist than usual.

Whereas protecting the keyboard so flat does match the tablet mode nicely, even this intention doesn’t succeed. I still discovered the keyboard distracting when utilizing the 2-in-1 as a tablet, and nonetheless pressed loads of keys when holding it as one (though keyboard input is disabled in tablet mode).

You will get around this flaw by using an exterior keyboard, certain, however that negates the purpose of the machine. As an all-in-one transportable system, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is highly effective, however doesn’t make for the most, comfortable-to-use laptop computer.

When you’re prepared to sacrifice some efficiency for a extra comfy keyboard whereas nonetheless shopping for a convertible, the Asus ZenBook Flip S promises 1.4mm of the journey. It additionally has a 4K OLED display at $1,450, while the XPS 13 2-in-1 doesn’t have 4K options till you hit the $1,950 worth point.

When you simply need an ultraportable, the ZenBook 13 generally outperformed the nonconvertible Dell XPS 13 in our benchmarks, apart from Geekbench, whereas costing a lot much less and having a a lot bigger (and sooner) SSD. It’s a good choice if worth is your prime concern, but the XPS 13 does have the stylish, taller 16:10 1920 x 1200 side ratio.

If a poor keyboard doesn’t bother you, then the XPS 13 2-in-1 is a transparent standout right here. It performs nicely and has nice comfort features like sturdy audio and a superb webcam. However if you would like one system that may do all of it, then you’re higher off sticking to one thing that may support comfortable typing for long periods.

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