The Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320) is a futuristic Windows laptop with a glamorous, sleek design and packs very impressive performance in a very compact chassis. And that OLED display and comfy keyboard are both impressive. However short battery life and some overheating under heavy load will give some pause.
- Gorgeous, lightweight, and stylish design
- Bright and vibrant OLED display
- Powerful P-series processor
- Strong multicore performance
- Exceptional build quality
- Bottom runs warm
- Fairly short battery life
The Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320) is one of the biggest stories for 2022 in the Windows laptops category, the same way the Samsung Z Fold 4 is dominating the Internet space in the smartphone market. From the name, you’d assume that the PLUS is a bigger version of Dell’s all-time Dell XPS 13. Surprisingly, it’s exactly quite the opposite. It’s a laptop unlike anything we’ve seen before – and I dare say, it is an interesting and new take on the XPS 13 legacy.
The regular Dell XPS 13 (no Plus) has long been one of our best-pick Windows laptop recommendations, receiving Digital Weekly’s coveted Editors’ Choice award across the years. It’s a standout device in many ways, built quality being top in the list. Dell continues to sell that model and has even upgraded it to 12th Gen processors.
As the best Ultrabook ever created, if not the best Windows laptop ever produced, the Dell XPS 13 has its devotees, and the Dell XPS 13 Plus is born into a family of heavy-hitters because it’s an almost complete redesign of an already successful model. Simply put, to succeed, it needs to offer something unique and more interesting than the Dell XPS 13 before it.
To that end, Dell has called out every technology at its disposal to make the XPS 13 Plus as thin and powerful as it can be. The touchpad is haptic and fully integrated into the palm rest. On the chassis, there are barely any ports and the keyboard has been flattened and the function row has been replaced with a row of touchable LEDs.
And, the Dell XPS 13 Plus starts at ~$300 more expensive than our favorite XPS 13 counterpart. Well, this is a compromise, in Dell’s case, to deliver the thinnest and most powerful ultrabook possible. This laptop gives the 2016 vibes when Apple was launching all kinds of changes to the MacBook in the name of thinness that failed to pan out in the long run, but we’ve seen apple succeed with the MacBook Pro M2 (2022) models.
Just like that 2016 MacBook, the 2022 Dell XPS 13 Plus is a beautiful computer with a fantastic screen. Its performance is excellent too, handling complex work-related tasks like a champ. It also plays many games due to the strong 12th Gen CPUs, provided you’re not trying to max out Hitman 3 or Cyberpunk 2077. Elsewhere, the webcam is 720p, we aren’t surprised as that’s one of the costs of having Infinity bezels on a laptop.
Altogether the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a laptop of lust, delivering well-balanced performance and aesthetics at a price. It may not be the most powerful laptop around, the Apple MacBook Pro (M2 chip, 2022) holds that honor, but the Plus does impress as a sleek, lightweight, and most refined laptop.
Dell XPS 13 Plus Specs
|Operating system||Windows 11 Home|
Windows 11 Pro
16:10 aspect ratio
|Processor||Intel Core i5-1240P|
Intel Core i7-1260P
Intel Core i7-1270P
Intel Core i7-1280P
|Graphics||Intel Iris X Graphics|
|Storage||256GB PCIe 3|
512GB PCIe 4
1TB PCIe 4
2TB PCIe 4
|Security||Windows Hello Face and Fingerprint Unlock|
|Connectivity||Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6E 1675 (AX211) (2×2)|
|Ports||2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C|
|Dimensions||0.60 x 11.63 x 7.84 inches (15.28mm x 295.3mm x 199.04mm)|
|Weight||2.73 pounds (1.24kg)|
Dell XPS 13 Plus Review: Design
Arguably the most outstanding feature of the XPS 13 Plus is its design. The CNC-machined aluminum chassis is greatly inspired by other XPS laptops: Clean, and smooth, with only the Dell logo on the lid. The graphite color on our review unit is a fingerprint magnet, but a platinum color is available that does a good job resisting fingerprints. The bottom is also minimalist, with just rubber feet and “XPS” emblemed in the center. It’s very light, starting at 2.71 pounds, but when you add a touchscreen, it bumps the weight to 2.76, which is what our review unit weighs.
Opening the XPS 13 Plus’s lid is a little difficult. It doesn’t have a notch to grip easily, but once opened, you can flip it open with one hand. Inside, the look is super clean and more modern with a seamless glass touchpad. It doesn’t have parting lines to differentiate the glass touchpad from the keyboard, but we’re not complaining since it’s easy to navigate the cursor and perform various gestures.
Dell has introduced a touch function row that replaces regular function buttons available on other laptops. I don’t like what Dell has done in that space too much, considering the keys themselves don’t provide any feedback, and the lighting doesn’t look as premium as the rest of the chassis. Also, while you can shuffle between the function keys and shortcut buttons for things like brightness and volume, you can’t see both at the same time.
But elsewhere, the sacrifices Dell has made to achieve the thin profile are evident. The machine is only 0.6 inches thick, and that brings up the main compromise: the only ports here are two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. It doesn’t even have a headphone jack. Remember, one of those USB-C is required to charge the laptop. The good news, Dell includes Type-C-to-Type-A and Type-C-to-3.5mm adapters with the Plus, but you should seriously factor a USB dock or hub into the price of this device.
Dell XPS 13 Plus Review: Display
The other highlight of the Dell XPS 13 Plus is the display. Our review unit is the OLED model with a 3456 x 2160 resolution and a 16:10 aspect ratio. Viewing this screen is a delight with bright and vivid colors and very little glare. It has tiny (91.9 percent screen-to-body ratio) bezels, and that earns Dell’s famous designation “InfinityEdge” display title. The screen refreshes at 60Hz (though 90Hz and 120Hz are becoming increasingly common) and delivers perfect blacks and the viewing angles are ultra-wide.
Rated at 400 nits, this screen is as bright as they get but it doesn’t get as bright as the Apple MacBook Air M2 (495 nits) or the Apple MacBook Pro M2 (490 nits). Color accuracy is fantastic, reaching 100% sRGB, 96% AdobeRGB, and 100% DCI-P3 making the OLED option a perfect choice for photo and video work thanks to its excellent calibration.
While 400 nits may not sound very bright, for OLED, it’s still perfect as OLED often tends to look more brilliant than other display types. Also, having more brightness would take a toll on battery life even more. Nonetheless, people are starting to demand 500, 600, and even 1,000 nits (for HDR) in laptops, so it would be interesting to see that in future models.
For security, the XPS 13 Plus has a 720p camera with Windows Hello infrared for face recognition and a fingerprint reader built into the power button. That 0.0MP 720p camera is pretty below the increasingly standard 5MP 1080p cameras found on other premium Windows laptops, but all that is likely a compromise for the display’s extreme 91.9% screen-to-body ratio.
Dell XPS 13 Plus Review: Keyboard and Touchpad
The zero-lattice keyboard is my other favorite on the Dell XPS 13 Plus. The zero-lattice design means larger keycaps with no space between them and is one area where Dell has once again pushed the boundaries. With 1mm of travel, the keys have excellent bounce-back and a tactile feel. Individual keys have a divot for your fingertips, so they’re not entirely flat.
Besides having a futuristic design, the keyboards will prove to be one of the best you’d ever need for typing away documents. You’ll have zero problems adjusting to the layout and feel. Then, there’s the touch bar.
It isn’t actually a touch bar like Apple’s customizable and now deprecated TouchBar, instead, it’s a capacitive touch function row that replaces the physical function row available on other keyboards. It’s a row of LEDs for functions like brightness, volume, microphone muting, escape, etc. When you hold down Fn on the keyboard, it changes the LEDs to the regular function keys.
The Gorilla glass touchpad on the XPS 13 Plus is very responsive despite not having any lines to mark where it begins and ends. The only issue with such an approach is that you can accidentally select text while scrolling if your left-hand brushes against the pad. It’s almost too sensitive. Still, the Piezo technology used to provide that clicking feeling is pretty charming.
Dell XPS 13 Plus Review: Performance
When it comes to performance, the XPS 13 Plus is a significant improvement over the 11 Gen Dell XPS 13 and is more powerful than any 12th Gen U-series machine you can buy. It will eat up all the productivity tasks you can ever throw at it – with our review unit sporting top-of-the-line 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1260P, 32GB RAM, and 1TB SSD storage. Even at lower specs, based on the other 12th Gen devices available, the relative performance of the Plus, and previous XPS 13 models, those looking for a device for high-demand productivity will find real value here.
The 12th Gen Intel chips get a big boost in multicore performance over previous generations, allowing for comfortable photo editing and some light video work, but creatives will need dongles to use memory cards or headphone jacks. The XPS 13 Plus stays extremely cool under low-demand workloads: maybe five to 10 tabs and multitasking. However, when you decide to ramp things up, much of the device becomes warm on the top and bottom especially when the laptop is plugged and is only abated once the “Cool” mode in the My Dell app is activated.
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The power Dell has managed to pack into this laptop is impressive, and so are the unique design choices it has made to deliver the most beautiful, premium laptop. However, that power is only applied to competing Windows laptops, but it isn’t there when it comes to competing with Apple MacBooks with M2 or M1 chips on efficiency and sustained performance. As mentioned, throttling comes with the laptop’s warm when you push the XPS 13 Plus, but less performant power modes prevent this, and modes like Quiet work well but limit capabilities.
As for graphics, the Dell XPS 13 Plus can run games but not for pro gamers. For instance, Civilization VI benchmarks run at an average of 23 fps at 1080p resolution. On the same benchmarks, the MacBook Air M2 reaches 41 fps and the pro M2 53 fps, but at a lower 1440 x 900 resolution.
Here’s where the XPS 13 Plus (9320) fails to impress – at least the OLED model. The laptop delivers 7 hours 28 minutes in tests over continuous web surfing at 150 nits of screen brightness. That’s a little abysmal and it’s actually in line with the 7-hour estimate Dell gives for its own Netflix streaming test for this device.
The high resolution in the OLED screen is no doubt the culprit here, as we often see disappointing battery longevity from OLED XPS models. Theoretically, OLED technology should be helping with battery life, but over time we’ve proved it otherwise. That means you’ll need to keep the Plus plugged in a lot of the time – and it means you’re kissing 50 percent of your port selection goodbye.
Compared, the Apple MacBook Air M2 lasts over 14 hours on a single charge, that’s nearly double the OLED XPS 13 Plus – and the MacBook Pro M2 reigns with over 18 hours.
Some good news, the Dell XPS 12 Plus ships with a fast charge that promises to get you from empty to 80% capacity in just under an hour.
Should I buy the Dell XPS 13 Plus?
The Dell XPS 13 Plus is a masterpiece and one of a kind, especially in its dedication to challenging the status quo. Not so often do you see a laptop this beautiful and powerful trying to do what very few products have achieved? We can applaud Dell more for packing a P-series processor in such a thin and sleek chassis.
But all that new technology in the world hasn’t changed what this laptop fundamentally is. Skin-deep, it’s an OLED XPS. That means we’re telling the same story here that I’ve been telling about OLED models for years on end. This piece of kit is gorgeous and powerful, but it gets too hot, and the high-resolution is ineptly massacring battery life. The poor ventilation doesn’t make the performance any better unless you manually change the option to prioritize cooling.
Otherwise, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a lightweight, stylish ultrabook that’s going to be a show-stopper with its sleek chassis and lovely pain job that makes the usually boring silver and black colors far more glamorous.
In this price range, I would spend my money on the Apple MacBook Air M2 (2022 model) for its longer battery life, better performance, more ports, and stellar touchpad. But on the Windows side, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is an extremely futuristic laptop that offers excellent hardware, solid performance, and a gorgeous design.
If you can afford the high entry cost and can overlook the two major gripes with battery life and the internal fans possibly bumping against the chassis, I think Dell has a winner with the design and performance of the XPS 13 Plus. It’s one of the most powerful ultraportables ever with a top-notch OLED display.
Last update on 2022-10-04 at 10:41 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API