Dell XPS 13 (9300) Review: An Easy Recommendation
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
As someone who is into filmmaking, photography, editing and whatnot, the XPS line from Dell is no stranger to me. I would even say that if you’re looking for a Windows-based laptop to fit into your creative workflow, the XPS line, would be one of the first to pop into your mind.
So here I have with me, the latest iteration of the XPS 13, and to get to the point, it’s a fantastic laptop that I would wholeheartedly recommend. Now, of course, it’s not without its flaws, but there are so many things which Dell got right, which made my experience with it, downright great.
The first thing you’ll notice is the revamped design. Gone is the chin, and quite a few bits are refined, like the keyboard and the display. Overall, the 9300 model does actually look much better in my opinion, just like its 2-in-1 brother which I reviewed a while back. It’s compact, lightweight, and just looks much more professional.
Now I’m not a big fan of white laptops in general, but Dell did provide the white model for review, and it’s actually starting to grow on me. Like the black model, you do get the carbon fibre as well. It’s not as obvious as on the black model, but it still feels just as great.
Moving on, we have the display, that’s different as well.
You, of course, get a few options, a Full HD panel with or without touch support, as well as a 4K panel with touch support which we have right here, but the main difference is the aspect ratio.
Dell has gone with 16:10, instead of the more traditional 16:9.
Personally, I do prefer a 3:2 aspect ratio for laptops this size, but I still really like this display. The 16:10 aspect ratio gives a little more vertical space, and the primary reason is that it allows you to view your media at full resolution, while still leaving space for some UI elements and stuff.
In any case, it’s a nice display that has really good colour, making it great for consuming content or even editing in Lightroom or DaVinci Resolve. Though personally, I would still go for the 1080p variants.
Despite the thin bezels all around, Dell has also managed to cram in a webcam, which does support Windows Hello for authentication.
It’s just a 720p webcam, so it’s a little lacking in image quality, but it’s there, with decent microphones, so it’ll get the job done.
If you don’t want to use the camera to unlock the laptop, you can also use the fingerprint sensor that’s built right on the power button, so you have a few options available.
Speaking of which, the keyboard.
It’s a great keyboard. I daresay that it’s right on par with that of the keyboard on the Surface Laptop, at least for me.
The layout is great, the keys themselves feel tactile and have a good amount of travel, and because Dell positions the keyboard as high as possible, you do get a fair amount of space for your wrist to rest on, which makes the typing experience even better.
As for the trackpad, It’s slightly bigger this year, and just like before, feels great. It runs Precision, tracks well, easy to use with your thumb while typing. It’s just great, no much to complain about here.
Talking a little bit about sound, the speakers on this laptop, are actually pretty good. They are down-firing, and located on the sides. It’s nowhere near a MacBook, of course not, but they don’t sound bad like most other laptops do. It’s pretty clear, had a bit of bass, and the sound does sound full for a laptop this size. I think most of you out there will like what you get.
We then come to ports, and this is where it’s a slight downgrade compared to the previous generation.
You now only get two USB-C ports, both supporting Thunderbolt 3, so it’s fully capable for power, display, and data transfers on either side, along with your 3.5mm headphone/mic combo jack and a microSD card reader.
So compared to before, you lose a USB-C port, and also the battery indicator on the side. I would say two ports are still not too bad, but three would have been much more versatile.
We then come to the performance.
Our model has the Intel Core i7-1065G7, 16GB of RAM running at 3733MHz and a 1TB NVMe drive.
For Cinebench R20, the XPS 13 did fare pretty well, in line with most of the other laptops I reviewed that featured the same CPU, while in DaVinci Resolve, the 1080P edit took about 45 minutes to render, while the 4K edit took about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Do note, however, that the TDP of this i7 is the 15W variant and not the 25W that some other laptops have.
While performance isn’t mind-blowing, the temperatures did actually impress me. Although the CPU wasn’t boosting much, mostly sticking to the base clock, the temperatures rarely exceeded 85 degrees celsius, if at all. Most of the time, it was hovering in the low eighties and on top of that, the fan noise wasn’t all that loud.
To me, that was impressive, and I feel that Dell has struck a nice balance between performance, and noise, all within a thin and light form factor.
And again, Cinebench is but just a benchmark and Resolve is a little taxing, and generally not what you would do on a laptop like this. If you’re more of a photographer, then the XPS 13 is going to perform really well, for applications like Lightroom and Photoshop, and in that regard, it’s honestly great.
If you open it up, you don’t get access to much. In fact, you can only change the SSD, while the rest are soldered on.
It’s a 52Wh battery. Not particularly huge, but not too small either. I’m getting around 8 hours of real-world usage with it, though do note that it’s the 4K model. Should you get the 1080p model, you can probably hit 10 hours or more.
Overall, it’s a great laptop that can do just about anything you would need a laptop for. To me, it’s like a MacBook Pro. If you’re looking for a great Windows-based laptop, that has a great design, good display, performance, and so on. The XPS is something I would wholeheartedly recommend.
If you need something small, the XPS 13. A bit more performance, go for the 15, or perhaps the new 17. Now it is a little pricey here in Singapore, but I do feel that it is well worth your dollars.
Content by Soon Kai Hong