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By Rich Woods
Dell XPS 13 9310 review: An Intel Tiger Lake spec bump with meaningful improvements
by Rich Woods
Dell's XPS laptops are always magnificent PCs. The last XPS 13 that I reviewed was in April, and as usual, I loved it. The company took an already wonderful laptop and made the screen bigger, the chassis smaller, and added some extra perks.
The one that I'm reviewing today looks exactly the same as that one did; indeed, the XPS 13 9310 is not a redesign in the slightest. There's one key change, which is that it has Intel's new 11th-generation 'Tiger Lake' processors. With that key change though, there are a few other internal changes, such as faster memory.
It also comes with Thunderbolt 4 ports, something that not all PCs will benefit from; however, Dell's XPS laptops most certainly will. Thunderbolt 4 is what I used to refer to as a "full" Thunderbolt 3 port, supporting dual 4K displays off of a single port, or 40Gbps data transfer lanes. The minimum Thunderbolt 3 spec only used two lanes though, so you'd be able to run one 4K display or get a 20Gbps data transfer speed. The problem is that it was tough to know what you were buying, and yes, Dell's XPS laptops used to utilize the minimum spec for Thunderbolt 3.
CPU Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor (12MB cache, up to 4.7GHz, 4 cores) GPU Intel Iris Xe Graphics Body 295.7x198.7x14.8mm (11.64x7.82x0.58in), 1.27kg (2.8lbs) Display 13.4-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge touch display, 500-nit, 100% sRGB color gamut, 1800:1 contrast ratio, 0.65% anti-reflective, anti-smudge
Dolby Vision, 178° wide viewing angle +/- 89° / 89° / 89° / 89°, Eyesafe technology Memory 16GB LPDDR4x Dual Channel SDRAM at 4267MHz Storage 512GB PCIe 3 x4 SSD Ports (2) Thunderbolt 4 with DisplayPort and Power Delivery
(1) 3.5mm audio Battery 52WHr battery (Integrated), 45W USB Type-C charger Connectivity Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2x2) built on Intel chipset + Bluetooth 5.1 Input Touch Display (optional)
2 Digital Array Microphones
Full size, backlit chiclet keyboard; 1.0mm travel
Glass Surface Precision Touchpad
Windows Hello fingerprint reader in power button & HD (720p) Windows Hello camera in upper bezel
Ambient Light Sensor for display backlight control Audio Stereo speakers professionally tuned with Waves MaxxAudio Pro
Stereo speaker 2.5W x 2 = 4W peak
3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack with
360-degree Waves NX 3D virtual surround with headtracking via headphones
Dual microphone array powered by Waves MaxxVoice Pro supporting VoIP – Cortana Far field capable
Widescreen HD (720p) 2.25mm webcam Material and color CNC machined aluminum in frost with arctic white woven glass fiber palm rest (UV-resistant and stain resistant coating) OS Windows 10 Home Price $1,649
I couldn't find a pre-configured model on Dell's website matching the one that the firm sent me, but the closest one only required me to change 8GB RAM to 16GB RAM for an extra $100, and change it to the Frost exterior with white interior for an extra $50.
Honestly, if you've read my XPS 13 9300 review from April, you can skip straight to the performance and battery life section, because there is absolutely nothing new when it comes to the design, display, keyboard, or trackpad. However, it's a big design change from the one that I reviewed about a year ago, which has Intel's Comet Lake processors. In fact, the redesign that we got in the XPS 13 9300 was the first in a redesign for the entire lineup.
It's less of a wedge shape than it used to be. In fact, the XPS 13 always looked a bit thick to me, probably because the footprint has always been so small. But now, the footprint is actually smaller and it's a bit thicker, but it just looks and feels more balanced.
The model that Dell sent me is Frost with a white woven glass fiber interior. It's not a new style, although if you want to go really old school with a traditional XPS style, you can still get it in silver with the black carbon fiber interior. However, you'll notice on the new ones, the sides are silver instead of black.
And yes, the ports have changed from that old design. Dell has ditched USB Type-A on its XPS lineup entirely, going all the way up to the XPS 17. Instead, you'll find just two Thunderbolt 4 ports on the XPS 13, one on each side. On the left, there's also a microSD card slot and on the right, there's a 3.5mm audio jack.
One thing that I really like about the two Thunderbolt 4 ports is that they're on opposite sides, so you can easily choose which side you want to use to charge the device. Most companies that have two Thunderbolt ports put them on one side, which will inevitably become a pain point at some point.
And the other nice thing is that yes, you can connect two 4K displays on a single port, something that not even the super-powerful XPS 17 can do.
Display and audio
While the chassis is smaller, the screen is bigger than the ones from a year ago. That's because Dell switched from a 13.3-inch 16:9 display to a 13.4-inch 16:10 display. Most people do like the taller screen, but I personally like something that's a little wider so I can work more easily with two apps side-by-side. For me, something like the 16:10 XPS 15 makes a lot more sense.
You have four options for the display. It comes in FHD+ and UHD+, and is available in touch and non-touch. Dell sent me the FHD+ touch model, which is probably my favorite. Battery life is much better at FHD instead of UHD, which has about four times as many pixels. But also, on a smaller screen like this, you probably won't miss the extra pixels. Also, I personally like touch, but if you go for non-touch, the XPS 13 weighs in at 2.64 pounds instead of 2.8 pounds.
The bezels are even smaller, and yet Dell still managed to fit an IR camera in the top bezel. Back in the day, Dell XPS was often mocked for placing the webcam below the screen, in the chin. It added an IR camera and the very next year, it removed it in favor of shrinking the webcam enough to fit on top. But now, we finally have a webcam and an IR camera in the top bezel without compromises.
Dell has something called Dell Cinema, which consists of CinemaColor, CinemaSound, and CinemaStream. CinemaColor refers to the display, which supports Dolby Vision HDR, 500-nit brightness, and more. There's even an app that lets you set it to different configurations like movie, sports, animation, and evening.
CinemaSound refers to the two 2.5W Waves MaxxAudio Pro speakers, which sound phenomenal. Seriously, for a laptop that doesn't have speakers that you can actually see while using it, I've never seen something this powerful. Then there's CinemaStream, which prioritizes network resources for streaming video.
All of this adds up to Dell Cinema, which is meant to make Dell XPS laptops the best they can be for streaming media, and it surely gets the job done.
Keyboard and trackpad
I quite like the keyboard that debuted this year, along with the Precision trackpad. The backlit keyboard feels quieter and more comfortable than its predecessor, which is always nice. It's also a bigger keyboard than the ones we were seeing up until a year ago.
Dell actually made use of all of the real estate that it could, so the keyboard is pretty much edge to edge. The keys are larger, so it feels less cramped and personally, I think that it's prone to fewer errors. The trackpad is also a bit larger, and using Precision drivers, it supports the gestures that you're used to.
Also, to be clear, this is not a MagLev keyboard, like the one that you'd get from the XPS 13 2-in-1. Frankly, I'm surprised that Dell didn't include it when it redesigned the XPS 13, since second-generation MagLev is actually quite good.
You'll find the power button in the top-right corner of the keyboard, and it doubles as a fingerprint sensor. I don't use it though, because Dell's PCs don't scan your fingerprint when you first press the button. You have to scan it after the PC boots up, unlike most PCs that have a fingerprint sensor baked into the power button. Dell considers that a security risk though, thinking that you might walk away between when you press the power button and when the PC boots.
Performance and battery life
OK, here's the meat of this review, because the Intel Tiger Lake CPU is the only real change in this device. Tiger Lake is Intel's second generation 10nm family, so along with the maturation of its 10nm nodes, it also comes with the company's new Iris Xe graphics. It also comes with faster 4267MHz memory.
First of all, let's be clear that this can obviously do anything that you'd previously expect from an Intel U-series processor. For general productivity, conference calls, and so on, it's fantastic. But when you add on Iris Xe, it takes on a whole new level. You can use it to play games, edit video, and more.
But of course, there are still limits, as there always will be with integrated graphics. Gaming is, more or less, limited to FHD resolutions. Obviously, if you're a serious gamer that's looking for higher resolutions or frame rates, then you probably already know that this isn't the machine you're looking for. But if you're looking for an ultra-mobile productivity machine that can do some Forza or Halo on the side, the XPS 13 will actually get the job done.
Now let's talk about video editing. I edited 4K 60fps video on this machine, and frankly, I'll probably never do it again. It wasn't that bad though, and you could do it in a pinch. It took about 25 minutes to render, as opposed to the five minutes or so that it would take on my desktop with an Intel Core i9-10900K and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti. I also edited a 1080p 60fps video on here, and the experience was very smooth. All of this was done with two 4K displays attached to one of the Thunderbolt 4 ports and the main display turned off.
As far as battery life goes, I was impressed. In most of my usage, I got close to seven hours of work without connecting to power, sometimes getting over eight hours. This was with the power slider at the first notch above battery saver and the screen brightness at 25%. Honestly, this screen is wonderfully bright, so I had to turn it off when indoors, not just for battery reasons.
For benchmarks, I used Geekbench, Cinebench, PCMark 8 and PCMark 10. Tiger Lake still isn't ready for heavier tests like 3DMark's Time Spy.
Dell XPS 13 9310
Core i7-1165G7 Dell XPS 13 9300
Core i7-1065G7 Dell XPS 13
Core i7-10710U Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7
AMD Ryzen 7 4800U PCMark 8: Home 3,902 3,899 3,501 4,566 PCMark 8: Creative 4,781 4,253 3,966 4,861 PCMark 8: Work 4,020 3,797 3,342 3,926 PCMark 10 4,864 4,402 4,314 5,252 Geekbench 5 1,551 / 5,529 1,160 / 6,362 Cinebench 1,911 3,449
As you can see, AMD's Ryzen 4000 processors still score better in most departments, but you won't find features like Thunderbolt 4 on an AMD PC.
When I reviewed the Dell XPS 13 9300 back in April, I said that "the best gets better". The already compact chassis was made even smaller, the screen was made bigger, the keyboard was made more comfortable, and the CPU was swapped out for something with more powerful Iris Plus Graphics. Now, thanks to Iris Xe graphics, it's even better than that.
In fact, one of the best changes I've noticed, which is as a result of Intel's 11th-generation processors, is Thunderbolt 4. One of my biggest complaints about Dell XPS laptops over the past year was that I couldn't use both of my monitors with a Thunderbolt dock, and now I can.
Other major complaints I had haven't changed since April though. I still hate that Dell's fingerprint sensors require you to boot the machine before scanning your fingerprint, and I hate that there's no 4G LTE option. Seriously, this is an ultra-portable PC. Dell boasts that it's a 13-inch PC in an 11-inch chassis, so why wouldn't it be built to be more portable and have connectivity for such a use case?
But of course, this is a remarkable machine, and it's certainly among the best on the market. If you're looking for a very compact clamshell, this is the way to go.
By Abhay V
A host of anti-virus engines are flagging recent Dell printer drivers as unsafe
by Abhay Venkatesh
Recent releases of Dell printer drivers for various versions of Windows are being flagged by a number of anti-virus programs as malware, as spotted and reported by journalist Brian Krebs on Twitter (via WindowsCentral). A few examples of such reports can be viewed on Virus Total that provides logs of malware detection by various anti-virus programs.
The drivers in question seem to include releases from Dell in the past few months, including one from September 24, detailed here. Krebs posted the results of the file in the logs on Virus Total, which show the file being flagged as “Malware” or “Trojans” by a number of programs including the likes of Avast, McAfee, Microsoft, Fortinet, and more. The logs suggest that at least 29 anti-virus engines detected the file as unsafe.
It is currently not clear what is triggering these detections, and if the said files are safe for installation or have been compromised. Krebs suggests that users that are looking to download the latest drivers hold off on downloading them for the time being. It is possible that the computer maker re-releases the drivers after scrutiny or provides an update at the least about the reports and the validity of its driver offerings.
By Rich Woods
Dell XPS 13 unboxing with Intel Tiger Lake, Iris Xe, and Thunderbolt 4
by Rich Woods
Announced a month ago, Dell's XPS 13 is here. Unlike the XPS 13 2-in-1 that came alongside it, this PC is purely a spec bump, but it's an exciting spec bump. It includes Intel's 11th-generation 'Tiger Lake' processors, and this is the first production machine that I've used with the new CPUs.
Tiger Lake is Intel's second-generation 10nm family, and the company is once again jacking up the graphics power. It now comes with the firm's Iris Xe graphics, and it says that you shouldn't have a problem with 1080p gaming on an ultrabook now. It's really impressive when you think about it. The XPS 13 has such a tiny footprint, and now it has so much more power than it used to.
There are other perks of Tiger Lake too. The two USB Type-C ports are Thunderbolt 4 now. That means that each port can support dual 4K displays if you want, or you can use them to plug in an external GPU and more. Tiger Lake also brings faster memory.
Check out the unboxing video below:
By Rich Woods
Dell refreshes its Alienware Aurora desktop with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 graphics
by Rich Woods
Today, Dell is announcing some improvements to some of its Alienware gaming PCs. For one thing, the Aurora R11 and Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 are now available with Nvidia's latest GeForce GPUs, up to an RTX 3090.
But Dell is actually promising more than that. It's promising custom-engineered GPUs that are based on the RTX 3080 and 3090. These will include things like better cooling with 10mm copper heat pipes, better airflow with a dual axial fan design, and better efficiency.
The Alienware Auroras with RTX 30 series GPUs are available now, and Dell says you can check its website for pricing.
Next up is the Alienware Area-51m, which is now available with a 360Hz refresh rate. That offers the smoothest experience around, giving you that little bit of an edge over other gamers. This configuration is available now, and it starts at $2,719.99.
There are also a few new Alienware monitors. The Alienware 25 Gaming Monitor has an FHD resolution, but like the Area-51m, it has a 360Hz refresh rate. It also has Nvidia's Reflex Latency Analyzer, which measure's your system's latency and tells you what can improve. It's available in China this month, and it will be available globally in November, starting at $899.99.
There's a new Alienware 27 Gaming Monitor with a QHD resolution and a 240Hz refresh rate, giving you a bit more balance between the two specs. It also offers DisplayHDR 600, and it's coming in November starting at $1,099.99.
Finally, the Alienware 38 Gaming monitor is a 37.5-inch massive curved screen with a WQHD+ resolution. It supports Nvidia's G-Sync Ultimate and DisplayHDR 600, and it's coming in November for $1,899.99.
By Rich Woods
Dell refreshes its XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1 with Intel Tiger Lake, Thunderbolt 4, and more
by Rich Woods
Back at CES, Dell announced a redesign for its XPS 13 laptop, and that design also came to the XPS 15 (and the brand-new XPS 17) in May. Now, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is getting the new look, which means that it's getting its IR camera back. Indeed, when Dell finally moved the webcam above the screen, the IR camera took an extra generation to come with it. While the XPS 13 2-in-1 was the last to get the overhaul, it had the least amount of work to do, already having a slim profile and a 16:10 screen.
XPS 13 2-in-1 The XPS 13 clamshell is getting a refresh today as well. As was teased at Intel's launch event earlier this month, both PCs are getting Intel's new 11th-generation 'Tiger Lake' processors. Tiger Lake is the company's second-gen 10nm platform, and it comes with new Iris Xe graphics, which you'll find in the new laptops.
That's not all though, because they come with Thunderbolt 4. That means that the USB Type-C ports can power dual 4K displays off of a single port, or it can power an 8K display. Memory is getting a boost too, as they come with 4267MHz LPDDR4x instead of 37633MHz.
XPS 13 Developer Edition As usual, the XPS 13 is getting a Developer Edition variant, which comes with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. Moreover, Dell says it's added functionality to allow all XPS 13 users switch their system to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, even if they didn't get the Developer Edition.
The Dell XPS 13, XPS 13 2-in-1, and XPS 13 Developer Edition will all be available beginning on September 30. The XPS 13 2-in-1 starts at $1,249, and there will be a Frost model with Arctic White woven glass fiber palm rest coming later. The XPS 13 starts at $999, and the Developer Edition's pricing will be announced later.