Tuesday, November 24

Dell XPS 13 9310 review: our full review – laptops

Introduction

A few months after the arrival of the Dell XPS 13 9300, here is the Dell XPS 13 9310. This 9310 model uses the 11th generation of Intel Core processors (Tiger Lake) with the Xe graphics architecture and the Evo platform. It has just been announced by Intel.

Dell XPS 13 9310

Dell XPS 13 9310 // Gamesdone: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Unlike Apple, Dell is able to release multiple models of its XPS at very short intervals. Difficult to navigate between all these very similar models on paper. This is actually the third time that Dell has refreshed the XPS 13 in the past 12 months.. The US company previously updated the XPS 13 in September 2019 to use 10th Generation Intel Core processors, but presumably due to the limited supply of the new Intel Ice Lake platform, Dell has chosen to iterate with Comet Lake-U processors in April 2020. As for this 9310 model released in October 2020, it uses the 11th generation of Intel Core processors (Tiger Lake) with the Xe graphics architecture and the Evo platform.

There is no question of completely retesting the XPS 13 here, as you already have access to the full test of the 9300 model in April 2020. We therefore offer you an express test, where we will mainly focus on the performance differences. between the two models, whether it is the performance of the CPU, the iGPU, but also autonomy.

The tested copy was purchased by Frandroid

The characteristics of the tested item

  • Processor : Intel Core i7-1165G7 11th Generation (12MB Cache, up to 4.7 GHz)
  • Graphics chip: Intel Iris Xe with shared graphics memory
  • Screen: InfinityEdge FHD+ (1 920 x 1200 pixels) de 13,4″, non-touch, anti-glare, 500 cd / m²
  • RAM: 16 GB of LPDDR4x at 4267 MHz, welded
  • Storage: SSD M.2 PCIe NVMe de 1 To
  • Colors: Platinum Silver with black carbon fiber palm rest, aluminum exterior
  • Appareil photo : Webcam HD (720p)
  • Sound and speakers: Stereo speakers (2.5 W x 2 = 4 W peak)
  • Wireless connectivity: Killer AX1650 (2 × 2) compatible with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1
  • Battery: 4 cells, 52 Wh, non-removable

Iconic design

When Apple started redesigning its MacBook Air around the Retina display, Dell had already redesigned its XPS around the InfinityEdge display… long before Apple. Its strong point is therefore the integration of this IPS screen with very few borders: the screen / frame ratio is 91.5%. As a reminder, the “New” XPS 13 uses a 13.4 inch with a ratio 16:10, so it offers more height than traditional 16: 9 screens on laptops. You can choose it in Full HD definition in matte finish (non-touch) or in 4K UHD in glossy finish (touch). Unfortunately, Dell does not offer an OLED option, which can be found at Razer or HP.

We continue to appreciate this large touchpad efficient or even the scissor mechanism keyboard, which, in the absence of finesse (1 mm of travel, that’s still acceptable), has the advantage of reliability. The set is well built and gives a very premium. The Dell XPS has nothing to envy to the MacBooks.

Dell XPS 13 9310

Dell XPS 13 9310 // Gamesdone: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Dell has eschewed the use of USB Type-A ports, instead offering a single USB Type-C port on each side of the laptop. Fortunately, we still have a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right and a micro SD card reader on the left. Although the XPS 13 suffers from a light connectivity, this is compensated with these two USB-C ports that support Thunderbolt 4 technology, more on this later. Note that Dell includes a Type-C to Type-A adapter in the box.

Another advantage of this setup is that the XPS 13 can be loaded from either side.

Dell XPS 13 9310

Dell XPS 13 9310 // Gamesdone: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

The only downside of this laptop is the 720p webcam, in the right place above the screen, which is really very poor in terms of image quality. Given that we have entered a period where teleworking is very widespread, it is a shame that we did not take the opportunity to improve this front camera.

The outer aluminum shell is sober

The outer aluminum shell is sober // Gamesdone: Arnaud Gelineau – Frandroid

Upgrading to 11th Generation Intel Core Processors (Tiger Lake)

In April 2020, the change from Comet Lake to Ice Lake was a big change. The XPS 13 was thus able to benefit from Intel’s new Sunny Cove processor architecture, as well as the improved Gen 11 graphics chip. The move to Ice Lake also brought LPDDR4X memory support.

The last change, the one that interests us in this test, is the switch to Tiger Lake (11th generation of Intel Core) which dates from September 2020. Intel has announced a quad-core processor for ultrabooks with a thermal envelope of 12 to 28 W. Inside are four cores based on Intel’s Willow Cove architecture, generation post-Sunny Cove. These four cores are coupled to an iGPU of 96 execution units of the new Xe graphics architecture.

Compared to the 10th gen Intel Core Ice Lake, the number of processor cores remains the same, but we are moving from a Sunny Cove core design to a Willow Cove core design, which has some advantages. in terms of performance. The graphics part is boosted since the number of execution units (UE) goes from 64 to 96. Tiger Lake also includes support for new technologies such as Thunderbolt 4, USB 4, PCIe 4.0 or even the LPDDR5.

The Dell XPS XPS 13 9310 does not benefit from all of these improvements, but it benefits from Thunderbolt 4.0. There are 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports with power supply found on it, one on each side. As a reminder, Thunderbolt 4 achieves a transfer speed of 32 Gbit / s in PCIe and it is also fully USB4 compatible. It can drive two 4K 60Hz displays or a single 8K 60Hz monitor.

In short, let’s move on to practice. The Core i7-1165G7 (with a turbo frequency of 4.7 GHz and 12 MB of L3 cache) our configuration theoretically offers a variable thermal envelope (TDP) of between 12 W to 28 W. In fact, it is the manufacturer of laptops who chooses the minimum or the maximum, or something in between. As a user, you won’t be able to know it unless you measure it. This choice of the manufacturer obviously has consequences on the measured performance of your laptop. In other words, the performance measured on the XPS 13 9310 does not reflect the performance of the 11th gen Intel Core platform, and therefore the performance that you may observe on other laptops equipped with this solution.

The performance of the Dell XPS 13 9310

So what does the Core i7 1165G7 give? The differences are significant compared to the XPS 13 9300 equipped with Ice Lake at the GPU level. On a daily basis, you will probably not see big differences, nevertheless our various tests of benchmarks show a real increase in overall performance.

Very classic benchmark that uses the Cinema4D application.  It is used to test whether a machine is stable despite a heavy CPU load, whether the cooling system of a desktop or laptop computer is sufficiently sized for long-term tasks.

Very classic benchmark that uses the Cinema4D application. It is used to test whether a machine is stable despite a heavy CPU load, whether the cooling system of a desktop or laptop computer is sufficiently sized for long-term tasks.

We ran several tests, including some very web-oriented tests, but also archive compression and decompression tests. In all of these tests, the Dell XPS 13 9310 was above the 9300. Intel, with its Tiger Lake, therefore made a significant leap forward. But Intel remains behind the Ryzen 5 4500U and the Ryzen 7 4700U that we find on more and more references.

Speedomoter simulates the use of the web, it is a benchmark designed by the engineers of WebKit (Apple) and Chromium (Google)

Speedomoter simulates the use of the web, it is a benchmark designed by the engineers of WebKit (Apple) and Chromium (Google)

As for the move to the Intel Xe (Gen12) iGPU, we have also seen some very significant improvements. This is the case on benchmarks traditional, but also on the performance observed during our gaming sessions.

Big improvement on the Fire Strike benchmark.  A laptop PC with a dedicated graphics chip will have over 12,000 points for comparison.  On a desktop PC designed for gaming, it's 22,000 points minimum in 2020.

Big improvement on the Fire Strike benchmark. A laptop PC with a dedicated graphics chip will have over 12,000 points for comparison. On a desktop PC designed for gaming, it’s 22,000 points minimum in 2020.

In the end, we end up with many games playable in HD 720p definition, but also in Full HD definition for some. We recommend that you set the games to medium graphics quality, you will often get at least 25-30 fps. This portable PC can therefore be used occasionally to relax on a PC game, but it is not a machine designed with this in mind. If you want to play regularly, you will have to turn to machines that have dedicated graphics chips, this is the case for PCs equipped with Nvidia GeForce even in Dell’s XPS 15 range.

For example with Gears 5 configured in

For example with Gears 5 configured in “Medium” in Full HD definition

We also measured the heat during large computing sessions. The computer heats moderately at the R and T keys, you can put your hand there. The heater is therefore very characteristic, which means that you can operate your computer without burning your hands.

Last test, that of the SSD in NVMe. For once, this is performance superior to that measured in our test of the Dell XPS 13 9300, but equivalent to the performance of the Dell XPS 15 9500.

As for autonomy, after a week of intensive use, we can confirm that it can easily last more than 10 hours in web browsing with the screen brightness at around 200 nits (out of 500 max.). Dell communicates on an exceptional autonomy of 18 hours and 49 minutes on this model. Our observation is that you can certainly exceed 12 hours of office use, or a very long day’s work.

As for charging, we are disappointed, as the 45 Watt charger takes over 2 hours and 30 minutes for a full charge. That’s a long time… Dell offers an ExpressCharge option that will charge the battery to 80% in one hour and fully charge in two hours, but you need to enable it specifically using Dell Power Manager software.

Dell XPS 13 9310 price and availability

There are several possible configurations of the Dell XPS 13 9310. Our tested configuration costs $ 1900, but Dell often offers discounts that provide $ 100-300 off.

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