[Update] Dell XPS 13 9310 OLED Review

The Dell XPS 13 is the gold standard for 13-inch-class Windows laptops. So, what does OLED bring to the table? Read on.

This updates an earlier review with updated battery life, keyboard, and display data.

Display:

The updated Dell XPS 13 931o with an OLED display produces a wide color gamut, fast response times, sharp contrast, and highly-saturated, vivid colors. Along with the HP Spectre x360 14’s OLED, it’s the best display on a 13-inch class laptop I’ve used to date.

The XPS 13’s display also packs an astronomical contrast ratio (100,000:1) and 100% DCI-P3.

— I would challenge anyone to use the XPS 13 OLED for an hour and then try switching back to a laptop with a more conventional LCD display. —

On OLEDs, blacks are really black. And OLEDs can turn off black pixels in dark mode (LCDs can’t do this), potentially extending battery life.

The icing on the cake is a good anti-reflective display on the XPS 13 9310.

Upshot: an OLED beats an LCD in my usage scenarios (which doesn’t include gaming) any day of the week.

Battery life: about the same as XPS 13 with 4K+ LCD

—Dell XPS 13 9310 (OLED): half-day+ or 7 hours, based* on my usage scenarios. I can stretch it a bit more (to about 8 hours) if I stay away from things like long video conferencing (Zoom) sessions, excessive active Chrome tabs, and keep screen brightness down.

Note that the Dell XPS 13 9310 with a lower-resolution FHD+ LCD has longer battery life than the OLED XPS 13. More on that at bottom.

Performance:

Notebookcheck shows the Cinebench R23 multicore CPU benchmark favoring the M1 over Dell’s i7-1185G7 with an average score of 7,691 vs 5,501, respectively.

Cinebench R23 single-core CPU scores are a lot closer for the M1 and i7: 1,511 vs 1,465, respectively.

Geekbench 5 single-core and multi-core also show a significant upside for the M1 MacBook. (See these Geekbench scores for M1 MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13 9310.)

Synthetic benchmarks are useful to a point. For me, performance on widely-used applications (like the Chrome browser where I spend a lot of time) is what counts the most.

On testing of real-world* workloads, Dell’s XPS 13 9310 with Intel’s 11th Gen Core i7 is no slouch. I’ve noticed no performance gap with M1 MacBook Pro using the two systems day in and day out. Both laptops are fast and neither had any thermal issues — though the M1 MacBook Pro does stay cooler than the XPS 13.

*For me, “real world” is based on my usage scenario which includes running Google Chrome with 20+ tabs (the single biggest power drain), Firefox browser, Microsoft Office, Google Docs, social media, YouTube videos (in background playing music), CMS, video conferencing (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams), Apple Music, benchmarking applications, and photo editing. Display brightness is typically set at over 70 percent. Laptop is run until it loses power.

Keyboard: After testing the XPS 9310’s keyboard against a stable of new laptops that I work with, I would rank it as one of the best, with good travel and excellent tactile feedback for a thin-and-light laptop. And there are larger key caps now.

If you obsess about the typing experience, the keyboard is another reason to consider the XPS 13 9310.

——

NOTES:

Why the difference in battery life between the Dell XPS 13 9310 FHD+ and OLED? The XPS 13’s OLED display has roughly 3x more pixels than the FHD+ (1,920-by-1,200) so it will draw more power because it has to drive more pixels. OLEDs also tend to use more power than LCDs on white backgrounds.

For the record, here’s what Dell’s product page says about battery life: “Up to 14 hours, 11 minutes on a Full HD+ model when streaming …or up to 8 hours and 12 minutes of streaming on a 4K+ model.”

Comments or suggestions can be sent to me via a direct twitter message at twitter.com/mbrookec

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