Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 (2022) Review

The Dell XPS 13 plus series is a portable laptop with an excellent screen, a surprisingly comfortable keyboard, and a precise trackpad.

This new Dell XPS 13 plus 9320 improves on its predecessors. And it should be at the top of your Wishlist if you really want a premium, high-powered, portable laptop.

dell xps 13 plus 9320 review

Keyboard

Keyboard as it’s changed substantially this year. You’ve got a touch sensitive area for the function buttons and a slightly changed layout. The backspace key has been shifted to the left to make room for a power fingerprint reader combo button. The good news is that this keyboard is still one of the most comfortable low trouble ones around the keys have this soft touch feeling that just makes them quite delightful a joy to use. However if you do type with a degree of force you’ll feel the keys bottoming out. And becoming a little uncomfortable.

Touch Sensitive functions could have been a problem with everyday use like typing or doing office work. But you won’t feel the difference between these keys and the physical function buttons. All that much other than perhaps the escape key which had occasionally mishit. That being said if you’re someone who uses the function buttons a lot like a data scientist using excel this change is going to annoy you.

We do appreciate the beautiful design of this keyboard. But this is unnecessary form over function. Dell’s normal keys look pretty enough and their product management team should have known better put back the physical function keys no one asked for this change.

We had a similar experience with the power fingerprint reader combo button pushing the backspace key to the left from where it is normally placed. Like the function row I didn’t mind it, nearly as much as I thought but it’s not the ideal placement.

dell xps 13 plus 9320 keyboard and trackpad

Trackpad

The new trackpad that blends in with the palm rest is fantastic. We don’t have anything else to say about it. It works flawlessly and is one of the best trackpads available on any PC laptop.

Display

The display options haven’t changed that much from the prior generation which isn’t bad. The 4k plus resolution display available on this laptop has always surprised me as to how much information I can see on the small screen without needing to squint. This is due to its high brightness, excellent pixel density, aspect ratio etc. But laptop displays are something that we’ve seen a lot of improvements in recently high refresh rate panels mini led panels etc.

The ips panel in this display just feels a little dated. In comparison it doesn’t have the contrast of an oled or mini led panel and I saw some very slight backlight bleeding on screen which doesn’t occur on those other displays. By the way you can purchase this laptop with an oled panel. But you do lose a bit of brightness for that. And it just isn’t as good as the mini led panel in the macbook pro 14 which is brighter and has a higher 120 hertz refresh rate. That high refresh rate gives you super smooth movement on screen. The xps panel options are only available with a max 60 hertz refresh rate.

Performance

How this laptop performs with its new intel 12-gen processor?

As that is one of the most important points to discuss Whether you buy the i7 or i5 chip in this laptop. What you need to know is that the laptop feels incredibly snappy and performs very well in short-running tasks. It’s also extremely quiet in everyday use, with almost no fan noise. The cons are that it gets quite warm to the touch. Particularly the underside of the laptop, and performance drops noticeably in long-running tasks.

Some data of dell xps 13 plus here are geekbench scores which test a variety of common performance tasks. You can see this laptop performs insanely well.

dell xps 13 plus 9320 geekbench score

Cinebench results which tests how the processor performs when maxed out again extremely good.

dell xps 13 plus 9320 cinebench score

However in tasks that run any longer than a couple of seconds the laptop’s performance drops dramatically.

dell xps 13 plus 9320 cinebench r23 score

You can see these big drops when I run a cinebench r23 test on a loop for 10 minutes. These performance drops are noticeable on the laptop’s default optimize mode which is the mode I recommend you run the laptop on more on that. Later the issue is that a lot of the increase in performance of intel’s 12 gen processors. It is due to an increase in power draw not efficiency improvements of the processor. As the cooling solution hasn’t been improved dramatically on this laptop.

This additional power draw leads to a very warm feeling laptop particularly on the underside. Surprisingly the temperatures you feel on the keyboard deck when under load are tolerable and an improvement over prior xps 13 plus laptops.
Dell does offer an ultra performance mode. By the way which can mostly maintain the laptop’s high performance for a duration of time. But it comes at a substantial increase in fan noise. In fact when it comes to dell’s thermal modes like prior generations of xps 13 plus laptops they all pass the issue around. Dell’s cool mode makes the laptop cool to the touch. But increases the fan noise quiet mode on the other hand drops the performance a lot. You get the picture honestly I’d recommend it just leaving it on the default optimize mode. In my opinion it has the best balance of performance fan noise and temperatures you’d actually feel. What I think is more important though is how this laptop performs in everyday use.

Most people will use these laptops for more casual tasks like browsing the web, office work, etc. In this scenario this laptop performs very well and is extremely quiet. However it still feels very warm to the touch especially when comparing it to apple’s macbooks with their incredibly efficient m-series chips. You really are going to notice the difference in heat you feel between these machines. The apple laptops are far cooler than the touch and are therefore more comfortable to use. Look overall performance is much improved from the prior generation of xps laptops for little downside.

dell xps 13 plus 9320 temperature

So it is definitely a win but in 2022 intel is just uncompetitive with apple. When it comes to processors they are trying to sell these processors with strong benchmark results. But in reality these benchmarks are for short running tasks not continuous ones in the real world.

Power

Apple has a substantial lead by the way you may have noticed on one of my slides that this laptop can draw up to 58 watts of power. Since it only comes with a 60 watt charger. I was worried it would drain the battery when under load if we do the math 58 watts of power to the processor plus power to the screen and other parts of the laptop. You’ll easily be drawing more than the 60 watt charger can provide. Tested this scenario a lot and the good news is this issue doesn’t occur this laptop doesn’t draw that, 58 watts of power for more than a couple of seconds or so.

Conclusion:

Concluding with the Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320, it is undeniably a step forward from previous generations of xps 13s. It looks more visually impressive. The laptop feels noticeably snappier in everyday use. And it is nearly silent for tasks like office work, browsing the web, etc. When it comes to processor intensive tasks, the laptop seems to have plenty of power if those tasks are short running, such as doing a quick code compile, or you can deal with the side effects of running the laptop in ultra performance mode which bumps up the fan noise and warmth of the chassis.

The main issue with this laptop is that for people looking for a high-powered portable premium laptop, the macbook pro 14 is just far superior. It runs much cooler to the touch than this laptop. And I mean much its screen is larger brighter has greater contrast and a faster refresh rate. The graphics capabilities of that laptop allow you to do things that this one couldn’t even dream about. Like editing 4k videos, the speakers on that laptop destroy the speakers on this one. The webcam is much better, the keyboard is more comfortable, the battery life runs circles around this laptop. And it isn’t that much more expensive than this xps 13 plus.

If you spec up an apples to apples configuration ie 1 with 16gb ram and a high resolution display even at the lower end of the xps’s price point you are now competing with apple’s excellent macbook pro 13 and macbook air which like the 14 are better than this laptop in many ways. But I still think for some people this xps 9320 is a very viable choice.

Let’s say you want an extremely lightweight laptop that runs windows or linux. And you don’t want to sacrifice much performance plus if you are predominantly using it either plugged into an external monitor keyboard and mouse or on a desk you are getting a ton of the laptop’s benefits while avoiding a lot of its cons. But at the end of the day as someone who personally is a target consumer of premium powerful portable laptops if I could only have one of these two i’d definitely choose the macbook pro 14 over the xbs 13 plus 9320.

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