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Dell XPS 13 9310 review – they have never been so far behind Apple

Welcome to the high end. If you want a very high-quality, low-profile business laptop, there is nothing that betters the XPS lineup of Dell. Today, we have their latest addition to the group – the XPS 13 9310. Once again, they have relied on the productivity-induced 16:10 aspect ratio. And this year, you get the Tiger Lake chips from Intel.

Also, the XPS 13 is now part of the Evo platform, which should ensure better performance and higher stability. Ultimately, last year, we were mesmerized by the screen-to-body ratio of the laptop, putting the MacBooks of this world to sleep. This year, there is a very little-to-no change in the design, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You are still getting the optional IR face recognition sensors, as well as the fingerprint reader inside of the power button.

Also, you can still rely on two display options – a FullHD and a UHD IPS panel, both with allegedly 500 nits of maximum brightness, and high color coverage.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/dell-xps-13-9310/

Contents

Specs Sheet

Dell XPS 13 9310 review – they have never been so far behind Apple - Specs

  • Sharp VVK8Y-LQ134N1 (SHP14F9)
  • Color accuracy  7,0  1,2
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 4000GB SSD
  • RAM
  • up to 32GB
  • OS
  • Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 11 Pro, Windows 11 Home, Windows OS
  • Battery
  • 52Wh, 4-cell, Thunderboltâ„ 4
  • Body material
  • Aluminum, Carbon, Glass Fiber
  • Dimensions
  • 295.7 x 198.7 x 14.8 mm (11.64" x 7.82" x 0.58")
  • Weight
  • 1.20 kg (2.6 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 2x USB Type-C
  • 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), Thunderbolt 3, Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort
  • Card reader
  • MicroSD
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.1
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5 Combo Jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera
  • HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone
  • Dual Array Microphone
  • Speakers
  • 2x 2.5W, Waves MaxxAudio Pro
  • Optical drive
  • optional
  • Security Lock slot

What’s in the box?

Unsurprisingly, this notebook comes in a very high-quality package. Once again, Dell is proud that they’ve used 100% recycled plastic there. As for the contents – there are some paper manuals, a 45W USB Type-C power adapter, a USB Type-C to USB Type-A dongle, and the laptop, itself.

Design and construction

You are looking at one of the smallest 13-inch laptops out there with a screen-to-body ratio of 91.5%. It is extremely compact with a maximum height of 14.8mm and a weight of 1.20 kg for the non-touchscreen models, and 1.27 kg for the touchscreen-enabled ones. The main build material here is aluminum, with Dell implementing carbon fiber for the base in the black version, and glass fiber for the white one. This makes the rigidity of the notebook on a very high level. Although, there is some flex in the chassis.

The lid can be easily opened with a single hand, and after you open it, you can see the super-narrow bezels all around the matte display. What makes it more interesting, is that the manufacturer was able to put an IR face recognition system inside of the top one.

Next, let’s take a quick look at the keyboard, which spans almost from side to side. There is a slight amount of deck flex, but the overall feel is comfortable the key travel is relatively long, considering the slim profile of the notebook, and the feedback is clicky. Here, we see a fingerprint reader, embedded into the power button.

Further below, there is the simply awesome touchpad. It offers a very smooth gliding experience, and tracking that is extremely accurate, and has a very little, almost indistinguishable latency. In fact, this is the closest you can get to a MacBook experience.

If you flip the laptop upside down, you will find the speaker cutouts and the rather slim ventilation grill. Hot air, respectively, is blown away from in between the lid and the base.

Ports

Well, the I/O here is pretty sad. Well, if you don’t have a dongle or an adapter. This is because, there are two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, a MicroSD card slot, and an audio jack. That’s all. However, Dell has conveniently supplied the package with a USB Type-C to USB Type-A adapter, so you can at least connect your external hard drive.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

To get inside of this notebook, you need to undo 8 Torx head screws. Then, carefully pry the bottom panel, starting from the front two edges.

This device is powered by a 52Wh battery pack. It has a very large footprint, but a super-thin profile.

Unfortunately, the memory is soldered to the motherboard, but on the bright side, you can configure the laptop with up to 32GB of LPDDR4x RAM in dual-channel mode. Storage-wise, there is a single M.2 PCIe x4 slot.

As you can see, the cooling solution comprises a single bulky heat pipe, two small heat spreaders, and a couple of tiny fans.

Display quality

Dell XPS 13 9310 is equipped with a Full HD IPS panel, Sharp VVK8Y-LQ134N1 (SHP14F9). Its diagonal is 13.4-inch (34 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1200p. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:10, the pixel density – 169 ppi, their pitch – 0.15 х 0.15 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 50 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Viewing angles are comfortable. We offer images at different angles to evaluate the quality.

The maximum measured brightness is 544 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 514 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 8%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6500K – matching the 6500K temperature standard for sRGB.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 21% Brightness (White level = 142 cd/m2, Black level = 0.08 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is very good – 1730:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people on HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Dell XPS 13 9310’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 96% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976, providing a punchy and vibrant image.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Dell XPS 13 9310 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale, and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 39 ms – very slow

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.

Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Dell XPS 13 9310’s backlight flickers up until 140 nits but it does so with a relatively high frequency (while 2.5 KHz is generally considered safe, it is a good idea to avoid it). Above the 21% mark, there is no PWM detected, hence the display becomes comfortable for long work periods.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusion

Dell XPS 13 9310’s IPS panel has a Full HD resolution, a very high maximum brightness and contrast ratio, and comfortable viewing angles. Moreover, it covers 96% of the sRGB color gamut. It is safe to say that the backlight doesn’t flicker above 140 nits, and with the help of our Gaming and Web design profile you can achieve very high color accuracy, good-enough for color-sensitive work.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Dell XPS 13 9310 configurations with 13.4″ Sharp VVK8Y-LQ134N1 (SHP14F9) (FHD+, 1920 × 1200) IPS panel.

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at bg.laptopmedia@gmail.com.

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount

Sound

Dell XPS 13 9310’s speakers produce a dynamic sound with very good quality. Its low, mid, and high tones are clear of deviations.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-us/product-support/product/xps-13-9310-laptop/drivers

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. This notebook is equipped with a 52Wh battery, which lasts for 12 hours and 55 minutes of Web browsing, and 10 hours and 20 minutes of video playback.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

CPU options

This device utilizes Intel’s Tiger Lake lineup of processors. It can be found with the Core i3-1115G4, Core i5-1135G7, Core i7-1165G7, and according to some listings online – the Core i7-1185G7.

Dell XPS 13 9310 CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Dell XPS 13 9310 models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Dell XPS 13 9310 model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different CPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / CPU.

GPU options

As far as the graphics goes, there are no dedicated options. But this is not an issue, since the Iris Xe Graphics is rather capable.

Gaming tests

cs-go-benchmarks

CS:GOHD 1080p, Low (Check settings)HD 1080p, Medium (Check settings)HD 1080p, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS114 fps81 fps53 fps

DOTA 2HD 1080p, Low (Check settings)HD 1080p, Normal (Check settings)HD 1080p, High (Check settings)
Average FPS114 fps55 fps39 fps

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i5-1135G7 (15W TDP)0:02 – 0:10 sec0:15 – 0:30 sec10:00 – 15:00 min
Dell XPS 13 93103.15 GHz (B+31%) @ 100°C @ 40W2.73 GHz (B+14%) @ 100°C @ 30W1.65 GHz @ 73°C @ 15W
Dell Vostro 15 55023.33 GHz (B+39%) @ 100°C @ 38W1.96 GHz @ 72°C @ 14W2.02 GHz @ 74°C @ 15W
Dell Vostro 14 54023.02 GHz (B+26%) @ 99°C @ 29W2.61 GHz (B+9%) @ 99°C @ 25W2.00 GHz @ 76°C @ 15W
MSI Modern 15 (A11X)3.59 GHz (B+50%) @ 94°C @ 44W3.45 GHz (B+44%) @ 95°C @ 40W3.18 GHz (B+33%) @ 91°C @ 34W
Lenovo ThinkBook 14s Yoga3.52 GHz (B+47%) @ 94°C3.24 GHz (B+35%) @ 94°C2.63 GHz (B+10%) @ 75°C
Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Gen 23.35 GHz (B+40%) @ 90°C3.14 GHz (B+31%) @ 71°C2.57 GHz (B+7%) @ 64°C
HP ProBook 450 G83.73 GHz (B+55%) @ 90°C2.44 GHz (B+2%) @ 71°C2.09 GHz @ 64°C
Lenovo Yoga 7 (14)3.34 GHz (B+39%) @ 94°C2.97 GHz (B+24%) @ 94°C2.39 GHz @ 75°C
Acer Aspire 5 (A514-54)3.54 GHz (B+48%) @ 87°C2.01 GHz @ 66°C2.03 GHz @ 67°C

Well, the tiny fans of the XPS 13 9310 are really struggling with the extreme torture test. The CPU skyrockets to 100°C within seconds of starting the test, and at the end, the clock speed had to be lowered to 1.65 GHz in order to get an adequate temperature reading.

Comfort during full load

Unfortunately, the laptop gets pretty warm on the keyboard and the bottom panel under a heavy workload. Also, the fans can be heard spinning even without too much load applied.

Verdict

Well, there was a time, back in the day, when Dell revealed an XPS 13, and the crowd went “wow”. These times are no more. Last year, the manufacturer was bold enough to make an overhaul to the design, which included a significantly smaller footprint, a great screen-to-body ratio, and a 16:10 aspect ratio. Today, this seems to be unchanged. For better or for worse, you are getting what Dell designed a year ago. Although from an aesthetics perspective, this is not bad at all, things change when you look at the numbers.

Because of the small form factor, the laptop cannot extract everything out of the new Tiger Lake CPUs. This comes in a year, where Apple has completely killed the opposition with their M1 chip, which is not only extremely powerful, but far more power-efficient than anything Intel, and to be honest – AMD, have to offer.

And this exact scenario is why we will no longer recommend an XPS 13 over a MacBook Air. Moreover, the I/O is pretty similar with two Thunderbolt 4 connectors, an audio jack, and … and a MicroSD card reader. Which is not too bad. Also, Dell has included a USB Type-C to Type-A adapter in their packaging, which acts as a small consolation.

Dell XPS 13 9310’s IPS panel (Sharp VVK8Y-LQ134N1 (SHP14F9)) has a Full HD resolution, a very high maximum brightness and contrast ratio, and comfortable viewing angles. Moreover, it covers 96% of the sRGB color gamut. It is safe to say that the backlight doesn’t flicker above 140 nits, and with the help of our Gaming and Web design profile you can achieve very high color accuracy, good-enough for color-sensitive work.

Thankfully, the battery life is decent, as well. We were able to extract almost 13 hours of Web browsing and 10 hours and 20 minutes of video playback. Add storage upgradability to the mix, and you get a somewhat decent package.

Yes, there is the IR face recognition sensor, the fingerprint reader, the fancy Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.0, but still, the chipset inside prevents us from using it for heavy-duty work. Like a mobile workstation, if you want. This is not the case with the MacBook Air, and especially the MacBook Pro 13 (M1, Late 2020).

Pros

  • Premium build quality and materials
  • Covers 96% of sRGB colors (Sharp VVK8Y-LQ134N1)
  • Very high color accuracy when Gaming and Web design profile is installed (Sharp VVK8Y-LQ134N1)
  • 12 hours of battery
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Fingerprint reader and optional IR face recognition systems
  • Great speakers


Cons

  • Limited I/O
  • Uses PWM below 140 nits (our Health-Guard profile fixes the issue) (Sharp VVK8Y-LQ134N1)
  • Memory is soldered to the motherboard
  • Insufficient cooling system

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/dell-xps-13-9310/