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Dell XPS 13 (9365) 2-in-1 review – the good old XPS 13 but more versatile

Following the trend of 2-in-1s, Dell decided to release a version of one of its best ever notebooks, the XPS 13. The award-winning device took the tech market by a storm and despite its “bulky” price, it was praised by a number of reviewers and tech websites, ours included. Totally deserved, though. With every minor update, the XPS 13 returned better in every way – more powerful and with more stamina.

But what about the 2-in-1 version? Well, it’s practically the same XPS 13 but with a 360-degree rotatable hinge offering versatility – something the main version of the XPS 13 doesn’t have. And by doing so, Dell has done everything in their power to sacrifice as few features as possible, but is it enough? Is it enough to beat the competition with this steep price while the likes of Lenovo Yoga 900S and ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360 offer mostly the same specs for a fraction of the price?

You can find some of the available models here: http://amzn.to/2xDzPaB

Contents

Retail package

The retail package is fairly standard offering the usual user manuals, the AC adapter, power cord and the notebook in a minimalistic black box. There’s also a handy USB-C to USB-A adapter included in the package as well since the laptop has only USB Type-C connectors.

Design and construction

We’ve already been here more than once. Our opinion of the XPS 13 2-in-1 isn’t any different from the standard 13-inch version because it sports exactly the same chassis with the only difference being in the hinge design.

While we are extremely happy with the build in the previous versions, there are some notable drawbacks when using the same design for a 2-in-1 device. To be more specific, we are referring to the chamfered edges of the aluminum parts on the lid and bottom. When you place the device in tent mode, for example, the lack of rubber or silicone edges will cause the aluminum to wear off faster than usual. It’s also less secure in tent mode because of the slippery nature of the aluminum.

However, the rest of the design and choice of materials fits the premium price tag of the device. We’ve got carbon fiber base slightly showing through the transparent matte paint on top combined with excellent touchpad and keyboard experience. There are things, however, that might not appeal to some users. For example, the keyboard feels a bit shallow but the clicky feedback compensates for that. We still consider it as an outstanding keyboard while the touchpad is a bit stiff when using the mouse buttons. Also, the gliding surface might get in the way when your fingers are slightly moist.


In terms of portability, the XPS 13 2-in-1 goes even further compared to its standard counterpart. The weight is still around 1.2 kg but the sides of the laptop are slightly slimmer now – from 8 to 13.7 mm compared to 9-15 mm on the normal XPS 13. But along with the thickness, the 2-in-1 version cuts down on connectors as well. We have one USB-C 3.1 connector supporting DisplayPort on the left and another USB-C 3.1 port supporting Thunderbolt 3 (4 lanes of PCIe Gen 3) on the right. Dell has included a USB-C to USB-A adapter in the package, which is nice but you are still limited to just one USB connector when charging. The device can be charged on both USB ports so if you need some extra peripherals attached, you should grab one of the USB-C hubs available. Anyway, the rest of the I/O are the 3.5 mm audio jack and a microSD card reader.

Don’t get us wrong, though, Dell really made some effort to implement the existing design to fit the 2-in-1 form factor. There are some cool details of the device when using it in the various modes. One of them is the rubberized finish around the keyboard, which definitely helps against sliding in presentation mode, while the magnetic snap keeps the screen secured in one place when going full tablet mode. The hinges also feel pretty stable, stealth and prevent the wobbling effect to some degree when using the touchscreen in standard laptop mode.

Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options

There aren’t many upgrade options inside the XPS 13 9365 but if you are looking to upgrade the storage, you can do it yourself without much hassle. The bottom piece comes off easily after you remove all the screws around the bottom and the one hiding beneath the hatch in the middle with the XPS logo on it.

Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD

Expectedly, the device comes with just an M.2 SSD placed under a what seems to be a small copper plate. Under it, we found a Toshiba PCIe NVMe SSD with 256GB capacity.

SlotUnitUpgrade price
M.2 slot256GB Toshiba THNSN5512GPU7 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (2280)Upgrade options

RAM

The motherboard comes with soldered RAM chips so you have to decide whether or not the standard 8GB of DDR4-2400 memory will suit you or you will need more in the future because upgrading is impossible.

Other components

The battery takes up most of the space inside the chassis and it’s rated at 46Wh.

Cooling system

Since the notebook uses a passive cooling solution, the cooling system consists of just a big copper heat sink.

Display quality

The device’s display uses a Full HD (1920×1080) IPS touchscreen and the panel used here is Sharp SHP146A (LQ133M1, V6V6D) with 13.3-inch diagonal. This means that the pixel density is 166 ppi and the pixel pitch is 0.153 x 0.153 mm. The screen can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 53 cm.

The IPS panel provides excellent viewing angles.

It appears that the display has some kind of Content Adaptive Brightness Control (CABC), which cannot be turned off so it’s possible that some of the results from the tests are a bit off but in general, values should be fine.

The maximum brightness that we were able to record is extremely high – 439 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 392 cd/m2 as average across the surface with 16% deviation. This brightness is comparable to some smartphones, which is an excellent result. Anyway, the color temperature on white screen at maximum brightness is close to optimal – 6880K and it remains the same as we go along the grayscale. You can see how values change when we set the display at 32% brightness (140 cd/m2).

The maximum color deviation dE2000 is 3.9, which is just borderline acceptable because values above 4.0 are usually unwanted especially when color-sensitive work is involved. The contrast ratio is excellent – 1200:1 (1050:1 after calibration).

Color reproduction

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of 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 in 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 display covers 92% of the sRGB color gamut making it suitable for multimedia as well.

Below you will see practically the same image but with the color circles representing the reference colors and the white circles being the result. You can see main and additional colors with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% saturation inside the sRGB gamut pre and post calibration.

The “Design and Gaming” profile is created at 140 cd/m2 brightness, D65 (6500K) white point and optimal gamma in sRGB 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.

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

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

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 23 ms.

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.

Our equipment recorded PWM below 120 cd/m2 (28% brightness) so as long as you keep the slider above that level, you shouldn’t feel eyestrain. But if you go below 120 cd/m2, aggressive light pulsations at 1 kHz will occur.

Blue light emissions

Installing of 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.

You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.

Conclusion

The display’s quality is excellent and suitable for work, web browsing and multimedia. It offers wide range of sRGB coverage, really high contrast ratio and extremely high brightness. The latter will assure excellent outdoor working environment. Keep in mind, though, that there’s PWM below 120 cd/m2 (28%) brightness so we strongly recommend not going below that mark as aggressive (1 kHz) pulsations will affect even users who don’t have sensitive eyes. Also, if you are looking for accurate color reproduction, this particular panel doesn’t excel in this department but our custom profiles bring the dE2000 at 1.1 or in other words, exceptionally accurate color reproduction.

Buy our display profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9365) configurations with 13.3″ Sharp SHP146A (LQ133M1, V6V6D) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2xyjYbC

*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

Sound quality is good, there’s enough clarity in the low, mid and high frequencies.

Specs sheet

The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region


ProcessorIntel Core i7-7Y75 (2-core, 1.30 – 3.60 GHz, 4MB cache)
RAM8GB (1x 8192MB) – LPDDR3, 1866MHz
Graphics cardIntel HD Graphics 615 (integrated GPU)
HDD/SSD256GB M.2 SSD (PCIe NVMe, 2280)
Display13.3-inch – FHD (1920×1080) / QHD+ (3200×1800) IPS touch, glossy
Optical drive
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Other features
  • 1x USB 3.1 (DisplayPort, DC-In)
  • 1x USB-C 3.1 (Thunderbolt 3, DC-In)
  • 3.5 mm combo audio jack
  • microSD card reader
  • keyboard backlight
Battery46 Wh, 4-Cell Battery
Thickness8-13.7 mm (0.32-0.54″)
Weight1.24 kg (2.73 lbs)

Software

The laptop shipped with pre-installed Windows 10 (64-bit) and we used it for our review. However, if you wish to get rid of all the bloatware and perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from Dell’s official website.

Battery

This is a very interesting topic because the endurance of the XPS 13 2-in-1 strongly depends on the display configuration. If you opt for the Full HD version, you can expect great battery performance but if you go with the QHD+ variant, which we’ve tested, you can see that the extremely low 4.5W TDP of the Core i7-7Y75 processor won’t be able to compensate. You will get average to suboptimal battery life at best, considering the price point of the XPS 13 2-in-1, it’s rather unacceptable. We are also disappointed to see such a big drop from a 60Wh battery on the standard model to 46Wh on this version when the chassis’ dimensions didn’t change as much. Maybe it was just one of the trade-offs Dell had to make in the 2-in-1 variant.

Anyway, all tests were performed using the same settings as always – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature switched on.

Web browsing

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

Subpar battery endurance – 350 minutes (5 hours and 50 minutes).

Video playback

For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.

Pretty much the same result on the video playback test – 347 minutes (5 hours and 47 minutes).

Gaming

We recently started using F1 2015’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.

Of course, the laptop isn’t made for gaming but it’s good to know that it can run for more than two hours under heavy workload – 132 minutes (2 hours and 12 minutes).

CPU – Intel Core i7-7Y75

The Core i7-7Y75 is a dual-core SoC from the Kaby Lake-Y family manufactured on the 14nm node. It’s designed for ultra-thin convertibles, notebooks. The chip is a direct successor to the Core m7-6Y75 from the Skylake generation and Intel claims the improved so-called 14nm+ architecture brings the Core i7-7Y75 closer to the mainstream Core i7 lineup so that’s why the company renamed it.

However, most of the specs remain the same with a slight boost in clock speeds and now sports the newer Intel HD Graphics 615 iGPU. The dual-core CPU is clocked at 1.3 – 3.6 GHz and thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology, the chip works with four instead of two threads, which significantly increases the multi-core performance. The SoC also has a DDR3L/LPDDR3 dual-channel memory controller.

As far as the iGPU is concerned, it consists of 24 EU (Execution Units) and runs on clocks between 300 and 1050 MHz utilizing the available memory. It also supports native hardware decoding like H.265/HEVC with 10-bit color depth and Google’s VP9 codec used for YouTube. The whole SoC is rated at 4.5W including the GPU and the memory controller but can be adjusted by the OEM. Due to the extremely low TDP, the chip is usually implemented with a passive cooling solution.

Dell XPS 13 9365 CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Dell XPS 13 9365 models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Dell XPS 13 9365 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.

Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)

Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)

Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)

Fritz

Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-7Y75 scored 4.311 million moves per second. In comparison, one of the most powerful chess computers, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.

GPU – Intel HD Graphics 615

intel_hd_graphicsIntel’s HD Graphics 615 is a low-end integrated graphics unit found in Y-series Kaby Lake processors. It incorporates 24 EUs (Execution Units) like all GT2 units and can be clocked at up to 1050 MHz while the base frequency is 300 MHz. With these specs, the chip is integrated into KBL-Y processors rated at 4.5W TDP, including the memory controller.

Since the iGPU is using the same architecture as before, the most noticeable feature would be the full hardware acceleration of the H.265/HEVC Main10 and Google’s VP9 codecs. With this, Intel aims to improve the overall energy efficiency and performance of the iGPU.

You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-615/

Dell XPS 13 9365 GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Dell XPS 13 9365 models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Dell XPS 13 9365 model is the best bang for your buck.

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

Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)

Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)

Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)

Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)

Temperatures

Obviously, the XPS 13 9365 isn’t made for long hours of heavy workloads and the stress tests that we perform don’t represent real-life usage but it’s still the best way to see how the utilizes the CPU.

We started with a simple CPU stress test for about an hour. The Core i7-7Y75 ran at around 2.8 – 3.0 GHz for a while but then slowly went down to 1.7 GHz. Still, it didn’t go near the 3.6 GHz Turbo Boost mark.

Starting the iGPU stress test resulted in CPU throttling, as usual, because this way the compute cores give the iGPU enough headroom to perform.

The inner temperatures didn’t result in overheating around the interior but we would have gladly traded a few more degrees for higher CPU clocks.

Verdict

In the end, Dell was able to port all the cool features about the good old XPS 13 with fewer trade-offs than we expected. The build quality is superb – it feels tight, light, thin and premium. The input devices are comfortable to use and will definitely get the work done on the go but we are disappointed to see just two USB-C connectors, one of which will most probably be used for charging. At least one of them supports the Thunderbolt 3 standard and gives plenty of I/O expansion with a little help of a dongle.

As far as display quality goes, it’s impeccable as usual – wide sRGB coverage, extremely high maximum brightness and high contrast ratio. Color accuracy could be better but our profiles take care of that. The only thing you should be aware of is the presence of PWM below 120 cd/m2, although our Health-Guard profile takes care of the screen-flickering. And, of course, if you are opting for the QHD+ version, you are bound to have short battery life.

Unfortunately, though, if you are looking for a good multi-core performance, the XPS 13 9365 won’t be the best fit for you because it doesn’t utilize the full potential of the Core i7-7Y75. It’s good but not enough.

If you are interested in similarly priced alternatives, we recommend the Dell Latitude 13 7370 or the considerably more powerful HP Spectre x360 13. Other more affordable options include the Lenovo Yoga 900S and the ASUS ZenBook Flip UX360.

You can find some of the available models here: http://amzn.to/2xDzPaB

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Thin, light, portable chassis
  • Good input devices
  • Great IPS screen with extremely high brightness
  • Presumably good battery life on the FHD version


Cons

  • The system can’t utiliza the full performance of the SoC
  • Aggressive (1 kHz) PWM up to 120 cd/m2 (our Health-Guard profile takes care of that)
  • The QHD+ version has subpar battery life
  • Rather limited I/O