The Dell XPS 13 (2021) is a premium ultraportable Windows laptop with Intel 11th Gen processors. It has a modern and sleek design with an anodized aluminum chassis and a carbon-fiber keyboard deck. Its 1080p screen has near 500 cd/m² brightness and full sRGB coverage, and it displays accurate colors out of the box. You can also upgrade to a 3.5k OLED or a 4k IPS panel if you want even sharper images and text. The battery lasts a little over 10 hours of light productivity or 5 hours of video playback and takes 2 hours to fully charge. It only has 2 USB-C ports, but both support Thunderbolt 4, allowing for data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps and video output to two 4k monitors at 60Hz. Like most thin and light laptops with a power-efficient CPU and integrated graphics, it can only handle general productivity tasks like web browsing, text formatting, spreadsheets, and video playback, not demanding workloads like video editing or AAA gaming.
Our Dell XPS has an Intel Core i3-1115G4 CPU, integrated Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen processors, 8GB of memory, and 256GB of storage. You can also configure the laptop with an i5-1135G7, an i7-1165G7, an i7-1185G7, or an i7-1195G7 CPU. While most people with a light workload can get by with a Core i3, it's worth upgrading to a Core i5 or i7, as they'll provide a much smoother experience and allow you to run more demanding applications when needed. The Core i7s are faster than the Core i5, though the difference isn't huge, and the i7s likely throttle more. There's very little performance difference between the three Core i7s.
The Dell XPS 13 is great for school use. It's an amazingly well-built laptop that's easy to carry around, with a battery that lasts a little over 10 hours of light productivity, long enough to get you through a typical school day on a full charge. It has a sharp and bright display, a great keyboard that feels comfortable to type on, and a large, responsive touchpad. Its Intel 11th Gen CPU and integrated graphics can handle most student workloads, like text formatting, web browsing, and video playback. However, they aren't powerful enough for demanding tasks like graphic design or 3D animation. Unfortunately, it only has USB-C ports, so you'll likely need dongles for your peripherals.
The Dell XPS 13 is inadequate for gaming. It's only available with power-efficient Intel 11th Gen CPUs and integrated GPUs, which aren't powerful enough to handle demanding AAA titles. You can play some lighter or older games on the Core i5 and i7 models with Intel Iris Xe graphics, though you'll have to play at low graphical settings or at 720p to get playable frame rates. Unfortunately, it has a 60Hz display with a slow response time and no VRR support.
The Dell XPS 13 is great for media consumption. It has a sharp display that gets bright enough to combat glare, even outdoors in broad daylight, and you can also configure the laptop with a 3.5k OLED or 4k IPS panel if you want even better image quality. The speakers get very loud, but they don't have much bass or treble extension, so they're better suited for spoken content than music or movies. Although it's compact and portable, you'll likely need to bring the charger with you as the battery lasts only a little over 5 hours of video playback.
The Dell XPS 13 is sub-par as a workstation. Its power-efficient Intel 11th Gen CPU and integrated graphics aren't powerful enough for demanding tasks like 3D rendering or physics simulations, and they throttle under load, further reducing performance. Also, the memory isn't user-upgradeable, and it only has USB-C ports, meaning you'll likely need dongles or a dock for your USB-A peripherals.
The Dell XPS 13 is decent for business use. It feels amazingly well-built, and it's easy to carry around for business trips. The battery lasts a little over 10 hours of light productivity, long enough to comfortably get you through a typical workday. It has a sharp and bright display, a keyboard that feels comfortable to type on for extended periods, and a large and responsive touchpad. Its Intel 11th Gen CPU can easily handle most productivity tasks like web browsing, text formatting, spreadsheets, and presentations. Unfortunately, it only has USB-C ports, so you'll need dongles or a dock for your peripherals or to connect an external display like a TV or projector. Also, the webcam's image looks soft, and voices sound harsh over the microphone.
The Dell XPS 13 has a sleek and premium design that fits well in any professional working environment. It has incredibly thin bezels on all sides of the display, making it more compact than most ultraportable 13 inch laptops currently on the market. It's available in two color schemes: Platinum Silver exterior with a black interior, or Frost exterior with an arctic white interior. Both models have a woven carbon fiber keyboard deck that adds a little texture but still feels smooth and high-quality. You can find the exhaust vents on the bottom near the back and the speakers near the front.
The Dell XPS 13 9310's build quality is excellent. The chassis is aluminum, but the keyboard deck is carbon fiber with a soft-touch finish. The whole device feels premium and sturdy, exhibiting only some flex in the display and almost none in the keyboard deck.
The Dell XPS has an outstanding hinge. It feels smooth when opening and closing the laptop, and it's stable without feeling stiff. The screen doesn't wobble when typing aggressively. You can easily open the lid with one hand, which might not be important to some people, though it's a nice quality-of-life feature that adds to the laptop's premium feel.
The Dell XPS is very portable thanks to its thin and light design, and its power adapter is compact and fits easily into most bags.
The Dell XPS 13's serviceability is sub-par. Removing the eight T5 screws is easy, but prying open the bottom panel is hard as the seam is extremely tight. Once inside, you can only replace the storage drive and battery. You can see the service manual here. Opening the laptop and changing the hardware may void the manufacturer's warranty.
The Dell XPS has three display options: a 1080p IPS panel, a 4k IPS panel, and a 3.5k OLED panel. All three displays have a 16:10 aspect ratio that gives you slightly more vertical space than a standard 16:9 screen, which is great for productivity because you don't have to scroll as much when reading a document. However, you'll almost always have black bars at the top and bottom of the screen when consuming media. On such a compact screen, the 1080p display is already very sharp. The 3.5k OLED and 4k panels are sharper, but the difference is hard to notice at normal viewing distances, and they drain the battery faster. That said, the OLED panel has other advantages beyond an increase in resolution, like a near-infinite contrast ratio, a faster response time, and wider coverage of the DCI P3 color space.
The Dell XPS has a basic refresh rate typical of most productivity-focused laptops. Its slow response causes noticeable ghosting, which isn't ideal for viewing fast-moving content or gaming. The 4k panel will perform similarly; however, the 3.5k OLED panel will likely perform better as OLEDs typically have a near-instantaneous response time.
The Dell XPS 13 has a great contrast ratio. It's better than most IPS panels, but blacks still look gray in dim settings, so it isn't the best for dark room viewing. The 4k IPS panel will be similar, but the 3.5k OLED will be significantly better as OLEDs can turn off individual pixels to produce deep, inky blacks. The contrast ratio can vary on IPS panels; however, the difference is usually very minor and isn't noticeable.
The Dell XPS gets bright enough to combat glare, even outdoors in broad daylight. For dark room viewing, it gets dim enough at the lowest brightness setting to help reduce eye strain. The 4k panel performs similarly, but the OLED is dimmer, with an advertised maximum brightness of 400 cd/m².
The Dell XPS 13 has great reflection handling. Its glossy finish handles glare from ambient lighting well. Direct reflections like a lamp or window during the day make dark content hard to see, but they're very faint when viewing bright content with the screen at maximum brightness.
The Dell XPS 13 laptop's black uniformity is passable. The whole screen looks a little patchy, and there's some backlight bleed near the top right corner. However, these uniformity issues are only visible when viewing dark scenes in a dark room. Black uniformity varies between individual units due to manufacturing tolerances. You may get slightly more or less backlight bleed, but you can expect the rest of the screen to be relatively similar. The 3.5k OLED panel has perfect uniformity because OLEDs can turn off individual pixels to display black.
The Dell XPS 13 has decent horizontal viewing angles. The image dims and washes out when you reach a moderately steep angle from the side. You can share the screen with someone else, though it's best to look at the screen from more or less straight on if you need perfect image accuracy. The 4k panel is similar; however, the 3.5k OLED panel likely has wider viewing angles due to OLED's emissive technology.
The Dell XPS 13 9310 has mediocre vertical viewing angles. The image dims and washes out fairly quickly from above or below, so you have to look at the screen almost directly if accuracy is important. The 4k IPS panel is similar, but the 3.5k OLED panel likely has better vertical viewing angles.
The Dell XPS 13 2021 has impressive color accuracy out of the box. Most color inaccuracies are minor and aren't visible to the naked eye, and the same goes for the white balance, except at higher brightness levels. The color temperature is just slightly warmer than the standard 6500K target, not enough of a difference to be visually noticeable. The gamma sticks close to a flat 2.2 rather than following the sRGB curve, causing dark scenes to appear brighter than they should while over-brightening bright scenes. The 3.5k OLED and 4k panels will likely have similar color accuracy out of the box. Color accuracy varies between individual units, but it's usually in the same ballpark.
The Dell XPS has an excellent color gamut. It covers the entire sRGB color space, making it suitable for viewing and producing SDR content. It doesn't have enough coverage of the wider color spaces like Adobe RGB, DCI P3, and Rec. 2020 for professional-level print photography or viewing and producing HDR content. If you want better color performance in HDR, the 4k IPS panel has an advertised 90% DCI P3 coverage, while the 3.5k OLED has 99%.
The Dell XPS has a flicker-free backlight, which helps reduce eye strain for people sensitive to fast flickering. There's flickering if you set the screen's brightness to minimum, but it isn't visible as the flicker frequency is extremely high. The OLED panel isn't flicker-free, so it's best to avoid it if flickering bothers you.
The Dell XPS 13 has a great keyboard. It feels spacious, and the layout doesn't take long to get used to. The keys have a good amount of travel, and while their operating force is a bit high, they don't feel tiring to type on for extended periods. The tactile feedback feels crisp and satisfying so that you know when you've actuated a key. You can toggle between two backlight brightness levels or turn it off completely using the backlight hotkey (F5).
The Dell XPS 13 has a great touchpad. It's reasonably large and has a smooth glass surface that allows the fingers to glide easily. It tracks all movements and gestures well, and there aren't any issues with palm rejection or actions like dragging and dropping. Clicking feels satisfying and works anywhere on the touchpad, though you need to press harder towards the top.
The Dell XPS has great speakers. They sound natural, with an extremely mid-centric frequency response that brings out clear vocals and leads. However, they have very little bass and treble extension, so they're better suited for spoken content than music or movies. They get very loud with minimal compression artifacts at max volume, so content still sounds rich and varied even if you crank it up. Unfortunately, they fire downwards and can get muffled if you place the laptop on fabric, like on a bed.
The Dell XPS 13's webcam is decent. It captures colors and textures well; however, it loses a lot of fine details due to its low resolution, and the overall image looks slightly warm and overexposed. As for the microphone, voices sound loud and clear but somewhat harsh and unpleasant. There's only a little background noise, not enough to affect speech clarity.
The Dell XPS 13's port selection is disappointing. It doesn't have any USB-A ports, so you'll need the included adapter or a dock for your peripherals. Its two USB-C ports support Thunderbolt 4 transfer speed (up to 40Gbps), USB 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps), charging, and video output up to two 4k displays at 60Hz.
The Dell XPS 13 9310 has an Intel Killer Wi-Fi AX1650s wireless adapter.
The Dell XPS 13 is available with the following five Intel CPUs:
All five are processors designed for light tasks, like text formatting, web browsing, video playback, and spreadsheets. You can get by with a Core i3 if you have an extremely light workload and don't run any heavily multi-threaded applications; however, it's worth upgrading to a quad-core i5 or i7 for the extra headroom, and it'll also make the laptop more future-proof. The Core i5 and i7s can handle some demanding tasks. However, if you need to run intensive applications for professional-level work, it's best to choose a laptop with a more powerful H-series processor like the Intel Core i5-11400H in the HP Victus 16 (2021) or an Apple MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro or Max SoC. The Core i7s are faster than the i5-1135G7, though they likely throttle more under load. Lastly, there isn't much performance difference between the three Core i7s, so unless you need every ounce of performance that you can get and don't mind paying more, you can just stick with the i7-1165G7.
The Dell XPS 13 uses the Intel CPU's integrated graphics processor. The i3-1115G4 has Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen processors with 48 execution units, the Core i5 has Intel Iris Xe Graphics with 80 execution units, and the Core i7s have Intel Iris Xe Graphics with 96 execution units. All three GPUs can only handle simple tasks like web browsing and video playback, not demanding workloads like video editing or AAA gaming. You can play some lighter games on the Core i5 and i7 models, but you'll have to play at low settings or at 720p to get smooth gameplay.
You can configure the Dell XPS with 8, 16, or 32GB of memory. 8GB is enough if you have a light workload consisting mainly of web browsing, text formatting, video playback, and spreadsheets. However, it's best to upgrade to 16GB or even 32GB if you multitask heavily to avoid stutters or slowdowns. Also, the memory isn't user-replaceable, so it might be worth getting more upfront.
You can configure the Dell XPS with 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB of storage.
The Dell XPS with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 performs reasonably well in the Geekbench 5 synthetic benchmarks. It has outstanding single-thread performance, but its multi-thread performance is sub-par as it only has 2 cores and 4 threads. Upgrading to a Core i5 or i7 will give you significantly better performance, especially in multi-threaded workloads. If you want the smoothest experience in heavily multi-threaded applications, it's best to get a laptop with a more powerful H-Series Intel or AMD CPU or an Apple MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro or Max SoC.
As for the GPU compute score, the Core i3's integrated graphics perform poorly. The Core i5 and i7s' Iris Xe perform much better, but not enough for demanding tasks like video editing or 3D animation.
The Dell XPS 13 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 has a decent overall score in Cinebench R23. Its single-thread performance is excellent, but its multi-thread performance is sub-par due to its limited number of cores and threads. For professional-level 3D graphics rendering or other related workloads that use the CPU, it's best to upgrade to a Core i5 or i7, as their increased core count and higher clock speeds will provide significantly better performance. If you want more performance still, you can get a laptop with an H-series processor like the Intel Core i5-11400H in the HP Victus 16 (2021) or an Apple MacBook Pro with an M1 Pro or Max Soc.
The Dell XPS 13 performs poorly in Blender. It takes a very long time to render the simple bmw27 scene with the CPU, and it takes even longer with the GPU. The Core i5 and i7s will perform much better as they have more cores and threads, but they still won't be fast enough for professionals working on a deadline. If you need to do 3D rendering work, it's best to get a laptop with a dedicated GPU.
The Dell XPS 13 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 performs poorly in the Basemark GPU benchmark. It can only handle simple puzzle-like games, nothing that's even remotely graphically demanding. The Core i5 and i7's Intel Iris Xe Graphics will perform much better, allowing you to play some lighter or older titles, but you'll still have to play at low settings or at 720p to get smooth gameplay.
The Dell XPS 13's storage drive performance is outstanding. Its fast read and write speeds allow the system to boot up, launch apps, and transfer files quickly. There are SSDs with much faster sequential speeds, and the storage drive is user-replaceable, so if you need to transfer large files regularly, you can swap it out for a faster one later on. The speed of the SSD may vary depending on the size, as larger SSDs tend to perform better.
The Dell XPS 13 has good battery life. You can easily get through a typical 8-hour workday of light productivity on a full charge. However, the battery life for video playback is mediocre, as it only gives you enough time to get through two or three full-length movies at the most. Although the battery life while gaming is better than most gaming laptops with a dedicated GPU, it's still very short, so you'll have to use the laptop plugged in most of the time if you're gaming or running intensive tasks like video editing. Models with a 3.5k OLED or 4k IPS panel have shorter battery life, around 6 to 7 hours of light productivity, according to most online feedback. Battery life varies greatly depending on usage.
Borderlands 3 isn't playable on the Dell XPS 13 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4. It'll run on the Core i5 and i7 models with Intel Iris Xe Graphics, but it'll likely be too choppy to be playable, even at the lowest graphical settings.
The Dell XPS 13 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 performs terribly in Civilization VI. The average frame rate at high settings is too low to be playable, even for a turn-based game, and the turn time is very long. You can get playable frame rates if you turn down some settings, but it won't improve the turn time. The Core i5 and i7s will provide smooth gameplay at low settings, though the average turn time will still be fairly long.
CS:GO runs poorly on the Dell XPS 13. The average frame rate at high settings is okay, but it stutters a lot. You can get much higher frame rates at low settings; however, the game is still choppy, which isn't ideal for an FPS game. The Core i5 and i7 models will perform much better, with an average frame rate above 100 fps at the lowest graphical settings.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider isn't playable on the Dell XPS 13 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4. It'll run on the Core i5 and i7 models, but you'll only get around 30fps at the lowest graphical settings, and even then, it'll still be very choppy due to frame drops.
The Dell XPS 13 has decent thermal and noise handling. The keyboard is slightly warm when idle but isn't uncomfortable, and the fans are completely silent. The keyboard gets pretty hot under load, with the hottest spot being right in the middle around the letter F; however, the heat doesn't extend to the deck where the palms rest. The fans sound a bit whiny under load but aren't loud.
The Dell XPS 13 9310 has good performance over time. Neither the CPU nor the GPU gets very hot under load. There's throttling on both, but it's minimal and only noticeable in heavy, sustained workloads. The Core i5 and i7 models will likely throttle more, though only slightly.
The Dell XPS has many pre-installed applications, including:
The Dell XPS has a fingerprint sensor built into the power button and a Windows Hello-compatible IR camera for facial recognition. You can use either one to quickly log into Windows, make purchases on the Windows Store, or auto-fill passwords on supported websites.
We tested the Dell XPS 13 (model 9310) with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 CPU, integrated Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen processors, 8GB of memory, and 256GB of storage. The CPU, memory, and storage are configurable; you can see the available options in the table below. Our review applies only to model 9310 of the Dell XPS 13. Most of our results apply to the 9305 model as well; however, the 9305 model has a 16:9 FHD display. We consider the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 an entirely separate model.
Our display and performance results are only valid for the configuration we tested. If you come across a different configuration option not listed above, or you have a similar Dell XPS 13 9310 that doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update it. Some tests, like black uniformity and color accuracy, may vary between individual units.
You can see our unit's label here.
The Dell XPS 13 9310 is one of the best ultraportable laptops on the market. It stands out for its premium design, sturdy build, high-quality display, and comfortable keyboard. However, its port selection is worse than many other laptops in its class.
The Dell XPS 13 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) are both ultraportable laptops designed for general productivity like web browsing, text formatting, and video playback. The Dell is available with Intel 11th Gen CPUs and runs Windows, while the Apple laptop uses Apple's ARM-based M1 SoC and runs macOS. The Apple has a sharper display, but the Dell's is brighter, and you can also configure the XPS 13 with a 4k IPS or 3.5k OLED panel. The Dell laptop's keyboard feels better to type on; however, the Apple laptop's haptic touchpad is easier to use because you can click anywhere. If you're often on video calls, the Apple laptop's webcam is much better, even though it's the same resolution as the XPS 13's. Performance-wise, Apple's M1 SoC is faster than Intel's 11th Gen processors, even against the top-end i7-1195G7. The Apple laptop has longer battery life, lasting a little over 3 hours more than the Dell in light productivity workloads.
The Dell XPS 13 (2021) and the HP ENVY x360 13 (2020) are both ultraportable Windows laptops. However, the HP is a 2-in-1 convertible with a 360-degree hinge, while the Dell is a standard clamshell laptop. The Dell laptop offers a better user experience as it has a larger and more responsive touchpad, much better-sounding speakers, and a better webcam for video calls. On the other hand, the HP has USB-A ports in addition to its USB-C port, whereas the Dell only has USB-Cs. The HP also has longer battery life, especially for video playback. The Dell is available with Intel 11th Gen CPUs only, while the HP is available with Intel 11th Gen and AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs. The display's performance depends on which panel you choose, as both laptops offer various display options.
The Apple MacBook Pro 14 (2021) is better than the Dell XPS 13 (2021) in most aspects; however, they're also very different. The XPS 13 is an ultraportable laptop designed for light productivity tasks like text formatting and web browsing, while the MacBook Pro 14 is a mobile workstation designed for demanding workloads, like video editing. The MacBook Pro 14 has a sharper and more colorful screen, a better touchpad and webcam, and a much wider port selection. Apple's M1 SoC performs better than any of the XPS 13's Intel 11th Gen. processors, and it's more power-efficient, giving the MacBook Pro 14 longer battery life.
The Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2021) is better than the Dell XPS 13 (2021) for most uses; however, they're also very different laptops. The XPS 13 is a Windows thin and lightweight laptop designed for light productivity tasks like text formatting and spreadsheets, while the MacBook Pro 16 is a macOS mobile workstation designed for demanding workloads, like video editing. You can configure the XPS 13 with a fairly capable Intel 11th Gen CPU, but it throttles under load, and its integrated GPU isn't powerful enough for graphically-intensive tasks.
The Dell XPS 13 (2021) and the LG gram 17 (2021) are ultraportable Windows laptops with Intel 11th Gen processors. The LG's larger display gives you more screen real estate for multitasking; however, the Dell has sharper 3.5k OLED and 4k IPS panel options. Both laptops have a great keyboard that provides a comfortable typing experience and a large, responsive touchpad. The LG has a better webcam for video calls, and its wider port selection includes two USB-A and an HDMI port, which the XPS 13 lacks. The LG also has longer battery life, lasting nearly 3 hours longer in light productivity workloads and almost twice as long for video playback.
The Dell XPS 13 (2021) and the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) are both ultraportable laptops with Intel 11th Gen. CPUs. The XPS 13 is better in most aspects as it's a more premium laptop that provides a better overall user experience. It has a sharper, brighter, and more color-accurate display, a better keyboard and touchpad, and a much better webcam for video calls. However, the Swift 3 has a wider port selection because it includes USB-A and HDMI ports, which aren't available on the XPS 13. The Swift 3 also has longer battery life, lasting over 3 hours more in light productivity workloads.
The Dell XPS 13 (2021) is better than the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15 (2021) for most uses. The XPS 13 is a more premium device that offers a better user experience overall, like better build quality, a brighter and more color-accurate display, a more responsive touchpad, and better-sounding speakers. It also has longer battery life, lasting nearly two hours more in light productivity workloads. However, the IdeaPad 5 has a wider port selection that includes two USB-A and an HDMI port, which aren't available on the XPS 13, and its CPU doesn't throttle as much under load.
The Dell XPS 13 (2021) and the Dell Alienware m15 R3 (2020) are very different laptops. The XPS 13 is an ultraportable designed for light productivity tasks, while the Alienware is a bulky high-end gaming laptop. The XPS 13 offers a better user experience overall with a sharper and brighter display, a larger touchpad with better tracking, and better-sounding speakers. It also has longer battery life and doesn't get as loud under load. If you need processing power for demanding workloads, it's best to go with the Alienware because it has significantly more powerful CPU and GPU options.
The Dell XPS 13 (2021) and the Framework Laptop (2021) are both ultraportable Windows laptops with Intel 11th Gen processors. The Dell provides a slightly better user experience overall as it has a more comfortable keyboard, a more responsive touchpad, and better-sounding speakers. The Dell also has sharper screen options, like a 3.5k OLED and a 4k IPS panel. However, the Framework's design makes it easier to repair and upgrade components, and it has a modular I/O system that lets you swap out ports on the fly. The Framework has longer battery life, and unlike the Dell, its CPU and GPU don't throttle under load.
The Dell XPS 13 (2021) and the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019) are very different. The XPS 13 is a Windows ultraportable laptop designed for light productivity tasks, while the MacBook Pro is a bulkier macOS mobile workstation for more demanding production workloads, like video editing. Both laptops have a sharp, high-quality display, though the MacBook Pro's has a wider color gamut with full DCI P3 coverage, making it more suitable for viewing and producing HDR content. The XPS 13's keyboard feels more comfortable to type on, but the MacBook Pro has a much larger haptic touchpad that lets you click anywhere, making it easier to perform actions like dragging and dropping.