Which Dell XPS 13 should you buy?

Dell Xps 13 Plus 2022 Lid
(Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Which Dell XPS 13 should you buy?

Best answer: Dell's XPS 13 — including the newest XPS 13 Plus (9320) and XPS 13 (9315) — has many set configurations available, with the ability to customize internal hardware to your liking. Those with general productivity in mind can get by with a lower-end configuration. At the same time, those with heavy multitasking and even a bit of editing will want something with heavier-hitting hardware. As always, multiple display options must be considered. Here's what you need to know.

What's new with the XPS 13?

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The Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320) launched at the end of April, full of big updates to a laptop that was already nearly perfect. This is still the best Dell laptop available, and for good reason.

The Plus (9320) model has had its keyboard and touchpad overhauled. The keycaps are larger, causing the board to stretch from edge to edge. There's almost no space between the keys anymore, and below the board there is no longer a physical touchpad. Instead, there's a full glass palmrest with a hidden touchpad below. It uses haptic feedback to simulate clicks, and the result makes it feel like you're actually pressing down on a pad. Above the keyboard are new capacitive touch function buttons.

Underneath the keyboard are two new extra speakers to complement the usual down-firing speakers. The camera in the XPS 13 Plus (9320) is still 720p, but the IR and RGB parts have been separated to provide a better picture while video conferencing.

Display options remain the same as you had with the XPS 13 (9310). The basic display (which is anything but basic) is a non-touch FHD+ display with an anti-glare (matte) finish. It has excellent color, it hits 500 nits brightness, making working outdoors much easier. This is the cheapest display option available, but that doesn't mean it won't wow you.

The 3.5K OLED display option delivers the best color and contrast, but it does add cost.

Next is an FHD+ touch display with an anti-reflective layer and edge-to-edge glass with no raised bezel. It looks just a bit more premium due to the glass, though it won't combat glare as well as the matte version. This display also has outstanding color and hits 500 nits brightness.

The 3.5K OLED touchscreen with anti-reflective coating and up to 400 nits brightness is absolutely stunning. It offers the deepest color and contrast and makes for a nice option between FHD+ and UHD+. Finally, a 3840x2400 (UHD+) touch option is available for a few hundred dollars more than the basic non-touch display. It too has edge-to-edge glass and an anti-reflective layer, as well as 500 nits brightness. While the other displays offer Dolby Vision compatibility, the UHD+ display is VESA Certified DisplayHDR 400.

Performance hardware has also been updated. You can now get Intel 12th Gen mobile 28W CPUs with impressive power. The move to LPDDR5 RAM and PCIe 4.0 storage also boosts laptop speed, and the laptops are certified for Intel Evo.

Which Dell XPS 13 Plus (9320) should you buy?

(Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

As expected, Dell has a bunch of different configurations from which to choose when it comes to the XPS 13 Plus (9320). That means you should be able to mix and match the hardware to get precisely what you need without overspending. Because you get the same ports (including Thunderbolt 4), keyboard, touchpad, speakers, battery, and display size no matter the configuration, the choice will mostly come down to CPU, RAM, solid-state drive (SSD), and display resolution.

The XPS 13 Plus (9320) comes in many different flavors, helping you get the exact level of performance and screen you need.

Processor options include the 12th Gen Intel Core i5-1240P with 12 cores, Core i7-1260P with 12 cores and a slightly higher clock speed, and a Core i7-1280P with a whopping 14 cores and a 4.8GHz Turbo clock. Which CPU you choose depends on the work you're looking to tackle. Even the Core i5-1240P will handle just about everything you throw its way, and it's about $150 cheaper than the next step up. If you plan on heavy multitasking, either the Core i7-1260P or the Core i7-1280P will shred. The extra threads and cache in the 1280P should be reserved for power users.

Storage and RAM (which is soldered in all models) are customizable. Models with a Core i5 have access to either 8GB or 16GB of LPDDR5-5200MHz dual-channel RAM. I recommend going with as much as your budget can handle, as you can't upgrade after purchase. If you're looking to work with something like photo editing, extra memory will certainly help. The 32GB RAM config unlocks if you upgrade to one of the Core i7 CPUs. As for storage, all models come with up to a 2TB of M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD. You're not as locked in here since the SSD can be upgraded after purchase, so you can opt for a smaller factory drive to save some money.

(Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

There are currently no restrictions on which display you can get with different levels of performance. The FHD+ non-touch screen is the cheapest, and the touch version is about $100 more. For those who want the deepest color possible there's the 3.5K OLED model, and for HDR support there's the UHD+ screen. This should ultimately come down to personal preference and budget.

One other thing to note is that the Graphite color option seems to currently be reserved for Core i5 models. The Platinum color scheme is available with all other laptops. If none of these configurations appeals to you, be sure to have a look at our picks for best Windows laptop for way more buying options. And if you're more interested in a larger XPS, check out our Dell XPS 13 vs. XPS 15 vs. XPS 17 comparison for more details.

What's new with the XPS 13 (9315)?

The XPS 13 saw a major refresh with the 9300 model that continued with the Dell XPS 13 (9310) model. It's again been refreshed for the XPS 13 (9315), which was announced June 9, 2022. This comes alongside a new 2-in-1 XPS 13 that's expected to launch later this summer, with no concrete release date.

The XPS 13 (9315) is the more traditional laptop, without the haptic touchpad or new keyboard. It looks a lot like the 9310 model, though Dell has made some big changes. It's the thinnest, lightest, and most compact XPS 13 available, configurable with Intel's 12th Gen U-Series CPUs with 9-watt base power. These won't be as zippy as the P-Series chips in the XPS 13 Plus, but you also won't pay as much money.

The motherboard is almost half as small as in the previous generation, allowing for larger speaker boxes and a battery that's essentially the same Wh rating as before. Instead of a standard M.2 2280 SSD, the XPS 13 (9315) has a NVMe BGA SSD that's just 13% of the size. If you're buying the XPS 13 (9315), be sure to get the right amount of storage and RAM, as you won't be able to upgrade after the purchase.

The XPS 13 (9315) has a display with 16:10 aspect ratio, thin bezel, and an IR camera for Windows Hello above. Dell added human presence detection (what it calls ExpressSign-In), bumped the modem up to Wi-Fi 6E, and added a couple of new Sky and Umber colorways. 

Note that Dell has reserved the 3.5K OLED display option for the XPS 13 Plus. You can still get the FHD+ and UHD+ versions that are quite striking.

If you don't want to pay as much for your XPS 13 and don't mind getting all the big updates that came with the XPS 13 Plus, the 9315 is a great choice. Grab a model with Core i5 CPU if you're mostly using it for productivity work, and go with the Core i7 if you love multitasking without any slowdowns.

Is the XPS 13 (9310) still a good buy?

XPS 13 (9310) (Image credit: Windows Central)

Dell still has quite a few XPS 13 (9310) models for sale at the time of writing, though it's expected that stock will dwindle as the older models are bought up. It doesn't look like UHD+ display options are available any longer, though you can still get 3.5K OLED and FHD+. 11th Gen Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 CPUs are still available, and you can get up to 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM and a 1TB M.2 PCIe SSD.

I'd still recommend going with the newer XPS 13 Plus (9320) or XPS 13 (9315) if you want the utmost performance and the sleekest design, but the XPS 13 (9310) can save you a bit of money depending on the configuration you find. Be sure to keep an eye on third-party retailers for other configs.

Our XPS 13 (9315) vs. XPS 13 (9310) comparison has more information on the differences between the models.

Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.