36+ months with the Dell XPS 13

By Andrei Girbea , last updated on April 5, 2019

I’ve bought the Dell XPS 13 back in January 2015 and I’ve been using it as my daily-driver notebook ever since.

If you’ve read my initial review of the laptop (I suggest you check it out if you haven’t already, and then come back to this post), you know that at the time I was happy with the change and eager to get used to the several nits I still had with it.

Roughly 18 months later (at the latest update), my general opinion hasn’t changed: the Dell XPS 13 is one of the better ultraportables you can get out there, especially if you want a matte display and only have about $1000 to spend. I did ran into a few issues and flaws during my time with this laptop though, which hindered the daily experience, and some of them could make me think twice before buying this laptop again. Some of them got fixed with software updates though, and some were never addressed, as you’ll see below.

Most of the articles published about the XPS 13 are more than flattering, and the truth is this is a very good laptop. It’s compact and light, despite packing a 13-inch display. It’s well-built and beautiful. It also bundles fast hardware, good IO and runs quietly. But there are certain aspects most reviews won’t tell you about this XPS—mostly because it’s impossible to notice such details in only a few days of tests. I’ll talk about them in the following sections of this post.

Just a heads-up: You should know that I own a mid-level configuration of the XPS 13 9343, the model that was selling for $899 back in January 2015 and includes an Intel Core i5-5200U processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SATA SSD and a 1920 x 1080 px matte non-touch display.

Also keep in mind, the initial version of this article was put together in September 2015, 8-months after I bought the laptop, and I updated it periodically afterward.

Update1: 10 months in, nothing else has changed. The battery is still at 44Wh and I haven’t’ encountered issues with the fan or performance anymore. Just wanted to add that I’m mostly happy with Windows 10, however, I feel that the trackpad is even crappier than it was with Windows 8 when it comes to two-finger scrolling and other gestures (I’m using Firefox, but it’s even worse in Chrome or Edge).

Update2: More than 36 months have passed since the original article and not much has changed. The trackpad seems to perform a little better after the latest updates, but scrolling can still get choppy on very large websites, both on Chrome and Firefox. The battery is still at 44 Wh and I haven’t run into any other performance issues since switching to Windows 10. The fan rattled a few more times since the previous update, but I mostly use the laptop lightly so the fan isn’t even active most of the time.

Update3: While I haven’t yet updated my XPS 13, I’ve covered all the follow-up models in our reviews, and you can find all our XPS 13 articles over here, up to the latest iteration, the 2019 XPS 13 9380.

Dell's XPS 13 is one of the better ultra-portables out there, but my 8-month experience with it as a daily driver brought more than just bells and roses in our relationship

Dell’s XPS 13 is one of the better ultra-portables out there, but my 10-month experience with it as a daily driver brought up more than just bells and roses in our relationship

Nitpicking

Dell did a great job with their 13-incher in terms of build quality and aesthetics, although that’s subjective and some of you might feel differently. Regardless, I’m happy with the way the XPS 13 hold on during these months. It feels solid and it barely shows any dents or scratches on its metallic exterior, despite the fact that I haven’t pampered it. The interior has held-up extremely well too, although it does collect smudges easily and I have to wipe it clean every couple of days.

Even so, the only signs that this XPS is not brand new is the coating on top of the spacebar and a few other keys, which has become a bit shinier over time from finger oil. This was expected, to be frank, as I typed countless articles on this computer.

That out of the way, there are a few things Dell could have done differently on the XPS 13. For me, the most annoying aspects are the bright LEDs placed on the charging plug and just beneath the trackpad, which are lit when the laptop is charging. The light under the trackpad does eventually shut off when the battery is fully charged, but in order to maintain battery integrity, I’ve set the battery to never charge beyond 95% (you’ll see why in a bit). As a result, that light never shuts off. Another similar annoyance is that the power button is also backlit all the time.

In an office environment, these are not going to be a big deal, but try to watch a movie at night, it’s going to drive you crazy!

Then there’s the laptop’s overall case temperatures during everyday use. I’m using this Dell lightly most of the time, running up to 10 tabs in Firefox, Skype, and usually Word. Even so, the laptop’s metallic back-casing gets to about 40 degrees Celsius on a daily basis. Again, if you tend to keep the laptop on a desk, that’s not going to bother you much, but I for one tend to use the laptop on my lap most of the time or on my thighs while lying on the sofa or even in bed. This causes my legs to sweat during the summer days. The experience is much nicer during the autumn and winter months, but for those of you living in hot environments, keep in mind that this laptop tends to get warmer than most others with daily use.

Now, high temperatures were expected on such a compact device with an aluminum case, specially since the fan rarely has to kick on. That makes the XPS 13 very quiet, at least with my use scenarios, unless I launch a game (I have Railroad Tycoon 3 installed and play it from time to time).

That aside, I also want to add a few words about the hinge. On one side, I appreciate that it’s tough. On the other, I feel it’s too rigid. There’s no way to lift up the display with a single hand and you’ll have to pull strongly even when using both hands. That’s nitpicking, but if you’ve come in contact with MacBooks and their smooth hinges, you’ll expect all premium laptops to behave the same. That’s not the case here.

Then there’s another aspect closely tied to how I use the laptop: the fact that the screen does not lean back flat, but only to about 140-150 degrees, which means that at times I struggle to look at the display head-on. I was hoping I would get used to this, but I didn’t, despite the fact that the XPS 13 actually has a great screen with no glare and excellent viewing angles.

There’s also the keyboard and the trackpad. Although better than the ones many other ultraportables offer, the keyboard on the XPS 13 is still too shallow for my liking and lacks the feedback I want. I’m for sure more sensitive to this aspect than a regular user since I type tens of thousands of words a week, and I’ve been used to ThinkPads and their excellent keyboards in the past, but there’s still work to be done here.

As for the trackpad, it feels nice and it performs well as long as you keep to swiping, pressing and taping. Gestures, on the other hand, are rather erratic, and the inability to recognize two-finger scrolling properly in some browsers (especially in Chrome) can be maddening. I use Firefox and scrolling is somewhat better, but even so I have to make sure I place my fingers in the middle of the trackpad (not towards the sides) if I want the gesture to be registered properly.

Update: Scrolling is better with the latest software updates (as of May 2016). I no longer have to swipe my fingers exactly in the middle of the surface, but I still run into occasional hiccups and freezes, especially when dealing with large webpages or the Facebook timeline.

Last but not least, there’s the battery life. Dell advertises up to 15 hours of life on this particular model that I own, but it never got more than 7-8 on a daily basis when it was brand new, and only averages around 5-7 these days. That’s not bad, but I do feel the manufacturer should not create false expectations, especially since the laptop is really far from delivering. And there’s also the issue of the battery wearing off quickly, which I will address in the following section.

OK, that’s about it for this section. At the end of the day, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression from my “complaints”. I have high expectations from my laptop and I’m aware no computer would be able to meet them all. So bottom point, while Dell did a good job with their 2015 XPS 13, certain aspects can still be improved.

Dell’s inability to fix two important issues

On the other hand, I find Dell’s lack of software response frustrating. Two main issues have been reported by countless buyers and both could have been addressed with driver updates, but never were.

The first is the glitchy trackpad, as I mentioned above, which struggles with gestures and lacks certain commands (like two finger Back or Forward), especially in Chrome. Dell did release one or two TouchPad software updates in the last months, which improved the experience, but none actually solved the problem. In fact, even the updated XPS 9350 suffers from similar issues.

Then there’s the screen. Intel powered laptops have an option hidden in the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator control panel called “Display Power Saving Technology” (Power Options >> On Battery). Dell decided to hide this setting on the XPS 13, and as a result the screen is affected by what is called “dynamic contrast”, which means that certain elements (especially the gray ones) are not visible immediately when you switch between dark and light content, and need a few seconds to adapt (this clip better shows what to expect). This also has a negative impact on the display’s perceived brightness.

The truth is I haven’t exactly noticed this problem in the beginning and I still don’t find it that annoying these days, although it is there and I notice it from time to time. But some of you might consider this a deal-breaker.

Even so, many have been complaining about these issues and Dell cared so little that they never did anything about them in the 15 months that have passed since the XPS 13 was launched. And they probably never will.

The unexpected problems

I was more or less aware of all the aspects mentioned above when I decided to keep the XPS 13. But there are a few other things I had to deal with, which I did not sign for.

First, only a few days after I got the laptop, I noticed the battery’s capacity dropped suddenly by a few Wh. The battery’s design capacity is a little over 52Wh. It quickly dropped to around 48 Wh in the first two weeks, and today it is at only 44Wh, despite the fact that I pampered the battery (never charged it above 95%, plugged it in before it got under 10%, kept it charging until full, etc) and it has around 100 load-cycles under its belt.

That’s 20% battery wear in 8 months and is completely unacceptable. My old ThinkPad’s battery lost 2 Wh in 250 cycles. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about this, since the battery in considered a consumable these days. But it’s definitely something you should keep an eye on. Launch CMD and type powercfg -batteryreport periodically in order to see how the battery’s capacity evolves over time.

Update: The Battery is still at 44 Wh as of July 2016, so it hasn’t degraded anymore.

That aside, just a few weeks ago the fan started to make a terrible noise when spinning. I was playing Railroad Tycoon when that started and the XPS sounded like it would come apart. Derek had similar issues with his unit and was one of the reasons why he decided to return it.

The fan kept rumbling for a few days, but is now quiet when it decides to kick in. I haven’t played any games ever since though.

Update: I ran into this issue a few more times, only when playing games. It doesn’t always occur and it usually gets back to its senses after a restart or two. I don’t play games often on this laptop though, but I expect this to be an issue you might run into if you will push the XPS.

I wasn't expected any problem with the fan or the battery, but I did encounter some

I wasn’t expected any problem with the fan or the battery, but I did encounter some

Last but not least, there’s an issue I’ve been struggling with for a few months which has been addressed after upgrading to Windows 10: performance on battery. A few months ago I noticed the laptop was sluggish and narrowed it down to the fact that the CPU’s frequency was capped to only 0.8 Mhz all the time, while on battery. Everything worked fine while it was plugged in.

I mingled with the settings and tried the different BIOS updates available at the time and managed to up the frequency to a maximum of 2.2 GHz. The CPU would not go over 2.2 GHz on battery, which is still below its nominal frequency, no matter what I tried. Although not ideal, I decided to give it a rest and kept using the laptop like this for a while.

The CPU works fine now after upgrading to Windows 10. TurboBoost works as it should as well, both on battery or when plugged in. I can’t explain why, as I couldn’t explain what was wrong with it the first place when it wasn’t functioning properly.

The laptop feels a bit snappier with Windows 10, although this new OS does seem to eat more RAM than Windows 8.1 did and I can see that being a problem since I only have 4 GB of memory on this machine.

Would I buy it, knowing what I know today?

Well, yes. There are many aspects Dell did right here, and there’s no similar laptop that offers the same build quality, the same compact footprint and a matte IPS display for under $1000. I did run into some issues along the way, some of them were fixed, many were not. I’m still annoyed by the fact that a significant part of the battery has died and by Dell’s lack of software support, but overall I’m satisfied with my XPS 13, which is the reason I haven’t dumped it for something else during all this time.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X260 would be the alternative I’d consider, but it’s thicker, heavier and more expensive. The Asus Zenbook UX305UA could be a solution as well, especially since it has a great price, but not that much for me, as I’d still have to live with a subpar keyboard and the lack of keyboard back-lightning, among others. Last but not least, if I were looking at a touchscreen computer, I’d probably give the HP Spectre X360 a go instead. It’s slightly larger, but it’s also a convertible with a better keyboard, longer battery life and a more affordable price tag.

Still, I’ll probably keep this XPS 13 around until someone actually makes a powerful and well-priced fanless notebook. Performance wise, I don’t ask that much from my ultraportable companion, but I sure wish the next one would be lighter than the XPS and with no pesky fan inside.

Update: You might also want to read our detailed review of the XPS 9350, the updated successor of the laptop tested here, as well as my opinion on that newer series.

Knowing what I know today, I'd think twice before buying the XPS 13. If you're lucky enough to end up with a faults-free unit though, you'll probably love it

Knowing what I know today, I’d think twice before buying the XPS 13. If you’re lucky enough to end up with a faults-free unit though, you’ll probably love it

One thing is for sure, I’ll definitely buy my next XPS from a proper place that accepts returns easily. The experience with my XPS and all the feedback from the forums shows that Dell struggles with quality control and there are quite a few things that could go wrong with this machine.

Long story short, I’m definitely not advising against buying this laptop, but if you are planning on getting and XPS 13, make sure you keep a close eye on the battery, on the display or the fan’s performance in the first 30 days, and if anything looks suspicious, better return it.

Douglas Black contributed to this report.

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Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I've been covering mobile computers since the 2000s and you'll mostly find reviews and thorough guides written by me here on the site.

136 Comments

  1. Lynn Hamerling

    June 9, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    How would you compare this to a thinkpad x250? That’s the last one for me to contemplate before getting the xps 9350. Similar footprint, which is more important to me than actual weight (as long as it’s under 3 1/2 lbs). I don’t travel with it that often, but do want one small enough to fit on the arm of my sofa, limited end table space, etc. I think the x250 fits that – and maybe has a better keyboard? Certainly will have the webcam placed in the right spot for more natural video talking.

    Unfortunately I can’t find any local to look at and try the keyboard. I’m pretty sure you’ve used the x250 as well. I don’t need the convertible feature that will come in the newer x260 – and I don’t want a touch screen.

    Thanks.

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 9, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      The X250 and the newer X260 are a bit thicker and heavier than the XPS, especially if you opt for a version with a larger battery. But they’re pretty close.

      I’m a big fan of these ThinkPad lines myself, although I’m not entirely sold on their keyboards, but I still think they offer better feedback than the XPS. You also get more ports.

      The build quality is not as good as on the XPS, where everything fits snugly together (which is not always the case with the battery on THinkPads), but the ThinkPads can take a lot of hassle. The coating on the metallic chassis is going to peel of eventually, but that’s my only real complain.

      The ThinkPads also come with a lot of preinstalled software and security tweaks, so might feel a little slow at start. Also, if you get this, make sure you pick something with an SSD and an IPS screen, these are going to make a big difference.

      That’s about it from the top of my mind. There’s also the price difference to consider. Not sure how things are in the US, but over here a well configured X250 is significantly more expensive than the XPS.

  2. Andrei Girbea

    June 22, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    For those who asked, I put up together an article on how I feel about the XPS 9350 and how it compares to my XPS 9343, after using the 9350 for a couple of weeks. It’s available here: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/10969-dell-xps-13-9350-9343/

  3. Craig

    July 30, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    I noticed the XPS 13 now comes with the option to get the standard FHD (1920 x 1080) screen with the touch screen. Previously, (I believe) the touch screen was only available with the QHD+ (3200 x 1800) screen. I ask because the QHD+ was a really expensive upgrade, and took a major hit to battery life, meaning it was a non-starter for me. However the standard screen with touch is interesting, and leads to the question whether or not touch by itself takes much of a hit to battery life, or was it the QHD+ sucking up all those extra electrons

    • Andrei Girbea

      July 31, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      The QHD+ panel had more pixels, overall higher brightness and more accurate color reproduction. These combined lead to higher energy demands. I haven’t seen any review of the FD touch, but the resolution alone should make it more efficient. I’d expect the XPS with this screen to get similar battery life to the XPS with the matte FHD panel, maybe 30-60 minutes less tops.

  4. Yen Ting Lin

    September 17, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    I don’t know if this is the right place to ask. In the past 3 months, my XPS 9350 (which was bought less than 1 years ago) went from >5 battery life down to about 2.5 hours. I’ve contacted DELL and after several trivial diagnosis they said the battery is “working as designed”. I don’t know if anyone is experiencing similar problem?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 18, 2016 at 7:57 am

      What’s the current battery capacity? You can check with HW Info

      • Yen Ting Lin

        September 18, 2016 at 3:23 pm

        Current battery capacity is 49,197 mWh.

        I seemed to find where the problem is — share below in case someone is having the same problem.

        I did three things to make it back to >5 hour battery life, since I noticed the system is constantly running something and the laptop was always warm. First I reset the Windows — nothing much changed. Then I noticed windows kept a antimalware process running. I installed Avira, and the process was gone. Second, I noticed that another process called Microsoft search indexer kept running and used around 30% of CPU (on average). I disabled the process. The laptop cooled down, and I had my first ~6 hour usage after 3 months…

  5. Timo

    September 21, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Bought my xps 13 with touchscreen in March 2015. After a few months I noticed that when you move the screen to its furthest position backwards, it goes blank (black). Moving it slightly forward brought it back to life. Now it has become so bad that the screen goes blank in any position and the devise is useless. Anyone experience the same problem? Any suggestions except to use it as an expensive paper weight?

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      That sound like in imperfect contact, I think you could ask a specialized Dell Service in your are to have a look and try to fix it, sounds like it’s something that can be addressed and personally I wouldn’t give up on it without at least trying to get a repair quote.

      • Timo Pakkala

        November 8, 2016 at 7:28 am

        Contacted the Dell service here in Johannesburg where I am on mission. They said the whole screen needs to be replaced with a cost equivalent to US$750. This is really unacceptable for a relatively new machine. Don't think I want to invest any more money into Dell devices, so it will have to serve as an expensive paper weight after all. Any suggestions for which replacement ultrabook to buy? Maybe moving to the new MacBook is best option?

  6. rdc

    September 28, 2016 at 3:32 am

    Nice write-up, I’ll need to go back and read each in more detail (rather than skim). I feel you pretty much nailed each potential issue with the 9343.

    Mine seems a lot better than when it first shipped, now on my 4th BIOS/UEFI updated. If anyone is having trouble with the trackpad still being a little jumpy, here is a fix I found:
    RegEdit as Admin then:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows -> Current Version -> PrecisionTouchPad
    “CurtainDismissDistance” and “CurtainDismissTime” each to 0 note: values are in Hex
    Thanks to a user going by th6118, on the Dell Forums for this suggestion.

    Since doing this my trackpad had been flawless. This is coming from a Mac user. This is in Windows 10. I suggest anyone using the 9343 upgrade to Windows 10 ASAP (if you’ve not done so yet).

    The reason for a lot of the trackpad issues ,IMO, was Dell trying to get this out the door for CES in 2015. Where it did win 1st for best notebook at the event

    But the trackpad was still in the works and designed for Win10. Win10 at the time hadn’t even been RTM yet. I bought mine on pre-order so it was one of the first out the door, and was almost unusable for a few months – but slowly got better through Win10, several BIOS/UEFI updates, and even on trackpad firmware update.

    I love this notebook. Been using mine as a SysAdmin and freelance developer (and yes, SO worth the 8GB RAM.)

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 28, 2016 at 4:02 am

      I’m on Windows 10 and it’s true the trackpad is a lot better now than in the beginning. Still, I’ll try that fix, thanks.

      I’m pretty happy with the laptop too and I don’t plan to replace it until something fanless and just overall good comes out. I’m using mine very lightly and probably once or twice a week, since most of the time I use a desktop computer, otherwise I would have upgraded to something with more RAM.

  7. Samy F

    October 5, 2016 at 10:47 am

    What laptop would you recommend with a similar size for a better keyboard? Is it the Asus Zenbook UX305?

    I absolutely love the form factor, lightness and size of this laptop – but the keyboard is just not going to be as productive as I would like in the long run.

    Let me know what your top 2 alternatives are (with a great keyboard). Thanks Andrei :)

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 5, 2016 at 11:05 am

      I’d have the Zenbook UX360UA at the top of my list, it’s the best keyboard I’ve tested lately. Also the Spectre x360 types really well imo, but these are convertibles and thus larger.

      Not a fan of the UX305, the keys are shallow and there’s no backlightning. I’d look at the UX330 if available in your area, or perhaps the UX306 which should have the same improved keyboard. Haven’t tested the UX306 personally, so can’t confirm.

      Another good option should be the Lenovo ThinkPad 13. Could also look at the Dell latitude 13 if you have the budget for it, albeit I’m not really sure how it compares to the XPS.

  8. Kevin Tran

    November 7, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Hi,
    Thank you so much for the update! I am still really liking my laptop very much and we have the same version too. What are the best options for graphics and screen display? And battery capacity saving options? Thank you again!

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 8, 2016 at 5:17 am

      What do you mean by graphics and screen display? As for battery capacity, I'm not fully charging it (only to 95%, limited from BIOS) and haven't lost any capacity in probably around a year.

  9. Leon Jay

    November 21, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    NEVER buy this computer, or any other from Dell. it is a good machine when it works, but mine has been faulty for over 6 weeks now, and Dell still have not resolved the issue. They also refuse to honor the New Zealand Consumer Guarantee Act. This has been the worst customer service experience in over 30 years of owning computers.

  10. V

    November 27, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Please respond to this post Andrei,

    I have the same model as yours and it was built in March 2015. I originally had it running windows 8 at the time of purchase. The day I updated to windows 10, I've been experiencing a BAD issue. My computer screen has lines and looks distorted, doesn't allow me to do anything on the computer. I would give it 30 minutes to sit before I tried booting it again with sometimes no problems. As of lately, I have been down for 3 days because the screen won't come back. I looked into the issue and assumed it's a malfunction in the driver when the update happened but I'm not entirely sure. I've noticed it happening more during the colder months when the cold starts make the screen act up. Have you experienced any strange screen glitches/distortions or anything regarding cold start ups that are different than normal.

    Please let me know. I need my computer to every day use but I can hardly find solutions to this problem.

    Thank you.

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 27, 2016 at 3:37 pm

      HI, I haven't run into this and I haven't heard anyone else complaining about something similar. If it's a software problem, you can try to roll back the upgrade and see if this solves it. If it's a hardware problem though and it just coincidentally occurred after the upgrade, well, that would suck and you'd have to talk to a service and see what they have to say about it.

  11. jerry turba

    January 11, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    I have heard of report of coil whine with the XPS 13. Did you experience this?

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 17, 2017 at 6:05 am

      Not on mine, but there are numerous reports of this issue on the XPS

  12. Winston

    June 10, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    I've had the 9343 since 4/15. Very disappointed. Battery capacity has decreased to 28.7 MwH (down 45%) with 2.5 hour battery life. The trackpad was poor and inaccurate, so I have been using a Bluetooth mouse after a month or two. The keyboard is close to unusable now (top two rows very unresponsive, reducing typing speed to about 10 wpm from 100+ – have to watch letter by letter for omitted or doubled letters) and I am worried about soon not being able to enter my password. I have not been abusive at all to the battery or keyboard (which was uncomfortable even when it was working, so I bought an external mechanical switch keyboard within two months). The overall experience is so bad that I will no longer buy Dell.

  13. Marko

    February 6, 2018 at 6:40 am

    My XPS 13 9343 (notebook from hell) is, with respect to reliability, the worst laptop I ever owned. There are so many things wrong with it. After hearing the 7 beeps of death for the first time yesterday, I really want to complain and warn people about getting a Dell laptop.

    Note that I really liked the laptop in the beginning. It is small, light, fast and pretty. I keep all drivers and win10 updated, have the newest bios and am generally careful with the machine. For some people $1000 is only a little money, for me it was a major investment…

    Here are the issues I encountered:

    1st: the Dell Bluetooth mouse (WM615) never really worked dependably. It would disconnect and requires a reboot to connect again. After reading many forum posts and trying many suggested solutions I gave up. It does not work and probably never will.

    2nd: 12month after I received the XPS, a bunch of keys stopped working. First only every now and then but soon they completely stopped working. New keyboard plus installation cost me $150.

    3rd: 16month in the right USB port stopped working. There was usually only a wireless mouse attached. I got the voltage error and it is persistent. None of several suggested fixes helps. Worst is, the error message keeps popping up even if no device is connected. If that happens to the second USB port, the laptop is useless as I need it for presentations. This also leaves me in a not so good situation. Using the Dell port adapter, I run a mouse, keyboard, ethernet cable and HDMI cable over one USB port. Keyboard and mouse use a USB port each, so I need a USB hub on the one USB port of the DELL adapter. A mess that probably does not increase the lifetime of my only USB port.

    4th: I got the USB-C to ethernet, usb and video adapter for almost $100. It works fairly well with the exception that I get strange graphic errors every now and then. Greenish pixel errors in lines appear on the screen I use. Unplugging the adapter usually solves the issue for a while.

    5th: Yesterday I heard a terrible sound. White and amber lights flashing. Laptop did not boot. This was preceded by the Laptop just turning off randomly w/o any error message for a few times in the past few days. A disconnect of the battery helped and the Laptop boots up again. (BTW. It seemed it booted a lot faster w/o battery. Is that possible?). I assume from previous issues that this will happen more and more from now on until the laptop is dead. Too bad. It has not reached its 3 year mark yet.

    6th. To be complete, here are the good things. The trackpad always worked fine for me. The battery is still in excellent condition. The SD card reader still works. (That, actually, is surprising because I have the experience that those are often the first to fail on a laptop) It still boots very fast. The second keyboard is now almost two years old and still works fine.

    So, don't get a Dell laptop unless you have a good warranty plan and plenty time to spare for dealing with Dell support and looking for bugfixes. And also, expect regular failures. So you may want to carry a second laptop to your presentations…

    I am happy for advice on a new laptop. No Dell, no MAC, $1000, size of the XPS13…

    • Andrei Girbea

      February 6, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      Sry to hear about that, mine is still holding well and is noe 3 years old. Still using it as a travel companion.

      Unfortunately quality control can be an issue with every OEM these days, it's many times a matter of luck. Perhaps you can look at the existing Asus options and get extended warranty for a longer time. Over here you can get up to 4 years (2 by default + 2 extra) for about 10% of the laptop's initial price, I'd reckon that's also possible in Germany.

    • Ben in Seattle

      July 4, 2021 at 3:29 am

      Andrei,

      I think of Dell as having three lines of laptops:

      Inspiron: CHEAP (for consumers)

      Latitude: RELIABLE (for businesses)

      XPS: LUXURY (for pro-sumers who will pay more for the fanciest and prettiest)

      I had thought XPS laptops were Dell's best. However, your long time use of an XPS 13 has been eyeopening.

      I'm currently using a Dell Latitude 7240 from 2014 and it has been super reliable. I only just this year (2021) replaced the battery because it was only lasting three hours. Other than that, I've had no hardware issues at all. The only reason to replace my trusty Latitude is that 16GB of RAM just doesn't cut it these days.

      I was looking at new Latitudes on Dell's site and noticed that the XPS were on sale and actually cheaper than the Latitudes. Also, you have to wait months to get a Latitude and the XPS is available immediately. But, then I read your wonderfully detailed user experience and I'm not so sure an XPS is such a great deal, even on sale.

      (Also, it doesn't look like the XPS has the option of coming pre-installed with GNU/Linux. I don't mind installing my own OS, but I like knowing that the hardware doesn't require proprietary drivers to work…. Wait a minute. Now that I think about it, I wonder how much of the glitches you experienced can be chalked up to the drivers rather than something physically wrong in the hardware.)

      Do you have any experience using Latitude ultrabooks? I saw they have one for $1000 now and I'm curious if that would meet your needs. Or has the XPS soured you on ever trusting Dell again? I could understand that; I have a friend who swore off HP after her laptop completely died after just a year and a day. (Just after the warranty expired.)

      Thank you for the three years long (and counting) review! This is so much more useful than typical ("I just bought it, five stars!") reviews. Please keep us updated on how your XPS experience goes.

      • Andrei Girbea

        July 4, 2021 at 11:31 am

        Hi Ben. hard to say if there's really a quality difference between the XPS and Latitude models. I'd say both should be fine, as long as you're lucky enough to get a proper unit without any flaws.

        That's because Dell have had issues with their products and you'll find them detailed by doing a quick search for "XPS problems" on google or reddit. They've addressed some of these issues, but there's still a chance you'll run into some of them.

        For what is worth, though, most OEMs have various quality control issues these days, and the reason Dell (and especially their XPS lineup) is more visible on the forums is because these products sell in hordes. The bigger the sales numbers, the more likely some will experience some problems.

        That being said, you should be fine with either a Latitude or an XPS, just make sure to properly test your unit once it arrives. make sure it doesn't heat up, there are no manufacturing problems, no bad screen bleeding, no coil whine or funny fan noises with daily use or games, etc etc. And be mentally prepared to have to return if unlucky. Oh, and Dell's support isn't that great either, so be prepared for that as well.

        BTW, I still have the old XPS 13 from this article, and nothing notably has happened in the meantime. If I were in the market for a 13-inch ultrabook, I'd consider the XPS lineup once more, and perhaps a ThinkPad as an alternative, such as the X1 Nano.

        Hope this helps.

  14. Chris

    February 7, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    Any issues with PWM flicker. I can only use a laptop with no PWM flicker in the display. It's a serious issue for me and causes severe eye strain and head aches.

  15. NN

    March 1, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    I currently own an asus ux305ua, i haven't had a single problem with it, but i would like for something more compact and lighter, i was thinking about the new dell xps, but by reading this i don't think is worth it, i heard problems with the touchpad (the asus touchpad is not great, but it has no issues), with coil whine, and now the batteries degrading fast. I really want something compact, 12-13 inch with almost no bezel is ideal, the problem is that i also want a matte display and long battery life, the only model offering that is the Dell XPS line, but the apparently the quality is not best.

  16. Frank

    January 21, 2019 at 1:00 am

    I bought a XPS 13 9350 in August 2016 for my daughter attending college. It was a nice compact laptop. Initially, it worked fine. But a few month later, she started complaining about flickering display. She contacted Dell and even went to the Microsoft store to get support. After reinstalling the Windows numerous times, the problem still persists. She ended up getting a MacBook Pro in January 2018 and left me with the defective XPS 13. She told me that the XPS 13 was a piece of crap and would never use a Dell again.

    I did some tests with the defective XPS 13 and found the culprit is in the display driver. Dell shipped the system with a custom display driver. When I restore the OS image with its original driver, the XPS 13 works fine. But when Microsoft pushes out the Windows updates with updated drivers, which include the display driver, the XPS display starts to flicker from time to time. Dell, as a hardware manufacture, never addresses the driver issues. If Dell ships the original system with a custom display driver, it should at lease release updated drivers to be compatible with its hardware. Or Dell should make hardware fix to its unstable display hardware.

    I've been using Dell for almost 20 years. Now, I would think twice to buy another Dell. Am I going to be left with a defective laptop collecting dust after a year of service?

    • Andrei Girbea

      January 21, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Yes, I find it mind baffling how Dell manage to screw up these small software/driver related aspects. Many of the XPS lines have issues with the display driver, sleep, wi-fi, DPC latency, etc. That's such a pity since their hardware is for the most part really good.

      In all honesty though, Microsoft share the blame for some of the drivers incompatibilities.

      Your issues are with the QHD screen, right? I don't have such problems on the FHD screen of my 9343, but I'm also rather insensitive to flickering, so might just not notice it.

  17. Alex Nelson

    May 16, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you for the review. After two years with my XPS 13 I too have started to experience fan rattle under heavy load. It also gets worse when the computer is on an angle.

    Question: Did you use tape to secure your fan in the photo. Did it work? What kind of tape? Do you think fan replacement is a better solution?

    • Andrei Girbea

      May 19, 2019 at 12:12 am

      Mien rattles when using the laptop at an angle as well, but I didn't look into fixing it. I just use it as it is, for now

    • Alex Nelson

      April 10, 2020 at 7:52 pm

      I bought a new fan on Amazon for cheap and it fixed the noise problems.

  18. patrick chan

    April 10, 2020 at 2:45 am

    my xps 13 2015
    battery life is used 35.2% as per battery bar app. so not bad, i may change the battery and upgrade to bigger and faster ssd (default is 128gb).
    stay healthy all

    35018 / 54000 mWh battery

    • Andrei Girbea

      April 10, 2020 at 10:10 am

      I still have mine, and the battery hasn't degraded any further. But I'm only using the laptop once in blue moon these days

  19. Izwan

    June 18, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    Hi. just bought a preowned 9343 at a good bargain. so far all is great. battery capacity 39k/52k mWh. one thing that i'm still figuring out is, how to clean the rubberize palm rest? it feels sticky on all part that has rubber. wiped it with IPA 70%, warm water..doesn't removed the stickiness. Do you have any tips on this? Thank you.

    Regards,
    Izwan
    Malaysia

    • Andrei Girbea

      June 18, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      Idk, mine doesn't feel sticky and never did. I'd reckon that's due to the humid climate over there? Not sure if there's anything you can do about that.

    • Ben in Seattle

      July 4, 2021 at 2:48 am

      Buy a new palm rest or cover it up with an attractive contact paper. From experience, I have learned that rubbing alcohol is the exact wrong thing for rubber. It de-vulcanizes the rubber, so it becomes soft and sticky instead of firm and solid. Rubber can naturally devulcanize over time as it loses sulfur, but the biggest culprit in my own consumer products has been my misguided attempts to "clean" things using alcohol.

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