Dell’s sleek new XPS Plus model brings some interesting and somewhat quirky stylistic changes to the popular XPS 13 ultraportable laptop series. This styling puts the emphasis on sleek and modern, with an invisible touchpad and an unusual new wide-key keyboard that includes an always-illuminated touch control function key row, and just two ports (Thunderbolt 4 – one either side) for plug-in accessories. The Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 is light (1.2kg) and features a superb 4K screen and powerful 12th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, plus 16GB (gigabytes) of RAM (memory) and 512GB of very fast solid-state drive (SSD) storage. Wireless connectivity is via the latest Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6. It offers good battery life and both the battery and storage can be upgraded, a welcome feature that gives it potentially a longer useful life. If you want to dress to impress and have plenty of performance, the XPS 13 Plus 9320 is worth checking out.
How does the Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 perform?
The Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 offers premium performance to match its top-tier looks. The 12th-generation 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-1260P processor has 12 cores (with hyper-threading on four performance cores). Graphics support is via integrated Intel Iris Xe.
Storage is a decent size at 512GB and it's very fast, which helps make everyday tasks super snappy. The 16GB of RAM gives you plenty of multitasking capability.
As you'd expect with a 12th-gen i7, we found the processor performance was excellent and the graphics support was good, so it's well equipped for any challenge outside of high-end gaming.
The 4K (3840 x 2400 pixels) screen is very good, with relatively high brightness (we measured it at 391 nits) for a laptop. Despite the glossy finish, we didn't find reflections much of a problem.
The screen exhibits well balanced colours, with good saturation and natural-looking skin tones, plus excellent brightness and contrast. There was good detail shown in the darkest and brightest image areas, and viewing angles were wide.
Wired connectivity is solely via two high-speed Thunderbolt 4 ports, located one on either side
The very high resolution will make writing appear difficult to read if used without magnification. So, by default, Dell ships the laptop with the resolution scaled at 300%, which is fine.
The built-in web camera is only 1MP (megapixel), but it offers face recognition for login and there's also a fingerprint reader on the keyboard.
Wireless connectivity is via the latest Bluetooth 5.3 and Wi-Fi 6 that gave us very good performance. Wired connectivity is solely via two high-speed Thunderbolt 4 ports, located one on either side.
This helps give a slim and minimalistic profile, but the lack of other common port types such as HDMI and SD card means adapters or hubs will be needed to plug in slightly older devices.
It's worth noting that there's no headphone port either, so you'll need wireless headphones or earbuds for personal listening.
The keyboard area leans into a distinctively modern feel. The Function keys are not clicky buttons, but instead illuminated touch buttons, which remain illuminated whenever the laptop is on, so they're easy to see.
The keyboard has two levels of backlighting and the keys are extra wide.
The keyboard has two levels of backlighting and the keys are extra wide (greater than 18mm) and the keyboard stretches the width of the laptop, with minimal framing to the left and right. The left Shift, Tab, and Caps lock keys are particularly wide.
We found the width of the keys can take a bit of getting used to, as there is less gap between the keys compared to a traditional chiclet-style keyboard. It has a stylish look to it, but the design appears to be for stylistic rather than practical reasons.
Looking at the laptop, the touchpad appears to be missing, leaving just a bare palm rest below the keys. The touchpad is there though, it's just invisible because it has no visible border to define its shape and size.
You have to assume that it's centred under the space bar and work from there, using haptic (vibration) feedback to feel presses. This haptic feedback is turned on by default, but we found it a bit distracting as haptic events often occurred during operations where they weren't warranted.
The touchpad boundaries are defined by haptic feedback rather than a visible border
We found the touchpad a better user experience when we turned haptic feedback off, but many people might prefer it. The touchpad itself is very smooth to use (the same texture as the entire palm rest), and it was not a problem to use even without the borders. Nevertheless, we only rated it as good overall, primarily for the inadvertent haptic feedback.
The touchpad has no visible border to define its shape and size. Haptic (vibration) feedback lets you know when you are touching it.
Battery life was good, at just shy of five hours (4hr 57min) in our heavy usage testing with screen at full brightness. Reducing the screen brightness can give noticeably longer battery.
A nice feature is that the bottom panel of the laptop can be removed, so it's possible for the battery to be replaced.
The battery and SSD are replacable – a bonus for when you want to upgrade down the track
The solid-state drive (SSD) can be replaced also, which is a welcome feature. This can give the laptop a longer useful life, with a SSD upgrade down the track.
However, the RAM and Wi-Fi modules aren't replaceable. Fortunately, the RAM is 16GB, which should be adequate for the long-term.
Generally, the audio performance was okay, but it's worth noting that we had a problem with the audio on our test unit, which meant we couldn't hear audio from apps, and the system audio sounded crackly. This was fixed temporarily by updates to the audio driver and BIOS, but it mysteriously recurred. We're hoping updated drivers will soon fix this issue permanently.
Overall, we found the Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 an attractive and interesting laptop, but it could take some time for new users to adjust to some of its peculiarities, as several design choices seem to be for aesthetic rather than practical purposes.
But if you're after a powerful notebook with the emphasis on style, the Dell XPS 13 Plus 9320 is an eye-catching solution.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.