Dell XPS 13 9310 OLED review: What is it?
If you are looking for a laptop for music production, you are clearly not short of options. In the past, the majority of creatives would have made a beeline for Apple’s MacBook range, mainly because there were so few viable options running Windows. That has changed of late, with laptops at all ends of the budget scale that can happily run a large multitrack DAW session with ease. At the top of the tree, however, is the Dell XPS range. Here, we are reviewing a specific model from the range, namely the Dell XPS 13 OLED (or Dell XPS 13 9310 OLED to give it the full name), which - on paper at least - matches most of what’s good about its Apple counterparts.
Straight out of the box you can tell this is a premium laptop. It features a machined aluminium shell, with carbon fibre across the keyboard and trackpad, and hardened Gorilla Glass on the screen. And what a screen it is too. With a near bezel-less InfinityEdge viewing area, everything you look at here is going to pop. Colours are vivid, as you’d expect from an OLED, and it all adds to the feeling you’re working with something special. For musicians and producers, there’s a lot of processing power on offer thanks to its 11th generation Intel i7 processor, and if you buy through Dell it can be configured to include up to 32GB of RAM and up to 2TB of solid-state storage. So there’s a lot to like here, with a price tag to match. Let’s explore its performance.
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Dell XPS 13 9310 OLED review: Performance & verdict
At upwards of $/£1,499, it’s reasonable to expect the Dell XPS 13 OLED to perform as well as it looks. With its 11th-gen Intel i7 and plenty of onboard RAM, we found it breezed through pretty much anything we could throw at it. We started by firing up our trusty demo Ableton Live session - 128 tracks of MIDI, audio and plugins, designed to push any laptop to its limit - and found it coped admirably. From grabbing audio samples off the SSD, to bouncing and rendering audio, the XPS 13 gave us no issues on the performance front. This is made even more impressive when you consider it’s not a dedicated music production laptop, per se.
The XPS has only two Thunderbolt 4 ports which seems to be the norm nowadays, rightly or wrongly. The fact you’ll need one of them for charging it means the now-mandatory external USB hub will be required by most. There’s also a single 3.5mm in/out audio jack, and a micro SD slot, and that’s as far as physical connectivity goes with the XPS. The built-in speakers are decent enough for a laptop and produce enough bass that watching films on it is passable. We did however find the trackpad a touch on the small side, particularly now we’re used to the much larger offer found on current MacBooks. Face Unlock and a fingerprint scanner are nice touches from a security perspective though, because nobody likes typing out passwords these days right?
There are some other points we’d draw your attention to if you are considering buying an XPS 13 OLED. It’s hardly scientific, but the fact you can open and close the laptop with one hand highlights the overall high levels of build quality. These are well-constructed laptops, with thought that has evidently gone into the design over and above making them look pretty. Of course, they do look pretty too. Coming in either black or white on the inside - we’d opt for white, given the choice - the flash of carbon fibre which houses the keyboard and trackpad is elegant and doesn’t attract thumb or fingerprints as some other laptops do. It’s also very light in weight, so if your usual workflow doesn’t involve staying stationary then we’d have no concerns about throwing it in a bag.
The Dell XPS 13 OLED manages to pull off two distinct feats. It has that killer industrial design down to a tee, marrying up slick looks with some nice engineering to make it both light and able to handle the rigours of daily life. It then backs that up with enough power on tap to suit even the most demanding of production workflows.
If we were being honest, there are probably other laptops out there that would offer better pound for pound performance for the price, but then you’d lose out on the other benefits that come with the XPS, like the fact that it’s so darn nice to interact with. In summary, if music and audio production isn’t the only thing you’ll be using it for, and you’re looking for a top-tier, premium laptop that you’ll never get tired of using, then the Dell XPS 13 OLED is a very exciting proposition indeed.
Dell XPS 13 9310 OLED review: Hands-on demos
Andrew Mark David
Dell XPS 13 9310 OLED review: Specification
- Processor: 11th-gen Intel i7
- Memory: Up to 32GB
- Storage: Up to 2TB SSD
- Screen: 13.4” OLED 3.5K InfinityEdge Touch
- Video: Intel Iris Xe
- Colours: Platinum exterior/black interior, Frost exterior/arctic white interior
- Contact: Dell