Last week, I evaluated the Dell XPS 13 9310 Laptop 2-in-1 and fell in love with it, but that level of premium completeness comes with a cost. That price is just under $3,000 for the version we tested. There are other outstanding, more affordable options for individuals who do not have quite so much money to spend on a laptop.
The Dell XPS 13 9305 laptop is one of these options. Dell also sent us one of these to test, and while it lacks the higher-end specs and flexibility of the 2-in-1, it is still an excellent piece of equipment. Is that sufficient for what you require?
The model we tested included an 11th Gen Intel i5-1135G7 chipset, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 16GB of RAM, a 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) non-touch display, and 512GB of storage (m.2 SSD). You can configure the laptop down a notch with the RAM, lowering the price from $540 to $1358 but reducing the SSD to a 256GB hard drive.
Dell XPS 13 9305 Laptop review: HARDWARE & DESIGN
The Dell XPS 9305 is a little taller and wider than the 2-in-1 but is nearly a centimeter shorter. The 9305 also demonstrates that the 2-in-1 platform has a weight premium, with the 9305 weighing a few hundred grams less — which can be crucial when carrying a laptop for extended periods and distance.
In addition, the Platinum Silver CNC aluminum chassis with Black carbon fiber palm rest laptop has more ports than the 2-in-1. It has two Thunderbolt 4 ports with Power Delivery, a headphone jack, and a microSD slot on the left side, as well as a USB-C Gen 2 Type-C port with Power Delivery/Display Port on the right.
I configured the 9305 in the same manner as I did the 9310 2-in-1, with the left-hand Thunderbolt 4 port extending the screen to a 4K 32-inch monitor and the right-hand USB-C port that use the USB-C to USB-A adapter from the 9310 boxes and supplying Internet access to the laptop via a USB-A to Ethernet port adapter. If you want to use this USB-C to USB-A adapter with the 9305, you’ll have to buy it separately. But, once again, the setup was flawless.
There aren’t any Windows Hello cameras in the top bezel this time, just a 720P webcam. Again, it worked perfectly, but don’t expect cinema-quality video. As with the 9310 2-in-1, the power button is a fingerprint sensor — albeit in a circular form this time.
For a long time, Dell XPS laptops have been held in high regard, and one of the purposes is the Infinity Display. The Infinity Display is used once more, with only a few millimeters of bezel around the top and sides. The bottom bezel is much thicker than on the 2-in-1, resulting in a mildly different display ratio — 16:9 as opposed to 16:10 on the 2-in-1.
The screen is a non-touch 1080P display that still performs admirably in terms of color reproduction and resolution. It is undoubtedly very different from the more costly UHD+ WLED in the 2-in-1, but you expect to be paid for that difference.
The keyboard is comparable to that of the 2-in-1 — same size and backlit, which is important to me in a laptop — but has a distinct feel to it. The 9305’s keys are softer, appear to have less travel, are less “clicky,” and are an enjoyment to type on. This keyboard is noticeably quieter than the 2-in-1 model.
The touchpad on this laptop was much more consistent than on the 9310, with a delineated left and right click area demarcated by the central line. This did result in more precise clicking, and the touchpad feedback let you understand precisely where and when you had clicked.
Read more: ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 Review ( Update 2023)
Dell XPS 13 9305 Laptop Review: PERFORMANCE
As previously stated, the XPS 9305 we tested came with an 11th Gen Intel i5 chipset that Dell has configured to take full advantage of — theoretically. In everyday use, such as gaming, there was little to no performance difference between the i5 in the 9305 as well as the i7 in the 9310 — keep in mind that the 9310 chipsets are attempting to push a UHD+ resolution as well as a WLED display versus an IPS FHD display.
The 16GB of RAM may have something to do with it, and upgrading from 8GB/256GB to 16GB/512GB is an expensive upgrade. Still, if you are the king of multitasking and do a lot of intensive tasks like video editing, you may also need that 16GB of RAM — and possibly the i7 graphics card as well.
On the 9305, gaming was surprisingly good. I wouldn’t use it for high-end gaming, but with the options I tested (Control, NBA 2K21, Fortnite, and Minecraft), it worked well enough, albeit not as quickly as the 9310. If you play a lot of video games, it’s unlikely that you’ll buy an i5 mid-range laptop just to play them. It’ll suffice in a pinch, but don’t use it as your primary gaming machine.
Dell XPS 13 9305 Laptop Review: BATTERY LIFE
Dell XPS 13 9305 Laptop – The battery in the 9305 differs slightly from that in the 9310 including that it is still a 4-cell battery and yet is 52WHr rather than the 51WHr in the 9310 — this could be a typo and the difference is insignificant at such a small amount.
The battery life from a single battery charge was just over 8 hours, even though I did not put much strain on the laptop during that time. Basic films for a while, but mostly web surfing via Wi-Fi. Dell has some reasonable battery usage options, such as ExpressCharge for the battery, but this isn’t ideal for long-term battery life. Of course, battery life is affected by a variety of factors, such as display brightness, how long the backlight on the keyboard is left on when not in use, and so on.
SHOULD YOU GET Dell XPS 13 9305 Laptop?
XPS laptops are my favorite. Why? Because they have a good appearance, are thin, and light. With their Infinity Display, they make excellent use of the display section. I enjoy using the keyboard, but that could be because I’m used to it.
The most significant reason is that you get good value for money. In most cases, similarly equipped machines from other makers will charge more than $500 more. This spec laptop with the i5 chipset currently costs $1,614 — an update to the i7-1165G7 costs only $1,784.
I have no reservations about suggesting this laptop, even if you opt for the i5, 8GB/256GB model for $1,359. Of course, the 9310 2-in-1 has many more advantages, but it costs nearly twice as much — this laptop is the cheaper version of that, and I’m fine with that. If you need a lightweight laptop with a decent display that can handle most everyday tasks without breaking the bank, the XPS 9305 is for you.
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