Dell XPS 13 9315 Laptop Review: Ultralight Battery Life Champ

Dell XPS 13 9315: Storage, Productivity And Game Benchmarks

back angle 2 dell xps 13 9315 review

Dell XPS 13 9315 Software Experience

The XPS 13 9315 came to us running Windows 11 Home version 21H2. Before running any of our benchmarks, we apply all of the latest Windows and driver updates to the system we are testing. Our sample shipped with Windows 11 Home 21H1 and did have one firmware/BIOS update that needed to be installed along with a few driver updates. Other than applying any available Windows updates (including the 22H2 version that appeared in Windows Update) though, we run all of our tests with out-of-the-box settings.

For the most part, all of the installed applications are either system management related or driver control panels. The one lone exception to that is MacAfee LiveSafe, for which Dell includes a 12-month subscription out of the box. Because it wasn't constantly nagging us for an upgrade or a subscription, we left it installed for all of the benchmarks to better reflect the out-of-box experience. 

dell power manager xps 13 9315

One thing that has changed for the better is the My Dell app's power management section. Dell now includes four different performance profiles with different priorities. Quiet mode focuses on keeping the fan system as silent as possible while giving the best performance it can with that constraint, while the Cool mode prioritizes surface temperature above all else. In our experience, the fan ran more in this mode, but performance was on par with Quiet. There's the default Optimized mode, and also an Ultra Performance option that opens up a full 12 Watt thermal budget and runs the fan accordingly. As its name suggests, Ultra Performance should result in higher performance than all the other modes, but it will also be the loudest. We ran all of our benchmarks in both Optimized and Ultra Performance modes.

ATTO Disk Benchmark 

ATTO disk benchmark is a fairly quick and dirty test that measures sequential read/write bandwidth across a range of different data sizes. While we don't typically compare these results across multiple machines, it's useful to gauge whether a particular notebook's storage subsystem is up to snuff.

atto dell xps 13 9315

Our theory about the PCI Express 3.0 x2 drive soldered to the motherboard of the XPS 13 9315 is that it would be fine, since that's roughly the same bandwidth of PCIe 3.0 x4. And for the most part, that works out to be true. However, performance is a little uneven across the various block sizes. Still, when the average on block sizes north of 256 KB hovers around 2.3-2.5 GB per second, we don't think users will really notice much of a difference. 

BrowserBench Speedometer Web App Benchmarks

We use's Speedometer test to gauge mixed internet usage experience, which takes a holistic look at web application performance. This test automatically loads and runs several sample web apps from using the most popular web development frameworks around, including React, Angular, Ember.js, and vanilla JavaScript. This test is a better example of how systems cope with real web applications, as opposed to a pure JavaScript compute test like JetStream.

chart browserbench speedometer2 dell xps 13 9315

We already get to take a look at a tale of two laptops. One is definitely fast enough for general use, but lags behind the other 12th generation Core notebooks like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10. That's the default Optimized profile on the XPS 13 9315, which limits the thermal headroom to just 9 Watts. Honestly, performance is pretty good considering the very light power budget. At its other setting, this laptop is just as fast as the rest, at its Ultra Performance profile. This mode does have some trade-offs, but bumping the TDP by 33% adds a fair amount of performance. 

Geekbench And Cinebench R23 Rendering Tests

This is the latest 3D rendering benchmark from Maxon, based on the Cinema 4D R23 rendering engine. We tested both single-threaded and multi-threaded tests on all of the notebooks represented here. Meanwhile, with GeekBench, which is a fully synthetic benchmark that performs tasks like text compression and image compression, we tested its CPU Benchmark module as well. You can consider both of these tests as pure CPU throughput metrics, with Cinebench offering a heavier-duty real world workload.

dell xps 13 9315 geekbench scores

chart cinebench r23 dell xps 13 9315

We grouped these tests together because they both have dedicated single-threaded and multi-threaded workloads. Once again, we see what a couple of Watts can do, as the Optimized profile turns in ho-hum but solid performance, while the Ultra Performance mode cranks up the speed to run with bigger notebooks. What's a little surprising is that single-threaded performance is still limited in the Optimized mode. The default setting ranks near the bottom of our group but it's still faster than a 10th-generation Core i7 in the 2019 XPS 13, and it's just about as fast as a Core i5-1135G7 in the Lenovo Yoga 7i with a higher 15 Watt TDP. Depending on what you're looking for, Alder Lake seems to be a power-sipping champ or an all-around performer, and the XPS 13 9315 is both of those things at once. 

UL PCMark 10 Testing

PCMark 10 uses a mix of real-world applications and simulated workloads to establish how well a given system performs productivity tasks, including image and video editing, web browsing, and OpenOffice document editing. While these scores appear to be all over the place, the systems are sorted by their overall PCMark score, which is the third (gray) bar in each cluster.

chart pcmark 10 dell xps 13 9315

This is more of the same, where Ultra Performance mode adds about 20%, taking the Core i5-powered XPS 13 from last to basically tied for first place in our subgroup here. The Digital Content Creation subtest suffers the most, as it gains more than 33% by jumping from Optimized to the higher-power mode. 

3DMark Graphics & GPU Tests

3DMark has several different graphics tests which focus on different types of systems. We tested here with Night Raid, which is 3DMark's targeted benchmark for laptops with integrated graphics. This test presents a solid challenge for the system's CPU and GPU engines using DirectX 12's API.

chart 3dmark nightraid dell xps 13 9315

chart 3dmark firestrike dell xps 13 9315

The XPS 13 9315 seems to lag behind the other 12th-gen systems on our list, even in Ultra Performance mode. Part of that is that the Core i5-1230U only has two performance cores compared to the Core i7-1260P in the Samsung Galaxy Book2 360's four P-cores, and the rest of the physical difference is that it only has 80 execution units in its integrated GPU compared to the Core i7's 96 EUs. Add in the lower TDP and what you've got there is a recipe for a loss in the graphics department. Considering how hamstrung it is, comparatively, the XPS 13 9315 turns in a decent showing here. 

Middle Earth: Shadow Of War & Gear Tactics Game Tests

Middle Earth: Shadow of War is a fun and beautiful title set in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings universe. To test the game's performance relative to other systems, we set the resolution to 1920x1080 and turned the visuals up to the High preset. For Gears Tactics, we used a similar resolution, but tested the game with its Low, Medium, and High presets to see how it scales. The frame rates here are the averages reported by each game's built-in benchmark utilities.

chart gears tactics dell xps 13 9315

chart middle earth shadow war dell xps 13 9315

We didn't expect it to be a gaming powerhouse, but we'd hoped that road warriors might be able to game a little bit in their hotel rooms with Dell's new XPS 13. And the truth is they might, but it probably won't be at 1080p. Ultra Performance turned in playable framerates on Low settings in Gears Tactics, but Shadow of War is not playable at our testing settings. And honestly, neither is anything else here short of the Radeon 680M in the Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 Gen 1

Next up we'll take a look at battery life and thermal performance before we render our final verdict. 

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