Dell XPS 13 (9370) 2018 Review: White Spun Glass, Killer Looks And Speed

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Dell XPS 13 (9370) 2018 - Software, User Experience And Dell Power Manager

Depending on your perspective, this part of our review is going to be rather bland, or perhaps appropriately clean and uncluttered. Dell's software package with the new XPS 13 we tested is an unadulterated Windows 10 Home setup, with only a few key utilities, and thankfully sans any significant bloat. However, we can offer that soon, Dell will be introducing a few prominent software features to the XPS line-up that should add significant value for various use cases. That's about all we can offer for now, however, so please enjoy your blissfully bland, bloat-free experience.

Dell XPS 13 Desktop

Beyond Dell's Update utilities, the machine's WaveMaxx Audio Pro utilities and a 20GB DropBox offer, there's really not much to talk about for now, with the exception of Dell's new Power Manager software. Again, however, stand tuned here to HotHardware, as we'll have more to show you from the Dell XPS that could really pique your interest. For now, here's a quick preview of Dell Power Manager...  

Dell Power Manager

Dell Power Manager is a relatively unique, custom-tuned application that is designed to offer better, more defined user control over system acoustics, cooling, battery life, and performance. Based on specific requirements at any given time, users can select between four modes, Optimized (default), Cool, Quiet, and Ultra Performance. The software targets maximum processor performance while monitoring and managing system temperatures, fan speeds, and battery life based on the chosen mode, only delivering extra performance when apps require it.

As you can see above, Optimized mode sets fan and thermal management profiles for a balance between performance, acoustics. and thermals. Cool mode ramps up fan speeds to maintain a cooler system surface temp, at the expense of possibly reduced system performance and more noise. Quiet, as you'd expect, drops system fan speeds at the expense of higher system surface temps and possibly reduced performance as well. Finally Ultra Performance targets top-end processor throughput with higher fan speeds, and perhaps higher system surface temperatures as well.

Dell Power Manager Modes - Performance And Thermals

We tested all four modes using the multi-threaded Cinebench R15 CPU benchmark, which fully utilizes all CPU cores for the duration of the test. Any performance differences in the different modes will be exposed by this test, though we should mention that other, shorter, more-bursty workloads may not behave in a similar manner or exhibit performance deltas of the same size.

dell power manager tests

Our tests with Dell Power Manager showed significant changes in performance and acoustic characteristics depending on the mode. The default, Optimized mode seems to do a good job of balancing performance and noise. The fans in the system only spin up under sustained, heavy workloads, and performance is relatively strong. The fans spin up louder and longer in Ultra Performance mode, which helps maintain higher CPU clocks for longer duration, and ultimately increases performance. Cool mode spins the fans up immediately, but pushes the CPU frequency and voltages down to reduce temperatures -- Cool Mode actually pushed the average CPU core temperature down almost ~40°C in comparison to Optimized and Ultra Performance modes. In Quiet mode, the XPS 13 is silent at idle and under load there is only a slight hum produced by the system's cooling fans, but performance is reduced and temps are slightly higher than Cool mode.

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