Dell XPS 13 (9343) Review

Bought a Dell XPS 13 (9343), and loaded the laptop with Ubuntu 15.04 (and later, upgraded to Ubuntu 15.10). The 4.10 kernel (shipped with Ubuntu 15.10), has support for I2S mode. This should have supposedly helped, but it did not.

  • Audio Issues (Unresolved)
    • With Windows 10, the audio keeps switching back and forth between Realtek and Intel Sound. To reproduce the issue, sleep the laptop and after it wakes up, sound  disappears. You now have to cold boot the device a couple times to get sound back. Comments on a dell community forum report twiddling BIOS settings for POST – but  it is just the fact that the device was booted a couple times.
    • The BIOS updates do not help (A03, A05 etc. – as of Oct/28/2015, nothing helps).
    • Adding a Bluetooth device (like Bose Soundlink Mini) works for the first time under Windows 10. After that, its a hit or miss. The device appears connected, but it doesn’t work. You have to switch the device off and on, re-pair it and cold boot the laptop.
    • Rebooting to Ubuntu will ensure that your Audio works – but you have to cold boot twice. With that, if you ever boot back into Windows, there’s a chance the laptop will trigger the device back to its bad state.
    • Ubuntu 15.10 recognizes the audio device as “broadwell-rt286”, and due to how “Sound Preferences” work on Ubuntu, you’ll have to change to this device both in the Output tab and in the Hardware tab to get audio back.

      Ubuntu 15.10 Audio Device on Dell XPS 13

    • This article here is the most detailed I found, and has the best information (instead of the voodoo that Dell community applies to work around problems).  Nothing is conclusive and permanent yet, and the fact that BIOS updates still don’t fix this problem is telling that this will likely never be fixed for this model.
  • Mic Issues (Unresolved)
    • Haven’t tried testing the mic extensively, but it runs into similar “device disconnected” problems on both Windows 10 and Ubuntu 15.10.
  • Bluetooth Issues (Unresolved)
    • As detailed above, Bluetooth is a hit or miss. Multiple devices (Bose Soundlink Mini, Bose Wireless Headset and a Bluetooth Logitech Mouse) worked the first time, and after disconnection (they auto-disconnect for some reason), you have to remove/pair/connect again.
  • WiFi
    • Under Windows 10 – WiFi connectivity is a mess. Needless to say, this is where Ubuntu (or any Linux for that matter) rocks. The radio has a more stable performance under Linux – not dropping / switching frequently, as compared to Windows. Of course, if you are close to the source, WiFi under Windows 10 is fine. Carry a measuring tape and do not get too far.

Just one more annoying issue is the fact that the laptop’s wider keys (specifically the “Enter” key), are slightly depressed on one side. I had to adjust to this and hit more precisely.

While trying to return this laptop, the Dell customer exec offered a $100 discount (first offered $75). I saved Dell the $100 discount and let them keep this laptop.