You Can Now Watch 20 Hours of Video on Your Dell XPS 13

When comparing the 2017 Dell XPS 13 (9360) and the updated for 2018 Dell XPS 13 (9370) launched at CES, Windows Central said: “Best performance almost always means going with the new model, and the same appears true here.”

But wait.

Just because we launched a new XPS 13 doesn’t mean we stopped improving the performance of the previous one.

Dell XPS 13 laptop

In fact, we’ve been working with our partners at Intel to further optimize the battery life on the 2017 XPS 13 for a very specific use that will be welcomed by the ever-increasing number of people who watch video on their laptop.

“Our engineering teams collaborated closely to creatively deploy features unique to our 8th Gen Intel Core processor and Dell’s system design in order to achieve exceptional battery life,” said Ahmed Omer, Global Director of Systems Engineering, Intel Corp. “The result is impressive – amazing battery life combined with the performance leap delivered by our 8th Gen Intel Core processors.

Since we launched the first XPS 13 in 2012, we’ve pushed laptop design and expanded the boundaries of what’s possible with beautiful bushed metals, carbon fiber, InfinityEdge screens and the new white woven fiber finish. But all that visible design can sometimes overshadow the innovation within.

The belief that technology has always been about advancing human progress drives our approach to product design and innovation. The ability to binge high-quality video for even longer periods of time might be debatable human progress, but it was a challenge our engineering teams were ready to tackle.

“Maximizing mobile platform battery life depends on reducing average system power.  Processing audio can be very CPU intensive, so by enabling hardware offloaded audio on the XPS 13, we’re allowing audio tasks to be moved from the CPU to a highly efficient, dedicated audio processor which maximizes power efficiency and improves battery life,” Senior Principal Performance Engineer Gary Lusk explained to me. “Additionally, we enabled a new feature in Intel’s graphics driver called NV12 which reduces power consumption even further.”

I tried to dig a little deeper into what NV12 was, and let’s just say it gets really technical. Luckily, enabling these features on your XPS 13 (9360) is not that technical. All you need to do is:

  1. update the audio driver to (Dell version A09 or later) and
  2. update the graphics driver to (Dell version A12 or later)

Both of these are available today on the Dell Support site. Future customers will find these updates already integrated into their new systems.

While the 20 hours1 of video playback milestone is not based on me binging every episode of Black Mirror back-to-back (which would actually only take 18 hours and nine minutes), these enhancements will help Netflix streaming through the Netflix Win10 app.

Lusk also said it might be worth mentioning that not every audio or video player supports these new optimizations. Our teams used Media Engine based playback applications, such as the built in Windows 10 Movies & TV player, for analysis of battery life.

“And in case you’re wondering, we’ve also implemented these same features on the 2018 XPS 13 9370,” Lusk said. “We can’t claim 20 hours yet, because the 2018 version has a physically smaller battery, but we’re working on it!”

1Local video playback test was conducted in March, 2018 on the XPS 13 9360 with 8th Gen Intel Core i8550U, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, FHD display and Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update at 38% brightness and 50% system volume. Maximum battery life will decrease with time.