Since 2010

Dell XPS 13 9350

Wednesday 14 September 2016

I was recently in the market for a new work laptop, and pretty quickly decided that a Dell XPS 13 was the one for me, coupled with Dell’s WD15 dock. I’m an Apple guy and therefore find the process of buying Windows hardware appalling, but my career revolves around Microsoft enterprises and Windows applications. I’ve tried to fight it and it’s not worth it.

Anyway, I needed something portable and, well, not cheap or plasticy. That immediately ruled out almost all of the laptops out there. Price-point was about A$2000, and The Verge were raving about the Dell XPS 13, so here we are.

As I say, the process of actually ordering the thing from Dell was a mess, but it arrived quickly and it is a very nice piece of hardware. It’s a pity Dell don’t apply the same level of fit-and-finish to all their machines, but if people are willing to buy flimsy short-lived crappy hardware then Dell are going to keep making it.

For various reasons, one of the first things I did with the XPS 13 was reinstall Windows 10 from bare-metal up. I assumed that downloading the drivers from Dell and installing them one-by-one would be the proper way to get things going once Windows was installed, but I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t do that. I had countless problems with displays and ports and audio when I did that, not to mention a metric buttload of Dell applications running at startup.

It turns out that all Windows 10 needs is a driver for the SSD when in the default RAID mode (Dell call this the “Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver”), and a driver to get the thing online (“Dell Wireless 1820A WiFi Driver”). Everything else will be dealt with by Windows Update. Obviously it takes time for Microsoft to acquire the right drivers and make them available via Windows Update, but at the time of writing the following process works a treat:

  1. Create a bootable Windows 10 installation USB drive
  2. Download the “Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver” package from Dell and extract to the USB drive used above
  3. During installation of Windows 10, and at the disk partitioning stage, browse to those drivers
  4. After installation, install the “Dell Wireless 1820A WiFi Driver”
  5. Let Windows Update install all other drivers