7 common Dell XPS 13 problems and how to fix them

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The Dell XPS 13 was first introduced back in 2012, and was the company’s first ultrabook. The laptop has received various upgrades and enhancements since then, with multiple versions often being released in the same year, as was the case in 2013 and 2015,  which saw 2 versions of the XPS 13 being launched.

There was a big jump in between the 2013 and 2015 models, with the latest iteration revamped with a new, even sleeker design, an edge to edge display, and a display with a 3200 x 1800 resolution. Many agree that the XPS 13 (2015) was one of the best ultrabooks that year, and Dell has continued to make improvements to the line with the latest 2016 version. Overall, if you are in the market for a sleek and portable ultrabook that packs a punch, the Dell XPS 13 series is the way to go.

However, as is the case with any new smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop, users do tend to run into occasional problems with their gadgets. Which is why, we’ve rounded up some of the common issues faced by Dell XPS 13 owners, and offer potential solutions on how to fix them!

Disclaimer #1 – Not every Dell XPS 13 owner will face these problems, and in fact, it is more than likely that you will not come across any of the issues listed below. 

Disclaimer #2 – As mentioned, the Dell XPS 13 series has been around for a long time. For the purposes of this post, we will be looking at the issues found with the 2015 (9343 and 9350) and 2016 (9360) models of the laptop. However, these solutions may work for older generations as well. 


Problem #1 – USB Type-C port I/O issues

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Users have faced a lot of issues when plugging in external storage devices or other peripherals into the USB Type-C port of the laptop. The connection has been too unstable to be usable in most cases.

Potential solutions:

  • Dell has already sent out several software updates to help address this issue, which has worked for some users. However, there are still quite a few who still face this problem.
  • This issue seems to be because of the fact that the Wi-Fi adapter and port seem to be connected hardware and voltage wise. When connecting something to the USB Type-C port, one workaround is to put the device in Airplane mode, that disables the Wi-Fi. Another option is to lower the power output of the Wi-Fi adapter to 50% or 75%. Once nothing is connected to the port, you can always reset it to 100% again.
  • Here are the steps to lower the power output of the Wi-Fi adapter. Open Device Manager in the Control Panel. Expand the Network Adapters category. Right click on the Wi-Fi adapter and select Properties. Under the Advanced tab, in the Property section, scroll down and click on Power Output. In the Value column, select 75% or 50%.

Problem #2 – Issue with frequent reboots

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A few users have faced issues with frequent reboots, where the device automatically shuts down and restarts, often at inopportune moments.

Potential solutions:

  • Make sure that your laptop is completely up to date. This includes Windows updates, latest BIOS updates, driver updates, and diagnostic utilities updates.
  • Check to confirm that the hard drive is listed in the BIOS. To do so, shut down the laptop. On restarting it, immediately and rapidly tap the F2 key until you enter the BIOS. In the main screen, scroll down and look for “Fixed HDD.” If the hard drive isn’t listed, resetting BIOS defaults may work. Press F9 to load the default settings, and then F10 to save and exit.
  • If the laptop is under warranty, it is definitely a better idea to send it in to Dell for repair, but you can also try re-seating the hard drive yourself as well. The latter is certainly at your own risk though, and some amount of technical know-how is recommended.
  • This may unfortunately be a hardware issue, with the frequent reboots being caused by a corrupt hard drive that is crashing often. In this case, the only option in this case will be to pick up a replacement, or replace the hard drive.

Problem #3 – Audio issues

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Users have come across a variety of audio issues with the XPS 13, including drivers crashing, headphones not being registered when plugged in, external speakers not working even when headphones are removed, and static and hissing noises. A few users have found the static noise issue to have started after the Windows 10 Anniversary update.

Potential solutions:

  • The issue with the headphones has a very simple workaround. The two problems seem to occur when headphones are removed or plugged in while the device is asleep, with Windows thinking that the state is unchanged when the device wakes up again. In this case, all you have to do is plug in and unplug your headphones, or vice versa, once again, while the laptop is awake, to get the audio working.
  • Troubleshooting the audio settings seems to help with the static and hissing noises. in the Task Bar, right click on the Speaker icon, and click on Troubleshoot Sound Problems. Then click on Open Enhancements. Deselect all the enhancements and continue. Go through the rest of the troubleshooting guide, including playing test sounds. Once complete, some users have found that the static and hissing noises are gone.
  • You can also try uninstalling and reinstalling the audio drivers to see if that fixes your audio problems. In the “Search Windows” field, type Device Manager and open it. Expand the Audio input and outputs section, and double click on Speakers/Headphones. Under the Driver tab, click the Uninstall button. Go to the Dell’s Driver Support page here (this is for the XPS 13 9343, you might need to find your own device version), scroll down and click on Audio, and download and install the drivers.
  • Finally, you can check if it is a hardware issue by running a ePSA diagnostic test, and in this case, the only option will be to send the laptop in for repair, or pick up a replacement if still under warranty. To do so, turn off the computer, and when restarting it, immediately and rapidly tap on the F12 key. Select Diagnostics by using the arrow keys on the keyboard, and the ePSA system diagnostic will start. After the display test, you should hear a loud beep. If you don’t, then there is a hardware failure, and getting a replacement is the only way to go.

Problem #4 – Screen flickering and/or frequent “display drivers have crashed” message

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Quite a few users have found the screen to randomly flicker, or go blank for 4-5 seconds, which is usually followed by the message saying “display drivers have crashed.” Most users have found this problem to occur when the laptop is connected to an external monitor as well.

Potential solutions:

  • Simply making sure that the display drivers are up to date has worked for a lot of people. You can find the device driver list here (this is for the XPS 13 9350 version, you may have to look for you own device version). Scroll down to “Video,” and download the driver.
  • For those facing this issue when it is connected to an external monitor, the first cause for concern may because the monitor is plugged into the USB Type-C port. You can follow the steps stated above in Problem #1, and see if it fixes it.
  • While it does seem to related to the Wireless adapter, the solution is a little different. Follow the steps stated above in #1 till you get to the Property list. Scroll till you find 802.11d Support (auto country) and disable it in the Value column. This seems to immediately address any screen flickering issues with external monitors.

Problem #5 – Problems where the only solution for now is to keep the BIOS and drivers updated

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There are a couple of problems that are quite common with the XPS 13, but unfortunately, the only solution for these issues is to wait for an official OS update or BIOS update. Listed below are these problems.

  • Repeated Key presses – Many users have come across the problem of repeated key presses, leading them to make typos like “ranndom worrds.” These has been an issue across generations of the device, and is usually fixed with a BIOS update. If you are currently facing this issue, the only option will be to wait for the next update.
  • Touchscreen issues –  Many users have found that when closing the device lid and opening it again, the touchscreen tends to fail. A workout that currently seems to work is to close the lid and rapidly open it again to continue to keep the device in sleep mode, and then use the power button to wake it up, and the touchscreen will be functioning as expected. This is definitely not a long term answer though, and the only option available now is to wait for an update.
  • Audio issues – Some users have come across various audio issues with their device. They either hear a popping sound before audio starts playing, or there is a continuous buzzing sound when audio is playing through the speakers.

Problem #6 – Loud beeping heard

Quite a few users have come across a loud beeping sound from the device. This sound isn’t from the speakers, as it can be heard even when the speakers are muted. Some users hear this sound multiple times a day.

Potential solutions:

  • Dell recommends keeping the BIOS updated. There are also a couple of driver updates you can try to fix this problem which can be found here and here. While updating the drivers have worked for some, the issue does persist for others. In that case, the only answer is to continue to wait for an update from Dell.

Problem #7 – Slower than expected boot times

Some users have come across boot times that are slower than expected. In some cases, this seems to have nothing to do with the loading of Windows 10, but occurs before the OS even loads.

Potential solutions:

  • In case the issue is with Windows 10, there are a few steps you can try. First, make sure that Fast Startup is enabled. Right click on the start button and open Power Options. Click on either of the first two options in the menu on the left, and in the Shutdown Settings section, make sure that “Turn on Fast Startup” is selected.
  • Open the Task Manager, and open the Startup tab at the top. You will see the apps that load on startup, with the startup impact rated as high, medium, and low. You can disable the programs that are slowing things down and see if that makes a difference.
  • In case the slow boot times have nothing to do with the OS, uncheck the “Enable USB Boot Support” in the BIOS under System Configuration – USB/Thunderbolt Configuration. Some users have found that updating the Thunderbolt 3 drivers have also helped. Also, make sure that the BIOS is up to date.

So, there you have it for this roundup of some of the common problems that are faced by Dell XPS 13 owners, and potential solutions on how to fix them. If you have come across these issues, or have faced any others, do mention them in the comments section below, and we will try our best to help you find a fix.

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All said and done, don’t let this list of problems deter you from picking up the Dell XPS 13. As mentioned, you will in all likelihood not come across any of the problems above, and even if you do, a future update will most probably address it. These ultrabooks are still considered some of the best in the world, and continue to keep getting better with every generation.

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