XPS

Last reply by 09-24-2019 Solved
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Does USB-C charging cable sit firmly in the laptop (like the old barrel connector) or can it get loose?

When you sit in a couch with the XPS 13 on your lap, does the new USB-C charging cable stay firmly connected to the laptop, even when the charging wire goes directly to the floor so putting downwards pressure on the connector? 

Also, when the charging wire goes directly to the floor, doesn't that put too much strain (with potential damage over time) where the cable gets thinner just behind the wider piece that you stick into the port?

I have an older XPS 13 which had the barrel (round) connector which sat very firm so no problems there, so wanted to know if this is the same or worse with the new USB-C connector the charging cable now uses. Based on videos I have the impression USB-C cables sit a bit looser what worries me a bit.

Hope people here can help and maybe compare with the older barrel (round) charging connector if you also had a previous model. Thanks for all good feedback.

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I too sit on the couch a lot and have been using USB-C and both of the "legacy" barrel connector sizes for a while now, in some cases alternating between barrel and USB-C charging on systems that support both (Latitude 7480 and XPS 13 9350) depending on where I am with my laptop.  The USB-C port standard is definitely "shallower" than either of the barrel connector standards, and a male USB-C plug can move a little bit within the receptacle (although so can the barrel connector), but I've never seen that result in an unstable connection.  Maybe something about how the pins within the connector are designed prevents a bit of motion from causing connection dropouts, and I have to figure that the many industry players involved in creating a port design intended to be so ubiquitous and so long-term as USB-C would have taken this type of scenario into consideration.

One perk of a USB-C connector is that it does click into place, whereas the barrel connector just relies on some tension and never clicks in the same way.  When I use my Latitude 7480 with one particular 130W barrel style AC adapter I have, somehow the barrel slowly works its way out of the 7480's receptacle.  It's very gradual, so I always see it before it actually stops delivering power, and I've admittedly never had this issue on any of the other Dell systems and AC adapters I've used.  Maybe that adapter's plug and that system's receptacle are on opposite ends of the manufacturing tolerance ranges for those parts.  Anyhow, I've never had that issue at all using USB-C.

As for connector strain in the scenario you describe, I have a 10-foot USB-C cable rated for 100W Power Delivery.  Both of those aspects of the cable increase the wire gauge requirement over typical USB-C cables that might be 3-6 feet and only rated for 60W Power Delivery, so my cable is thicker and therefore heavier than most.  Despite that, I've personally never had an issue with damage to the cable or the port.  I suppose poorly built cables might fray near the connector if the cable drops off at a right angle immediately after exiting the system, but that's why there are also quality cables that have strain relief built into the connector ends.  (I use USB-C cables from Anker and Nekteck, for what it's worth.)  And come to think of it, I've seen barrel connector cables fray near the connector from extended usage in that fashion, as well as other types of cables, so this issue isn't unique to USB-C.  Also, most USB-C cables will be thinner and lighter than the cables on the barrel style AC adapters.  The 10-foot 100W cable I mentioned is approximately the same thickness as the barrel connector cable.

In terms of this type of strain damaging the port on the system itself, I suppose enough strain and low build quality could create damage there too in theory, but I personally haven't had an issue.  Although if you're on a couch, I would imagine it shouldn't be too difficult to have at least a few inches of cable running along the same plane as the system before dropping down just to be safe.


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I too sit on the couch a lot and have been using USB-C and both of the "legacy" barrel connector sizes for a while now, in some cases alternating between barrel and USB-C charging on systems that support both (Latitude 7480 and XPS 13 9350) depending on where I am with my laptop.  The USB-C port standard is definitely "shallower" than either of the barrel connector standards, and a male USB-C plug can move a little bit within the receptacle (although so can the barrel connector), but I've never seen that result in an unstable connection.  Maybe something about how the pins within the connector are designed prevents a bit of motion from causing connection dropouts, and I have to figure that the many industry players involved in creating a port design intended to be so ubiquitous and so long-term as USB-C would have taken this type of scenario into consideration.

One perk of a USB-C connector is that it does click into place, whereas the barrel connector just relies on some tension and never clicks in the same way.  When I use my Latitude 7480 with one particular 130W barrel style AC adapter I have, somehow the barrel slowly works its way out of the 7480's receptacle.  It's very gradual, so I always see it before it actually stops delivering power, and I've admittedly never had this issue on any of the other Dell systems and AC adapters I've used.  Maybe that adapter's plug and that system's receptacle are on opposite ends of the manufacturing tolerance ranges for those parts.  Anyhow, I've never had that issue at all using USB-C.

As for connector strain in the scenario you describe, I have a 10-foot USB-C cable rated for 100W Power Delivery.  Both of those aspects of the cable increase the wire gauge requirement over typical USB-C cables that might be 3-6 feet and only rated for 60W Power Delivery, so my cable is thicker and therefore heavier than most.  Despite that, I've personally never had an issue with damage to the cable or the port.  I suppose poorly built cables might fray near the connector if the cable drops off at a right angle immediately after exiting the system, but that's why there are also quality cables that have strain relief built into the connector ends.  (I use USB-C cables from Anker and Nekteck, for what it's worth.)  And come to think of it, I've seen barrel connector cables fray near the connector from extended usage in that fashion, as well as other types of cables, so this issue isn't unique to USB-C.  Also, most USB-C cables will be thinner and lighter than the cables on the barrel style AC adapters.  The 10-foot 100W cable I mentioned is approximately the same thickness as the barrel connector cable.

In terms of this type of strain damaging the port on the system itself, I suppose enough strain and low build quality could create damage there too in theory, but I personally haven't had an issue.  Although if you're on a couch, I would imagine it shouldn't be too difficult to have at least a few inches of cable running along the same plane as the system before dropping down just to be safe.


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Thanks the reply and all the info.

You mentioned that the usb-c connector "clicks" into place.. does that mean it stays firmer in the port as you have to "de-click" it when you want to pull it out?

Am I also right you never used a usb-c charging cable from Dell itself, as i assume you have the model which both barrel and usb-c where i assume it doesn't come with a usb-c cable from Dell for charging?

Looking at following video (I put at the correct time location): https://youtu.be/DFjKYBa6ZqU?t=185 you can see when he puts in a Dell usb-c cable that it seem thicker and less flexible than the old cables with barrel connector, or am I wrong about that?

Anybody else with newer XPS with just the usb-c for charging can tell if that cable is indeed a bit thicker than the older charging cable with round barrel connector on previous models?

Final point.. if I don't like the new usb-c charging cable from Dell, can you replace it with a 3th party charging cable that fits into the Dell adapter, so a charging cable that is both thin and flexible but at the same time strong enough where the cable goes into the wider piece that you plug into the port?

Is this were Anker or Nektech cables would be good? Any links of such cables that would work with a Dell adapter on the other side.

I also need to mention I'm from Belgium (Europe) so not sure if the adapter is the same as in the US. Maybe it is on the side where you plug in the cable that goes to your XPS laptop.

The USB-C connector clicks into place the same way an Apple Lightning connector does if you've ever used those.  It does not fully lock into place the way full-size DisplayPort cables can if they're plugged into a port that actually has a lock, at which point you have to pres down on a tab built into the connector in order to release them.  That might have been deliberately omitted from USB-C because cables that plug into laptops need to strike a balance between keeping a stable connection but also breaking away if somebody trips on the cable, because if the cable was locked into your system in that scenario, it would pull your system along with it and potentially damage the system as a result.

The systems I have came with barrel-style AC adapters from Dell.  I have a variety of third-party USB-C chargers.  I haven't used any Dell USB-C chargers, but judging by the pictures, the cable appears to use a proprietary connector style on the side that connects to the "brick".  In that case, you would not be able to swap that cable out for a standard USB-C cable.  As for thickness, it's worth pointing out that even the thickness on the barrel style cable isn't standardized.  Dell makes barrel style AC adapters in capacities ranging from 35W to 330W, I believe.  In all cases, the voltage from the brick to the system is constant at 19.5V, so it's the amperage that increases in order to deliver the additional wattage.  Higher amperage generates more heat and therefore requires thicker wire to be carried.  So for example the cable on my 130W barrel style charger is noticeably thicker than the cable on my 45W barrel style charger.  And in fact the cable on my older 130W larger barrel style adapter is thicker than the one on my newer 130W slim barrel style adapter, so technology improvements over time can be a factor too.

Yes I think Anker and Nekteck cables are good, which is why I use them.  They both have strong reputations for quality products.  Anker in particular makes a lot of other great products, including USB battery packs, other types of data cables, wall chargers, car chargers, USB-C "mini-docks", etc.

In terms of being in Belgium, that would affect the style of electrical plug that goes into the wall, but the rest of the adapter would be the same.  That's actually why the cord that runs from the AC adapter "brick" to the wall can be physically detached.  That design means that Dell can standardize the AC adapter for a given system globally and then just throw the correct cord style for the destination country into the box on each order.  The same would be true of USB-C power sources.  As long as you had something that plugged into the appropriate outlet style for your region, the cable from the power source to the system would be the same.

If you're looking at an XPS 13, those models are designed for 45W.  It's very easy to find 45W USB-C power sources, and in fact you may as well get a 60W source just for increased compatibility with other devices you might have (or acquire in the future) because the increase in cost and size going from 45W to 60W is negligible.  And in fact, a 60W USB-C charger from a reputable third party like Anker will probably still be cheaper than a 45W official Dell USB-C charger, even when you include the cost of a USB-C cable you might need to buy separately with the third-party option.  Using a higher wattage power source is absolutely not a risk because the USB PD standard allows the system to negotiate with the power source about what wattage to deliver, and the system will never draw more than it can handle.  The power source can't "force" more wattage to the system -- which incidentally is why I can use a 130W barrel style adapter with my Dell systems that only require 45-60W, as I've been doing for years.

In any case, if you buy a third-party USB-C charger that sits directly up against the wall (aka a "wall wart"), just buy a longer USB-C cable to make sure you still have the same total cord length.  I found that my barrel style AC adapters were roughly 9 feet (3 meters) from end to end, so when I bought USB-C chargers, I simply purchased a 10-foot USB-C cable to make sure I had at least as much slack.

I wrote a detailed post here listing some of the USB-C power sources I've worked with if you're curious.  They're all US versions, but you might find that at least some of them are available in EU variations.  The Satechi charger in particular is brilliant to have for travel.


Thanks again for the reply.

So if I want i could simply replace the Dell 45W adapter with a 3th party one.

Do you maybe have direct links of quality brands and models for the XPS 13 you can show on amazon? I see alot of no-brand models that I think are fake with even the Dell logo on but the brick is totally different.

I'm sure I'll than find similar ones on amazon.de (Germany) with a European cable, than again as you mention the cable to the mains can be disconnected so there I can just use the original one out of the box. It's mainly about the cable going from the brick to the laptop that I would replace, so I assume I'll also have to replace the brick itself as Dell has a proprietary connector I believe on the user's side.

So what I'm mainly looking for is to have a long cable that is thin so flexible, but as mentioned strong enough where the cable goes into the wider piece that you plug into your port.

 

@peter001  in my previous reply, I included a link to another thread where I wrote a post discussing 4 USB-C chargers.  I provided Amazon links to all of those chargers, and all of them would work with the XPS 13, in fact I've used all of them with my XPS 13 9350, which has the same 45W requirement as newer generations.  The Satechi charger I mentioned first in that post I linked has a cable that runs from the charger to the wall, and Satechi's site indicates that they .  The other 3 chargers by Anker are all "wall wart" style, so the prongs that plug into the wall are integrated into the charger itself -- so for those you would need to find a version that has prongs appropriate for Belgium built in, although I'm not sure Anker makes their products in that style.  Other reputable brands you can try looking for are Nekteck and Belkin.

In terms of the cable, I would recommend the StarTech USB2CC3M, which I use for travel.  That is a 10-foot (3 meter) USB-C cable that can carry up to 60W of power, which means it's thinner than a cable that would be able to carry up to 100W, but you don't need that much power.  It only has data pins for USB 2.0, so you couldn't use it for USB 3.1 data or for video output, but it works fine for charging.  I'm not even sure 10-foot USB-C cables that support USB 3.1 and video even exist; I think they're limited to 6 feet under current cable manufacturing technology.


Thanks alot. I found the links you mentioned.

Final question.. I noticed on my current power cable that there is some kind of "rubber strap" on it. On the Dell site they also mention it: "Incorporates a rubber strap for easy cable management".

What do they mean by that, so when you sit in a couch with the XPS on your lap, how can that rubber strap thing be useful since you can slide it up and down anyway you want on the cable?

Link 45W adapter: https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/dell-45-watt-3-prong-ac-adapter-with-1-meter-power-cord/apd/492-bbuu...

They have the same one as 65W here: https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/dell-adapter-65-watt-type-c-with-1m-power-cord-cus-kit/apd/492-bcbi/... 

PS. Am I correct you can also use the 65W on the XPS 13? Not sure why they make both a 45W and 65W model than.

 

@peter001  The rubber strap isn't for when you're using the AC adapter; it's for when you're NOT using it.  If you need to take the adapter with you, then you can wrap the power from both sides of the adapter around the brick and then wrap the rubber strap around that entire cord bundle to hold it all in place.  It's less messy than just having a bunch of loose power cord slack stashed into your bag.

You can use any Dell barrel style AC adapter of at least 45W with the XPS 13.  As I said, I have a 130W AC adapter next to my living room couch that I end up using with all of my systems.  As for why Dell makes both, as you can see the 45W option costs less, and even though Dell appears to be using the same photo on those two product pages, in reality a 45W adapter will be physically a bit smaller than a 65W adapter of the same generation.


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