A Dell Misfeature

Sep 30, 2021 dell 9380 laptop screen

I recently noticed an odd feature when scrolling the page on Hacker News. The white background would fade in and out between various off-white shades that varied roughly in proportion to the amount of text on the page. I didn’t hate it… but it was slightly distracting and just the other day I decided to poke around in the CSS files and see if it was something I could disable.

But I couldn’t find anything.

Not “I couldn’t figure it out how to turn it off,” but … very simple CSS and no such feature at all.


Then I started looking a bit closer and realised it was happening on lots of other sites. The contrast on Hacker News between the actual white borders and the normally off-white text background just made it most conspicuous there.

I got suspicious and found this comment on a thread on Dell’s site:


Enabled by default in the BIOS on my Dell XPS 13 (9380) laptop.

Oh well, at least I can turn it off:

F2 at Dell logo to get into BIOS, then disable “Dynamic Backlight Control”

Dynamic Backlight Control setting in BIOS (not yet disabled)

Yep, it’s a classic “Manufacturers can’t leave well enough alone” feature. I wonder if anyone likes random screen illumination changes…?

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