The Dell XPS 13 offers a new color, a powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processor, a 4K screen (and closed the ridiculous "nosecam") - all in a slim, lightweight chassis.
- Slim, lightweight design
- Strong performance
- Gorgeous 4K display
- InfinityEdge bezels
- Below-average battery life
Dell has yet improved one of the best laptops. Loaded with the new Intel Whiskey Lake processor, the Dell XPS 13 is even faster and more powerful than ever. In addition, Dell has finally got rid of this uncomfortable webcam position that always looks up in the nose. However, the combination of a 4K screen and an energy efficient processor guarantees a battery life of almost 8 hours, which can be detrimental to mobile professionals. Nevertheless, in terms of design and performance, the XPS 13 remains one of the best in its class. Let’s now discuss this laptop in our Dell XPS 13 Review.
Dell XPS 13 Review – Design
2019 is officially the year of Frost silver and Arctic white. Dell has decided to solve the problem with a new color scheme as attractive as the previous model or more. The anodized aluminum has a light gray finish that does not shine and looks as bright as morning frost just before giving way to the rising sun. The Dell logo stands triumphantly in the center of the lid as a unique decoration.
A look at the sides of the system reveals the Arctic white finish that awaits the laptop. The interior deck retains the fiberglass fabric of the previous models, both beautiful and durable. The immaculate white continues in the direction of the screen and draws the boundaries of the InfinityEdge display. Follow the bezels and you will discover that the webcam has migrated from the bottom panel to its rightful place in the middle of the top. If you do not like this color scheme, the latest version of the XPS 13 is also available in rose gold.
The XPS 13 does not have many ports, but you can do a lot. The Thunderbolt 3 port pair on the left and the UBC Type-C port on the right are all suitable for charging the notebook and can be used as mini DisplayPorts if you want to connect the system to a larger screen. This leaves a microSD card to the right for memory expansion and a headphone jack and a slot on the left for listening to music and securing your laptop.
At 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.3 ~ 0.5 inches, the 2.7-pounds laptop is a sleek device. With a thickness of 0.6 inches, the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro (with touch bar), the Razer Blade Stealth and the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 are very similar. The MacBook Pro (3 pounds) and Stealth (2.9 pounds) are significantly heavier, while the Surface Laptop 2 is just a little more rugged with 2.7 pounds.
Dell XPS 13 Review – Keyboard and TouchPad
The XPS 13’s keyboard cuts a striking image in white, especially when the backlight is on. But the typing experience is even more impressive. Although we only made a trip of 1-millimeter maximum (we usually look for at least 1.5 mm), I never felt as if I had hit the bottom when I was typing. And thanks to the 63-gram actuation force (we recommend 60 grams as the minimum), the otherwise shallow keys have a nice little sparkle. The precision touchpad of 4.1 x 2.3 inches is both fast and accurate. It follows my browsing on the web page and my pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scrolling and three-finger swiping.
Dell XPS 13 Review – Display
Thanks to the InfinityEdge design, Dell continues to have the thinnest bezels. The top ring is a little thicker than usual to house the webcam, but not so much that you would not really notice. But you forget the thickest edge as soon as you open the screen. It produced lush colors when I watched Samsara’s 4K featurette. I was particularly impressed by the deep blacks, the rich golden colors, and the brilliant reds during the Balinese dancers’ routine. The details are also wonderfully cool, which allows me to see the deep gaps of timeless stone carvings.
Our Dell XPS 13 is equipped with a 13.3-inch 4K panel, but you can also opt for a cheaper 1080p panel. The splendor of the colors comes from the screen’s ability to reproduce 119% of the sRGB range, which corresponds to the MacBook Pro and reaches the highest average of laptops by 117%. The Stealth, however, was just a little more lively with 120%, while the Surface Laptop 2 was an amazing 176%. With an average of 375 nits, the XPS 13 is brilliant and exceeds the average of 318 nits and the 346 nits of the Stealth and 321 nits of the Surface Laptop 2.
Dell XPS 13 Review – Graphics
Do not expect to play graphically loaded games like Battlefield V or Destiny 2 with the Intel UHD 620 graphics processor on the XPS 13. However, it can play older or less demanding games. The notebook recorded 88 frames per second on Dirt 3, which was 1920 x 1080p. This score exceeded the average of 73 fps, as did the MacBook Pro (Intel Iris Plus 655) and the Surface Laptop 2 (Intel UHD 620 graphics GPU), which reached 47 and 82 fps. But the Stealth, with its discrete GPU Nvidia GeForce MX 150 registered 164 frames per second.
Dell XPS 13 Review – Audio
The side speakers of the XPS 13 were a pleasant surprise. The laptop managed to fill my medium sized office with a powerful sound. While listening to Janelle Monae’s “Can,t live without your love”, the play was filled with the singer’s enthusiastic voice. It crushed the rest of the song, even after playing with the Waves Maxx Audio software. But listening to New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain” has given a neater result, such as “November Rain” by Guns N ‘Roses.
Dell XPS 13 Review – Performance
The XPS 13 has just received a Whiskey lake processor update with a performance hunter. Armed with one of Intel’s new Whiskey Lake chips, including the Core i7-8565U processor with 16GB of RAM, the laptop streamed Black Mirror: Bandersnatch from Netflix, but I also added 25 tabs Additional Google Chrome with Twitch feed, Tweetdeck or YouTube. The XPS 13 executed all the tasks effortlessly and without any delay.
The laptop kept its own value in our synthesis tests and scored 14,936 on Geekbench 4, which measures overall performance. That was enough to get the average of 12,407 high-end laptops, as well as the 12,676 computers released by the Surface Laptop 2 (Intel Core i5-8250U). The Razer Blade Stealth, which has its own Core i7-8565U, scored 15,878, while the MacBook Pro and its 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor delivered 17,348.
When we ran the Excel Spreadsheet Macro test, the XPS 13 took 1 minute and 10 seconds to match 65,000 names and addresses, above the 1:31 category average. The Laptop 2 and MacBook Pro were not far behind at 1:15 and 1:16 respectively. But the Stealth swept the competition and finished the task in 21 seconds.
The XPS 13 1TB PCIe SSD took 9 seconds to copy 4.97 GB of media files. This translates to a transfer rate of 565 megabytes per second, which was more than enough to beat the 529.7 Mbps average. Neither the Stealth nor the Surface Laptop 2 with their 512GB PCIe M.2 NVMe SSDs can handle it with 254 and 203 Mbps. But the MacBook and its 256GB SSD were well ahead with a speed of 2,519 Mbps.
Dell XPS 13 Review – Heat
In general, a laptop as thin as the XPS has a hard time staying cool. To combat this, Dell has doubled the number of heat pipes and fans to increase air inlets and outlets. The company has also added GORE thermal insulation, the same material used in the Mars Rover vehicle. Silica aerogels dissipate heat throughout the system, making things pleasant and comfortable.
The laptop has largely satisfied the hype. After watching a Full-HD video for 15 minutes, we measured the touchpad of the laptop, the center of the keyboard and the chassis. The XPS 13 measured 87, 96 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the three respective zones. We consider anything below 95 degrees well within our recommended comfort level. However, I used the XPS 13 on my lap for over an hour without any trouble.
Dell XPS 13 Review – Battery Life
If you want to good battery life, we recommend that you choose a full-HD display on the XPS 13 and avoid the 4K panel. The combination of high resolution and electrical consumption of Whiskey Lake requires a bit of toll. The Dell XPS 13 only lasted 7 hours and 50 minutes on the battery test (which includes continuous web browsing through WiFi at 150 nits). It is well below the average of the premium laptops time (8:30). The Stealth did a little better with a time of 8:05, while the MacBook Pro and the Surface Laptop 2 scored in 8:43 and 9:22 respectively.
Dell XPS 13 Review – Conclusion
The Dell XPS 13 was already an excellent laptop and Dell made improvements to maintain our favorite ultraportable laptop retain its top place. The addition of Intel Whiskey Lake enhances the status of XPS 13 as a mobile power plant. And if you do not mind the numbers, this vivid 4K screen is ideal for watching videos. We particularly like the Itty-Bitty webcam, which kills the nosecam camera forever. Although the battery life on the 4K display model could be better, the Dell XPS 13 remains a top choice and is one of the best ultraportable laptops on the market today.