Dell XPS 13
Dell has done it all over again. The latest and greatest Dell XPS 13 recently arrived, and it’s frankly already been our favorite laptop for the last two years.
This time coming equipped with the latest, 7th generation () Intel processors behind that same eye-dropping display and punchy keyboard we’ve come to enjoy typing on – now all within an optional rose gold frame – the new XPS 13 has wowed us all over again.
And, much of that isn’t thanks to crazy innovations or fresh additions, but a few key refinements that help the XPS 13 stand out amongst a sea of laptops that are perhaps trying to change a bit too quickly. The XPS 13 is a tortoise surrounded by hares … only it’s got a rocket strapped to its back.
Price and availability
Available now through its website and several retailers, Dell begins the bidding for the standard XPS 13 at $799 (£999, AU$1,899) to start. In the US, that gets you a Kaby Lake, dual-core Intel Core i3 processor with Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage behind an FHD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), non-touch InfinityEdge display. (The UK and Australian versions come starting with an Intel Core i5.)
If you want the touchscreen at QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) resolution – and the two screen features only come as a pair – you’ll need to cough up at least $1,299 (£1,249, AU$2,499). That also nets you a dual-core Intel Core i5 chip, but sadly doesn’t up the storage or RAM capacity. Of course, you can choose to upgrade both of those components for extra cash.
Weight-wise, the XPS 13 is a totable 2.7 pounds (1.2kg). It’s something you could toss in a bag between classes or take with you on your next business trip and barely notice it’s there. (That said, it’s probably for the best if you cover your new investment with a case just to be safe.)
The screen itself is Dell’s new InfinityEdge Display. Images go nearly to the edge of the screen with only a thin strip of plastic separating the glass from the edge. The distance separating the two, for the record, is a measly 5.2mm.
The Dell XPS 13 may be hellbent on style, what with its Rose Gold finish and power-savvy Kaby Lake processor, but the developments haven’t stopped there. In fact, with PC sales as a whole crawling upward, now appears to be a better time than ever for Dell to expand.
As such, there are several new configuration options being marketed by Dell, most notably a Windows Hello-ready fingerprint scanner add-on that costs only 25 bucks more. Additionally, you can now buy the Dell XPS 13 9360 Developer Edition, complete with Ubuntu (Linux) 14.04 and the same specs as the Windows 10 version.
On a bleaker note, consumer watchdog Which has found out that many laptop manufacturers are overstating the battery life expectancies in their products. Among the major culprits is Dell whose battery life claims average 9 hours and 48 minutes. In reality, however, Dell’s laptops last on average about 5 hours and 2 minutes.
Here is the Dell XPS 13 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 3.5GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 (1,866MHz)
Screen: 13.3-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) InfinityEdge touch display
Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
Ports: 1 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.0 w/PowerShare, 1 x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), SD card reader, headset jack
Connectivity: Killer 1535 802.11ac (2.4 & 5GHz); Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: 720p widescreen HD webcam with dual array digital microphones
Weight: 2.9 pounds (1.29kg)
Size: 11.98 x 7.88 x 0.33 – 0.6 inches (W x D x H) (304 x 200 x 9 – 15mm)
Frankly, there isn’t a ton to be said of the XPS 13’s design this time around, as very little, if anything, has changed. You still have the 13.3-inch display as sharp as QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800 pixels) with optional touch controls squeezed inside an 11-inch-wide frame.
And, you still have the gorgeous, machined aluminum lid and base that beset a comfy, carbon fiber keyboard deck coated in soft-touch paint. Only this time, the lid and base come in rose gold – the salmon shade that’s all the rage in tech products these days – as well as the traditional silver option.
The machine somehow measures even thinner than the previous generation, though only by a hair: 0.33 inches (9mm) at its thinnest point to 0.6 inches (15mm) at its thickest. For those keeping score, the previous model came in at two hundredths of an inch thicker at the nose.
Dell has also reduced the weight of its leading laptop, but by such a small degree it would be impossible to notice: from 2.93 pounds (1.32kg) to now just 2.9 pounds (1.29kg) even for the touchscreen model. Short of a major breakthrough in the materials used to construct the XPS 13, we’re likely looking at the thinnest and lightest Ultrabook from Dell for a while. (Please, prove us wrong.)
All told, we’re still smitten by the XPS 13 design, and frankly we’re happy it hasn’t changed much, because it doesn’t have to. One small request: if Dell could at least center that bottom bezel-oriented webcam like it has on the new , that would be clutch.
More ‘pro’ than the MacBook Pro?
During our time with the new XPS 13, we realized an important point: this laptop can match and even surpass the new, entry-level part-for-part. For 100 bucks less than Apple’s latest laptop, the XPS 13 offers a sharper screen, a stronger processor and the same amount of RAM and storage.
Oh, and this guy has a full-size SD card slot.
The MacBook Pro? You’ll get one more Thunderbolt 3 port – one of which needs to be used for charging – and little else for its starting price. On paper, it seems like the XPS 13 will give you a better time editing photos and video than its archnemesis. Well played, Dell.
Nick Pino has also contributed to this review.
First reviewed January 2017