Dell XPS 13 Review (2019)

Enlightened. Improved. Empowered. If we are to use three words to describe the latest 2018 version of the Dell XPS 13 in all its White Alpine glory. This is the kind of device you’d suppose to appear unattractive and obscure, at least on paper. Emphasising a quad-core CPU, three Type-C USB ports, Windows 10 and even a microSD port, it’s more potent than it seems. It’s also light – registering just 2.67 pounds (1.21kg), so not only does it is lighter than Apple’s MacBook Pro, it’s more powerful and cheaper too.

See Also: Apple MacBook Pro 13 Review

It also seems much more modern. Just watching all the recent smartphone releases, it’s obvious to see that bezel-less screens are all the rage today and Dell knew this before others. The next-generation InfinityEdge display on the XPS 13 has bezels so thin; they virtually disappear into the background. If you can get past the uncomfortable camera placement, it could just be the best laptop in 2018; a sentiment shared across the laptop users.

We are deeply impressed by the new XPS 13, gratitude in part to that new color choice. In fact, we’re so impressed by Dell’s design improvements that it is undoubtedly the Best in the Class laptop. However, if you desire in on the most significant change of the Dell XPS 13 design in years, you’ve to pay significantly more. So below I wrap up the details of Dell XPS 13 Review 2018.

Dell XPS 13 – Specs And Price

Specification
Processor 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.0GHz)
RAM 16GB DDR3 (2,133MHz)
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
Display 13.3-inch, Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) UltraSharp InfinityEdge touch display
Storage 1TB PCIe SSD
Operating System Windows 10
Battery Life 11 hours and 37 Minutes
Camera Widescreen HD (720p) front webcam with 4 array digital microphones
Ports 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C), 1 x USB-C 3.1, micro SD card reader, headset jack
Connectivity Bluetooth 4.1, Killer 1435 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Prices SEE NOW

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Dell XPS 13 – Design

This time Dell has noticeably changed the XPS 13 design since it earned the top place in our rankings. To start, it’s thinner and lighter than the 2017 model. Dell slimmed down the XPS 13 body to be 30% thinner at only 0.3 inches (3.4mm) at its thinnest point and a bit lighter at around 2.67 pounds (1.21kg).

Now, the most striking of changes to the XPS 13 design is the brand new Rose Gold on Alpine White color choice. While almost every laptop inventor has a rose gold color selection these days, Dell took it to the next stage with an all-new set of elements for the complementary-colored keyboard layer.

Dell XPS 13 Review

Dell is expressly proud that the new keyboard deck houses a crystalline silica element that has the white color woven into it like fabric, in nine layers. This is the first time spun glass fiber has been twisted into a laptop. Also, the base has a titanium oxide coating gives it a pearlescent sheen, not to consider stronger stain-resistance than all.

Sadly, the same can’t be stated for the plastic that borders the corners of the laptop’s display. Over the last few weeks of use, we’ve found that this plastic has grown a little gray correlated to the plastic that borders the edge of the laptop’s base.

Of course, this XPS 13 model also suggests the turning point on what might be its biggest trait: the webcam position. Better yet, the new IR lens works well for quick logins using Windows Hello feature, the biometric security system that utilizes your webcam to sign in to your device. However, the flashing of the red infrared lights is a little harsh.

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Dell XPS 13 – Ports

Unfortunately, when slimming down the XPS 13 down to 0.46 inches, Dell had to abandon the standard USB Type-A ports and full-size SD card reader that seemed on all the previous versions. On the left-hand side of the device, you’ll find two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which is used to charge the device or connect to other high-speed devices. There’s also a lock slot and a battery gauge indicator, which shows the charge level on a set of five white lights. On the right side, you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack, an SD card (micro) slot, and a USB-C port.

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Dell XPS 13 – Keyboard and Trackpad

Dell has mostly kept one of the best qualities about its laptops intact: the inputs. Rest assured that the keyboard and touchpad on this latest version of Dell XPS 13 have remained the same in their look, execution, and feel.

Dell XPS 13 Review

Key travel on the keyboard isn’t the deepest we’ve seen on many Ultrabooks, but the feedback is quite effective. However, we wish Dell didn’t have included the ‘Page Up’ and ‘Page Down’ keys immediately above the arrow keys. It’s easy to jump up or down the page notably than we wanted when attempting to move between words in any document.

The glass-coated touchpad is as wide as it can be given the 11-inch XPS 13 frame, and our fingers glide evenly along its surface. Clicking feels more satisfying on this laptop than any other in its class, except for the exception of Apple MacBook’s Trackpad.

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Dell XPS 13 – Display

Another significant improvement in this year’s design is the display of the laptop. The screen is now accessible with an optional 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) resolution below a glossy, IGZO touchscreen display. That’s sharper than any of the earlier mentioned, competing laptops.

The touchscreen is coated with a 0.65% anti-reflective coating that points to offset the drawbacks of all touchscreens and screen glare displays.

We haven’t remarked much difference while using the laptop for the last few weeks, but the brightness level of the device is excellent enough to call out. Setting the screen at 10% brightness doesn’t diminish from our experience to write and read on this device.

With a 1,500:1 contrast ratio and 100% sRGB color gamut, blacks look as if the backlight locks off in those spots during dark scenes in videos and photos and color pop-ups are vibrant. Meanwhile, the display responds quickly and fluently to the touch gestures.

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Dell XPS 13 – Webcam

That said, the 720p webcam delivers about as sharp of visual as that of the latest gen MacBook Pro, but isn’t a 60 fps lens like that on the Google Pixelbook. The Surface Book 2 beats all of them with a 1080p Full-HD camera.

Dell XPS 13 Review

The webcam comes outfitted with four microphones – placed within the base of the laptop – for stronger video chat input as well as far-field speech for calling at Cortana across the room. These mics pick up precise voice audio over video chats than some of its rivals.

However, they won’t be enough to challenge the likes of Google Home and Amazon Echo shortly. While the microphones can catch up our ‘Hey, Cortana’ command from a few meters away in front of the device, doing the same from behind the laptop from the same distance is a challenge.

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Dell XPS 13 Review – Audio

The XPS 13 side-mounted speakers deliver sound that’s loud, but rough around the corners. When I played Alan Walker’s “Faded,” the music was loud enough to fill our room more than. However, the guitar and drums were a little flat and tinny. The pre-installed Waves MaxxAudio software enables you to fine-tune the equalizer. Disabling the MaxxAudio, made the music sound muffled and hollow.

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Dell XPS 13 Review – Graphics

With its integrated Intel’s UHD 620 GPU, the Dell XPS 13 is decent enough for doing standard video editing or playing some average games at low settings. Its Intel Core i7- and Intel Core i5-powered models secured 85,616 and 77,584, respectively, on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark test. Both models were far advanced of the category average of (62,573), while the HP Spectre 13 (75,114) and the Thinkpad X1 Carbon (68,082). The Dell XPS 13 fell in between the two with a mark of 81,837.

When playing Dirt 3, the XPS 13 with Core i7 registered a frame rate of 66.9 fps, while the Core i5 model secured 56.7 fps. The XPS 13 (56 fps) and the HP Spectre 13 (57 fps) got comparable rates, while the X1 Carbon (28 fps) and the category average (42 fps) were way back.

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Dell XPS 13 Review – Performance

For this review, we examined two different configurations of the Dell XPS 13. The high-end model wore a Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB RAM, a 1TB SSD storage, and a 4K Ultra-HD touchscreen, while the mid-end model had an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD storage and a 1080p Full-HD screen. From surfing the web to casual gaming and writing period of this review, both variants of the XPS 13 handled everything we fired at them, without any issue.

Dell XPS 13 Review

Thanks to Dell’s new cooling system, these laptops were also competent of delivering better-sustained performance on long assignments, such as compressing a 4K video or performing the same benchmark 10 times in a series.

As they heat up during intensive tasks, most laptops slow their CPUs down to let them cool a bit. Because of its new thermal setup with dual fans and heat pipes, and outstanding thermal insulation, the Dell XPS 13 can prevent its processor from strangling as aggressively as many other laptops do.

We saw evidence of the performance increase during our video compression test where we use Handbrake to convert a 4K video to 1080p. The Core i7-powered XPS 13 took just 16 minutes to accomplish this task.

Using Dell’s Power Manager app, you can configure the laptop’s heat management to offer “Ultra Performance,” with warm temperatures. We ran Cinebench 15 10 times in this mode, and the scores varied from 707 on the initial run to 655 on the final run. Though those are higher numbers, we also noticed higher temperatures, with the function row registering a balmy 115 degrees by the completion of the final run. We recommend you to stick with the default, “Optimized” mode, which allows you the best balance between performance and body temperature.

When we ran Geekbench 4, the Core Core i5-8250U-powered XPS 13 scored 13,254, while the Core i7-8550U-enabled variant registered 14,180. The previous-gen Dell XPS 13 with the same Core i7-8550U CPU secured a very comparable mark of 14,158. HP’s Spectre 13, with Core i7-8550U inside, scored a below mark of 13,090. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and its Core i7-7600U processor hit just 8,571.

The 1TB PCIe SSD in the Core i7-powered Dell XPS 13 took just 13 seconds to copy the 4.97GB of mixed files, registering a rate of 399.4 MBps, whereas the 256GB unit in the Core i5 model of XPS 13 performed the similar task at a rate of 339.2 MBps. Both the numbers are much better than the average category (232 MBps) and the Thinkpad X1 Carbon (242 MBps). The last gen XPS 13 with 256GB SSD was even faster, achieving an inevitable rate of 508 MBps. The HP Spectre 13 (339.3 MBps) tied the Core i5-powered version XPS 13.

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Dell XPS 13 Review – Heat

Both the Dell XPS 13 laptops we tested stayed pleasantly cool throughout our review. After streaming a Netflix Show for 15 minutes, the keyboard, touchpad, and the bottom of the Core i7-powered model hit 82, 86.5 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit respectively, well below our 95-degree comfort range. The Core i5 model got same readings of 80, 85.5 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit respectively.

Dell’s Power Manager app enables you to configure the laptop’s heat management for max performance, low temperature or less noise. We used the default setting during the max of our review, and the laptop always felt comfortably cool to the touch throughout. However, once we switched to the “Ultra Performance” mode, we noticed that the top of the keyboard registered 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Dell XPS 13 Review – Battery Life

No matter which variant of Dell XPS 13 you choose, you’ll get well above-average battery life, however, a model with the 1080p Full-HD non-touch screen lasts several hours more. The XPS 13 with 1080p non-touch display lasted 12 hours and 37 minutes on our battery test, which involves constant surfing over Wi-Fi. The variant with the 4K display lasted for 8 hours and 53 minutes. Those numbers match favorably to the ultraportable category (8:16) and the HP Spectre 13’s endurance time of 6:16.

However, previous gen Dell XPS with 1080p screen lasted a much-longer 16 hours and 5 minutes on our battery test. That’s because, in the procedure of making its laptop thinner and lighter, Dell shifted from a 60 watt-hour battery on the previous version to a 52 watt-hour unit on the latest version.

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Dell XPS 13 – Configuration Options

Dell will offer many configurations of the XPS 13, with prices ranging from $999 to over $2,000. The $999 base version has a 1080p non-touch screen, an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD; the white model of the same configuration costs $50 more.

Dell XPS 13 Review

For $1,249, you get a version with the same display and processor, but also 8GB RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD. The tricked-out, $2,499 model has a 4K touchscreen, a Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB RAM and a 1TB of PCIe SSD. If battery life is your prime priority, get a variant with the 1080p non-touch display. However, the vibrant colors on the 4K display make it an even more beautiful alternative.

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Conclusion

It’s official: Dell has undoubtedly done it again. Indirectly addressing the interests of users, Dell has improved its XPS 13 laptop further than ever before. Moving the webcam positioning, adding facial login and a four-mic input, giving Intel’s chips more room to perform much better and adding a 4K display have all evolved the XPS into an even more impressive flagship laptop.

Sure, we’d fancy a top-mounted webcam and to pay less to grab this latest model with an Intel’s Core i3 processor, but what Dell has put on the presentation here is well worth the raised price. With all of the enhancements made to the Dell XPS 13 for this year, the rest of the laptop makers has a high benchmark to measure itself again for 2018 and future. And Dell has once again set the bar high, very high.

9.5 Total Score
OUR VERDICT

Excellent! Moving the webcam positioning, adding facial login and a four-mic input, giving Intel’s chips more room to perform much better and adding a 4K display have all evolved the XPS into an even more impressive flagship laptop

Design
9.5
Ports
9
Keyboard and Touchpad
9.5
Display
9.5
Webcam
8.5
Audio
9
Graphics
9
Performance
9.5
Heat
9.5
Battery Life
9
PROS
  • Centered IR webcam
  • Gorgeous new design
  • Beautiful optional 4K display
  • Impressive performance
CONS
  • Steeper starting price
  • White option is pricier
  • Still gotta’ move that webcam
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