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Dell XPS 13 Review: The best Windows laptop, updated

By Scorpus · 17 replies
Feb 8, 2016
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  1. As far as product refreshes go, the new Dell XPS 13 is a pretty minor one. This updated laptop, which Dell launched at the end of last year as the successor to early 2015’s completely revamped Dell XPS 13, includes just a handful of improvements: a new Skylake CPU, a USB Type-C port that supports Thunderbolt 3, and the option to get the laptop in gold. That’s about it.

    But considering the Broadwell-based Dell XPS 13 was my favorite laptop of 2015, I just had to get in the new model and see if it’s still a class-leading device. The release of the Skylake variant also presented a great opportunity to see how the high-resolution touchscreen model compares to the standard 1080p variant, which I had previously looked at last year.

    Read the complete review.

  2. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,762   +435

    With the audio port, is there a way to plug in a mic? My old XPS 15 has 3 audio jacks, one of which is a mic port.
  3. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 641   +348

    The question still remains,
    has Dell adequately addressed quality and instability issues with:

    Win 10 blue screen exceptions
    graphics driver crashing
    BIOS alerts

  4. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,960   +230

    Yes I believe when you plug in a device into the audio jack you can specify whether it's a headphone or microphone. If you need both you'll need to get a USB adapter like most laptops these days

    Didn't experience any of those issues during my time with the unit, which was nearly a month now
    NightAngel79 likes this.
  5. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,710   +869

    Solid review, nice XPS.
  6. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Guru Posts: 641   +348

    You scored then. Feel lucky.
    There are multitudes of product reviews & reddit posts tracking issues on more than a minuscule level,
    for both the XPS 13 and 15. If you weed out the no-value-add + or - customer reviews, the weighting goes to the negative ads complaining about driver/display issues and Win 10 blue screen exceptions fresh out of the box.
  7. texasrattler

    texasrattler TS Addict Posts: 212   +59

    Where's the HP Spectre comparison? It's the same product just by HP. Competes with that and the MacBook Pro. No idea why reviews keep leaving off product that is nearly the same. Just doesn't make since. Especially since the HP Spectre is a direct competition for Dell. Leaving it off, even though it was a good review for the XPS, what's the point since the MacBook Pro was in there. Kinda of injustice imo and more or less simply favoring the Dell when your missing one of it's biggest competitors.
  8. SuperVeloce

    SuperVeloce TS Booster Posts: 133   +34

    "The base model with the Core i3 CPU and 4 GB of RAM really isn’t worth considering, as the Core i3 CPU lacks Turbo Boost and hyper-threading functionality, which makes it a fair bit slower than the Core i5 options."

    huh? I don't think there was ever an i3 without HT.
  9. melvz

    melvz TS Rookie

    Dell has now updated some of their models to have i7-6560U with intel iris 540 graphics. any chance you can review this?
  10. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,960   +230

    That would be because I have no experience using the HP Spectre as so far they haven't been willing to send a review unit

    Ah yes that would be an error on my part.

    Depends what Dell wants to send, that model isn't available here (Australia) just yet, but I might enquire anyway
  11. texasrattler

    texasrattler TS Addict Posts: 212   +59

    Well how can you conclude that Dell is the best windows laptop when you haven't even seen or used them all like the Spectre. Your just basing stuff off what you have used not what is actually available. Hell anyone can do that by simply waking into a store nowadays. If your gonna do a review might want to include all models for a fair comparison. You don't have to own them to compare them. Doing just some is an injustice as I could conclude that the HP Spectre is the best simply cause I have used not ever used the Dell but used the others. That just wouldn't make sense.
  12. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +113

    Stating that it's the best when you never even compare so many laptops is ludicrous. How does it play games compared to an Asus ROG laptop? Thought so. I'll stick with my ROG.
    Its too bad this wasn't a proper review with comparisons of the competition laptops.
  13. gregzeng

    gregzeng TS Enthusiast Posts: 48

    "The question still remains,
    has Dell adequately addressed quality and instability issues with:
    Win 10 blue screen exceptions
    graphics driver crashing
    BIOS alerts"

    Seems to me that your gripes are with Microsoft Windows-10, not Dell. My old Dell XPS-15 (L521-x, 2013) still has many failures with Windows-10.

    So I multi-boot with Linux operating systems, which have better and more reliable driver supports; gaming is not one of my interests. This has been a very reliable GUI installation for several years now, including times before my upgrade to the Dell.
    My notebook multi-boots many Linux and two Win-10 partitions. Windows is on the SSD and another on the (slow) spinning HDD. My motherboard's SSD also has up to ten partitions, reserved for Linux operating systems. All my Data partitions are read-write capable by all operating systems, and are in the Windows-10 NTFS-compressed format.
  14. OortCloud

    OortCloud TS Booster Posts: 135   +37

    It's certainly a nice looking bit of kit.

    Unfortunately like so many of these devices, why do the page-up and down keys get bumped onto the cursor keys, which themselves get shrunk. As a developer being able to page/cursor about quickly is really important, and these keyboard layouts always make it a pain. I know something gotta go on these smaller keyboards, but I just wish it wasn't all the cursor movement keys.
  15. texasrattler

    texasrattler TS Addict Posts: 212   +59

    Here we go blaming MS for a manufacturer issues. MS deal with their software. It is not up to MS to keep up drivers thats the manufacturers job.
    Oh btw, not all BSOD are related to MS, actually there are a lot not related to MS at all.
  16. Technician

    Technician TS Addict Posts: 677   +113

    I would agree with this. I put Win X on my Asus rog laptop and never had any bsod or other issues at all. And it has the full audio io ports as well.
  17. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,162   +548

    Top of the line THIRTEEN INCH screen, almost 3,000.00?
    Screen's too small. 15" is almost too small for my use.
  18. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,279   +105

    Thanks for the review. I might end up buying it. I'm using my Thinkpad X120e more these days, and it's a bit of a dog. This laptop is about the same size and weight, but of course much better, good enough for even some PC gaming.

    The 256GB SSD upgrade is ridiculously priced though. If I buy this I'll get the $1000 version plus a Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB M.2 which is $158 right now (on Amazon or Newegg). Add a cheap M.2 to SATA adapter, and for about $170 over the laptop's price I'll get a laptop with a 500GB SSD plus a 128GB SSD to plug into another PC.

    Edit: Looks like the 256GB version with Windows 10 Pro is on sale for $999 right now at Dell's. Tempting.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2016

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