Dell XPS 13 Review: The best Windows ultraportable you can buy

By Scorpus · 15 replies
Feb 23, 2015
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  1. dell xps review windows dell laptop xps 13

    The ideal Windows laptop is very hard to find. Some laptops come with beautiful designs, some are very portable, some include powerful hardware and others excellent battery life. A device that combines all of those features into one package would be truly excellent, but thanks to the usual trade-offs of current generation hardware, it's not something we're likely to see soon.

    ….or is it? Sitting in front of me is the new Dell XPS 13, and as far as I can tell, it ticks most boxes. It has a 13-inch display with a very slim bezel, making it extremely portable. The aluminium shell with a carbon fibre-style interior looks pretty darn good. Internally we're getting a new Intel Broadwell Core i5 CPU, which is just as powerful as before but more energy efficient. And battery life, at least for the 1080p model, is rated at up to 15 hours.

    So the XPS 13 sounds like a very compelling product on initial inspection. Unless the device doesn't live up to its claims in one way or another, Dell might just have one of the best laptops on the market. And it might finally be the laptop I can recommend anyone without throwing caution towards a feature.

    Read the complete review.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2015
  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,664   +1,949

    I love the thing bezel display, it looks better than any other laptop. I've been thinking of getting a Windows laptop for my next choice when there is something that can compete with my latest Macbook Pro 15". Unfortunately there is still nothing. Portability is the only department this laptop beats mine, while losing in everything else, price aside.

    I would have serious doubts about getting a laptop with a camera in the bottom frame, that's sloppy of DELL. I always find I have to keep looking down when skyping, while using camera at the top of my 15" laptop. I can't imagine what it must look like using a camera that's smack at the bottom, looking up your chin. Sounds horrible for anyone who relies on video chats, which would make a great many these days.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  3. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    I like the Glenfiddich in the background. Prior to this all the images are on black tables or white work surface with minimal other objects in the background, then WHAM "I'm almost done with the review, I'm having a drink!" :D
    Julio Franco likes this.
  4. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,037

    One drink in and now it has no bezel.

    On a more serious note this is a very slick looking lappy, I wouldn't mind having one ;)

    I get your complaint about the camera VitalyT but would it spoil the design up the top? I know function over form is better but it's just so darn sexy :)
    Julio Franco and Arris like this.
  5. CaptainTom

    CaptainTom TS Maniac Posts: 304   +132

    This thin bezel design should be become the new standard in notebooks. I mean if every laptop had one our 15.6" laptops would take up the same space as the old 14", and so on...
    Julio Franco likes this.
  6. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    If I wasn't still a big kid and played games that demand a little more performance than the HD6000 graphics core then I'd love a sleek little machine like this. But given that Adobe are bringing out a new version of Lightroom that will be using GPU power I'd still want a dedicated GPU in my laptop even if I'm not gaming on it.
  7. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,471   +375

    My XPS 12.5 convertible is jealous. It's like looking at a sexier version of itself that it will never attain. :(

    That being said, my XPS12.5 is awesome but the 4GB of RAM is harsh when running photoshop or lightroom.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  8. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,936   +1,101

    Nice review Tim, I only have one thing to say.
    That high of a score with average sound output! No more JBL's?
    The XPS brand is for multimedia, entertainment and gaming... how could they have missed on the audio?

    Or am I being too presumptuous?
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
  9. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,963   +231

    Should've showed it to you when I went around to yours the other day, had it in my car. It's an awesome laptop, love using it for writing stuff on the go (I normally write on my desktop)
  10. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,475   +126

    This is more geared for business though but very good report though. I holding out so touch transparent screen models which don't seem to be coming out in 2015.
  11. daniel190694

    daniel190694 TS Rookie

    I'm going to buy the 4k display, 8Gb RAM, 256Gb SSD. I know the battery life would be 7-9 hours (from mixed reviews), but what if I add the Dell Power Companion?
    It could give me a boost of battery life around 5-6 hours to the laptop, but would you guys suggest it this way?
    By the way, buying it for college and some minor gaming (Counter Strike, Team Fortress 2 etc.).
  12. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Evangelist Posts: 1,573   +714

    Can the integrated graphics actually do any gaming with the 4k display? Noting that most of the benchmarks for games at high details on the regular HD display were already at minimum framerates for playability... Not sure how it would be able to run at 4k - even discrete graphics cards have difficulties at these resolutions...
  13. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    At least 1920x1080 is a factor of 4k so playing at non native res wouldn't look completely rubbish.

    Edit : Ah its 3200x1800 not 3840 × 2160. Might still look ok to play at 1600x900 then.

    The HD5500 gets ~40 fps with CS:GO at 1366x768 High, ~59 fps Medium quality.

    No benchmarks for the HD6000 yet but I wouldn't expect it to be worlds apart from the HD5500.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015
  14. Scorpus

    Scorpus TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 1,963   +231

    At 3200 x 1800 the GPU would seriously struggle with games even on low settings
  15. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,730   +379

    I think the 4k is nice for productivity but going to struggle to get playable frame rates from just about any laptop out there. Mostly top end graphics cards and/or SLi/Crossfire are needed for that. Maybe some of the SLi/Crossfire gaming laptops which are bordering on desktop replacements, not ultraportables.

    1600x900 would be best bet for gaming, since it's a 1/2 of the 4k resolution used. And won't suffer as much from smoothing/interpolation.
  16. only1miller

    only1miller TS Rookie

    Great review, thanks!

    One comment I'd like to make is about the availability of the matte screen option (which I feel was underplayed in the review). As a business-type user (few games, mostly data productivity apps) the availability of a matte display is a godsend. In the office environments in which my laptops function, overhead/rear lighting is prevalent which really cancels out the benefit of more vibrant glossy display.

    Thanks to Dell for recognizing an important segment of the user community who wants the latest sexy laptop but with useable business features.

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