Dell XPS 13 review

Dell XPS 13 pros and cons verdict

 

Once again, Dell has improved its high-end laptop by refining its Dell XPS 13 which is now packed with updated hardware in the light and thin design we have come to admire. The plus Dell offer this time around is that we also get a new color in Alpine White Dell XPS 13.

The Dell XPS 13 2018 comes with the high-end 8th-generation Intel Kaby Lake Refresh processor that boosts the performance of the machine, compared to the previous generations. This new edition also features windows 10, USB-C ports and a microSD slot, which several light and thin laptops are abandoning nowadays, to the amazement of tech experts.

Dell XPS 13 is not only super thin, but it is also deceptively powerful and extremely lightweight at just 2.67 pounds. The best thing about this powerful machine is that it is not only powerful and easier to carry around, but cheaper than MacBook Pro.

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The Dell XPS 13 is not only the best-designed laptop of the year but also takes inspiration from the latest smartphone releases, where bezel-less displays have taken over. The bezels of Dell XPS 13 Infinity Edge display is thin and practically nowhere to be found.

 

Despite the Dell XPS 13 improving in important areas, it is not tampering with its best features, which makes it the best laptop in 2018.

 

The new Alpine White finish of the Dell XPS 13 even impressed us the most. Its design has also made it the best 13-inch laptop you can find on the market now. But the impressive features and design have also made it more expensive than ever before.

 

Dell XPS 13 spec

RAM: 16GB DDR3 (2,133MHz)

CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.0GHz)

Storage: 1TB PCle SSD

Screen: 13.3-inch, Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) UltraSharp InfinityEdge touch display

Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620

Camera: Widescreen HD (720p) webcam with 4 array digital microphones

Connectivity: killer 1435 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1

Weight: 2.67 pounds (1.21kg)

Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 1 x USB-C 3.1, micro SD card reader, headset jack

Size: 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.3-0.46 inches (3.02 x 1.99 x 0.78-1.16cm; W x D x H)

Dell XPS 13 price and availability

Although this gorgeous laptop is more expensive than ever before, it makes up for the high price by boosting the design and performance.

 

Fortunately, the least expensive of this edition comes with a quad-core processor, 1.6GHz (up to 3.4GHz with Turbo Boost) Intel Core i5-8250U. You will have to cough out $999/£1,269/aboutAUD2,190 for this laptop, but you will be in for a 4GB of Ram, 128GB of SSD storage and 1080p non-touch display.

 

Just like most of the 2018 flagship laptops, you can choose a better configuration with specs you need for your day-to-day workload. If you are looking for a faster processor, you have two models featuring a 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U (4GHz with Turbo Boost) you can choose from.

 

For the Dell XPS 13, we reviewed here, you would need to cough out $2,349/£1,899/about AUD3,004. Although that is much for an average user, the laptop comes with a 4K display, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage space.

 

While we love the display on the Dell XPS 13, some other people have complained that it looks worse than the main model’s 1080p screen because of its contrast and lower color accuracy.

 

It’s also worth to note that the Rose Gold on Alpine White version is a bit pricier than the standard, silver-on-black model in the US. So you need to add an extra $50 for this regardless of the hardware inside. The worst thing about this is that it is only available in the US.

 

All configurations for this new Dell XPS 13 include three USB-C ports (2 of them are Thunderbolt 3), a 3.5mm audio jack and a microSD card reader.

 

Here, the only flagship that can stand side-by-side with Dell XPS 13 in term of price is the Google Pixelbook. The 13.3-inch MacBook Pro and Surface Book 2 is more expensive when it comes to similar configurations.

 

Dell XPS 13 Design

Dell XPS 13 review

Since Dell XPS 13 earned a place at the top, this is the first time it is receiving noticeable changes. Surprisingly, it is lighter and thinner than the 2017 model.

 

This 2018 model is slimmed down to 30 percent at only 0.3 inches (3.4mm) and lighter at about 2.67 pounds (1.21kg).

Dell XPS 13 review

 

Another noticeable change to Dell XPS 13 design is the new Rose Gold on Alpine White color option. Although almost all laptop manufacturers have a rose gold color option in 2018, Dell spices it up with a new set of materials for the complementary-colored keyboard deck on its Dell XPS 13.

 

This time around, the woven glass fiber is well woven into a laptop. Its base also has a titanium oxide coating, giving it not only a stronger stain-resistance feature but also a pearlescent sheen.

Dell XPS 13 review

 

Dell is proud of the new keyboard deck which houses a crystalline silica material that has a white color woven into it just like fabric.

 

Sadly, Dell did not make the plastic that borders the laptop’s display a stain resistant just like the other parts of the laptop. During our test, the softer plastic got a bit gray than the rest of the plastics that borders the Dell XPS 13’s base edge.

Dell XPS 13 design

Despite that, the laptop marks a turning point with its webcam. The new IR lens makes login via Windows hello faster as it scans your face faster and signs you in. But the red flashing of the infrared light is a bit much.

 

Although the 720p webcam is not a 60 frames-per-second lens like on the Pixelbook, it produces sharp visual as that of the latest MacBook Pro. Only the Surface Book 2 beats them all with its 1080p camera.

Dell XPS 13 design

 

The webcam is equipped with 4 microphones – placed within the lip of the base of the laptop for a better video chatting input and far-field communication for yelling at Cortana from across the room. The mics actually pick up clearer audio voice over video chat than its competitors.

 

But they can’t challenge Amazon Echo and Google Home anytime soon. While the mics can pick up our ‘Hey, Cortana’ commands from a few feet away in front of the Dell XPS 13, the same can not be said of it when you try it from behind the laptop at the same distance.

 

Dell XPS 13 Display

Dell XPS 13 dispaly

The display also received a great improvement. You can now enjoy an optional 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) resolution beneath a glossy, IGZO touchscreen on the new Dell XPS 13. That is sharper than the laptops we’ve mentioned previously.

 

Because it rocks a 1,500:1 contrast ratio and sRGB color coverage, blacks look as if the backlight shut off in those spots during darker scenes in photos and videos and colors pop with vibrancy. Also, the touch display is fluid and responsive and had no issue recognizing all our gestures.

Dell XPS 13 display

 

Additionally, Dell XPS 13display is coated in a 0.65 percent anti-reflective coating that aims to offset screen glare.

 

Performance

Dell XPS 13 review

With the Dell XPS 13 for 2018 latest Intel processors, it is the most powerful one yet. What we see in Dell XPS 13 is really impressive and outstanding as it beats the previous model in every test.

 

One would ask why this 2018 model is more powerful than that of 2017 model despite the two using the same processor. Well, we believe it is because of improved thermals.

 

Dell touts the use of Gore thermal insulation in this Dell XPS 13 for stronger heat dissipation. More up-to-date quad-core processing brought by the 8th-generation Intel chips also makes the performance of this 2018 model’s performance better than 2017 MacBook Pro.

 

When it comes to core computing benchmarks, the 13.5-inch Surface Book 2 can’t even compete with new Dell XPS 13. But don’t forget that the Surface Book 2 won on visual test with its Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics.

 

The new power management software used by Dell also helps Dell XPS 13 with a dynamic power mode that delivers maximum power automatically when needed and monitors the system’s heat at the same time. Even under load, the system will never grow too hot.

Although playing games on the XPS 13 may not go beyond indie or casual hit, the machine is a great engine when it comes to video editing, especially because of its microSD card slot. Its 16GB speedy memory will also help you churn through spreadsheets without any hassle.

 

Battery life

Dell XPS 13 design

The battery test scores are always impressive for laptops with a 4K display. The Dell XPS 13 battery is great as it will last you on most flights within Western Europe, the US and across Australia.

 

Keyboard and trackpad

 

Dell did not touch the laptop inputs, so rest assured that the touchpad and keyboard look and feel remain the same.

 

The glass-coated touchpad is wide enough that our fingers glide smoothly along the surface.  So don’t expect anything lesser than what you have seen on previous Dell laptop.

 

Nice things about Dell XPS 13

IR webcam

Brand new design

Color option

Powerful processor

Gorgeous optional 4K display

 

What we hate about Dell XPS 13

The centered webcam is not in the right position yet

No entry-level configuration is available for the new and better designed Dell XPS 13.

 

Final verdict

Dell has done it again! When it comes to addressing customers concerns, Dell has done that with the newly designed Dell XPS 13. This laptop is so impressive that we have given it the best laptop’s award.

 

With a four-mic array and facial login, moving the webcam, giving Intel’s chips more thermal headroom and the addition of a 4K panel, Dell XPS 13 is now a formidable Ultrabook. Although what Dell crafted in this laptop is worth the higher price, we’d love to see a lower entry cost for this model with a Core i3 processor and a top-mounted webcam.

 

This 2018 Dell XPS 13 model has received enough improvements that set a benchmark to measure other laptops in 2018. Dell has set the bar very high again.

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