With Dell’s new XPS 13 there’s finally a genuine challenge to what can only be described as Apple’s domination of the market for slim, attractive and dependable laptops. With great battery life, top quality displays, reliable performance records and top-notch design, there’s no denying that Apple laptops have delivered time and again. Now, with the Dell XPS 13 there’s a serious Windows contender that is aiming to take the lead.
Starting from the design perspective, the Dell XPS 13 is straight out of the traps. The laptop’s lid and base are finished in a smooth aluminium that whilst sleek, feels study enough to withstand a fair bit of everyday rough and tumble. A closer look at the keyboard doesn’t disappoint either. Backlighting and an accurate touchpad make the XPS 13 a pleasure to use. Inside it’s all soft-touch plastic, which may not sound as premium but rest assured it looks and feels great. And yet despite this luxurious-feeling keyboard surround, the XPS 13 weighs in at just 1.27kg, a bit less than say, the Mac Book Pro 13.
In terms of practicality too, there’s much for Dell to be proud of. With two long rubber feet stretching across the width of the
underside of the chassis, the XPS 13 has a good grip whether you’re using it on a desk or on your lap. Secondly, there’s a handy LED battery capacity indicator on the XPS’ left edge, which is activated by pressing a small button. But of course what really draws you in to the Dell XPS 13 is its “infinity touchscreen”, which sees the bezel reduced to just 5mm wide, compared to around 15mm for a more typical machine of this type. It’s amazing just how much impact this difference has and it instantly makes every other thick-bezelled laptop look clunky and dated in comparison.
The QHD+ resolution of 3,200 x 1,800 means everything looks super sharp. In addition, it’s exceedingly bright, reaching up to 385cd/m2, while the black level dips down as low as 0.15cd/m2 with the brightness settings pushed to maximum. On the face of it, this sounds fantastic but be aware that the aggressive dynamic contrast brightens the display when the screen image is light, and dims the backlight when the onscreen content is dark. This dynamic contrast cannot be disabled, unfortunately, which means that the XPS 13 might not be the ideal choice for serious photo-editing.
With enough power to efficiently run all but the most demanding creative applications without the machine slowing down, and with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB Samsung PM851 M.2 SSD for storage, functionality is, again, impressive.
Intel’s integrated GPUs keep getting better and better, so gaming fans will find the Dell XPS 13’s Intel HD Graphics 5500 more than adequate.
In tests the super-efficient 14nm processor has lasted for around 11hrs of light use, which is only marginally better than the last-generation, All the same, anything over ten hours in this test for a laptop with this much power is more than acceptable.
In a nutshell, although there are a few let-downs, namely issues with the infinity display and the colour accuracy, the Dell’s XPS 13 has impressive design and great looks. It’s eye-catching eye overall, a great practical investment that’s mega portable.