Dell XPS 13 review: Tiny tweaks to a long-time favorite

Obtaining watched the Dell XPS thirteen evolve over the past many several years, I definitely imagined we experienced arrived at the end of the line in phrases of possible advancements. The 2019 edition experienced a super-slender bezel, very good performance at a decent price, 4K screen solutions, and was additional of a important step ahead, solving a extended-time engineering dilemma by placing a super-tiny webcam up on top of the screen, as an alternative of underneath it. 


  • At any time so slightly greater screen.
  • At any time so slightly smaller sized physique.
  • Far more ports and connections than regular.

Never Like

  • Buying and selling up to a mainstream CPU fees additional.
  • I’ve hardly ever liked the woven texture palm rest.

And even though I could no for a longer period make jokes about the infamous up-the-nose webcam shot, I very significantly failed to have any important style issues about the program anymore. So, wherever do you go from there? 

You get started by tweaking the screen, shaving down that bezel a tiny bit additional and shaping the lid, so you can fit a thirteen.four-inch display in there, as an alternative of a thirteen.three-inch just one. That seems like a very tiny tweak, and it is, but I like that it now has a incredibly modern day-emotion 16:ten part ratio screen. Not quite as Tv set-like as the 16:9 ones virtually in all places else. 

The physique has missing a several fractions of a millimeter, too, with a slightly smaller sized footprint. But the smaller sized physique also signifies it feels dense when you pick it up, and slightly heavier than you expect, even however it truly weighs the exact same one pound, thirteen ounces as the latest MacBook Air (without electrical power bricks, and likely by the correct exam configurations I experienced of every). The greater footprint of the MacBook tends to make the bodyweight come to feel additional evenly dispersed, but it also will take up slightly additional area on your desk, so you will find a trade-off. 


Now that’s a slender bezel.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The amazing screen-to-physique ratio on the XPS thirteen is a true eye-catching offering issue here. For some individuals, the white woven glass palm rest area — a $50 upsell over black carbon fiber —  is also a significant attraction. I hardly ever imagined the white palmrest and aluminum lessen physique felt component of an organic total, the way some other laptops come to feel like they are carved from a solitary slab of metallic (even if they are not). But my son — hey, we’re all doing the job from household workplaces now, keep in mind? — looked at the two the new XPS thirteen and new MacBook Air side by side and declared the XPS to be significantly fancier. 

In some strategies, the new XPS thirteen has the poor luck to get there appropriate around the exact same time as the new Apple MacBook Air, a likewise priced thirteen-inch notebook that handles a ton of the exact same floor. The new MacBook Air upgraded by itself by shifting to a new keyboard model, nearer in actuality to what is on the XPS thirteen. It also jumped to quad-main 10th-gen Core i5 CPUs, once more, also offered in the XPS thirteen. 


Beats a butterfly keyboard any working day… 

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Digging into the rates and components 

These two are comparable in so several strategies, which include some perplexing pricing solutions to dig by way of. Equally were being originally pitched as starting at $999 in the US. The MacBook Air has certainly moved back again to $999, but that drops you down to a twin-main Intel Core i3 CPU, which isn’t going to audio like a $one,000 component to me. The new XPS thirteen, as originally observed in the course of its CES 2020 rollout, started out at $999 with — yes — a Core i3 CPU. But as of this composing, I am seeing $one,249 as the the very least-costly possibility (more mature types are even now readily available for appreciably a lot less) on Dell’s site. That will get you a new Core i5 with Intel Iris graphics, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, comparable to the specs on a $one,099 2020 MacBook Air (which also has a bigger-resolution screen). 

My exam device was very well-equipped, with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a one,920x,one,080 touchscreen display, for $one,749. To be good, Apple did the exact same, sending me a bigger-end Core i7/16GB/512GB develop that fees $one,649. 

Little surprises 

Although the XPS thirteen originally felt like the very best thirteen-inch Windows notebook to get if you desired a MacBook-Air-like working experience, but for what ever rationale required to run Windows as an alternative of MacOS. But it truly is extended given that developed past that. The component specs may well match up very very well, but the XPS is also total of enjoyable delicate surprises. 


Dan Ackerman/CNET

The two USB-C ports (which are also total Thunderbolt three ports) are split up, just one on every side, providing you additional solutions for plugging in electrical power or accessories. The MacBook Air shoves the two on just one side, leaving you a lot less flexibility. The XPS thirteen also contains a microSD card reader, a scarce inclusion in a planet wherever Laptop makers are racing to lose ports as promptly as possible. 

And last but not least, you can not defeat that approximately edge-to-edge screen. Future to it, the MacBook’s display bezels search huge. Even with the one,920×1,080 possibility, the five hundred-nit display seems excellent. Sure, you will find a 4K possibility, for $200 additional than the FHD touchscreen, but on a screen this size that feels like overkill, and would no doubt knock many several hours off the impressive 11-hour-and-26-moment battery daily life we acquired for the XPS thirteen in our movie-streaming battery daily life exam. 

Some top quality Windows laptops concentration on chopping bodyweight, like the LG Gram, or size, like the Acer Swift seven, but Dell has managed to make some delicate advancements to a confirmed winner and keep its title as just one of the very best all-around general-function thirteen-inch Windows laptops you can buy.