Dell Xps 13 2020 Review: A Fantastic But Flawed Laptop
Latest top-of-the-line Dell is a brilliant machine with a great screen in a tiny body, but is let down badly by software problems
Dells XPS 13 squeezes more screen, more power and even Windows Hello face recognition into a tiny frame, but trips up over software issues.
The XPS 13 is Dells top-of-the-line compact laptop and starts at £1,349. Various models with different processors, storage and screen resolutions are available.
The XPS line is where Dell shows off its design chops. It is a premium Windows 10 rival to Apples MacBook Pro and more recently Microsofts Surface Laptop line.
Dells standout feature has been squeezing the biggest screen possible into as small a frame as possible by shrinking everything in the lid section of the laptop that isnt screen much like the modern all-screen smartphone design. The 2020 XPS 13 has the biggest display yet, at 13.4in with a 16:10 ratio, and tiny bezels all the way around the edges.
That means you get a relatively large display in the body of what would traditionally have been a laptop with just an 11in screen. And what a screen it is. The version tested had the 4K touchscreen option, which is crisper than practically anything else, super bright, colour accurate and all-round gorgeous. It supports HDR video, including Dolby Vision. Models are available with either touch or non-touch FHD+ screens too.
New Generation New Machine
When it came to the new XPS 13 Plus being introduced today, Dell began with one overarching big bet: reimagining the XPS 13 to cater to a new, youthful market segment which it calls young metropolitans. Its not a super-specific niche. Lyles defines the group as including 16 to, I dont know, 30-year-olds. Theres some range that covers Gen Z into late millennial, or early millennial, depending on which way you look at it. Oliphant cites a figure of 4.9 billion young people, which is actually everyone on Earth under the age of 40, from 39-year-olds to babies.
According to Dells definition, young metropolitans grew up with technology and arent impressed with it for its own sake. Its easy to see why a PC company would want to court them: Oliphant says that they value products that deliver better experiences and are willing to pay $1,000 and up for a new laptop every couple of years.
Now, some of us are instinctively skeptical of theories involving a vast number of people having similar outlooks on life simply because they happen to have been born in the same general timeframe. But even if young metropolitans are a squishy concept, trying to appeal to them led Dell to design a new XPS with a decided point of view.
These things are like balloonswhen you squeeze em, things that customers care about are going to pop out the other side.
Dell Xps 13 Plus: Peformance
The biggest reason to get the Dell XPS 13 Plus over the regular XPS 13 is the 12th gen Intel Core processor with 28W of power. That’s up from 15W on the previous Dell XPS 13. So you should expect better performance, especially during intensive workloads.
During my brief hands-on time with the XPS 13 Plus, it felt pretty snappy when opening apps and switching between multiple apps, but it’s hard to say at this point how fast it is.
We did do a MacBook Air M2 vs Dell XPS 13 Plus benchmark comparison where we found the XPS 13 Plus earned an impressive score of 10,621 in the Geekbench 5.4 multi-core CPU benchmark test that runs the CPU through a variety of workloads. That’s pretty high for an ultraportable. In comparison, MacBook Air M2 scored 8,919.
The Dell XPS 13 Plus also notched 4,879 and 3,638 MBps for writes and reads, so it was considerably faster. You can read our comparison for more details.
We can’t wait to see how this laptop stacks up against other Windows machines, but especially the MacBook Pro 14-inch.
Dell gives you four processor options with the XPS 13 Plus, starting with a 12th gen Core i5-1240P . There’s also a 12th generation Core i7-1260P and a Core i7-1270P . The top-end Core i7-1280P ups the number of cores from 12 to 14 and the cache from 18MB to 24MB.
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Differences Between Sizes And Variants
We tested the Dell XPS 13 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 CPU, integrated Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen processors, 8GB of memory, and 256GB of storage. The CPU, memory, and storage are configurable you can see the available options in the table below. Our review applies only to model 9310 of the Dell XPS 13. Most of our results apply to the 9305 model as well however, the 9305 model has a 16:9 FHD display. We consider the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 an entirely separate model.
Our display and performance results are only valid for the configuration we tested. If you come across a different configuration option not listed above, or you have a similar Dell XPS 13 9310 that doesn’t correspond to our review, let us know, and we’ll update it. Some tests, like black uniformity and color accuracy, may vary between individual units.
You can see our unit’s label here.
Dell Xps 13 Price And Configuration Options
We reviewed both the 1080p and 4K versions of the XPS 13. The base model XPS 13 I reviewed was released in January 2019 for $899. It packs an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, an Intel UHD 620 Graphics GPU and a 1920 x 1080 non-touch display.
I also took the $1,599 model of the Dell XPS 13 for a spin. And it’s chock-full of goodies, including a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i7-8565U CPU with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD, an Intel UHD 620 Graphics GPU and a 4K touch screen.
If you’re looking for a 2-in-1 laptop, the new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 offers a 10th Gen Intel Core processor and a bigger keyboard than its predecessor in an even thinner design.
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Display Like No Other
Stunning is an understatement: Dolby Vision content can deliver highlights that are up to 40 times brighter, and blacks that are up to 10 times darker.
Easy on the eyes: Integrated Eyesafe display technology helps reduce harmful blue light.
Unyielding display: Corning Gorilla Glass 6 is tough, damage resistant, durable, elegant and allows for no flex in its display.
Design And Ports: The Xps 13 Plus Looks Futuristic And Clean
The design is another area where these laptops differ quite a bit. With the XPS 13 Plus, Dell went all-in on a modern and futuristic look. For starters, the touchpad on this model is invisible. It blends completely into the rest of the chassis, so you cant see where it is, but it makes for a very clean look. The keyboard helps with this, thanks to the zero-lattice edge-to-edge design, which means theres almost no space at the edges of the keyboard, and also no space between each key. Finally, the XPS 13 Plus also replaces the function row with touch-based digital keys, which can be toggled between classic function keys and media controls.
All of this makes the Dell XPS 13 Plus one of the coolest-looking laptops around, and the color options are basic, but theyre a great fit for a clean design like this. It comes in Platinum or Graphite, both of which look great with this design.
The standard Dell XPS 13 sticks to a more classic design overall. You get a more traditional touchpad and keyboard, so its not as unique in that sense, but it still looks very clean. What makes this model more unique are the color options, which are actual colors this time. The Dell XPS 13 comes in either Sky or Umber, which is a dark shade of burgundy. That really helps this laptop have a bit more personality, and its a big change of pace from previous models.
Both laptops have two Thunderbolt 4 ports and nothing else.
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Dell Xps 13 Plus: Ports
We told you the XPS 13 Plus had a minimalist design, and that extends to the ports. You get just two Thunderbolt 4 ports , which support DisplayPort and power delivery. Dell includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter.
Unlike the regular XPS 13, you don’t get a headphone jack on the XPS 13 Plus or a microSD card slot. That’s a bummer.
If At First You Dont Succeed
Though the XPS 13 has long been among Dells best-known products, it sprung from a flop that would otherwise be a footnote in its history. In 2007, Apples stylish MacBooks were playing a major role in that companys resurgence and putting staid Windows laptops to shame. Oliphantwhod worked on consumery initiatives such as the DJ, Dells answer to the iPodwas charged with creating a premium consumer portfolio product to basically compete with Apple. Dell gave this effort the code name AdamoItalian for to loveand then turned that into the official product name, too.
Dells roots were in building reliable commodity computers more efficiently than anyone else, which was precisely what the business buyers who made up most of its customer base wanted. With Adamo, it made an in-your-face attempt to buck its own DNA. When the first version shipped in 2009, Dell touted it as the worlds thinnest laptop and ran extremely un-Dell-like ads showing it being brandished by models. The second-generation Adamo, which put the hinge partway up the half with the screen to angle the keyboard for comfier typing, was even more aggressively new than the first.
The response was, This is the worst experience for the user. The users are going to hate this.
Lyles says that hed never put a nosecam on a computer today, but taking the risk was the right decision given the technology available at the time: The spirit of XPS, I think, was cemented with a decision like that.
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Dell Xps 13 Software And Warranty
Dell bundled a solid suite of useful branded software with the XPS 13. Dell Power Manager lets you manage power consumption via preset profiles to extend battery life or to squeeze every bit of performance out of the system. Customer Connect is your conduit to a Dell technician if you need system assistance. Digital Delivery keeps track of all your software downloads and restores them after a system wipe or crash.
The company recently updated Dell Mobile Connect so it now plays nice with the iPhone. Now everyone can swap images, documents and videos seamlessly between your smartphone and laptop.
Third-party apps include Killer Control Center, which lets you set network bandwidth priority. The laptop also comes with a 20GB of free Dropbox storage for a year. There is, of course, some Windows 10 bloatware such as Netflix, Farm Heroes Saga and Candy Crush Saga.
The Dell XPS 13 ships with a one-year hardware warranty with onsite and in-Home service after remote diagnosis. See how Dell fared during our annual special reports: Tech Support Showdown and Best and Worst Brands.
Dell Unveils Redesigned ‘xps 13 Plus’ With Haptic Trackpad And Capacitive Function Keys
ByZac Bowdenlast updated 28 April 22
Dell has redesigned the XPS 13, and it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Dell has today announced a brand new XPS 13 “Plus” at CES 2022, featuring a reinvented simplistic design with extremely thin bezels, a large haptic trackpad, function touch keys, and more. It’s a major redesign of the Dell XPS 13, one of Dell’s most popular products and indeed the king of laptop design.
This new design features a keyboard deck that spans the entire width of the laptop, with larger keycaps that provide a comfortable smooth, and efficient typing experience. Additionally, Dell has replaced the top row where the function keys would normally be with capacitive touch buttons instead.
While capacitive keys may seem gimmicky, Dell tells us they did it for a good reason: It gave them more room for thermals, which lets them run Intel’s new 28-watt P-series chip with 14-cores and 20-threads. Users can toggle between Function and Media keys in Dell’s software.
Dell has also updated the trackpad design, placing it under a long pane of glass below the keyboard which gives the appearance of an invisible trackpad. It’s also powered by haptics, meaning it doesn’t move yet still provides a satisfying click when you press down on it.
Pricing has not yet been announced, with availability expected sometime in the Spring.
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No More Oled But Theres An Improved Webcam
Its a bit of an odd move, but Dell has apparently decided to make OLED panels exclusive to the more expensive XPS models, and removed the option from this years edition of the XPS 13. Now, you can choose between a Full HD+ display or an Ultra HD+ panel, both of which use IPS. Touch support is optional on the Full HD+ version, but the 4K+ version includes it by default. Otherwise, the panel is the same 13.4-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio.
On the bright side, Dell has made some improvements to the webcam this year. Its still a 720p sensor , but Dell separated the IR sensor used for Windows Hello from the RGB sensor you actually use for calls. Having separate sensors improves image quality significantly, so this is still a welcome upgrade.
Dell Xps 1: Release Date Price And Everything You Need To Know
At the start of 2022, Dell threw us for a loop with the announcement of the Dell XPS 13 Plus, which you might have thought was a replacement for the classic XPS 13. But if you thought there wouldnt be a standard XPS 13, youd be wrong. Dell is still continuing that lineup, and its quite different from both its predecessors and the XPS 13 Plus, featuring a new design and upgraded specs, but it also keeps some of what youve come to expect from the XPS family.
The XPS family is home to the best Dell laptops around and the best laptops in general so to see it upgraded is always exciting. If you want to know all there is to know about the new Dell XPS 13 for 2022, youve come to the right place. Weve rounded up everything from the release date to the specs, so you dont have to make a blind purchase. Lets get into it.
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Dell Xps 13 Plus: Keyboard And Touchpad
Touch typists should enjoy using the Dell XPS 13 Plus. It features a zero-lattice keyboard with larger keycaps, and Dell says there’s a deeper dish supporting the layout.
During my hands-on time, I didn’t mind the lack of space between the keys, and typing was fairly comfortable overall with a good amount of travel. I wish the down and up arrows were larger but generally speaking the XPS 13 Plus typing experience is satisfying.
I’d like to spend more time using the touchpad before rendering a verdict, as it certainly feels different. As noted above, the touchpad is integrated into the palm rest, so there are no visual lines to be seen, and the pad uses Piezo technology to deliver haptic feedback.
The clicks didn’t feel as satisfying as, say, a MacBook Pro trackpad, but I didn’t encounter any issues with scrolling or clicking.
The New Dell Xps 13 Is Thinner Lighter And Faster
Dells latest XPS 13 doesnt stray from the looks of previous models, with the same edge-to-edge keyboard and minimalist aesthetic. However, the laptop does manage to get thinner and lighter. To do this, Dell had to redesign the insides of the laptop to fit everything. The company says it had to miniaturize the motherboard to be 1.8 times smaller, making it the smallest motherboard its ever shipped.
The result? The new XPS 13 is just 0.55 inches thick and weighs 2.59 pounds, compared to the 0.58-inch and 2.60-pound enclosure of the older model. Its launching in two finishes: Sky and Umber . Theyre both a nice change from Dells usual white and black, and bring the colorful Surface Laptop 4 to mind. Its made of CNC machined aluminum for a more durable and portable form factor, and it still looks every bit as premium as the XPS line historically has.
Looking around the laptop, Dell includes the same twin Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports as the previous XPS 13, but it drops the microSD card slot and 3.5mm headphone jack. Dell will make up for the lack of a headphone jack with an optional USB-C to 3.5mm adapter, but theres no in-box replacement for the microSD card reader, which is a bit of a bummer.
Rounding things off, theres a 720p webcam on the latest XPS 13, which is disappointing given how most modern laptops have switched over to 1080p sensors over the past couple of years. In addition, Dell will sell the laptop in two OS flavors: Windows 11 and Ubuntu 20.04 .
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Dell Xps 13 Plus Vs Xps 1: Battery Life
The Dell XPS 13 delivers decent battery life, and the models we’ve reviewed have typically lasted around eight hours in our battery life test, which tasks the laptop with endlessly surfing the web via Wi-Fi with its screen set to 150 nits of brightness.
Eight hours is good but not great, so we’re eager to put the Dell XPS 13 Plus through our battery tests to see if it can outlast its predecessor. At CES 2022 we learned the Dell XPS 13 Plus packs a 55WHr battery, which is bigger than the 52WHr battery inside the old Dell XPS 13. However, the Plus features a more powerful CPU with a higher power draw than CPUs in older models, so its bigger battery may not mean better endurance.
However, like the XPS 13, the XPS 13 Plus has an express charging feature, and Dell claims it takes less than an hour to charge the Plus up to 80% battery power.