Dell XPS 13 full review:

Dell XPS 13

1. Dell XPS 13 full review:

The Dell XPS 13 has been a regular of our best laptops list for years, and the 2019 model is no exception. It retains everything we’ve come to love from Dell’s flagship 13-inches, from the gorgeous and light design to the powerful modern components that power it. The Dell XPS 13 rocks an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and a bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, this Dell XPS 13 continues to be the most popular Windows laptop in the world.

What’s more, there’s a wide range of customization options, so you can really make the Dell XPS 13 the best laptop for your needs. The 2019 model doesn’t bring a huge amount of improvements, but then not that much about the Dell XPS 13 needs improving. Its webcam has been placed at the top center of the screen, rather than at the bottom, which a lot of customers have been asking for. You also get longer battery life in this year’s model.

Dell’s flagship laptop has returned for 2019, and this year is a return to form for the Dell XPS 13. This leading laptop has finally addressed its most glaring flaw, the webcam while making a considerable improvement in battery life.

All of these upgrades have come to a laptop that hasn’t changed much beyond them, continuing the lineage of one of the best laptops in the world. But, within the last year, the high-end laptops – the best Ultrabooks – have changed a bit, with Asus and Huawei’s sharp rise, and therefore, so has the XPS 13’s place at the podium.

So, while the Dell XPS 13 isn’t the best laptop in the world last year, it is still a laptop to beat in 2019.

Dell XPS 13 2019

2. Price and availability

Dell wants $899 for the starting configuration of the XPS 13 in the US – just like last time. This price nets you an 8th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of 2,133MHz DDR3 memory and a 128GB PCIe SSD beneath a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge display.

There are three other available configurations, with the highest-end option including an 8th generation quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory and a 2TB PCIe SSD – all driving a 4K (3840 x 2160) touchscreen. This model calls for a whopping $2,609.

All configurations are available in Dell’s three colors: silver-on-black, rose gold-on-white and a brand-new frost-on-white scheme. The model you see configured here would cost a cool $2,549.

In the UK, the XPS 13 starts at £1,379 for an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD behind a 4K touchscreen; meanwhile, it starts at AU$2,299 in Australia for the same internals with a Full HD display.

Right now it looks like there are many more configuration choices for customers in the US than those in the UK and Australia, but higher storage options are locked behind some high price hikes. But, that doesn’t change the fact that the XPS 13 is still competitive with similarly powered rivals – save for the mind-blowing value of the flagship Huawei MacBook X Pro, especially at the high-end.

3. Design and display

At first glance, the Dell XPS 13 looks identical to last year’s model, and that’s largely the case here. However, Dell didn’t simply take an ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach this year, but finally solved the laptop’s most glaring design flaw: the webcam is finally above the display.

The camera’s visual quality isn’t going to blow you away, but we appreciate the wider frame for capturing co-workers or friends besides us more easily. Taking 0.9-megapixel stills and 720p video, you’re going to look fine in video meetings – just don’t expect Twitch broadcaster quality here.

Otherwise, the design identity and build quality here is the same as before. The laptop is just as thin and light as last year at 0.46 inches (11.6mm) 2.7 pounds (1.23kg), respectively. The Dell XPS 13 also sticks to the same anodized aluminum screen lid and base paired with the woven carbon fiber – a glass fiber weave on the lightly-colored models – keyboard deck.

The keyboard feels just as punchy and performant as before, and the glass-coated touchpad is a delight to use as always. This is one of those areas where it truly isn’t broken and is in no need of fixing.

Dell XPS 13 2019

The same lineup of ports is here as well, with two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, one USB-C 3.1 port, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This is one step ahead of many competing laptops, with many using solely USB-C 3.1 and not the superior Thunderbolt 3 standard.

As for the display, it also remains unchanged, and it’s just as vibrant and rich as ever in both the Full HD and 4K touchscreen options; the bezels around the display are almost non-existent, of course.

Especially in the 4K model tested here, we find the 100% sRGB color reproduction through Dell’s CinemaColor tools to be excellent, complimented by some popping HDR techniques and 400 nits of brightness. The 4K panel is plenty sharp, but it’s still a little excessive for a 13.3-inch viewing area.

All told, there wasn’t much that had to be changed about the XPS 13 design, except for that one tiny elephant in the room.

4. 8th Generation Series;

As one would expect, the XPS 13 of 2019 is marginally better than last year’s model in just about every category, particularly battery life. Much of the hardware inside is nigh identical to last year’s if not just barely better.

For instance, the processor inside is only the latest iteration on the 8th-generation series of Intel processors, specifically the Intel Whisky Lake Core i7-8565U in here compared to last year’s Kaby Lake R Core i7-8550U. Both processors operate at the same frequency, but the newer model is more efficient within the same power profile and therefore slightly stronger.

You can see this in our slightly improved PCMark 8 Geekbench 4 (Single-Core) results, whereas video performance gains are negligible at best as expected. Just like last year, this model uses the same Gore insulation found within the Mars rover for better thermal management and therefore stronger theoretical performance.

This will see the XPS 13 absolutely tear through general computing tasks and up to handle a video encoding or spreadsheet lookup task with ease. We certainly had no issue running several apps at once on the device. But, we could easily see most PC games and other media-rich professional tasks giving this laptop a run for its money.

Dell XPS 13 2019

5. Battery life

Dell promises up to 12 hours of use from the 4K version of the XPS 13, derived from a MobileMark 2014 benchmark score. Meanwhile, the Full HD version lasts up to 21 hours in the same test. Of course, our tests produced nowhere near the same numbers, as is expected.

However, our tests did show a marked increase in battery life year-on-year, particularly the local video playback benchmark. The XPS 13 lasted nearly three hours longer than the previous model in this test.

General use is also going to see a boost in longevity, judging by this laptop’s result in the PCMark 8 Battery benchmark. In that test, we saw the 2019 XPS 13 last for 21 minutes longer than the 2018 model – an 8% boost, all told.

You’re still not going to get all-day battery life from the 4K XPS 13, but it’s vastly improved regardless, and the Full HD version will more than likely give you an entire work day’s worth of juice based on these numbers. All told, this is impressive longevity for a 4K display.

Dell XPS 13 2019

6. Software and features

Dell is unsurprisingly light on the unique software front, with just a few apps getting pre-installed on the operating system. McAfee or Norton antivirus suites are no longer included in lieu of a spattering of Dell-made apps.

The most notable of which are Dell Mobile Connect, Dell Update, and Dell Power Manager. The former allows you to connect your Android phone or iPhone with your computer, managing it straight from the Windows 10 interface. Dell Update pulls in new support files straight from Dell when needed. Finally, Dell Power Manager provides detailed controls for your laptop’s battery and power profile that Windows otherwise doesn’t.

As for unique hardware features, the optional fingerprint reader embedded into the power button is sleek and discreet while being speedy enough for fast logins. That said, we do prefer biometric login via infrared face detection, as it’s just that much faster.

Dell XPS 13 2019

7. Final verdict

Dell has gone and made just about every possible improvement to the XPS 13 in 2019. The webcam is in the proper position and no worse in quality for what it took to get there. Better yet, battery life has seen a sizable improvement as well.

This has happened all the while everything else about the laptop has maintained its storied, incredible quality, from the chassis design to the power profile of the components inside. This is the same laptop as last year, only better.
However, compared against the current best laptop 2018 and at the time of writing, the Huawei MacBook X Pro, the XPS 13 still struggles to compete on value. Simply put, you can get better hardware in all regards for less out of the Huawei laptop in both of its available configurations. While it’s not quite the ‘Best in Class’ laptop for 2019, we still consider the Dell XPS 13 among the best laptops in the world.

8. benchmarks:

Here’s how the Dell XPS 13 (2019) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Sky Diver: 4,755; Fire Strike: 1,222; Time Spy: 468

Cinebench CPU: 642 points; Graphics: 55 fps

GeekBench 4: 4,986 (single-core); 15,156 (multi-core)

PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,141 points

PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 34 minutes

Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 8 hours and 12 minutes.


CPU: 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8565U (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.6GHz)

Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620

RAM: 16GB DDR3 (2,133MHz)

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

Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD

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

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

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

Weight: 2.7 pounds (1.23kg)

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)


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