Dell XPS 13 (2020) overview: The laptop computer endgame
“The Dell XPS 13 has been the very best laptop computer you should purchase for years, and that is nonetheless true in 2020.”
Taller 16:10 display
Almost bezel-less body
Two Thunderbolt three ports
Bigger keyboard and touchpad
Two designs outlined the previous decade in laptops. The early decade was all in regards to the MacBook Air, which dominated the primary half of the 2010s and impressed a sea of look-alikes. The second half, nonetheless, was all about Dell’s XPS 13. The unique thin-bezel, small footprint laptop computer, it began a pattern that’s now ubiquitous.
Nonetheless, after 4 years of iteration, Dell has cooked up one thing new. One thing contemporary. One thing that takes all the pieces I’ve lengthy cherished in regards to the design and strikes it ahead into a brand new period. The Core i7 mannequin I reviewed is priced at $1,250, although there may also be a Core i3 possibility beginning at $999.
Don’t name it a reboot. That is the laptop computer’s endgame.
Design and show
Extra of what issues. That’s at all times been the XPS staff’s motto, however right here it’s extra obvious than ever. It begins with the display, which is now 13.four inches in a 16:10 side ratio, which is barely nearer to sq. than the standard 16:9. It’s solely zero.1 inches taller than earlier variations, however it appears like extra. The 16:10 ratio means additional strains in my Phrase doc, extra rows in my spreadsheet, and fewer scrolls on a webpage.
This does end in black bars on most movies, that are often formatted for 16:9. Nonetheless, for the individual that spends nearly all of their time with a laptop computer in work mode, that’ll be a worthy trade-off.
The 16:10 display is identical one used on the XPS 13 2-in-1, which was already class-leading. It gives 500 nits of brightness, among the many finest distinction I’ve seen, and wonderful coloration accuracy.
It’s additionally sharp. The decision is 1,920 x 1,200, which implies extra pixels than your typical 1080p display. You received’t be choosing out pixels on it, so except you’re a photograph editor, you shouldn’t have to go for the higher-res panel. That mentioned, the good thing about the 4K+ display is extra than simply pixel rely — it’ll even have a wider coloration gamut.
It’s not simply the panel itself that appears like extra of what issues. It’s additionally the best way the dearth of bezels frames the display. The highest and sides are as small as ever, however now the underside bezel will get to affix in on the enjoyable. Dell makes use of a singular dropped barrel hinge that sits barely under the floor of the keyboard deck. A part of that bezel, which was already small, is out of sight. It’s a small trick to make the bezel look that a lot thinner. On the white mannequin that I reviewed, I like the choice to alter the bezel coloration to black as a substitute of white. It makes it even much less pronounced.
Regardless of the slim bezel, Dell has squeezed its 720p digicam module into the highest. Nostril-cam is a factor of the previous. It’s not a terrific webcam, however it’ll suffice in a pinch. Making much more use of the area, there’s now an IR digicam for handy Home windows Good day facial recognition login.
Keyboard and touchpad
Shifting down from the display to the keyboard deck, the design continues to observe the “extra of what issues” philosophy. Not a millimeter of area on the keyboard deck has been left and not using a function.
The keyboard takes inspiration from the XPS 13 2-in-1 in look — although not in really feel. The keycaps are bigger, with much less area between every. They now stretch as much as the edges of the keyboard deck.
The facility button (and built-in fingerprint reader), which was as soon as off to the suitable of the structure, is now built-in into the highest proper, very like it’s on MacBooks. One other small change to the structure I respect is the full-size left and proper arrow keys. Earlier XPS keyboards have included half-sized keys, with Web page Up and Web page Down filling within the gaps. This is able to typically end in unintentional skips down the web page.
It’s rapidly develop into certainly one of my favourite laptop computer keyboards to kind on.
One a part of the keyboard I’m comfortable Dell didn’t redesign is the precise really feel of the keypresses. Reasonably than go the best way of butterfly mechanisms (reminiscent of on the XPS 13 2-in-1), they nonetheless have 1mm of journey and a quick mechanism. As we’ve seen even Apple transfer away from its personal butterfly keyboards, Dell made the suitable selection right here. It’s rapidly develop into certainly one of my favourite laptop computer keyboards to kind on.
The identical is true of the touchpad, which has grown in general measurement from final 12 months’s mannequin. Dell additionally labored on dampening the press mechanism so it’s quieter. I’d nonetheless favor it to be even softer, however the monitoring and gesture assist is superb, as at all times.
Ports and construct high quality
On the edges, you’ll discover massive modifications when you’re aware of the older XPS 13. Due to the character of that edge-to-edge keyboard, there’s not room alongside it for ports. The one are few, they usually’re now pushed as near the again as potential. On the suitable is a Thunderbolt three port and the headphone jack, and on the left is one other Thunderbolt three port and a MicroSD card slot.
That is one much less USB-C than the earlier mannequin, which sucks. Dell is now at Apple ranges of port choice, matching the MacBook Air in USB ports. Not like that gadget, I do favor having a Thunderbolt three port on either side slightly than collectively. It makes charging handy, no matter what facet the ability outlet is on. The Spectre x360 trades out the additional Thunderbolt three port for USB-A to assist older equipment.
Regardless of the stiffer general really feel of the XPS 13, it’s now simpler to open.
The perimeters are actually clad in diamond-cut aluminum, which provides a little bit of glitz to the framing and a sturdier general really feel to the construct high quality. A skinny layer of polycarbonate fiber covers the palm rests with its distinctive weave texture. Apart from the unibody aluminum design of the MacBook Professional, it is a well-built as laptops come.
The additional aluminum provides simply the smallest quantity of additional weight, which is now at 2.eight kilos. That matches the load of each the MacBook Air and the HP Spectre x360 13. At zero.58 inches, although, it’s a bit thinner than each of these laptops.
Regardless of the sturdy really feel of the XPS 13, it’s now smoother to open. What a aid. For years, it was one of many few premium laptops that couldn’t be opened with only one finger. A one-finger open is straightforward now, although I want there was a lip to make it much more easy.
It’s simple to only take a look at a laptop computer’s processor and name it good. Nonetheless, there’s extra to efficiency than a spec sheet. The XPS 13 makes that apparent. Regardless of utilizing the identical components as different laptops, Dell has persistently innovated in pulling efficiency out of its parts.
All the identical tips are in play right here, reminiscent of strips of Gore used to dissipate warmth. And the processor is now upgraded to the newest Intel’s 10th-gen Core ‘Ice Lake’ chips.
Dell continues to boost the bar for efficiency.
That’s not too thrilling in 2020, however once more, the XPS 13 beats its opponents in uncooked single-core efficiency in Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R20. Even the 16GB of RAM that got here in my overview unit was overkill for what most individuals will do with this laptop computer.
That is among the many strongest quad-core laptops you should purchase, even flexing its muscle in HandBrake video encoding. Late final 12 months, Dell launched an XPS 13 with a six-core processor, however this new mannequin is just 7% slower in HandBrake. Spectacular.
So, sure, Dell continues to boost the bar for efficiency. Improve to the 4K+ mannequin, and you’ve got a killer photograph enhancing laptop computer. That doesn’t imply you can purchase this laptop computer for 3D rendering or video enhancing, however for many duties, you received’t discover a sooner laptop computer at this measurement.
It ought to be famous that a $1,000 Core i3 with 4GB of RAM can also be obtainable (although not at present on sale). That dual-core processor received’t have close to the identical efficiency, although I haven’t examined it but myself. Nonetheless, when you simply desire a laptop computer for net looking, Microsoft Phrase, and watching motion pictures, the Core i3 will probably be greater than ample.
Intel’s discrete graphics have improved fairly a bit with Ice Lake, which implies the XPS 13 can play video games. Type of.
Dell nonetheless pulls higher body charges out of those parts than its opponents, however that doesn’t imply it is a gaming laptop computer. Fortnite is playable in 1080p when you deliver all of the settings down, however you’ll have to drop it to 720p to get smoother gameplay. Informal and fewer demanding video games play effectively sufficient, however you’ll see higher efficiency out of the Razer Blade Stealth 13, which options an Nvidia GTX 1650.
I’ve excessive expectations for the battery life of pricey laptops. One way or the other, the XPS 13 surpassed them. It lasted over eleven and a half hours in our gentle net looking take a look at, crushing laptops just like the MacBook Air, Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, and Floor Professional 7. It doesn’t fairly beat the very best of the very best just like the HP Spectre x360 or ZenBook 13 UX333, however it’s not far behind both.
Battery life will at all times rely on what you’re utilizing it for. On one excessive finish, the XPS 13 can last as long as fourteen and a half hours in native video playback, or as few as 5 in heavier duties. For the common particular person, constant use all through a full workday shouldn’t be an issue.
You possibly can anticipate these outcomes to be dropped by a number of hours when you purchase the 4K+ mannequin. Once more, that makes this 1080p+ mannequin the best answer for most individuals.
The Dell XPS 13 is the very best laptop computer you should purchase. That has been true for a number of years, and it’s nonetheless true in 2020. That’s not a simple feat when making this many modifications to an iconic design. The XPS 13 has slowly grown a bit costlier through the years, however if you’re this good, the premium model has been earned.
There are nice selections when you’re trying to spend below $1,000. For everybody else, the XPS 13 ought to be your subsequent PC.
Are there any options?
There some very shut opponents to the XPS 13. If you happen to’re searching for a laptop computer with a 360-degree hinge, I like to recommend the HP Spectre x360. It’s small and refined just like the XPS, and it’s a bit cheaper.
One other good possibility is the brand new MacBook Air. Now that includes quad-core processors and a greater keyboard, it’s reclaimed numerous the respect of earlier generations of Macs. It doubtless can’t compete in battery life, and it nonetheless lags a bit in efficiency.
The Floor Laptop computer three by Microsoft is one other fascinating possibility at an in depth worth level, thickness, and weight. It additionally gives a bigger three:2 display with a better pixel density, as long as you may bear its massive bezels.
How lengthy will it final?
The XPS 13 is constructed to final, because of its up-to-date parts and durable construct high quality. There’s nothing particular about its one-year customary guarantee, however this laptop computer ought to final you at the very least three or 4 years.
Must you purchase it?
Sure. It’s the very best laptop computer you should purchase.