System Performance

When we reviewed the XPS 13 2-in-1 back in November, it was the first device we had tested which featured the new 10 nm Intel Ice Lake platform. At that time, Dell had also recently refreshed the XPS 13, but had outfitted it with the older 14 nm Comet Lake platform. For the all-new XPS 13, Dell has now brought parity to their lineup with Ice Lake here as well, with the improvements that platform brings, especially to the graphics side.

Dell offers three processor options. The least-expensive offering is the Core i3-1005G1, the mid-tier outfitted with the Core i5-1035G1, and the top-tier offering the Core i7-1065G7. Our review unit features the Core i7 model, as Dell wanted to put its best foot forward.

On the memory side, Dell’s spec sheet shows a 4 GB base, although thankfully that is nowhere to be found on their site, at least for the USA. Thanks to the move to LPDDR4X with Ice Lake, Dell now offers up to 32 GB of memory on the XPS 13. Storage is all PCIe x4 NVMe, with 256 GB as the base, and a 2 TB maximum.

To see how the XPS 13 performs, we have run it through our newly updated laptop suite. Please not that if a graph does not contain a specific older device, that means that the test has not been run on it. Since the laptops are returned to the manufacturer after review, we cannot do any regression testing for the most part. If you’d like to compare the XPS 13 to any other laptop we have tested, please refer to our Online Bench.


PCMark 10 - Essentials

PCMark 10 - Productivity

PCMark 10 - Digital Content Creation

PCMark 10 - Overall

UL’s PCMark 10 is a whole-system benchmark, testing everything from CPU performance to app loading time. The Overall score consists of three categories, each featuring their own unique sub-tests. Overall the XPS 13 scored right in the same ballpark as other Ice Lake notebooks, although was slightly down in the Productivity tests, but slightly ahead in the other two.


Cinebench R20 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R20 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench, based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D rendering, allows tests of both single-threaded and multi-threaded runs, making it one of the more popular tests for overall computational performance. The XPS 13 does well compared to other Ice Lake equipped notebooks, although with AMD offering up to 8 cores in the same 15-Watt TDP, Intel falls behind in the multi-threaded run.


Handbrake Transcoding (Software)

Handbrake Transcoding (Hardware)

In our Handbrake encoding test, we transcode a 1080p movie to 720p using both software and hardware encoders. Software encoders utilize the CPU, and are generally the preferred method for optimal quality, whereas hardware encoders leverage the media blocks, which in this case is Intel’s QuickSync, for a much faster encode. As we will see more in the thermals section, Dell limits the XPS 13 to a 15-Watt TDP even in its maximum performance mode, where some other manufacturers will allow for higher than listed TDP, up to 20 Watts or so, and as such, the XPS 13 falls a bit behind other Ice Lake notebooks in this test which is TDP limited.


7-Zip Compression

7-Zip Decompression

The popular file compression and decompression tool 7-Zip includes a built-in benchmark, and once again the XPS 13 slots right into where other Ice Lake notebooks fit.

Web Tests

Web performance is a function of not only the CPU performance, but also the browser’s scripting engine, and as such we have standardized on the Microsoft Edge browser. Microsoft has now transitioned their browser to the open-source Chromium project. Due to this, we have reset our web tests to use the new Chromium based Edge and taken the opportunity to decommission some of the older tests. We will now focus on Speedometer 2.0 and WebXPRT 3.

Speedometer 2.0


The XPS 13 again slots right in where you would expect for an i7-1065G7 based system.

Storage Performance

Dell offers from 256 GB to 2 TB of PCIe storage, and the review unit was outfitted with the Intel 600p 512 GB drive. We are transitioning to the PCMark 10 storage benchmark, which uses test traces of actual common workloads, such as booting Windows, and many of the Adobe applications, and as such should be a much better indicator of drive performance than just maximum transfer rates.

PCMark 10 System Drive Benchmark Bandwidth

PCMark 10 System Drive Benchmark Average Access Time

PCMark 10 System Drive Benchmark Score

The Intel 600p performs quite well, with good access times and solid bandwidth. Surprisingly, it can’t quite match the excellent performance we saw from the SK Hynix 2230 form factor SSD in the Surface Laptop 3, but almost matches it.

Design GPU Performance
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  • Erulian - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    My received 2 in 1 has many parts that did not fit well. For example, the screen's topmost layer bulges out at the bottom of the frame, and a few keys are poorly stabilized. The hinge is also too stiff, making opening the laptop a two-handed job. I wonder if I got an early production version as a result of the rush to get units out to customers. The OS install also feels stuttery at times. Since these issues do not impact normal use, I've so far not bothered with informing Dell.
  • iq100 - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    When the XPS 15 9560 was purchased with on site service, it took six attempts to get it to work.
    Here are the parts replaced on just the last (sixth) attempt.
    No. Dell Part QTY Description Parts Retained by Customer
    1 5R1JP 1 ASSY,CVR,BTM,W/BDG,9550 No
    2 M0T6P 1 ASSY,PLMRST,W/FPR,80,9560 No
    3 9TXK7 1 ADPT,AC,130W,DLTA,4.5,L6,V2,E5 No
    5 64TM0 1 ASSY,CBL,DC-IN, 9550/5510 No
    6 2JVNJ 1 CORD,PWR,125V,2.5A,1M,C5,E5,US No
    7 5G0HC 1 ASSY,PWA,DTRBD,AUDIO,9560/5520 No

    Old wounds, not healed only fester. I purchase two U3011s. Both suffered the same design defect. Dell replace one but NOT the other, claiming "it was their policy to replace only one". Go figure.
  • grant3 - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    You're making me feel better... The xps-15-7500 6 weeks ago hasn't seen a day of use yet because of the massive delays in getting the touchpad + fingerprint defects fixed.
    I'm surprised the hardware is never tested on new machines before being shipped.
  • ET - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    My XPS 13 9350 definitely could use an upgrade, but I'd rather have a Ryzen in my laptop.
  • eastcoast_pete - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    Looks nice, just one major downside, and one "wish they'd made that available": the major downside is the complete absence of a USB type A connector. I know they include an adapter, but that's just one more thing to forget or lose. If a Surface tablet has enough space for one, the XPS should have space for one, too. 2 USB-C/TB + one USB A 3.2, and it'd be almost perfect. The other "complaint" is the battery size. I'd gladly pay a bit extra and lug another 200 g around and have a 90 Wh battery - now that'll be a "whole day without recharge" ultraportable.

    And yes, it would have been nice to have a 4800u as a processor option, but these units are designed over a year before rollout, and AMD wasn't all that ready to rumble last summer. Now they are, and I hope that Dell will add a Renoir option for their 2021 XPS models.
  • eastcoast_pete - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    Forgot to add: why only one (one!) heatpipe with a 42 W top TDP CPU? C'mon, Dell, add the 50 or 100g weight for a second heatpipe and give the thing the cooling it deserves!
  • Deicidium369 - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    and will be going against the massively superior Tiger Lake - MX350 level graphics, and 17% slower with half the cores (4 vs 8) than the top end Renoir. Unlikely to ever see an AMD in an XPS13 class machine.
  • tamsysmm - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    Yeah right, Renoir is such a failure. Only these cheap and low quality models available (ThinkPad X13 13” (AMD) Laptop, LENOVO ThinkPad T14s AMD Ryzen 7 Pro 4750U, HP Elitebook 835/845/855 G7). Oh wait...
  • Korguz - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    to Deicidium369, ANYTHING AMD makes is a failure.
  • Spunjji - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    I just don't buy this "AMD weren't ready" shtick. Asus designed an *entirely new class of gaming laptop* around Renoir. It really wouldn't have been difficult for Dell to integrate Renoir into this design - which has released much later in the year than the Zephyrus 14 - if they had had any interest in doing so.

    Whether this is down to AMD's failure in OEM outreach, Dell's failure in imagination, or standard Intel shenanigans is unclear - but the end result is inferior products and TBH I'm sick of it.

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