Design

Dell pioneered the thin-bezel laptop, but that does not mean they did not have room to improve on their original design over the years. The first several generations featured a webcam at the bottom of the panel, which was flattering to no one. With the proliferation of video chat, such a decision would be a major negative to many people. But thankfully Dell solved that particular issue a couple of generations ago, and the new model continues to pack a 720p webcam in the correct location above the display, with only a slightly taller top display bezel to accommodate the camera. And speaking of the display bezel, Dell has tweaked their design language slightly over the XPS 13 2-in-1, with both the black and white models both featuring a black display bezel on the clamshell XPS 13, which helps it disappear into the background a bit easier than the white bezel on the 2-in-1.


The XPS 13 in Platinum Silver with black carbon fiber

Another nice change over the 2-in-1 version is that Dell is not using their MagLev keyboard design, instead outfitting the XPS 13 with a more traditional scissor-switch keyboard with 1.0 mm of travel. The MagLev has a very short throw, whereas I find the traditional keyboard to be much more reassuring to use.

Dell is offering the XPS 13 in the same color choices as the 2-in-1 as well. The Platinum Silver model features a black carbon fiber keyboard deck with a soft-touch coating, while the Arctic White model features a woven fiber keyboard deck which Dell has treated with a stain and UV resistant coating, to prevent the deck from yellowing with age. The Arctic White is only $49 more, and certainly makes a statement, although it still suffers from the same issue as all white-on-white laptops with white backlighting, which is that the keyboard backlighting can wash out the keys in a bright room. That is a fairly minor negative though, for an otherwise fantastic finish.

The XPS 13 also features an excellent trackpad, offering a very smooth finish, and good precision. Laptop trackpads have come a long way, and part of that is the standardization on the Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers, which Dell employs here.

Dell has eschewed the use of USB Type-A ports, instead offering just a single USB Type-C port on each side of the laptop. This in turn is paired with a 3.5 mm headset jack on the right, and a micro SD card reader on the left. Although the XPS 13 lacks ports in numbers, it somewhat makes up for that with both USB ports supporting Thunderbolt 3, including power delivery. It is unfortunate that the Type-C port has found itself to be so confusing in its capabilities, but with the XPS 13 supporting the full range of protocols, as well as four lanes of PCIe on both ports, that at least is not a liability here. Dell does include a Type-C to Type-A adapter in the box as well, for those that require the larger port. By including power delivery on both sides of the laptop, that also means the XPS 13 can charge on either side, which can be very handy when moving the laptop from place to place.

Dell’s design ethos with their XPS lineup has converged across the entire range of XPS laptops, and with great success. The CNC milled aluminum bodies, thin bezels, compact designs, and lightweight chassis make for some of the most compelling devices in the industry. Moving to a 16:10 aspect ration on their XPS line has been yet another design win for Dell, and helps provide the excellent 91.5% screen to body ratio found on this XPS 13 notebook by further shrinking the bottom bezel. Dell has sculpted a clean, sleek, and functional device, and while the rest of the industry has also adopted the thin-bezel design, Dell has really mastered it.

Introduction System Performance
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  • Gigaplex - Sunday, July 19, 2020 - link

    I'm a programmer, but I rarely use the laptop keyboard. I plug it into a dock and use a desktop keyboard. Reply
  • TEAMSWITCHER - Sunday, July 19, 2020 - link

    So .. you agree with me? Reply
  • mjz_5 - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    I hope they fixed the Bluetooth. I can’t move three feet away when trying to listen to music on my 2016 XPS 13”. Same headphone on my iPhone, I can go all over the house. Reply
  • Tunnah - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    I used to say "unless it's Intel I'm not gonna bother", am now just realising with the latest AMD mobile chipsets, I've firmly swung in the other direction. It feels almost daft to go with Intel nowadays considering what AMD are putting out. I'd love one of these with new Ryzen in it Reply
  • isthisavailable - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    This "king" is overrated. Surface Laptop is miles better at a lower price. The i3 and i5 versions of xps are useless because they are G1. 4gb ram version is, again, useless. It's not even a $1000 laptop. Reply
  • hanselltc - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    The lack of Ryzen here means there are sub 600 dollar laptops running laps around this when any resemblance of stress is present. Makes this a lot less attractive. Reply
  • Deders - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    Not sure why people still say windows 10 still handles HDR poorly, have they tried it since the HDR update? Apps look fine to me, everything looks fantastic (if a little bright) Reply
  • trenzterra - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    I had the XPS 9300 for a couple months before deciding to sell it. There are some issues with this laptop which wasn't highlighted in this review:

    - The display is really bright and all, but I had issues with screen colour uniformity -- on my set, there were two vertical "bars" where the colour had a little bit of green tint to it, noticeable on white or grey backgrounds. I had my display replaced twice before getting a decent one. After the lockdown was lifted, I went to look at display units in shops and it appears many of the Full HD and 4K sets had the same issue. Perhaps it's my eyes, or maybe panel lottery is particularly bad on this laptop.

    - For some reason, my microSD card kept getting stuck in the slot (slot seemed misaligned or something, causing the spring mechanism to get stuck). In the end, I had to get a replacement laptop from Dell.

    - The current firmware, 1.0.11 (and the previous, 1.0.10), has issues outputting video with certain USB-C to HDMI adapters. This has been going on for two months with no fix in sight, despite bringing it up to Dell's attention: https://www.dell.com/community/XPS/XPS-13-9300-BIO... . Further, users are also reporting issues connecting to certain LG and Samsung USB-C/ TB3 monitors (issue reported at launch but no fix yet -- apparently, you need to plug a separate power cable into the laptop and then plug the LG/ Samsung monitor into the other port just to get it to work, notwithstanding that the Samsung/ LG monitors are supposed to do PD passthrough). TB3/ PD support is really buggy on the XPS 9300 at the moment, and I wonder if they will ever get it fixed.

    - If you have the Fast Startup option disabled (which is essentially hibernation in a different form), or restart the laptop, the laptop takes about 1min to startup, even on a whooping fast SSD. No fix in sight despite a 10-page+ long thread on the Dell forums: https://www.dell.com/community/XPS/Bug-New-XPS-13-...

    - The laptop gets hot very easily at the palmrest area. I think this is a byproduct of the carbon fibre palmrest which kinda traps heat.

    Overall, I found the laptop to be of rather good build quality and very good to look at. However, the flaws and lack of after-sales support (in terms of fixing BIOS/ firmware issues) from Dell has left me somewhat disappointed and I decided to cut my losses and sold it. Now I'm holding out for Renoir options...
    Reply
  • trenzterra - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    To clarify on the boot times, the laptop gets stuck on the Dell "loading" logo for about 40 seconds, even on a fresh install without bloatware. It seems like a BIOS bug (where something is being stuck) more than anything else, but since Fast Startup is left enabled by default (I prefer to disable it to reduce unnecessary writes to the SSD), Dell doesn't seem keen to fix it. Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, July 20, 2020 - link

    These issues remind me of most of Dell's high-end releases since at least 2008. Shame :/ Reply

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