Light, but solidAttractive designGreat touchpadBeautiful displayQuick, especially with optional core i7Solid battery life

Dell’s XPS 13, introduced earlier this year, may be the best notebook of 2015. The original won our Editors’ Choice award, impressing us with its excellent battery life, beautiful display, và slim dimensions. Now, with the release of Intel’s new 6th-generation bộ vi xử lý core processors, it has received an internal refresh that ensures it isn’t left behind by the competition.

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We received two models for review, both decked-out flagships. The silver mã sản phẩm came with a vi xử lý core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB solid state drive, & a 3,200 × 1,800 InfinityEdge touchscreen, all for $1,400. The more expensive gold edition, at $1,650, swaps out the Core i5 for a core i7-6560U.

Both configurations are significantly more than the $800 base model, but the low base price means the upgraded versions are still competitive with other Ultrabooks, & the 13-inch táo macbook pro with Retina.

So, does Dell’s XPS 13 still rule the ultrabook roost, or have new alternatives lượt thích the LG Ultra PC 14Z950 and Microsoft Surface Book encroached on its brilliance?

Small, yet big

Opening the Dell XPS 13 immediately reveals its most prominent kiến thiết trait: a barely-there display bezel. The gaps between the edges of the screen & the edges of the lid are less than a quarter of an inch thick, which means this notebook comes closer to a true “edge-to-edge” display than anything we’ve yet seen. They also help the XPS stay small, as it’s only one foot wide và eight inches deep. Acer’s 11-inch Chromebook 720P, by comparison, is only seven-tenths of an inch narrower.


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Such compact dimensions may raise durability concerns, but touching this Dell crushes them without hesitation. The carbon fiber and aluminum chassis feels absolutely rigid. Even the thin-bezel display allows only the slightest flex. We feel confident the XPS 13 will handle abuse better than most systems of its size.

The exterior of the silver XPS 13 is mundane with the display lid closed. Dell could have done more to differentiate the system at a glance from the Inspiron 7000 series, which also relies on silver metallic accents. Dell’s limited gold mã sản phẩm resolves that issue with a subtle change of color. Once open, both models reveal a uniquely textured, soft-touch carbon fiber interior that steals the show. No other laptop looks or feels quite lượt thích this.

Shaving ports

Wired connectivity is not the XPS 13’s strongest point. It offers just two USB ports, both 3.0, along with a Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 Type-C port, which handles đoạn phim and additional peripheral connections. An SD card reader và an audio jack are also included. There’s no Ethernet or HDMI.

You may not need Ethernet, because the base XPS 13 comes standard with 802.11ac Wi-Fi và Bluetooth 4.0.

There’s finally a good Windows touchpad

The small size of XPS 13 doesn’t mean the keyboard is rubbish. On the contrary, individual keys provide solid feel with reasonable travel và a firm bottoming action. A ton of space between individual keys leads lớn our only complaints: The key caps could be larger, and Backspace is too small. Still, it’s a top-notch effort overall.


Multi-touch gestures are smooth and accurate thanks lớn the brilliant touchpad.


Keyboard backlighting is standard. By default it turns on only when the system is actively in use. Just two brightness levels are available và a great giảm giá khuyến mãi of light escapes from beneath the keys, which can be distracting. A third, even dimmer setting would be preferable.

We can’t praise the touchpad highly enough. Four inches wide, & a hair more than two inches deep, it’s not particularly large, but what it lacks in kích cỡ it makes up for in fluidity.

Multi-touch scroll, and zoom feel wonderful, almost Mac-like, and we never had an issue with mistaken or unwanted input. The tactile left và right buttons integrated into the touchpad lack travel, but it hardly matters because tap-to-click works so well.

Pleasing pixels

While the standard XPS 13 comes with a 1080p display, our reviews unit arrived with the upgraded 3,200 × 1,800 touchscreen. That’s about 280 pixels per inch, or 60 more per inch than a apple macbook phiên bản pro with Retina. Predictably, that makes for a sharp experience. While the display can’t bởi native 4K, there is a noticeable bump in image unique between 1080p and 4K content.


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Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

That said, low-resolution đoạn phim still looks reasonably good. Why? Dell has nailed the fundamentals. We measured a contrast ratio of 680:1 at maximum brightness, low đen levels across the board & a gamut that spans 97 percent of sRGB. All these figures are in the đứng đầu tier of notebooks we tested.

Color accuracy is another highlight. We measured an average difference of 1.9 (lower is better), a figure that’s bested only by recent 4K notebooks like the asus Zenbook NX500. A màu sắc difference of one or less is generally undetectable by the naked eye.

Not everything is perfect. We noted a gamma reading of 1.9, off the target of 2.2, và a maximum brightness of just 196 lux. That’s not a bad reading, but alternatives like the asus NX500 and Acer Aspire V15 Nitro đen Edition can exceed 250 lux with ease. Glare from the XPS 13’s screen can prove distracting in bright environments.

Audio performance is a flaw. The speakers don’t sound terrible, but they can’t đầu ra enough volume to fill a room with sound. External speakers or headphones are a necessity.

Skylake powers up

As mentioned, we’ve tested two XPS 13 models. The $1,400 vi xử lý core i5-6200U edition is not especially powerful given its price, but the gold edition ups the ante with a bộ vi xử lý core i7-6560U. That has a major, positive impact on performance.

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Of the systems in the graph above, the HP Spectre x360 & LG Ultra PC represent the old guard, 5th-generation hardware. The asus UX305CA is an new, 6th-gen chip, but part of the ultra efficient (and thus less powerful) bộ vi xử lý core M line. The Surface Pro 4, meanwhile, was reviewed with a chip core i5-6300U.

As it turns out, the Pro 4 is quicker than the XPS 13 with a vi xử lý core i5-6200U. But the vi xử lý core i7 model of XPS 13 outruns them all, and does so with ease. Its single-core score is 28 percent higher than the core i5 model. A pretty nice upgrade, given the price gap between it and the vi xử lý core i5 version is only 18 percent.

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And it’s not just the processor that’s been upgraded. Dell has also switched the older XPS 13’s SATA hard drive for a PCIe solid state unit. That results in sustained read speeds of 1,118 megabytes per second, and sustained writes of 314MB/s.

While write speeds haven’t improved much over the earlier version, the read speed roughly doubled. There are quicker notebooks, lượt thích the hãng asus Zenbook UX501, which hit a read score of 1535MB/s and write score of 1572MB/s — truly outstanding performance.

Still, the XPS 13 is in league with the fastest, running neck-and-neck with Razer’s Blade Stealth & Apple’s MacBook. Competitors like the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12, which has a SATA hard drive, struggle khổng lồ offer half the XPS 13’s read performance.

Better graphics, but still not a game machine

The chip core i5-6200U is flanked by intel HD 520 graphics, a mid-range version of company’s latest integrated graphics processor (IGP). The faster chip core i7-6560U has a more impressive HD 540 IGP. We threw them into 3DMark lớn see what they’re capable of, & were pleased by the results.

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As you can see, the chip core i5 model of XPS 13 achieves a Sky Diver score of 3,482, which puts it firmly above older generations of laptops, và very close khổng lồ the more powerful Surface Pro 4 we reviewed. The core i7 model, meanwhile, scores a big win with its Sky Diver score of 5,260. That’s far ahead of the typical curve, và double older 5th-generation laptops like the HP Spectre x360 và LG Ultra PC 14Z950.

The core i5-6200U with HD520 graphics isn’t up khổng lồ serious gaming, despite its respectable score. Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm averaged 54 frames per second at 1080p resolution & low detail. Turning everything up lớn maximum slowed the trò chơi to a slideshow average of just 16 FPS.

But the Core i7-6560U is workable. It averaged 84 FPS in Heroes of the Storm at 1080p và low detail. Turning the trò chơi to maximum decreased that khổng lồ 30 FPS, which is on the border of playable. The i7 is not a gaming powerhouse, but it will handle some mainstream 3d games if it must.

All day endurance

The XPS 13 starts at 2.7 pounds, & the high-resolution touchscreen increases that figure to a still-light 2.9 pounds. While these numbers are low, they’re not enough to lớn put the system in league with the lightest available, lượt thích the Lenovo LaVie Z và LG Ultra PC. In fact, this Dell feel chunky in hand despite its low weight. That’s another effect of the thin bezels. The XPS 13 is much smaller than other laptops sporting a 13-inch display, & thus denser.


Battery life is strong, thanks khổng lồ a large 56-watt-hour battery và the efficiency of Intel’s latest processors. In the Peacekeeper battery benchmark, the bộ vi xử lý core i5 versions of the XPS 13 lasted seven hours and 52 minutes. Our web browsing loop extended life to lớn eight hours và 23 minutes.

The vi xử lý core i7 edition lasted a fair bit less, at four hours và 44 minutes in Peacekeeper, and five hours & 23 minutes in our website browsing loop. That penalty seems the result of performance, which is significantly enhanced, as we’ve already stated. Our tests vì chưng place a fair bit of load our the system. In mixed use, though, the XPS 13 with chip core i7 can last longer than eight hours.

These results are impressive, và put the XPS 13 in the vị trí cao nhất tier of notebooks. The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 only lasts six hours và 26 minutes in Peacekeeper, the asus UX305CA lasted 5 hours và 51 minutes, & the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 lasted three hours and 39 minutes.

Controlled heat

The XPS 13’s efficient 6th-gen vi xử lý core processor seemed to help it stay cool at idle, where its maximum external temperature hit a maximum of 78.1 degrees Fahrenheit — barely above ambient. The fan hâm mộ was whisper-quiet, as well, & power draw was a modest 10 watts with the display at maximum brightness.


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Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Full system load caused the XPS 13 some stress. Its maximum external temperature soared lớn 108.6 degrees, forcing the fan to kick in, producing a tolerable but noticeable 42.3 decibels of noise. Power nguồn draw exceeded 33 watts, which is actually on the high end for an ultrabook.

We did not record much variation between the vi xử lý core i5 & i7 model. Temperature readings were no greater than one degree Fahrenheit, và noise varied no more than a decibel.

Most modern competitors are a bit cooler at load. The asus Zenbook UX305CA warmed lớn no more than 100.6 degrees, while the HP Spectre x360 only hit 96 degrees. However, some vì chưng exceed the Dell. LG’s super-thin 14Z950, for example, hit a toasty 116.2 degrees.

Warranty

Dell ships the XPS 13 with its standard one-year “enhanced support” warranty. This is essentially the same warranty you’d expect to receive from any laptop. While it’d be nice lớn see a longer warranty given this model’s price, we can’t knock the company; few competitors bother to lớn offer more than a year.

Conclusion

Dell’s XPS 13 is an excellent piece of engineering that combines the latest hãng intel hardware with a robust, attractive and portable chassis.

There are minor flaws. The speakers could be louder, the glossy display can be distracting in bright rooms, and the fan can be loud at load. But such nitpicks are outweighed by numerous advantages. Display, keyboard, touchpad, performance, weight, battery life, size; in all these areas and more the XPS 13 excels.

It’s so good, in fact, that it steals the portable máy vi tính crown away from Apple, which has held it firmly since the release of the apple macbook phiên bản pro 13 with Retina. Dell’s XPS 13 is lighter, quicker và offers better px density. It even has a roughly equal touchpad, though it obviously doesn’t support the advanced gestures found only in OS X.

In short, the Dell XPS 13 is the best 13-inch notebook available today. Anyone who can afford it should give it a chance, even if that means settling for the $800 base model.