Review of the Dell XPS 13 (2024): A stylish stumble

Review of the Dell XPS 13 (2024): A stylish stumble

With the release of the new XPS 16 and XPS 14, Dell has updated its lineup of XPS laptops, switching up the popular sizes. Nevertheless, the Dell XPS 13 maintains the small, portable form factor of its predecessors. Because this entire new series has embraced the design language introduced with the Plus models, those who are astute observers of the XPS lineup will notice a strong resemblance between this model and the previous XPS 13 Plus.

It is one thing for this to signify elegance, but it is quite another for utility. And with performance that pales in comparison to less expensive rivals, it looks like the XPS 13’s best days may be behind it.

Specs and features

There exist multiple setup choices for the Dell XPS 13. With only an 8GB RAM decrease available for a $100 save, ours is in the lower half. However, considering that it is a non-upgradeable LPDDR5, 8GB on a laptop that costs more than $1,000 feels absolutely foolish. As of this writing, the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor is included with every configuration. Memory comes in 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB capacities, while storage may be increased to 1TB or 2TB.

Three display configurations are available from Dell. The most basic, tested here, is a 1920 x 1200 panel with a peak brightness of 500 nits and a refresh rate of 30 to 120 Hz. The display can be upgraded to a 2880×1800 OLED touchscreen with a 60Hz refresh rate and a reduced peak brightness of 400 nits, or to a 2560×1600 touchscreen with otherwise comparable features, for an extra $300.

There are two color options for the XPS 13: bright platinum and dark graphite.

  • CPU: 155H Intel Core 7 Ultra
  • 16GB LPDDR5x Memory; Intel Arc Graphics for graphics and GPU
  • 13.4-inch 1200p WVA display
  • 512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD for storage
  • 1080p webcam
  • Connectivity: DisplayPort 2.1 and two Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C ports with power delivery
  • Networking: Bluetooth 5.4, Wi-Fi 7.
  • Windows Hello fingerprint and face recognition biometrics
  • 55 watt-hour battery capacity; dimensions: 11.62 x 7.84 x 0.6 inches
  • 2.7 pounds in weight
  • $1,399 (MSRP: $1,299 base)

Design and build quality

The Dell XPS 13 boasts an opulent look, much like the rest of the lineup. It may even be the most attractive of the lot given the small canvas Dell has to deal with. It is a glass and aluminum sandwich that is expertly put together and directly competes with Apple. The speakers on the XPS 13 are downward-firing on the edges of the base instead of taking up space on the keyboard’s sides due to its incredibly small footprint. This gives it a more aesthetically pleasing appearance than its larger siblings, whose speakers do not quite blend in with the rest of the design.

The XPS 13 has the same functional issues that go hand in hand with the design decisions as its brothers. The keys on the keyboard are spaced out so that their edges are closely apart from one another. Capacitive touch buttons that require continuous illumination have taken the place of the function row, and the trackpad is magnificently covered in a single glass panel that spans the width of the laptop while fully obscuring the trackpad’s edge.

Keyboard and trackpad

Since the switch was made with the Plus models, I have experienced problems with Dell’s XPS keyboards. Even though they are mechanically sound, they have certain problems with consistency and comfort. And while I managed on the bigger versions, the XPS 13 has some special difficulties of its own.

In one attempt at typing Monkeytype’s test, I was able to get a fast 117 words per minute with 99 percent accuracy, but this felt like an anomaly because I was usually stuck at 100 words per minute with less than 95 percent accuracy. Additionally, modifiers and punctuation are not used in the default test of Monkeytype.

The majority of hand discomfort experienced when using a keyboard arises from constantly switching hand positions and returning to the home row. Every shift away causes a somewhat slower reset since the flatter keys and tight gaps do not offer as much tactility for reaching home by touch. I also lacked confidence while pressing the same key again. Furthermore, there could be further issues if you go for the backspace or, worse yet, the capacitive delete key. To navigate even more, I have to take my hand off the laptop completely to use the arrow keys.

Performance

Although the Dell XPS 13 is a good performer, size does matter in terms of thin and light laptops. The greater size of some of its rivals, which are 14-inch versions that are not exactly a huge jump, shows that the Dell XPS 13’s constrained space may be limiting its potential in a similar manner to how the Dell XPS 16 was compared to its larger rivals.

As seen by its PCMark 10 Overall score, which is an indication of good utility at over 6,000 points, we find that the Dell XPS 13 is still providing strong results in terms of overall capabilities. However, the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED, which has an AMD Ryzen 7 8840HS processor, and three other laptops with the same CPU are outperforming the XPS 13. We will see more clearly that the XPS 13’s CPU ultimately proves to be its bottleneck, even though memory and SSD speeds also have an impact on PCMark scores.

Should you buy the Dell XPS 13?

The Dell XPS 13 is not up to par. Though visually stunning, the beauty is ultimately overshadowed by the practicality. Although the new Dell design produces a keyboard with an excellent key feel, it can be more difficult to use. Furthermore, the expensive premium design does not come with improved performance to make it worthwhile. The XPS 13 generally performs noticeably worse in our testing than its rivals, all of whom are much less expensive. And that is taking into account the base configuration, which has a basic IPS panel and performs poorly in comparison to the OLEDs that a few of its rivals are selling. Simply said, the XPS 13 is outperformed on so many fronts that it is difficult to justify purchasing.

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