The Bottom Line
Mar 12 2013 - Dell's XPS 13 may seem a bit bland by the latest Windows 8 standards with ultrabooks featuring touchscreens but it still offers a solid and compact option for those wanting a premium feeling system. The updated internals offer an additional USB 3.0 port and give it better battery life while leaving performance slightly improved. It is a shame that they didn't take a bit more time to update it more with an SD card slot or a higher resolution display. The biggest disappointment though is the once standard accident coverage is now an optional and expensive warranty upgrade.
- Solid Styling And Design
- Improved Battery Life and Second USB 3.0 Port
- Fast Boot Times
- No SD Card Slot
- Accident Coverage Now Not Standard
- Intel Core i5-3317U Dual Core Processor
- 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 128GB Solid State Drive
- 13.3" WXGA (1366x768) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD Graphics 4000 Integrated Graphics
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, mini-DisplayPort
- 12.4" x 8.1" x .71" @ 3 lbs.
- Windows 8, McAfee Security Center
Review - Dell 2013 XPS 13
Mar 12 2013 - On the exterior, the latest revision of the Dell XPS 13 is pretty much identical to their original release. While not the thinnest of the ultrathin laptops on the market, Dell makes up for this with its small footprint and light weight that make it very compact overall. It still uses the two toned color scheme that mixes aluminum with carbon fiber to give its very light three pound weight.
The big change for the Dell XPS 13 is having the internal updated to the newer Core i5-3317U dual core processor from previous Sandy Bridge version. Performance hasn't improved all that much from the past model but it certainly should be more efficient and come with better internal graphics. The base setup still ships with 4GB of DDR3 memory which has been upgraded to 1600MHz from the 1333MHz. Overall, this offers a smooth experience with Windows 8 and it does just fine with most tasks other than very demanding ones such as desktop video.
The storage system still uses the base solid state drive. It does limit the storage space to just 128GB for applications, data and media files which is less than a traditional hard drive but it offers some outstanding performance with boot times of just twelve seconds which is faster than the older model. If you need addition storage space, Dell does provide two USB 3.0 ports now instead of just one. This means it is easier to use high speed external storage drives to extend the storage space. Unfortunately, the system still lacks any kind of flash memory slots for use with the external storage cards which is disappointing.
The display remains unchanged with the Dell XPS 13 which is good and bad. On the good size, the thin bezel helps keep the size down and the screen does offer a good level of brightness which helps combat glare from the glass coating. The downside is that the screen still uses the 1366x768 display resolution that is typical of less expensive ultrabooks. More and more ultrabooks that are priced around $1000 and up are using higher resolution displays. Even the 1440x900 MacBook Air 13 display is considered to be fairly low for its price range. The graphics systems has been updated with the newer Core i5 processor to the Intel HD Graphics 4000. This is fine for you basic graphics needs but it still has limited performance for 3D beyond casual low resolution gaming at low detail levels. It does offer improved video encoding when using Quick Sync compatible applications.
Battery capacity still remains the same with a 47WHr rated internal battery. In digital video playback testing, the system was able to run for five hours before going into standby mode. This is an improvement of thirty minutes over the previous revision of the system. It still falls a bit short when it comes to SSD based ultrabooks but it certainly it better than many of the new Windows 8 touchscreen models. Apple's MacBook Pro 13 with Retina display still offers six hours in the same test while using more powerful processor and higher resolution display.
Priced at $999, the Dell XPS 13 is still more of a premium ultrabook offering it today's market. In terms of its pricing and solid state storage, there are still a number of competing systems on the market. The Apple MacBook Air 13 is the most obvious comparison even with its higher $1299 price tag but it does offer a slightly higher resolution display. HP's Envy Spectre XT is the same price with roughly similar performance but in a slightly larger and heavier design. Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 13 is surprising the same rough price and is larger but comes with a higher resolution folding touchscreen to function as a tablet. Samsung's Series 5 once again offers similar features for a similar price but has a slightly better keyboard but has less running time. Finally, the Toshiba Portege Z935 is more affordable but lacks the same level of build quality and a slower solid state storage.