For Windows users who are looking for an MacBook Air replacement, the Dell XPS 13 is a top recommendation. The model that I reviewed in 2020 was a great gadget. Everything about it, from the build to performance to battery life and battery life, was exceptional.
Computers like this are a little bit more of a fantasy thanks to Intel’s 12th Gen, and 13th Gen processors. Both Apple and AMD do a fantastic job on the efficiency and power fronts. The XPS is an Intel product, and many 12th Gen Intel offerings have been one-trick ponies. The H-series can provide power, while the U-series can deliver efficiency. Or you can have both.
Dell also split its XPS 13 product line. The XPS13 Plus OLED machine from the P-series prioritizes power over efficiency. You can also get the regular XPS 13 clamshell, which is more traditional and less expensive than the Plus SKU. The XPS 13 is for everyone. (The XPS 15 and XPS 17 offer 13th Gen options . However, the 13-inch clamshell is still 12th Gen.
Anyway, for the past few months I have been using the regular XPS 13 And, like, it’s fine. It’s fine. It is worse than the 2020 model, but it’s better in other ways. It still delivers the highest build quality in the 13 inch space. The display is excellent. The speakers work well. An off-purple option is also available. It is certainly one of best Windows laptops that you can purchase. However, it doesn’t offer the same performance or efficiency as today’s MacBooks. This speaks volumes about the state of the Windows laptop market.8Verge Score
Dell XPS 13
- Light and thin
- Beautiful screen
- Battery life is quite acceptable
- Beautifully constructed
- The specs are reasonably priced
- What happened to all the ports?
- The speakers could be even louder
- There is no OLED or high-resolution screen option.
- SSD and RAM are not interchangeable
- Performance is lower than similar models
Let’s begin with the most important category in which the XPS 13 excels: portability. This XPS 13 is a dream to travel with at 2.59 pounds and 0.55 inch thick. It was easy to fit into a backpack with my helmet, ski boots, and other gear that I took on a weekend skiing trip. It’s hard to find another laptop that is as easy to carry.
The XPS line’s other strength is its build quality, which continues with this 13-inch model. It is made from aluminum (“low-carbon”) aluminum and glass. After being carried around for several weeks in my backpack, the finish became bitscratched. However, it does not pick up fingerprints like the Plus.
I still love the XPS 13’s touchpad and keyboard. It is definitely a step up from the Plus’ invisible haptic touchpad. The touchpad has a smooth surface with a responsive click and provides a satisfying tactile feedback. The touchpad might be a little too small for my liking and may not be the best choice if you have large fingers. It is clicky, comfortable, and has a respectable amount of backlighting. Half-height arrow keys are normal, but that is just how life goes sometimes. Here’s the remaining 50 percent.
The display is flawless, in my opinion. It is very nice with sharp details and vibrant colors. It emits very little glare, making it ideal for dimming to brightening any setting. Although it can reach 500 nits brightness, I have never had to increase the brightness beyond 20-30 percent.
Now, there have been some complaints about the XPS 13’s limited display options. This model has a 1920×1200 60Hz IPS panel. Many have requested an OLED option. Although a spec sheet was provided, it does indicate that there is a 4K option, which would still be something, but it isn’t listed currently on Dell’s website.
While I can understand the complaints — there are many options — I have never used an OLED XPS 13 Plus that I liked. The XPS 13 Plus, the XPS15 and the latest OLED XPS 13 showed that the additional pixels were significantly reducing battery life. These factors aren’t going to ruin your machine, but they are significant enough compromises that I recommend other OLED notebooks. Those looking for a more powerful screen might prefer the XPS 13 Plus. It offers more resolution options.
I’m a little less impressed with the video calling experience. My colleagues on Zoom called me to complain about the quality of my webcam. They said that my background was very muddy and I looked good. The microphones work as expected from such a device.
The audio quality was a little disappointing. The audio was good. However, I needed to have the volume at 90 to 100 percent when I was watching videos to hear every word. Also, the 4W total output downward-firing speakers weren’t loud enough for public areas.
However, there is one area where I must express my gruminess. It’s the port selection. The XPS 13 has two ports. Both are USB-C / Thunderbolt 4. One port will be used by the charger occasionally, so only one is always available.
Even for those who are fully committed to the USB-C lifestyle, I don’t believe two is enough. Although the unit comes with an optional USB C to USB-A adapter as well as a USB C to 3.5mm adapter (which is nice), it doesn’t change the fact that this device can only be charged while you have one thing plugged in. Literally, only one thing. A dock is essential if you need to charge your phone as well as use an external webcam for video calls.
This is the direction ultraportable laptops are heading in recent years. Even among these, the XPS 13 and its Plus sibling are extreme. The M2 MacBook Air comes with two USB-C ports. However, the dedicated MagSafe charging port provides an additional USB-C.
This device is very portable. I find it a bit odd that people may need to bring a bunch of docks and dongles with them.
The XPS 13 Plus promised portable power. But the XPS 13 Plus promises more power. The $1,149 unit comes with a Core i5-1230U processor, 16GB RAM and 512GB storage. However, this unit appears to be out of stock on Dell’s website. You can purchase a Core i7-1250U for $1,199. This is for a 16GB / 512GB / touchscreen version. An identical M2 MacBook Air with the same configuration is available for $1,699. This makes Dell’s pricing attractive, though the performance benefits Apple offers for the extra cost are not insignificant. We’ll discuss them soon.
When it comes to raw numbers, the U-series XPS is a substantial step down from P-series XPS 13 Plus which was already losing badly against the MacBook. The average benchmark score was lower across the board. Cinebench’s 30-minute loop was particularly striking, with the XPS 13 scoring close to 50% of the Plus’s score. The XPS 13’s performance dramatically changed after the 10-minute run.
Benchmarks for the Dell XPS 13
|Geekbench 5.3 CPU Single||2028|
|Geekbench 5.3 CPU Multi||7224|
|Geekbench 5.3 Open CL / Compute||8386|
|Cinebench R23 Single||1346|
|Cinebench R23 Multi||5233|
|Cinebench R23 Multi 30 min loop||4390|
|PugetBench for Premiere Pro||177|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider (1920×1200, highest)||15|
|4K Export (Adobe Premiere Pro 15)||10:08|
Despite all this, I didn’t notice much difference in the XPS 13 and XPS 13 Plus in my daily usage. Both are fast enough to use Chrome and watch Succession. They also work well for Discord chats, Discord, and other tasks. Both are a nightmare when trying to use programs such as Lightroom or Premiere. Expect crashes, lags and generally an unpleasant experience.93.9 per cent screen-to-body ratio.
The XPS 13 has one thing that is noteworthy: the fans are easy to use. With a few Chrome tabs and Slack opened, they were audible. If the noise is bothersome, you can turn on the Silent cooling profile (accessible through the My Dell App). This is to show that my office workload was a little too much for the Core i5.
This XPS does a better job than other XPS models of not frying its own parts. The CPU maintained a constant temperature of well below 70 degrees Celsius during intense benchmark testing. The keyboard and chassis remained cool even during intense benchmark testing. The XPS Plus and other models that I have reviewed previously had a tendency to boil after only a few hours of frequent use. Finally, I am complimenting the cooling system of a Dell computer. I was afraid I would never see the day. Well done.
Specifications of the Dell XPS 13 (as tested)
- 13.4-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge touch display, 500 nits
- 12th Generation Intel Core i5-1230U (12MB cache, up to 4.4 GHz and 10 cores).
- 16GB LPDDR5-5200 Dual Channel
- 512GB PCIe 4.0 x2 SSD
- Two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type C with DisplayPort and power delivery
- One USB-C-to-USB-A v3.0 adapter in the box, one optional USB -C-to-3.5mm headset adapter
- Stereo speaker design with 4W total output
- Chiclet keyboard in full size, backlit and 1.0mm travel
- 720p Windows Hello camera
- Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6E1675 (AX211), (2×2), Bluetooth 5.
- 11.63 x 7.85x 0.55 inches (295.4 x 199.4×13.99mm).
- 2.59 pounds (1.17kg)
Battery life is one of the things that has improved. Average battery life was six hours and 42 mins of constant use at medium brightness. I used around twelve Chrome tabs with occasional Spotify streaming and a few Chrome tabs. This is a decrease from last year’s XPS, and it is less than half the MacBook Air’s performance on the same load. However, it is over an hour faster than the Plus and still one of my best Windows laptop results. Although I wish the device didn’t need to be charged multiple times per day, that seems to be the norm in Windows land. With light Chrome usage, the 45W AC adapter charged the device at 52 percent within an hour.
Accept to continue: Dell XPS 13
Like other Windows computers, the Dell XPS 13 Plus offers multiple options to accept or decline during setup.
These are the mandatory policies that require an agreement:
- Request for your keyboard layout and region
- Microsoft Software License Terms, Dell Terms of Sale/End-User License Agreement
There are also a variety of options to choose from:
- Privacy settings for devices: Inking and typing, Find My Device, Inking, Typing, Advertising ID. Location. Diagnostic data. Tailored experiences.
- Microsoft 365 Free Trial
- Xbox Game Pass
- McAfee will send you service-related emails and text messages if you provide your name, phone number, and email region.
There are six mandatory and nine optional agreements.
The XPS 13 was a contender for the best laptop in its class. The Apple-silicon MacBook is now the dominant laptop on the market. It has surpassed all of the other ultraportable Windows laptops I use every day. The XPS is no exception. Battery life is shorter than the M2 MacBook Air. Benchmark performance is worse. Screen is even worse than screen, which, although it’s good, is still not great. The selection of ports is worse. Audio is worse. The XPS is slightly lighter, and I prefer the feel of its keyboard. It has two main advantages: it is cheaper (which I am not used to praising about XPS lines) and it runs Windows, which many people love a lot.
This has made me a little nervous. I’m worried that this might just be the absolute best version of an ultraportable, thousand-dollar-range Windows laptop that you can buy on today’s market. Although it’s a fine device, I’m not able to praise it as enthusiastically as the reviewers. Windows is now the XPS’s selling point. The XPS has become less important than the XPS. It is possible that Dell or another OEM will invent something new within the next few months.