Dell XPS 13 (2018) hands-on review

LAS VEGAS: OLD TIME PC VENDOR Dell unveiled its brand new XPS laptop just before CES this week, and it might look a little familiar.

Originally released back in 2015 when it claimed to be is the smallest 13in notebook in the world thanks to its ability to squeeze a 13.3in screen into the size of a typical 11in notebook chassis, the Dell XPS 13 is back with updated innards and it’s now available in a lovely white colour.

We got some hands-on time with the device at the Dell booth at CES in Vegas to see just how much the 2018 edition of the device has improved over the original.

The design of the new XPS 13 is perhaps the most radical improvement over its predecessor, with Dell claiming that it’s the first company to use woven glass fibre in a laptop to achieve an alpine glass weave. It might sound like marketing bullsh*t, and upon close inspection, you’ll see that it is exactly that.

It does feel nice to touch, though, with a subtle waffle effect on the surface. Dell’s new laptop also apparently has a titanium oxide coating to offer a pearlescent sheen while being UV and stain-resistant. You can’t see this in real life, but it’s kinda nice to know it’s there.

While we are big fans of the design, with the Dell XPS 13’s high-quality aluminium finish nicely juxtaposed against a white casing, it isn’t however, super slim. Measuring 11.6mm, it is more streamlined than before though, shaving off 3.4mm in thickness compared to its predecessor and weighing in at just 1.2kg.

The new Dell XPS 13’s illuminated InfinityEdge display, which now scales in resolution from full HD (1920×1080) to Ultra HD 4K (3840×2,60) is one of its finest features. It’s vibrant and clear, and colour reproduction is great, with colours appearing very rich.

The screen’s bezels have been slimmed-down compared to the 2015 edition, with Dell managing to squeeze its 13in InfinityEdge display into an even slimmer 11in frame.

Elsewhere, the new XPS 13 offers an optional fingerprint scanner, an IR camera with Windows Hello support and an array of connections, including two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a microSD card reader, a USB-C input with DisplayPort support and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Brightness levels are brilliant, however, and we can imagine we could even work on the XPS 13 outside, though not in direct sunlight as with most mobile machines.

We found that the Dell XPS 13’s keyboard has excellent travel, allowing you type rapidly with ease. Unlike some other laptops we have tested recently, the XPS 13’s keyboard registered all keystrokes. The well-spaced layout of the keyboard despite its size means that it’s a nifty little device to type efficiently on. Bravo to Dell.

Dell claims its new XPS 13 laptop offers twice the grunt of the 2015 model, thanks to better power management. This is down to the new thermal design of the laptop, which uses Gore thermal insulation for better heat dissipation. There’s also a ‘dynamic power mode’ that intelligently delivers maximum power when needed, while carefully monitoring system temperatures.

Just like the refreshed XPS 13 announced only three months ago, the new model packs Intel’s latest 8th-generation Core i5 or i7 processors, which are offered with a choice of 4GB, 8GB or 16GB RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage. In our tests, it handled Windows 10 very well, with no lag when swiping between pages, and programs popped up almost as soon as we selected them. It also handled everything we threw it at with ease, probably due to the new superfast Intel processor.

According to Dell, you’ll manage to squeeze 20-hours of battery life out of the laptop on full HD, but this’ll drop to 11 hours in 4k Ultra HD mode. We’re definitely looking forward to trying this out for a full review.

First impressions
We are (and always have been) big fans of the Dell XPS line-up, mainly for its unique bezel-less display and great build, and the 2018 is no exception. We loved the white design and the solid feel of the chassis, and think it will be a force to be reckoned with in 2018.

Overall, Dell has made good use of high-quality materials and the XPS 13 impressed us with its tiny bezel, design and build. It feels well-made and has a high-quality finish, and as a result feels like it would be a pleasure to use. And the super-thin bezel has left us screaming: “why doesn’t ever laptop maker do this?!”

The XPS 13 is on sale now at and John Lewis with prices starting at £1,269. A Rose Gold model will be available next month priced at £1,669, and an Ubuntu version is also on offer for £1,319. µ 

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