Dell is launching a new version of its renowned XPS 13 with the latest Intel chips, but the tweaks it made to the design and internals are the real highlights.
First, let’s talk colours. Along with an edge-to-edge screen, the signature design element of past XPS 13 models was a two-tone silver lid with a black carbon-fibre interior (or Frost White with Arctic White). With this latest release, Dell is transitioning into a new era for XPS, one in which the laptop comes in two monochrome hues: Sky (light blue) and Umber (purplish maroon).
Instead of a soft-touch finish, CNC machined aluminium spans both the lid and the palm rest, giving the XPS 13 a more cohesive (if traditional) design. The full-size keyboard and touchpad are colour-matched with the deck and lid, which I find more visually appealing than the black keys on the MacBook Air.
Dell’s engineers found a way to significantly reduce the size of the motherboard, allowing them to cram more components into a smaller chassis. Now the XPS 13 is only 0.55 inches thick and weighs 1 kg, making it the thinnest and lightest 13-inch XPS yet.
This brings us to the most immediate shortcoming of the XPS 13: its lack of ports. More specifically, the missing 3.5mm headphone jack. Dell will sell a USB-C adaptor separately, but that feels like a small concession for wired headphone users like myself. If you buy this XPS 13, you’ll need to get used to the dongle life, considering it has only two Thunderbolt 4 ports.
The XPS 13 introduced the world to the edge-to-edge screen back in 2015, and those thin bezels are even narrower on this latest version. While most premium laptops have adopted the trend, the XPS 13 takes it a step further by reducing the bezels on all four sides, not just the left and right sides. This results in a 93.9% screen-to-body ratio.
Framed within those razor-thin bezels is a 13.4-inch, 16:10 display with up to a 4K (3840 x 2400) resolution and 500 nits of brightness. Dell says the IPS panel, which supports DisplayHDR 400, covers 90% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut. Two 1920 x 1200-pixel (FHD+) panels are also available in touchscreen and non-touch. Augmenting the screen are larger speakers that promise deeper bass and louder output.
Above the screen is an improved dual-sensor webcam that supposedly delivers better low-light performance. I’ll temper your excitement here, because the webcam is still only 720p. It does, however, support Windows Hello for facial recognition, which pairs with a fingerprint scanner to save you from remembering passwords. This model also adds Dell’s ExpressSign-In, which uses proximity sensors to automatically log you into the laptop the moment you move in front of it.
Housed within this ultra-thin system are 12th Gen Intel processors in Core i5-1230U or Core i7-1250U flavours, which are accompanied by either 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM. Storage capacity goes up to a 1TB PCIe SSD and graphics are limited to integrated Iris Xe. Dell says the Core i5 will get 12 hours of battery life during video playback or 11 hours with the Core i7. Opting for the 4K display with a Core i7 brings the runtime down to 6 hours.
The new XPS 13 is available starting today in the US and Canada at a starting price of $US999 ($1,387) for the Windows 11 version or $US949 ($1,317) for the Ubuntu edition.