Dell XPS 13 Review

The new XPS 13 has become thinner, but unfortunately hardly lighter. The thinner casing does result in only usb-c connections and Dell replaced the SD card with a micro SD card reader. The battery life went down slightly, but is still very good with more than twelve hours during browsing. We are also pleased that automatic dimming of the display screen can be switched off. The full-hd-ips screen is good, but it has a glass plate that produces sharp reflections. The cooling has been improved, so the hardware performs well. A fingerprint scanner and face recognition are included as standard.

Final verdict

In 2015, Dell announced a new version of its XPS 13 ultrabook at CES too. The new XPS 13 was a major transformation compared to its predecessor. The new screen jumped into the eye, with unprecedented thin edges for that time. That model XPS 13 was also supplied with a Broadwell processor and in the meantime versions with Skylake, Kaby Lake and Kaby Lake Refresh processors have appeared. Although the hardware has taken a leap forward, the outside of the laptop remained the same all the time, until Dell released a new and thinner XPS 13 in early 2018, this time just before the CES. The hardware did not change this time, but the casing became four millimeters thinner, while a fingerprint scanner and a double camera for Windows Hello are included as standard. How does the familiar hardware work in this new way?

If you know the XPS 13 9360, you will not see any major differences at first sight with the new 9370 model. The thin screen edges have remained and the exterior is still made of gray metal. The first thing you will notice is the thickness of the housing. It has become four millimeters thinner and is now only 11.6 millimeters thick. In the length and width, Dell has also a few millimeters of the laptop planed, but that is not as clear to see as the decreased thickness. The compact housing is hardly visible in the weight; the new weighs 1215 grams, while the old one weighs 45 grams.
With the slimmer housing, the XPS 13 does not yield strength. The bottom and back of the screen are made of sturdy aluminum, which hardly yields under pressure. The non-metal parts are also sturdy. There is a glass plate over the screen made of Gorilla Glass 4, which has to be stronger than ordinary glass, and around the keyboard carbon fiber is incorporated into the housing. The housing not only looks slick, but also feels very sturdy.
Unfortunately, the new housing also brings disadvantages and one of them is the presence of only USB-c connections. That is inevitable in view of the thickness of the laptop and fortunately, Dell supplies a converter cable from usb-a to usb-c. The USB c connectors also provide a lot of functionality. The two left-hand connections support Thunderbolt, with a maximum pci-e-bandwidth of four lanes. The right connection is not connected to a Thunderbolt chip, but does support the connection of external displays.
All three ports can be used to charge the laptop. This is possible with the included adapter, but if you have a usb-c charger at 15 volts, that is possible too. If the laptop is switched off, you can even charge it with 5V and 9V chargers, but then you’re working hard to get the 52Wh battery full. The sd card reader has disappeared and has been replaced by a micro sd reader. That is no improvement, because almost all cameras use regular fullsize-sd cards and therefore you will have to bring a separate sd reader.

Keyboard and Touchpad Among laptop manufacturers, the thinning of the new models is a popular activity nowadays and it is often started with thinning the keyboard. If you enjoy keyboards with a lot of travel and a clear attack, like us, you will not be able to appreciate that development, but fortunately Dell does not participate. The new XPS 13 has the same keyboard as the old one and we can handle it well. The travel is, as with many ultrabooks, not oversized, but it is not as little as with a MacBook or Zenbook 3. Moreover, the keyboard is firmly in the housing and the feedback is clear.

With the touchpad we had more problems, although that probably only concerned our test model. During the two-finger scrolling, a pinch movement was occasionally detected, so that there was no scrolling, but zooming out. Even when tapping with two fingers for a context menu, things went wrong and the mouse arrow jumped off, but no context menu was opened. We fortunately still had an XPS 13 9370 on the editorial board during testing, which did not occur, and we think that our test specimen lay. The precisiontouchpad looks at least the same as on the previous XPS 13, with a smooth surface, which normally does its job without problems.

Right above it unchanged keyboard is the on / off button and it has been changed. The light has disappeared and replaced for a fingerprint scanner. You can also log in using facial recognition, as a dual camera with infrared LEDs is also included as standard. The camera has moved from the left corner to the center of the screen, but is still in the bottom edge. Because the camera films from a low angle, you seem to have a disproportionately wide upper body and a small head on the image. If you tap the keyboard while using the webcam, you will always see your fingers in the picture.