With months of accumulated hard daily use we can deliver a very clear impression about the Dell XPS 13
We often sing the praises of Dell’s XPS range of laptops. They have a well established reputation for excellent design, build quality and features. Usually when we do a laptop review, we get the unit, run some benchmarks, poke around its differentiating features and software and write up the review. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but it doesn’t really give the readers an insight into the true long term experience of using a laptop that you’re likely to use for years.
BUILT TO LAST
I’ve been running the XPS 13 notebook for several months and in that time I have been using it as my daily driver. It has accompanied me on several domestic and overseas trips. Being moved in and out of a bag repeatedly and sent through airport scanners is a good test of durability in itself, and the XPS 13’s machined aluminium shell has proven to be exceptionally sturdy. There’s not a single scratch or scuff mark anywhere on the unit.
In my initial review I wrote that I was not a fan of the optional rose gold finish and that opinion remains, though of course that’s in the eye of the beholder. I was also slightly critical of the white glass fibre like interior, but I have found that it’s really grown on me. It’s all but fingerprint proof for starters, and it provides a nice feeling against the wrists when typing.
The move to a Kaby Lake based quad core CPU has definitely made a perceptible difference in day to day use. My typical use case scenario is fairly demanding. I’ll have Firefox with many tabs open for general internet use, Chrome tabs with some extra security extensions for banking and investment purposes, a spreadsheet or word doc, a media player, email client and a couple of other random apps. While this kind of load would present no real issue for all but the cheapest notebooks, I have definitely noticed that the unit feels more responsive compared to a dual core machine. Unless you’re doing computationally intensive work, the XPS 13 with its mid-range i5-8250U has proved more than capable of keeping up with my typical workload.
Now we come to the screen. Dell’s so called Infinity Edge displays have always been a real strength. This unit comes with the 1080p version and I’m perfectly happy with that in a 13In form factor. When using it in a brightly lit area, the brightness of the screen is a real standout. Text sharpness is as good as it gets and my opinion on the vibrancy and colour reproduction of the virtually bezeless XPS 13 screen has only been enhanced after spending so many hours looking at it.
The XPS 13 comes with three USB Type-C ports, two of which support Thunderbolt 3. It comes with a single Type-C to Type-A adapter which is good for connecting a mouse that I carry with me. An extra adapter would be nice, but to mitigate this I also carry with me a Kingston Nucleum Type-C hub which adds things like Type-A ports, HDMI port and SD card reader. This takes care of all of my connectivity needs. When the World Cup streaming was actually working on Optus, I used the XPS 13 to stream via HDMI to a TV which worked faultlessly.
ALL DAY COMFORT
One of the real strengths of the XPS 13 is its battery life. In day to day use, it’s easily capable of going a full day provided you don’t hammer it too hard of course. I was a touch worried that the move from a dual core to a quad core would be detrimental to battery life, even if the power consumption specification is similar. After my experience, I’m confident in saying that the move to a quad core means basically free performance without any significant battery life hit.
I tend to do most of my work content on my desktop PC, but while I’m away, the keyboard does get quite a lot of use with the likes of Skype and Line. I’ve found it to be comfortable to the touch, with a level of resistance that I am now well and truly used to. I haven’t had reason to use the webcam on many occasions, but at least its position has been moved to the lower centre of the screen, rather than off to the left which was a welcome change.
Dell XPS laptops are consistently regarded as being among the very best lightweight and premium laptops available. Now that I have had the pleasure of using one for a long period of time, that opinion has certainly been solidified in my mind. Would I buy a Dell XPS 13? 100% yes. It even comes in black…