Dell XPS 13 (2020) assessment: Arms-on
One other 12 months, one other XPS 13. Dell has as soon as once more revisited its flagship ultrabook, although you’d must set the 2020 revision side-by-side with final 12 months’s to even spot the variations – the unlucky aspect impact of a design that was so near excellent final time round.
As if to hammer house the purpose, virtually each change that Dell has made for 2020’s mannequin is the truth is cribbed from the mid-2019 revamp of the convertible XPS 13 2-in-1 – a 16:10 facet ratio, edge-to-edge keyboard, and Intel’s extra compact and power-efficient 10nm processors to maintain it even slimmer than earlier than.
So to recap: Dell has taken the perfect laptop computer on the planet and made it higher by copying from itself. Right here’s how.
Worth and availability
First up, excellent news for the impatient: the brand new XPS 13 is out actual quickly. The laptop computer will go on sale within the UK, US, and some European international locations from 7 January, at a beginning worth of $999.
We don’t know UK or Euro pricing, however the 2019 XPS 13 began from £999/€999, so we’d anticipate the identical once more this 12 months.
Naturally that’s just for the bottom spec, which can include a Core i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 256GB storage, and a non-touch FHD+ show. All of these are upgradeable, so anticipate pricing for the highest mannequin to interrupt the £1500/$1500 line.
Design and construct: Perfection perfected
It’s not for nothing that I say that the 2019 XPS 13 was about pretty much as good as a 13in laptop computer obtained. It’s spent the final 12 months sitting on the prime spot in our greatest laptop computer chart – a spot it took from the 2018 mannequin, which sat there for the 12 months earlier than.
In fact, a 13in ultrabook isn’t the perfect laptop computer for everybody – others will need the facility of gaming or creator laptops, the dimensions of a much bigger show, or the pliability of extra ports – however for these proud of the inevitable compromises of an ultrabook, Dell’s tackle the format has by no means been bettered.
Nicely, besides by Dell.
This 12 months’s XPS 13 observe’s the annual rhythm of minor tweaks throughout the board, with two larger adjustments each taken from the 2019 XPS 13 2-in-1: a bigger, taller show; and a bigger, wider keyboard. All in a smaller physique, in fact.
Let’s take the show first. The brand new 16:10 panel strikes into the house beforehand occupied by the underside bezel (and Dell brand), leaving a display that’s all-but-borderless. There’s nearly house for a webcam alongside the highest border, however in any other case the show is mainly edge-to-edge.
It’s 13.4in diagonally, with the selection of a 1920×1200 FHD+ panel or a 3840×2400 4K HDR improve. The 4K panel is barely accessible with contact help, however the FHD+ variant provides you the selection of contact or not. Each display variant runs to a good 500 nits brightness, with 100% sRGB color gamut protection too.
I’m an enormous fan of 16:10 shows on laptops. The additional vertical display house leaves somewhat additional room to breathe, particularly on in any other case cramped 12in or 13in fashions, and is very useful should you use it to work relatively than simply watch Netflix. Dropping the underside bezel doesn’t harm both, including to the clear, trendy impression of Dell’s design.
Then there’s the keyboard. Just like the show that is now virtually edge-to-edge, which leaves the house for bigger keycaps throughout the board. Even the font’s been modified – it’s thinner and extra trendy, with a shift to lower-case throughout the non-letter keys.
The sting-to-edge keys are made doable by shifting the fingerprint scanner into the facility key – a contact that each saves house and leaves an total cleaner aesthetic.
Importantly, whereas the keyboard dimension was impressed by the convertible XPS, this doesn’t use the divisive MagLev keyboard that mannequin does – as a substitute it sticks to the identical rubber dome keycaps as earlier than, with a 1mm journey that’s as snug to kind on as ever – and extra so when you issue within the bigger keys.
Elsewhere issues are a lot the identical, although small adjustments about. The entire physique is about 2 p.c smaller – not sufficient to note at a look, however each little helps. And that’s regardless of the bigger show, bigger keyboard, and even barely bigger touchpad.
Ports are ever so barely contracted nevertheless – two USB-C/Thunderbolt three supply energy ship and DisplayPort performance (down from three USB-C slots final time round), together with a headphone jack and microSD card reader.
The entire thing is made out of machined aluminium with a fiber end, in the identical selection of black or white – although the white mannequin now options black relatively than white bezels across the display, a small contact which Dell says subtly improves the viewing expertise.
Specs and efficiency: 10nm energy
The opposite massive change is inner: the adoption of Intel’s 10th technology 10nm chipsets, which permit for improved energy effectivity and efficiency, together with that barely smaller physique.
As with final 12 months there’s an i3 base mannequin accessible, with the choice to spec as much as an i5 or i7. It’s price noting that these are all quad-core chips, as Intel hasn’t made six-core variations accessible but for its 10nm chips – so some should still want to go for the late 2019 XPS 13 refresh that gives six-core processors.
As you’d anticipate at this dimension there’s no possibility for discrete GPUs, so that you’re caught with Intel’s built-in graphics – although there’s now the selection between UHD or its extra highly effective Iris Plus graphics chip. In the meantime RAM ranges from 4GB as much as 32GB of DDR4, with storage from 256GB as much as 2TB – all SSD, naturally, and upgradeable relatively than soldered on.
The battery is one space Dell hasn’t supplied an improve, as a substitute selecting to easily match final 12 months’s mannequin. There’s the identical 52WHr energy supply, which ought to ship somewhat over 10 hours of use going by earlier fashions – good however not the perfect, particularly if it’s powering a 4K show.
Connectivity has had a lift at the very least, with each Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi 6, the newest requirements for every. There’s no 5G help – although Dell did embody that in its new Latitude 9510, so search for it to make it into the 2021 iteration of the XPS.
I’ve solely performed with the 2020 XPS 13 for 15 minutes or so, which isn’t sufficient time to totally assess it. However each the 2018 and 2019 iterations of the laptop computer had been best-in-class, and on paper this 12 months’s mannequin improves on virtually each ache level.
We’d like to see a much bigger battery – although that will in flip make the physique larger, so perhaps not – however in any other case that is arduous to fault.
Dell XPS 13 9300 (2020): Specs
- Processor: 10th-gen Intel Core i3-1005G1, i5-1035G1, i7-1065G7
- Graphics: Intel UHD or Iris Plus
- Show: 13.4in UltraSharp 4K Extremely HD (3840×2400) InfinityEdge HDR 400 contact show or Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge contact or non-touch show
- Reminiscence: 4GB-32GB LPDDR4 Twin Channel SDRAM at 3733MHz (On Board)
- Storage: 256/512GB/1/2TB PCIe SSD
- Battery: 52Wh
- Ports: 2x Thunderbolt three with energy supply and DisplayPort (four lanes of PCI Categorical Gen three), microSD card reader, headset jack
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5
- Dimensions: Top: 296 x 199 x 14.eight -11.6mm
- Weight: 1.2kg
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