Dell XPS 13 9300 (2020) assessment
One other 12 months, one other XPS 13. This time round Dell hasn’t precisely taken its flagship ultrabook again to the drafting board – you’d most likely nonetheless have to set the 2020 mannequin side-by-side with final 12 months’s to even spot the variations – it has made some necessary tweaks.
They’re all good modifications too, with 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.
Sadly, most of the basic XPS 13 drawbacks are nonetheless right here too, with restricted ports and a bent to run actual sizzling. This stays probably the greatest laptops on the planet, however Dell goes to need to do extra to remain forward of the competitors subsequent time round.
Design and construct: Larger on the within, smaller on the surface
It’s not for nothing that I say that the 2019 XPS 13 was about pretty much as good as a 13in laptop computer bought.
In fact, a 13in ultrabook isn’t the very best laptop computer for everybody – others will need the facility of gaming or creator laptops, the scale of a much bigger show, or the flexibleness of extra ports you get with the XPS 15 or 17 – however for these proud of the inevitable compromises of an ultrabook, Dell’s tackle the format has not often been bettered.
This 12 months’s XPS 13 follows the annual rhythm of minor tweaks throughout the board, with two greater modifications each taken from the 2019 XPS 13 2-in-1: a bigger, taller show; and a bigger, wider keyboard. All in a smaller physique, after all.
Let’s take the show first. The brand new 16:10 panel strikes into the house beforehand occupied by the underside bezel (and Dell emblem), leaving a display that’s all-but-borderless. There’s nearly house for a webcam alongside the highest border (which is OK, however the 720p image is decidedly grainy), however in any other case the show is principally edge-to-edge.
It’s 13.4in diagonally, with the selection of a 1920×1200 FHD+ panel or a 3840×2400 4K HDR improve – that’s what I’ve been testing. The 4K panel is just accessible with contact help, however the FHD+ variant offers you the selection of contact or not.
Each display variant runs to a good 500 nits brightness, with 100% sRGB color gamut protection too. You will get brighter screens – and should you’re understanding within the backyard loads proper now you actually may battle with this – however the color vary is difficult to beat, and in regular lighting situations this display is an absolute pleasure to make use of, whether or not for work or for watching.
The change to a 16:10 facet ratio actually helps. The additional vertical display house leaves a bit further room to breathe, particularly on in any other case cramped 12in or 13in fashions, and is very useful should you use it to work quite than simply watch Netflix. Dropping the underside bezel doesn’t damage both, including to the clear, fashionable 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 fashionable, with a shift to lower-case throughout the non-letter keys.
The sting-to-edge keys are made doable by transferring 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 an alternative 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.
I really feel fairly assured saying that that is the very best keyboard in any laptop computer proper now, and I actually can’t discover a single unhealthy factor to say about it.
Regardless of the bigger keyboard and display, the entire physique is about 2 p.c smaller than final 12 months’s – not sufficient to note at a look, however each little helps. It retains the XPS 13 feeling ultra-portable and compact, particularly because it’s light-weight regardless of the sturdy aluminium aluminium development.
The draw back of that’s that ports have been trimmed again even additional. Two USB-C/Thunderbolt three ports supply energy supply and DisplayPort performance, together with a headphone jack and microSD card reader. That’s it. For some that shall be sufficient, however others will lament the truth that different producers nonetheless discover the house for USB-A ports in laptops simply as slim as Dell’s – very important when most equipment nonetheless use that bigger port.
It’s admirable that Dell has discovered the house to contract the XPS 13 down additional, and the modifications to the display and keyboard are solely welcome. The aesthetic could also be extra purposeful than flashy, however in any other case this is likely one of the greatest constructed ultrabooks round – it’s only a disgrace that as ever it’s marred by the absence of a easy USB port.
Specs and efficiency: Cannot deal with the warmth
The XPS 13 additionally bought one large inside change for 2020: the adoption of Intel’s 10th era 10nm chipsets, which permit for improved energy effectivity and efficiency, together with that barely smaller physique.
Whereas some markets have a less expensive i3 base mannequin accessible, within the UK you’ll have to decide on between an i5 or i7 – the latter is what I have been testing. 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 desire to go for the late 2019 XPS 13 refresh that gives six-core processors.
As you’d count on 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 16GB of DDR4, with storage from 256GB as much as 1TB – all SSD, naturally, and upgradeable quite than soldered on.
When it comes to precise efficiency, the XPS 13 is predictably sturdy, however not good. In Geekbench’s uncooked CPU benchmark it exhibits an anticipated increase over final 12 months’s mannequin, and maybe surprisingly the Iris Plus graphics has given it a critical increase within the Sky Diver graphics check.
The telling benchmark is PCMark nonetheless, which is the one which greatest simulates real-world day-to-day utilization, and right here the 2020 mannequin really lags barely behind the 2019 version we examined. Why? My greatest wager is that thermals accountable.
A smaller chassis means much less room for airflow and warmth dissipation. XPS 13s have at all times run sizzling, however this 12 months’s is very vulnerable to overheating – even simply operating Slack, Spotify, and some (or perhaps a whole lot of) Chrome tabs is sufficient to make the keyboard uncomfortably sizzling to the contact. That type of warmth means throttling and lowered efficiency, which PCMark does an excellent job of catching.
That is nonetheless a robust machine, however the thermal points make me hesitant to suggest the i7 mannequin, as you’re unlikely to get all the good thing about the CPU anyway. In case your work is much less demanding and an i5 will suffice then this shall be an important machine, however should you want the facility of an i7 then there are different ultrabooks that may deal with the warmth higher.
As for battery life, the 10nm Intel chips save the day right here, with their added energy effectivity serving to Dell eke an additional hour out of the identical battery capability as final 12 months. This isn’t the longest-running laptop computer round, nevertheless it dealt with 12 hours of steady video playback in our testing, and will comfortably final a day for many customers.
Lastly, connectivity is robust, with each Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi 6, the most recent requirements for every. There’s no 5G help – although Dell did embrace that in its up to date Latitude 9510, so search for it to make it into subsequent 12 months’s iteration of the XPS.
Worth and availability
The 2020 XPS 13 is out now worldwide. Within the UK it begins from £1,349 on Dell’s personal web site, however be careful – that’s a mannequin that runs Linux, not Home windows. The most affordable Home windows 10 mannequin proper now could be £1,399, which will get you an Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 512GB storage.
Within the US it begins from $999, which features a Core i3 processor, 256GB storage, and 8GB of RAM – Dell seems to have discontinued a earlier mannequin that had a laughable 4GB RAM.
That pricing isn’t outrageous, although the likes of the HP Envy 13 may give you related specs for much less, when you might spend an identical quantity on the Huawei MateBook X Professional and get a much bigger show, higher design, and a discrete GPU too.
Take a look at the remainder of our greatest laptop computer chart for extra choices, and to see how the XPS 13 stacks up in opposition to the competitors.
The XPS 13 was as soon as the undisputed king of the ultrabook world, however the competitors has stepped up its sport and Dell isn’t fairly doing sufficient to maintain tempo.
An exquisite 16:10 show and the very best keyboard you’ll discover wherever are sufficient to imply the XPS is nicely price a search for anybody contemplating a Home windows ultrabook, however the caveats really feel extra pointed than ever.
Rival units have extra ports, higher thermals, and infrequently value much less as well, that means it now feels such as you’re paying an actual premium for the Dell title alone.
That is under no circumstances a nasty laptop computer, and improves on the earlier version in a number of methods. In the event you purchase one you’ll most likely like it, however poor ports and warmth issues cease this 12 months’s XPS 13 from reclaiming its throne.
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