When people ask me to suggest a premium Windows laptop, I simply tell them to buy the Dell XPS 13, if they can afford it. There are many deserving laptops in the high-end of the laptop market, but the XPS 13 has some of the unique strengths that makes it a perfect fit in this segment.
The new Dell XPS 13, which I tested this past week, packs Intel’s latest 11th Generation “Tiger Lake” CPUs and a gorgeous 13.4-inch 4K display along with the best build quality you will ever find in a laptop. However, with its Rs 155,518 base price, the XPS 13 is clearly a CEO laptop.
Here is my review of the Dell XPS 13.
Dell XPS 13 specifications (as reviewed): 13.4-inch 4K touchscreen|11th Gen Intel Core CPU|16GB RAM|Intel Iris Xe graphics|512GB SSD|1.2kg|Windows 10|2 USB Type-C, microSD card reader, 3.5mm headphone jack|720p web cam|support for Wi-Fi 6.
Dell XPS 13 (9310) review price: Rs 215,497
Dell XPS 13 (9310) review: What’s new?
The new XPS 13 looks identical to the previous generation model, which I reviewed last August. You are getting the machine encased in a machined aluminum shell with a carbon fiber palm rest and Corning Gorilla Glass 6 on the display. It’s incredibly lightweight and the touchscreen model I got for review weighed only 1.27kg. The XPS 13 is perfectly balanced and it’s really quite easy to hold. While sitting on the couch the other day, watching the highlights from the Grammys 2021, I rested the XPS 13 in my lap.
Throughout the course of my testing, the Dell XPS 13 gave the feeling of a solid laptop. I use my laptop most often, and take it with me everywhere I travel, and although travelling is no more happening due to the pandemic, I will always give preference to a lightweight machine that fits into a messenger bag but doesn’t skimp on performance.
Dell is selling the XPS 13 in two colour schemes, and I got the review unit with Frost White with an Alpine White composite-fiber palm rest.
Dell XPS 13 (9310) review: What’s good?
The 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,400) screen on my review unit is very nice. It’s a touchscreen display, and looks fantastic. I can tell a difference between the display quality on the XPS 13 and my Surface Pro. The display is crisp, super-bright, and colour rich. Dell is sticking with a taller 16:10 aspect ratio for the 13.4-inch screen. The bezels on all four sides are negligible, which gives users more screen real estate without increasing the size of the laptop. There’s also support for Dolby Vision.
For most users, a 4K screen is likely overkill and I don’t recommend the 3840x2400p model unless you work on large spreadsheets daily. I think the FHD display option available on the base model makes more sense as it may well help to extend battery life.
Above the display is a 720p HD webcam with a built-in infrared sensor. The HD webcam isn’t great, though it’s perfectly alright for Zoom calls. I wish Dell had included a 1080p FHD webcam in a laptop as expensive as the XPS 13. While the 720p HD webcam supports Windows Hello, there’s also a fingerprint reader built into the power button.
Speakers on the XPS 13 are excellent. They aren’t nearly as good as what you get on the 16-inch MacBook Pro but I am not complaining too much. Music sounds rich, and the audio can easily fill a small room.
The keyboard is fantastic. The XPS 13 has a full-sized keyboard, with backlighting, and dedicated number and function key rows. It’s the same keyboard like the one you’ll find across the entire XPS lineup. The keyboard has more travel and typing is relatively quiet. Below the keyboard is a trackpad, which is surrounded by carbon fiber on the palm rest. The trackpad is large and it’s very responsive, plus supports all of Windows 10’s multi-point gestures.
The model Dell loaned me for testing came with a Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16GB RAM and 512GB of storage. The computing performance was surprisingly good, though I can’t tell the difference between the latest Tiger Lake CPUs and “Ice Lake” processors. In day-to-day tasks, I never faced any issues with the notebook. Not even once the XPS 13 struggled to open web tabs in Chrome.
The Evo-branded laptop also boasts powerful Iris Xe integrated graphics. I think the XPS 13 is a capable machine and will be able to handle demanding programmes and extensive multitasking, something one would expect from a computer costing Rs 215,497. During my time with the XPS 13, I didn’t see the notebook getting hot. Sometimes, yes, the fans get loud but it hasn’t impacted the machine’s performance. It’s a quiet machine.
The XPS 13 should easily run the entire workday, though again that depends on your usage. A typical workday in my life includes web browsing, editing stories and uploading them, editing photos, checking my email, listening to Apple Music, watching YouTube videos, and a lot of typing. The XPS 13 lasted about six hours in my testing, which I would say is fair for a notebook with a Core i7 processor and a 4K touchscreen.
Dell XPS 13 (9310) review: What’s bad?
Despite being an excellent notebook, the Dell XPS 13 has a few shortcomings. To make the laptop ultrathin and light, Dell has included limited connectivity ports. There’s only two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4, a headphone jack, and a microSD reader. Beyond that, there are no other ports on the notebook. However, the XPS 13 comes with a Type-C to Type-A adapter in the box.
Dell XPS 13 (9310) review: Should you buy it?
The Dell XPS 13 is an expensive machine. And the starting price for entry into that coveted club is Rs 155,518, which is a lot of money to shell out on a laptop. The thing I keep reminding people is that the XPS 13 is designed for CEOs and senior executives who aspire to have a notebook that not only looks premium and sophisticated but also gives a workstation-grade performance on the go. I honestly don’t have many bad things to say about the Dell XPS 13, but yes the price is not for everyone.