The Dell XPS 13 for 2017, which follows a minor refresh in late 2017, is a much bigger deal in the update stakes. It8217;s slimmer and lighter than ever before, getting closer to the skinny factor of its slimmest rivals.
- 11.6 x 302 x 199mm; 1.2kgs
- Black carbon fiber palm rest with soft touch coating
- Gorilla Glass 4 screen covering
We8217;ve been Dell XPS 13 fans for ages. But these machines have always been a bit thicker than most of their obvious rivals. That8217;s what Dell has changed this time around: the 2018 model is just 11.6mm thick, which is a massive 50 per cent slimmer than its predecessor8217;s thickest point.
It8217;s not as thin as the 9mm-thick Acer Swift 7, but thanks to the XPS 138217;s ultra-slim screen bezel, the entire laptop8217;s footprint is not that much bigger than the display itself. This is portability heaven, therefore, particularly as it only weighs 1.2kg.
Slimfast waist-trimming aside, the classic Dell XPS 13 styling hasn8217;t changed. There8217;s rigid aluminium on the top and bottom, with a soft-touch carbon fibre finish inside. As usual, every part of this little computer is stiff and unmoving, much like an Apple MacBook. Build quality like this is a big part of why XPS 13s are so popular.
There8217;s no showy, fancy features though: the hinge only folds back to a normal extent, around 130 degrees; you don8217;t get a stylus; and there8217;s no touchscreen. Dell does make a 2-in-1 hybrid XPS 13, but this version is for people who think hybrids are a bit, well, flimflam.
Despite no folding hinge in this review XPS 13, there is one very neat bit of smart hardware design: the power button to the top-right of the keyboard plate also doubles as a fingerprint scanner. It8217;s pretty much the smartest-looking integration of this hardware we8217;ve seen in a laptop 8211; save for the Huawei MateBook X Pro 8211; and it works well, too.
The Dell XPS 13 also has infrared (IR) cameras that sit under the display, allowing you to login using your face. This functions well, although some people hate the camera layout of the XPS 13, as it8217;s positioned towards the base of the screen. The lower angle makes for less flattering video calls, highlighting those jowls and double chins.
- 2x Thunderbolt 3 with PowerShare, DC-In and DisplayPort
- 1x USB-C 3.1 with PowerShare, microSD card slot
- Killer 1435 802.11ac 2215;2 and Bluetooth
- Noble lock slot
One other possible point of contention in the new Dell XPS 13 is its connection arsenal. There are no traditional sockets here. That means full-size USB, no full-size SD card slot, and no HDMI port. If you8217;re desperate for these, check out the just-slightly-older XPS 13 9360 while it8217;s still around (it also has a 8220;big8221; USB and an SD slot).
In place of these the new XPS 13 has three USB-C ports, two of which support the ultra-fast Thunderbolt 3 standard. They may be small, but they8217;re eight times faster than a normal USB 3.0 port. Technology, eh?
One of these USB ports will be taken up by the power adapter during charging. There8217;s also a microSD slot, and a little LED display that shows you the rough battery level when you press a button beside it. Handy.
The new XPS 138217;s keyboard is a little shallower than the old version, but it still delivers a very satisfying typing experience. There8217;s a good amount of resistance to the keys. And like every aspect of this laptop, the keyboard feels high quality.
The Dell XPS 138217;s trackpad is great as well. It has a solid clicker, it8217;s about as big as it could be considering the laptop8217;s frame, and the surface is ultra-smooth textured glass. It feels great.
- 13.3in InfinityEdge display, Full HD resolution (1920 x 1080)
- 4K Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160) with touchscreen also available
- 1500:1 contrast ratio
The display has a glassy, glossy finish, however, so reflections are going to be more apparent than with a matte panel. However, the Dell XPS 13 does have a glare-reduction finish that makes these reflections look less bright and less distracting.
- 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U CPU (8M Cache, up to 4.0 GHz)
- 8GB LPDDR3 1866MHz RAM
- 256GB PCIe Solid State Drive
Thin laptops like this used to have two cores, but Intel8217;s 8th generation ones have four. That means almost double the power on tap, compared to the Dell XPS 13 you might have bought in mid 2017. It can handle just about anything. Its 8GB RAM and a fast 256GB SSD also make Windows 10 fly, too.
The Dell XPS 13 still isn8217;t much good for gaming, though. GPU power hasn8217;t changed much in this generation of Intel processor, and games don8217;t really run significantly faster this time around.
You can play old games like Skyrim if you lower the graphics settings quite a bit. But this is not a gaming machine. Not at all. There8217;s no option to add discrete graphics either 8211; something that the Huawei MateBook X Pro offers 8211; not that we can imagine Dell being able to fit such a chipset into this XPS anyway.
In our testing the Dell XPS 13 lasted for between 10 and 11 hours of light use, at the sort of brightness you might use indoors. You lose an hour or so of use compared with the old fatter XPS 13. But you8217;ll still get a full day8217;s work out of a charge, which is the important thing.