Revisiting Dell's XPS 13 Ultrabook, In Full HD

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Futuremark's PCMark 7 is the latest version of the PCMark suite, released last spring. It has updated application performance measurements targeted for a Windows 7 environment. It combines 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, Web browsing, and gaming.

Futuremark PCMark 7
General Application and Multimedia Performance


Dell's XPS 13 is able to pull away from the pack in PCMark 7 in large part because of the speedy SSD that serves as the primary drive. HP's system also uses an mSATA drive, but it serves as cache storage to the primary mechanical hard drive. The strong PCMark 7 score further reiterates that this is a fast and responsive Ultrabook.

 

Ultrabooks aren't designed for heavy gaming. Even so, it's good to know what to expect from any system you're thinking about buying. Although they may not be designed with gaming in mind, Ultrabooks can (and will) be used for light-duty gaming. To help you get a feel for the type of gaming performance you can expect from the HP Envy Ultrabook 6t-1000, we loaded a few gaming-related benchmarks to see just what it can do.

Futuremark 3DMark11
Simulated Application Performance
Futuremark’s gaming 3DMark 11 benchmark is a grueling test that makes use of DirectX 11 and several highly-detailed demos to put a system's graphics card through its paces. We opt for the Performance setting in the benchmark when we test notebooks and ultrabooks, so keep that in mind if you compare the scores to a system that ran the Entry or Extreme version.

Even though the XPS 13 has a brilliant display with a Full HD 1080p (1920x1080) resolution, it's largely wasted for playing games since the system lacks a discrete GPU. You can get away with playing titles like Left 4 Dead 2 and other less demanding games, but by and large, cutting edge titles that push the limit will prove too much for the XPS 13 to handle.

Far Cry 2 Gaming Test
DirectX Gaming Performance

To get another perspective on the IdeaPad Yoga 13's gaming capabilities, we fired up the "Ranch" demo in Far Cry 2. This FPS game features lush vegetation and plenty of explosions and graphical mayhem. For this test, we turned off AA and used a resolution of 1280x720.

 

An older title like Far Cry 2 drives home the point about gaming performance. In this test, we dial down the resolution to 1280x720, well below the XPS 13's native resolution, and disable AA altogether. Even so, the Intel HD Graphics 4000 has trouble keeping up.

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I would add no Touch screen with Windows 8 as a negative.

The13.3" Acer S7 is also in this price range (features a 1080p touch display)... I'd love to see a review of that one as it would compare directly to this dell.

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That Acer machine is BAD A$$. Would love to get one in. I've used it personally and think it is beautiful.

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hot: hdmi

not: no hdmi.

which is it? Went back to the specs sheet so i'll assume its no hdmi, but does it come with a displayport -> hdmi adapter, and if so does sound pass through correctly?

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Actually I would think that you would see a degraded performance mainly because of an adapter to HDMI if you were to get one. On the other hand, it you have the budget to get a Wi-Di receiver, I would recommend one only because their's no HDMI out of the box. If it did, I wouldn't even consider the extra cost involved in it. This Ultrabook would have been the perfect machine if it had HDMI, which is inexcusable in a $1400 system...

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Can this laptop be set up to allow for dual boot with the options being Win 8 and Win 7?

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I have had this Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook for about a month: 128 GB SSD, i7 8GB memory. My rating for it is 2 stars out of 5. I subtracted 3 stars for unmet expectations on crispness of text when viewing the internet – on Microsoft Office the text clarity is fine. The reviews said that for the 2013 model of the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook the screen was improved to be comparable to a MacBook Air. With this information and knowing that the price of this Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook is 2 to 3 times that of a nonultrabook laptop I had high expectations for this screen.

In my experience these screens are better for viewing internet text:

• My 3+ year old Dell V13

• IPhone 4S

• 3 year old IPad

• Dell U2410 Monitor

• Dell U2412M Monitor

The Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook HD screen should have been the same or better than my 3+ year old Dell V13 on viewing internet. However, I describe the internet text, such as on this website as slightly bold and a bit fuzzy, and on larger title text a little bit of fuzziness around the letters with perhaps the “S” the worst. It is interesting that with Microsoft Office there is not this same fuzziness.

I went to Harvey Norman and looked at all of the Ultrabook screens. The best screen was on an ASUS HD with IPS technology followed by a Sony VAIO. The ASUS is nongloss which I like better than the gloss screen of the XPS V13.

Dell should have figured along the way that the screen is the most important part and perhaps should have a model differentiation based on a better screen. Screen is one area where Apple has gotten right and Dell needs to learn from Apple – the iPhone 4S screen blows this one away. Screens have gotten much better over the past few years so the bar has been raised against Dell. Their desktop U2410 and U2412M are really good – better than this XPS V13.

With The Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook you can really crank up the brightness to be comparable to a MacBook. This is done automatically when plugged in. In battery mode (the whole purpose of it) the default is a lower level of brightness yet this can be adjusted upwards. One downside is that the adjustment does not stay when powered off – so must adjust each time the laptop is turned on. Also, when cranked up in battery mode the brightness varies annoyingly probably part of the battery saving “features”yet I saw this on another brand of ultrabook as well so maybe this is an industry standard.

The Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook has HD and what this sometimes means is that I have had to reduce the resolution else the items look too small such as when using remote desktop for work - looks like the view on a 24 inch screen but shrunk down to a 13 inch screen.

One area of genius from Dell was to sell this with Windows 7 (on the business website) not Windows 8. From what I read, besides tanking global PC sales, Windows 8 kind of assumes everyone is a new user which I see as an insult to those who have used the software for decades. For my remote desktop for work the view is Windows 7 and I don’t think this will ever look like Windows 8. Heads should roll at Microsoft for Windows 8 as it appears kind of like a Windows VISTA debacle. If they get it right in future versions then the cost to upgrade from Windows 7 to 8 is really low.

You have seen my comments on the screen – I suggest a demotion of Dell Product Management responsible for this.

However, those in Dell responsible for the design should get promoted. In my view Dell has been a leader in design (in the Windows world) while others don’t consider design important and make ugly boxes. Example, while the ASUS Ultrabook IPS has a superior screen to the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook it looks boxy and industrial in comparison. For this XPS 13 thought was put into the feel of the keys, the back, a bit of two tone, and perhaps a little bit retro look to the keyboard fonts. I do like the backlit display, yet I don’t like the light coming out under the keys – yet I think that this is an industry poor standard. The LEDs are nice, a little LED showing at the power connector if it is plugged into the wall.

There is extra space in the bag I had for the V13 when the XPS13 is put in. Dell should offer bags as an option as I imagine their design team would pick nice ones.

Performance other than screen: very good. Nice quick start up. The V13 I thought was pretty good too.

I put a similar review on the Dell website yet it is interesting that the site does not show any reviews now including mine. Dell you had your chance to make good with me.

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