Dell XPS 13 (2015) Ultrabook Review, It's Hot Hardware

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Introduction And Specs

Utlrabook designs just keep getting thinner, more powerful and more capable with each iteration of the various platforms on the market. Dell's XPS line of ultrabooks has always done relatively well in the arena, with some notable break-out features, like composite carbon fiber construction, that helped them stand out in a sea of offerings from the competition. In fact, when we took a look at Dell's 2014 version of the XPS 13 back in March of last year, it scored high marks with us for impressive battery life, great build quality and good performance, though it didn't have an SD card slot on board. That was a glaring omission for us, in what was otherwise a fantastic machine. 

Since then, however, it appears Dell has been doing its homework and at this year's CES in Las Vegas, Dell dropped what was widely considered to be at least the notebook "bomb" of the show, though we'd argue it could well be one of the top show highlights, period. The new for 2015 Dell XPS 13 is not only powered by Intel's latest 5th Generation Core Series processor, formerly known under the code name Broadwell-U, but it's the first machine to hit our test bench with Intel's new full-power notebook platform. This isn't a 4 - 5 Watt Core M machine we're looking at here; it's Intel's 14nm Core series architecture in full-featured 15 Watt notebook form with a new Intel HD 5500 graphics engine as well. And to step out with their best foot forward, Dell engineered the new 5th Gen Core Series-infused XPS 13 with much more than just fancy carbon fiber.

Update - 10/8/2015: - Dell just unveiled the new XPS 15, a 15-inch notebook with the same Infinity Edge Display technology that enables the XPS 13's near bezel-less panel here. The new 2015 XPS 15 is essentially a 15-inch notebook in a 14-inch form factor, with discrete graphics (GeForce GTX 960) and an 84 WHr battery, all in under 4 pounds. Make sure you check it out.
XPS 13 Top Whitebg
Clean lines and carbon fiber, sure, but under that hood is where you could possibly find nirvana.

Not that the carbon fiber palm rest and keyboard area of the 2015 XPS 13 isn't totally swank -- oh no, it's geek-hot and then some. However, it's under that machined aluminum lid that lurks Dell's true silver bullet -- a 13.3-inch IPS display at 3200X1800 QHD+ resolution that is damn-near devoid of bezel. Edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass never looked so, well, edge-to-edge.

Before you dig into the speeds and feeds, here's our video walk-around and demo of the new 2015 Dell XPS 13.



Dell XPS 13 (2015)
Specifications & Features
Operating System:
Windows 8.1 64-bit
Processor: Intel Core i5-5200U Dual-Core 2.2GHz (Turbo 2.7GHz)
Memory:
8GB DDR3-1600
Graphics: Integrated Intel HD 5500
Storage:
256GB LiteOn M.2 SSD
Display: 13.3" IPS Multi-Touch Display, 400 Nits,Edge-To-Edge Corning Gorilla Glass NBT
Webcam:
720p With Dual Array Digital Microphones
Connectivity: Intel® Dual Band 7265 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.0, [2.4 & 5GHz, 2x2] - Miracast Capable
Ports: USB 3.0 w/Powershare (2), mini DisplayPort (1), SD card reader, headset jack (1), Noblelock (1), 3-in-1 Card Reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC)
Battery: 4-Cell Li-Polymer 52WHr
Dimensions & Weight:
Height: 0.33-0.6” (9-15mm) / Width: 11.98” (304mm) / Depth: 7.88” (200mm) - 2.8lbs (1.27kg)
Software: Skype™, Internet Explorer, My Dell Support application, Dropbox
Warranty: 1 Year Limited Hardware Warranty
Premium Phone Support/ProSupport™
Accidental Damage
Price: $1,399 (as configured) - Find It At Amazon.com

At 2.8 pounds, the 2015 XPS 13 isn't the absolute lightest 13-inch ultrabook book going but it's lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Air and only a few ounces heavier than Lenovo's Core M-powered Yoga 3 Pro. The machine's Z dimensions are thin, at .33" up front to .6" at its backside near the hinge.  However, its 11.98" width almost defies the laws of physics, squeezing a 13.3" (diagonal) display into an 11.98-inch frame.

XPS 13 Kit

Beyond its cutting-edge mechanical ways, the 2015 XPS 13 sports the latest features and connectivity options that Intel's new Broadwell-U platform has to offer, including 802.11ac MIMO 2x2 WiFi with Miracast support, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0 and yes, an SD card slot. There are a few different configs of the new XPS 13 but our machine was powered by a Core i5-5200U, backed by 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory and a LiteOn 256GB M.2 SSD.

Here's a look at other available XPS 13 configurations from Dell:
$799 -     i3-5010U / 4GB-RAM / 128GB-SSD / 1920x1080 (no touch)
$899 -     i5-5200U / 4GB-RAM / 128GB-SSD / 1920x1080 (no touch)
$999 -     i5-5200U / 8GB-RAM / 128GB-SSD / 1920x1080 (no touch)
$1,099 -  i5-5200U / 8GB-RAM / 256GB-SSD / 1920x1080 (no touch)
$1,299 -  i5-5200U / 8GB-RAM / 128GB-SSD / 3200x1800 infinity touch
$1,399 -  i5-5200U / 8GB-RAM / 256GB-SSD / 3200x1800 infinity touch
$1,599 -  i7-5500U / 8GB-RAM / 256GB-SSD / 3200x1800 infinity touch
$1,899 -  i7-5500U / 8GB-RAM / 512GB-SSD / 3200x1800 infinity touch

So, to get in on 3200X1800 pixels of goodness, you're looking at a minimum of $1300 for the 2015 XPS 13, which does put it at a $100 premium versus a MacBook Air, for example. Although, the MacBook's display can't compete at only 1440X900 native res. In addition, that machine comes standard with only 4GB of RAM and currently is powered by Intel's previous generation Haswell Core Series processors.

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