Intel's strategically timed CES 2015 launch of their new 5th Generation Core Series processors for notebooks was met with a reasonably warm reception, though it's always difficult to rise above the noise, with the sea of announcements from competitors and the like. CES is always such a zoo and that's by design. Performance claims for Intel's new chip promise major gains in graphics and more modest increases in standard compute applications. However, the biggest bet Intel placed on the new Broadwell-U architecture is performance-per-watt throughput and battery life in premium notebook products that are now in production with major OEM partners like Lenovo, ASUS, Acer, Toshiba and Dell.
A few manufacturers were early out of the gate with new Core i5 5XXX series-based machines and Lenovo had a few interesting models to show off. However, none of the major players caught the same kind of buzz and fanfare that Dell received, with the introduction of their new XPS 13 Ultrabook, powered by Intel's 5th gen, Core i5 series processors.
Hipster "lifestyle" shot many manufacturers seem to think is cool, complete with coffee table.
This year's XPS 13 model not only got a major upgrade at the component level with Intel's new Broadwell-U platform on board, but, as we've already shown you, Dell also decked-out the design of the XPS with a near bezel-less 13-inch WQHD (3200X1800) display packed into an 11-inch carbon fiber and aluminum frame. In short, the XPS 13 is a proverbial "schooling" in industrial design, the likes of which even those fancy-pants folks in Cupertino will be jonesing over.
I couldn't resist taking a small jab at Intel and company in the caption, as we've grown a little weary of hearing about "lifestyle" and "Mommy Bloggers." No offense to the Mom's of course; we all know Moms rock, period. But hey, when it comes to hot tech and HOT hardware, Tech Influencers and Enthusiasts are where it's at.
Mmmm... that luxurious carbon fiber feel just permeates our living room surroundings with a backlit keyboard and look Ma, almost no bezel! We'll be diving into a full, detailed review of the new, svelte, sleek and just 2.6 pound XPS 13 but for now, here's a quick benchmark tease. Dell's new machine is the first to hit our test bench with Intel's new Broadwell
-U Core series processor pumping out the clock cycles.
The direct comparison you want to draw here is between the Core i5-4200U and 4500U-powered devices and the Core i5-5200U-powered 2015 XPS 13 (4200U vs 5200U being "apples-to-apples"). Our shallow-threaded Lame MT audio encoding test shows a 10-15% edge for the Core i5-5200U versus its previous gen brethren, though Cinebench, especially the graphics-targeted OpenGL test, shows a more pronounced advantage for Broadwell-U. Intel claims up to a 22% gain in graphics horsepower, with lower power consumption, so we're in the ballpark here.
Hang on, time for another coffee table shot. Cue the mood music and backlit keyboard.
3DMark Cloud Gate turned out to be a bit of a snoozer for the Broadwell-U powered Dell XPS 13, but that test is a little easier on the throttle than something like Far Cry. In Far Cry 2, which is a DX10 based game benchmark, with reasonably stout graphics workloads (at least for an UItrabook), we see a performance advantage north of 18 percent for the XPS 13 and its Core i5-5200U, versus Core i5-4200U-powered notebook from last year.
Power brick? We don't need no stinking power brick. This near-phone charger sized thingy will do.
Once again, we're in the right zip code at least but there's more testing to come, with a DX11 title maybe and some additional productivity and content creation crunching as well.
Alas, until then, more of the coffee table for you, and yeah, carbon fiber...
We'll leave the hipster coffee table types alone now and get back to doing what we do best -- slicing and dicing performance profiles and real-world experience feedback, to give you a solid picture of the what the new 2015 Dell XPS 13 and its Intel 5th gen Core Series Broadwell-U processor are made of.
Stay tuned for more with the Dell XPS 13 in the days ahead, and of course we'll have those all-important battery life numbers for you as well.