Dell XPS 13 2-In-1 (2019) Review: A Near-Perfect Intel 10th Gen Laptop

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Dell XPS 13 7390: Exterior, Teardown, and Software Experience

You probably noticed the dimensions that showed a tapered 7 to 11 millimeter thickness on the previous page, but it bears repeating: the XPS 13 7390 is really thin, and at 2.9 pounds this convertible laptop is extremely lightweight. Despite that low thickness and weight, the machine's body feels incredibly solid. That's due, in large part, to the full-body aluminum panels that cover both the lid and bottom chassis. The lid is especially impressive, since there's hardly even a hint of flex to it even though it's so thin. 

On the XPS 13 7390, even the plastic parts feel premium. The palmrest has a textured carbon fiber look with a matte finish. Since it's not glossy, the palmrest doesn't pick up fingerprints, and it wipes clean easily. Easy cleaning is important especially in our white review unit, since one imagines that it'd turn dingy in a hurry if it didn't clean easily. A fingerprint-resistant finish is important on a machine that you'll buy with the intent of using it as a tablet. It's really nice to see that Dell hasn't skimped on the plastic surfaces. 

What Is A Sequential Hinge, Anyway?

The hinge is also made of aluminum, and has a satisfying amount of resistance in its movement. You never feel insecure about adjusting the viewing angle of the display, and it stays right where you leave it. Dell used a sequential hinge mechanism in the XPS 13 7390, which means that the side attached to the main body opens fully before the side attached to the display folds around. When the display is opened past approximately 120 degrees, the base of the display lifts the unit off a desk or table slightly to give it more room to breathe. That means when the XPS 13 7390 is open 180 degrees, the hinge side is raised slightly off the table. Once you get past 180 degrees, the display side of the hinge allows you to fold the display around a full 360 degrees. You can also prop it up in tent mode for hands-free video viewing pleasure.

hinge at 180

A small magnet pulls the XPS 13 closed when the lid gets down to a narrow angle, and another magnet pulls the back of the lid to the body when it's opened in tablet mode. Both magnets require two hands to disengage, since the notebook is so light. That's not a complaint, either -- we appreciate the magnetic assistance in both the fully-closed and fully-opened positions. These magnets enhance the rigid feeling when we had the unit all the way open in tablet mode. We never felt like we were going to drop the PC in tablet mode because the magnetic connection was so solid.

screws out

The bottom of the XPS 13 7390 has a single line of intake vents on three sides, and each vent has a protective perforated screen over it to prevent debris from getting into the body. We'll find out if the mesh gets in the way of a properly ventilated laptop later on. Toward the front of the unit is a single rubberized bar to hold the notebook in place on a table or desk. It does the job nicely without being unsightly. Eight Torx T6 screws separate you from this convertible laptop's innards, so let's pop it open and see what's up...

Inside The Dell XPS 13 7390

The biggest portion of the body holds a 51 watt-hour battery, which achieves its power rating with a 7.6 volt 6700 milliamp-hour juice pack. The unit appears to be user-replaceable, held in place by just a handful of small Phillips screws. Right in between two cells you'll see the magnet which keeps the lid attached to the bottom casing when the XPS 13 7390 is in tablet mode. Directly behind the battery (or above the battery in our photo below, which has the front of the unit at the bottom) is the XPS 13 7390's fully-integrated motherboard.

fully exposed

Speaking of the motherboard, this is the biggest disappointment about the XPS 13 7390: it's completely non-serviceable for end users. As mentioned previously, the RAM and the SSD are both integrated into the motherboard, which is how Dell got the unit to be so thin and light. If, for example, the solid state storage goes bad or if the system memory starts to get flaky, the whole motherboard has to be replaced. This decision makes a ton of sense in a convertible laptop where every millimeter and fraction of an ounce counts. You might opt for an extended warranty; however nothing about the XPS 13's build quality or component selection indicates a problem. We just like to be safe with our pricey tech purchases. Dell offers up to four years of on-site service for the XPS 13. My personal experience with Dell's on-site techs has been superb, too. 

On the other hand, the cooling system gets unqualified high marks from us. Not one but two fans adorn the rear vents, which are cleverly hidden above the function keys on the keyboard. Dell's documentation initially said that the XPS 13 7390 used GORE Thermal Insulation, which the company says says has a thermal conductivity lower than that of air. However, the documentation has since been updated to indicate this is just a regular plastic sheet of insulation for electronic isolation purposes. The system didn't need a fancier material because it could keep Ice Lake sufficiently cool without it. Beneath the thin sheet we can feel a pair of heatpipes, one going to each fan. This should be sufficient for keeping a 15 watt CPU cool while holding the machine in tablet mode. We'll see when we get to testing the cooling system how loud this setup gets and how well it maintains its operating temperatures. 

Software Experience

The XPS 13 7390 comes with a pretty standard Windows 10 version 1903 installation without a lot of extra unnecessary software installed. The list of apps in the Control Panel looks pretty lengthy, but it can be divided into three camps: drivers, Dell support utilities, and McAfee LiveSafe. For instance, Dell Update and Dell Customer Connect keep your machine up to date and provide an easy pathway to the company's support team. We really appreciate a default installation without a lot of extra bloat out of the box, especially in a system that costs upwards of $1,500 like our test configuration. 

installed apps

The most interesting Dell app is Dell Mobile Connect, which is similar to Microsoft's Your Phone app. Here, you can receive and respond to SMS messages and get notifications. Mobile Connect has some extra tricks up its sleeve, however, including the ability to mirror your phone's screen and transfer files wirelessly between your phone and PC. Dell says this all happens directly between the two devices without passing through any company's servers to keep your data secure. Mobile Connect is available for both Android and iOS, and while we didn't have an iPhone on hand at the time to test it with, Dell advertises all the text messaging and phone call answering goodness of the Android version. As far as extra software, that's pretty much it. Dell delivered the XPS 13 7390 to us just the way we like it: free from bloat. 
dell mobile connect

Now that we've explored the basics, let's see what the XPS 13 7390 is like as a tablet. 

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