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

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Dell XPS 13 7390: Summary and Conclusions

Dell's XPS notebooks have always combined first-class build quality with all the features you'd expect from a premium notebook -- with performance to match -- and the XPS 13 7390 is no exception. This machine's aluminum and white spun glass construction and light weight make Dell's newest convertible laptop look and feel like an ultra-premium device. Using the PC as a tablet works very well thanks to a combination of good software features in Windows 10 and hardware that feels solid and sturdy in the hand. Thanks to its bright and colorful multi-touch display, using Windows 10 in tablet mode was an enjoyable experience, and videos looked great on its 1920x1200 panel. The only real downside to its compact size is that the RAM and SSD can't be upgraded later on, which also makes the motherboard something of a single point of failure. 

on with accs

Intel's newest CPUs built with the company's latest 10-nm fabrication process push the performance of thin and light notebooks to new heights thanks to improved CPU instructions per clock, lower power consumption, and reinvigorated integrated graphics performance. Time and time again, Dell's latest XPS 13 convertible was the fastest system in our test group chock full of systems with 8th-generation Core i7 CPUs by a significant margin. To augment that speedy CPU, memory speed support has been significantly enhanced. The LPDDR4X-3733 RAM in this system is as fast as many enthusiast system memory kits without all the extra voltage those XMP-enabled DIMMs require.

On the graphics side of our tests, Intel's 11-generation GPU architecture went toe-to-toe with AMD's Vega integrated graphics and turned out some very playable frame rates in some hefty–if older–AAA titles. E-sports titles like Dota 2 and Fortnite were already playable with UHD graphics, but the Iris Plus integrated processor will let you turn the details up for a more enjoyable experience. While not a gaming powerhouse, Intel's Iris Plus graphics were capable of pumping out playable frame rates, if you don't mind turning down details a bit. No doubt that extra memory bandwidth helps graphics performance, but endowing the Core i7-1065G7 with a large jump in execution units gets most of the credit. 

unboxing

There's plenty more to like in the XPS 13 7390, too, including very speedy NVMe primary storage, a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports with plenty of PCIe connectivity, and an excellent MagLev keyboard. Battery life was strong from a diminutive machine like this too–no doubt a testament to the engineering feat represented by the the Core i7-1065G7's power efficient Sunnycove processor cores. Even unplugged, this Dell 2-in-1 has enough performance at very low power draw–so low that the fans didn't even kick in during our testing, but the system never felt sluggish while we browsed, watched videos, scribbled with the PN579X, and wrote this article from the comfort of the living room sofa. 

While a somewhat pricey add-on, artists and vigilant note takers both are likely to get even more out of the 7390 by pairing the system's multi-touch display with Dell's Premium Active Pen, which has some excellent pressure-sensing capabilities. Because the XPS 13 7390's display supports Windows Ink, there are lots of other options out there for active styluses, too; you're not limited to Dell's offering, although you may want it for its ability to take notes while the screen is locked and quick-launch buttons to fire up your favorite apps. Dell's pen is very high-quality and consistently exhibited very low lag while taking notes in OneNote or doodling in Whiteboard. 

one note

A Notebook for the Uncompromising User

The XPS 13 7390 2-in-1 matches jaw-dropping looks with equally jaw-dropping performance, considering its size and 2-in-1 convertible form factor. Thanks to Intel's new energy-efficient processors, Dell's latest Windows Ink-compatible laptop consistently placed at the top of our benchmark charts for both CPU-intensive tasks and graphical grunt. This could easily be a road warrior's everyday work machine, and thanks to Thunderbolt 3 connectivity those users would probably never miss the absent internal slots. Better still, battery life was very good, so prospective buyers aren't even trading away mobility time for that performance. We got a full seven hours out of this notebook playing back video which, while not entirely unheard-of, is an excellent result.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that such a well-rounded unit would be outside the realm of affordability, but the spec reviewed here today runs just under $1,550. Folks that want to hang onto four cores but don't need quite so much processing grunt could shave a couple hundred bucks off in favor of the somewhat slower Core i5-1035G1 option. If that's still a bit too rich for your blood, Dell advertises options that start at under $1000, too. 

final hero

Thanks to all that new tech, Dell's latest represents a substantial shift in the age-old performance/mobility trade-off. The CPU performance gains over Whiskey Lake-based 8th generation Intel processors are significant and meaningful. However, pairing those gains with significantly enhanced efficiency is downright impressive. Add to that a near-doubling of performance in graphical tasks, and there's a ton to love about the new Dell XPS 13 7390. This is the first time in quite a while that you can get more of both without taking a second mortgage out on your home. On top of that, this system is a real looker and very lightweight while being durable and versatile. If you've been hanging onto an older business-class notebook, it's time to consider and upgrade. To sum up this laptop's performance with Intel 10th Gen Core CPUs we'll borrow a line from Seinfeld: they're here and they're spectacular. 
  • Best-of-class performance with Ice Lake
  • Excellent, bright 16:10 touch display
  • Excellent MagLev keyboard
  • Premium build quality and great looks
  • Versatile 2-in-1 form factor
  • Thunderbolt 3
  • Great battery life
  • Minimal bloatware
  • Premium Active Pen not standard
  • Non-user replaceable SSD and RAM
  • Bezels might be too narrow for some

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