Dell XPS 13 9370 (2018) Review: Spun Glass, Killer Looks And Speed

Dell XPS 13 9370 - Design, Build Quality And A Crispy InfinityEdge

Dell XPS 13 2018 display

Dell's XPS 13 (9370) component configuration, materials, and industrial design exude a premium experience from every angle, but let's get our favorite aspect covered right out gate here. Dell's InfinityEdge display configuration, once you've seen it, is kind of like seeing the latest crop of thin-bezel wide-aspect smartphones on the market. In other words, every other laptop display bezel simply looks bulky and awkward, and you can't "unsee" it. However, with the new XPS 13, Dell has upped the ante yet again with its 4K IGZO panel, taking contrast ratios higher to 15000:1 with a punchy 400 nits specified brightness and full 100 percent sRGB gamut coverage.

In short, this panel is super-crispy and vibrant, with excellent contrast and accuracy, the likes of which we've only seen rivaled by OLED display-equipped machines. The camera here, though crispy in its own right, doesn't do the display justice. Regardless, this is one fantastic laptop panel and it's up to the task of business or home use, as well as more stringent content creation professional requirements. It's also strapped with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 for a bit more resilience and is anti-reflective coated. This display design is also made of a super-thin stack, so there's almost no parallaxing. It looks like the image is right on the surface of the glass and is perfectly uniform. At max brightness, our meters measured almost 400 Lux illuminance, in keeping with its 400 nits spec. Touch input is plenty responsive as well.

Dell XPS 13 2018 left side

Dell XPS 13 2018 right side
The other standout feature of the new XPS 13 model 9370 that we're looking at here, is its Alpine White woven spun glass constructed palm rest area. Some may consider this a "love it or hate it" aesthetic cue, but we think it has significant broad market appeal. These materials provide a very clean, premium look and feel that should also wear well over time. The jury is still out here since we haven't actually lived with the machine for more than a week, but along with Dell's claims of stain and wear resistance, this hybrid-fiberglass material, is very easy to keep clean so far. In fact, the entire machine, including its machined aluminum top and bottom lids resist fingerprints relatively well.

Dell XPS 13 2018 top back edge

Depending on your use case, port selection of the new XPS 13 may feel somewhat limited, but  less limiting than anything in Apple's MacBook lineup. It's all relative, as they say. The XPS 13 is now an all USB-C affair, with a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports (three USB-C ports in total) for copious bandwidth at a full 40Gbps and the ability to support up to two external 4K displays. Also, a MicroSD card slot is available on the right side edge (thank you Dell), as well as a standard analog headphone jack; yes, reports of its demise have been grossly exaggerated. 

XPS 13 9370 Keyboard - Better Lighting For A Tried And True Chiclet Design

Keyboard-wise, the new XPS 13 is made of the same chiclet style build we're familiar with on previous versions of the machine, with a few small tweaks. For starters, since there's no dedicated power indicator light on the machine now, the backlit keyboard area will light up quickly when you hit the power button, to let you know you've engaged the machine. In addition, the XPS 13 in Alpine White has a slight blue hue to its backlight for a little more contrast against its white key caps and chassis. Also, the key markings are translucent, allowing the backlight to shine properly through the top of the key caps. Finally, typing on the board is fairly comfortable, with good key travel for a chiclet design, and only the slightest bit of flex in the keyboard area itself. The XPS 13 sports a well-built keyboard that's more than serviceable, though perhaps not quite as comfortable as some of the shaped key designs from the likes of Lenovo. Regardless, with a little bit of learning curve the new XPS 13 typing experience will feel like home in short order.

Finally, like previous models, Dell also equips this XPS 13 with a pair of side-firing stereo speakers that have relatively strong output for laptop-sized drivers, though lacking some low-end response, as is expected with most ultrabook audio solutions. Mids and highs are accurate and clean even at upper-end volume levels, but again bass response isn't something you can expect from a machine in this thin-and-light weight class, with its small drivers. Regardless, as far as ultralight laptop audio goes, the XPS 13 delivers as good if not better than most.

dell xps 13 cooler

Dell XPS 13 (9370) Dual-Fan, Dual-Heat Pipe Cooling

The other area where the new Dell XPS 13 delivers better than most is with its cooling solution. Here Dell employs a dual-fan, dual-heat pipe design to wick heat away from the processor better than previous versions of the machine. The dual squirrel cage fan assembly has also been redesigned, with more fin area to push a larger volume of air over the heatsink assembly. Finally, Dell also took the extra step of employing a Gore material layer (as in Gore-Tex) over the heat sink area to isolate thermal conductivity through the palm rest area. As a result of all this extra engineering being poured into its thermal solution, our experience with the new XPS 13 thus far shows that it maintains comfortable skin temperatures no matter what you throw at it and for whatever duration of workload you place on it.

Dell XPS 13 2018 bottom

The other area this more advanced revision of Dell's XPS 13 cooling solution excels is in performance, allowing the machine to maintain higher clock speeds for longer burst before reaching thermal saturation and throttling. We have plenty of performance specifics and details on the XPS 13's thermals in our deep-dive testing on the pages ahead.   

Dell XPS 13 2018 windows hello camera

One final, more notable design change is the addition of a Windows Hello compatible camera. This couples a standard 720p camera with quad-array digital mics, along with an infrared camera that's far field and Cortana capable. Basically, the machine will recognize both your face and your fingerprint (with an optional scanner built into the power button), as well as offer wake-on-voice response with Cortana, should you bark a command like "Hey Cortana, what was the score of the Patriots game last night?" Like you'd really have to ask. Of course, Dell had to locate the Windows Hello camera array in the bottom of the bezel, though it is in the middle of the display now. Unfortunately again, that's one of the trade-offs of living on the InfinityEdge, so you'll have to prop up the machine a bit on video chats, to capture more flattering camera angles.

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