Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Review

Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Dell XPS 13 ultrabook offered up exceptional performance on all levels. This machine is the fastest ultrabook we've tested to date, and we've looked at machines from Toshiba, Lenovo and Asus thus far. The XPS 13 took the lead in performance by a small margin in all tests, though in some cases it achieved this with a slightly slower processor.  In terms of battery life, Dell's new ultrabook also put up some of the best light workload numbers we've seen yet from a notebook, but also drained the battery the quickest of the current batch of ultrabooks we've tested when under heavy workloads.  This may or may not be a bad thing from your perspective.  The XPS 13 offers a little bit of the best of both worlds; performance when you need it, battery life be darned, but miserly consumption when you don't need it.

A good friend of ours said the Dell XPS 13 is an ultrabook that "could steal customers from Apple."  That may be a stretch, depending on your point of view, but we'd definitely say the Dell XPS 13 is seriously tough competition for any manufacturer in the ultralight notebook space, Apple or otherwise.  However, Apple has done a magnificent job over the years cultivating extremely loyal customers.  Whether you believe it's out of blind brand worship or that they just make products that good, the loyalty is unmistakable and almost unfailing. And of course, a total solution product like a notebook has a software component with the OS that is a critical differentiator as well.  That said, the "PC" industry obviously saw the writing on the wall when they got behind the ultrabook product category with Intel. 

Thin and light, with much less compromise on performance and functionality is what drives innovation in mobile computing now and the Dell XPS 13 is near-perfect example of what this new breed of machines called "ultrabooks" should be capable of.  We would have liked it to be a little quieter at times and wish there was an SD card slot on board, along with a more rugged keyboard, but really, that's splitting hairs when you get down to it.  It may not be a price leader either, at $999 for the base model and $1499 for the system we tested with its beefy 256GB SSD, but then again, this is an ultrabook that delivers on the "ultra" part of its branding better than most we've tested to date.  We're eager to see what Dell delivers next in their lineup.

  • Best performing ultrabook yet
  • Gorgeous edge-to-edge display with Gorilla Glass
  • Best light duty battery life so far
  • Backlit keyboard!
  • Great SSD performance
  • Shallow key travel and slightly plastic feel
  • Occasional fan whine under even moderate loads
  • Can eat up battery life under heavier workloads
  • No SD card slot or micro-HDMI port

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