Dell XPS 14 Notebook Review: Optimus Infused

Article Index

Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Dell's XPS 14 (and XPS 15 and XPS 17) marks the return of the XPS brand as a standalone moniker as opposed to being attached to Dell's colorful Studio line. With it comes a bit of weight on Dell's shoulders to live up to the branding, which stands for Xtreme Performance System. Did Dell pull it off?

If you consider that this is a 14-inch notebook and not much larger than a netbook, then the answer is 'yes.' Sure the XPS 14 costs twice as much as a netbook, but it also offers more than twice the performance across the board. For the most part, performance numbers fell about where we expected them to, and because the relatively small panel tops out at 1366x768, the XPS 14 doesn't have to work as hard to put out playable frame rates. You're not going to get away with cranking up the IQ settings in Crysis, but you will be able to play modern games, and in some cases turn on/up anti-aliasing.

We're particularly impressed with the look and feel of the XPS 14, at least when you open it up. While the lid is rather bland, the inside is anything but. The brushed aluminum wrist rest looks stunning, and the click action of the keys is as good as you're going to get on a laptop keyboard. Everything feels solid, including the trackpad.

Unfortunately, Intel continues to drag its feet in supporting USB 3.0 natively, and the ones who suffer are the end-users and vendors like Dell who undoubtedly would like to offer their customers the faster spec (the XPS 15 and 17 both come with two USB 3.0 ports presumably by using an NEC chip). The XPS 14 is also missing an ExpressCard slot, but otherwise is well thought out. There's a mini DisplayPort, HDMI, media keys, touch-sensitive keys, and a customizable app launcher. If you're buying into the 3D hype that's everywhere these days, then you'll probably be as excited as Dell over the Nvidia Play 3DTV software that comes installed on new XPS machines, though we're decidedly less enthused. You'll still need a 3D HDTV to take advantage of it, and yes, you'll also need to pick up a pair of stereoscopic glasses. We're much more jazzed about the inclusion of Nvidia's Optimus technology, and the JBL speakers sound better than your average notebook.

While it's not going to replace your desktop, the Dell XPS 14 is a wonderful alternative to the spate of underpowered netbooks. Put simply, the XPS looks stunning and packs a respectable performance punch in a highly portable package.


  • Brushed aluminum looks fantastic
  • Lightweight yet sturdy
  • Comfortable to type o
  • Core i5 platform
  • Nvidia Optimus technology
  • No USB 3.0 support
  • No ExpressCard slot

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