Dell XPS 13 Review Late 2015: Refreshed With Skylake

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Summary & Conclusion

The latest Dell XPS 13, which now features Intel's Skylake microarchitecture, hasn't changed much overall, but it has been improved where it matters.  Dell already had arguably the best looking 13-inch ultrabook on the market, so all they really need to do is keep its performance current. They delivered in that respect by incorporating Intel's 6th generation Core series processors and an ultrafast NVMe M.2 SSD.  They didn't stop there, however. Dell's decision to exchange the convenient, though limiting, miniDisplayPort for a much more versatile Thunderbolt 3 Type C port shows a dedication for evolving their product line to extend functionality as well.

The benefits of Intel's SpeedShift, on the other hand, are tougher to quantify. While SpeedShift provides no observable downsides, it is not a panacea for performance. SpeedShift will not make a slower chip faster, and you won't get many direct performance improvements in the benchmarks. Instead, the practically imperceptible improvements in frequency scaling latency amount to a system that just feels smoother. Applications snap into action, touches register more immediately, and that's all it really needs to do. Intel's Skylake offers much in the way of performance improvement and efficiency already and SpeedShift is just icing on the proverbial cake.

xps13 that display tho
Still Beautiful

In terms of Dell's total package here, For anyone seeking a thin and light ultrabook that doesn't compromise on performance, you really don't need to look any further than the XPS 13.  Many competing manufacturer's products, such as the new Macbook or the ASUS Zenbook UX305, have paired down their processing power to a Core M chip to maintain a thin profile.  While a Core M is still a capable enough processor for many users, it does place those products more in line with high end convertibles rather than traditional notebooks. The XPS 13 instead sticks with a more traditional, though still low power, chipset for an ultra-responsive system with few very compromises.

At $1399 as tested (starting at $799), the XPS 13 is definitely a premium product, but it's well worth the investment if you're in the market for this class of machine, and we highly recommend it. In fact, we think this may be one of the most attractive notebooks to hit the market yet.

  • Gorgeous high resolution (3200x1800) IGZO display
  • Ultrafast NVMe storage
  • Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 Type-C
  • Full-size SD Card reader
  • Incredibly thin, light but rock solid
  • Premium build quality, carbon fiber
  • Webcam in a very awkward position
  • No native display output
  • Non-expandable memory

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