Dell XPS 13 Review: Kaby Lake Makes A Fantastic 13-Inch Laptop Even Better

Up Close And Personal With The Dell XPS 13

This latest version of the Dell XPS 13 is aesthetically identical to the previous generation machine we took a look at earlier this year, and that's a very good thing. The only significant change here is the availability of the new Rose Gold color, which is more of a copper hue, if you ask us; and since you're asking, we also think it looks quite fabulous. Though some might mistake this as a flashy bling color for the ladies, it's actually subdued enough that even gents secure in their masculinity wouldn't mind being seen with it on hand.  
XPS13 back top2
XPS13 bottom
As was the case with the previous generation, the build quality, fit and finish of the XPS 13 is still super solid, with very clean lines and tight tolerances. Dell managed to get a 4WHr larger battery (now 60WHr total) into the machine and still maintain its 2.9 pound weight for the high res 3200X1800 touch-enabled machine. The 1080p non-touch model weighs slightly less at 2.7 pounds. Also on the bottom we find the traditional Torx screw-secured design with rubber skids that stretch across the entire bottom of the machine and serve as sturdy stabilizers on virtually all surfaces. Of course, we've got the standard Dell service tag plate here, which when flipped open reveals the machine's service tag number for easy identification should you ever need to take advantage of Dell's warranty service options. Incidentally, though you can gain access to the internals of the machine fairly easily by removing those Torx screws, the XPS 13's RAM is soldered down on the motherboard, so choose your configuration wisely. Finally, on the bottom is a long air intake for the machine which then exhausts on the top, just in front of the keyboard and underneath the display. We should note that the cooling design works well and the XPS 13 we tested rarely, if ever throttles much under load.  
XPS13 Left IO
XPS13 Right IO
The left edge of the XPS 13 is home to a speaker port, battery gauge button and LED indicator strip, headset jack, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 3 and AC Power port. The right edge of the machine sports another speaker port, a full-sized SD card slot (yes!), a USB 3.0 port with PowerShare and a Nobel lock slot. The entire affair is then sandwiched with machined aluminum with polished edges that match up perfectly with the high density carbon fiber composite palm rest material. 

XPS13 Keyboard2
XPS13 Power Button
XPS13 Intel 7th Gen Core

That carbon fiber sure is pretty. Other notebook manufacturers, like Lenovo with their X1 Carbon line, have employed hybrid carbon fiber materials in their builds, but none have achieved what Dell has, keeping the traditional carbon fiber mesh in their chassis. It looks fantastic, with a soft touch finish that feels great and generally resists fingerprints well. The keyboard area is very rigid with virtually no flex and the key caps are still the back-lit chiclet style that is common in both the XPS 13 and 15. On the 13 the keyboard area is a little tight for larger hands, but the keys have reasonably good travel and tactility, and with a minimal learning curve, you'll be comfortable and flying on this keyboard in no time. Finally, yes, that trackpad is large, responsive and very comfortable, though it does invite fingerprints a bit. If you're on the OCD-side like we are, you'll find yourself wiping it down fairly often.  

XPS13 side panel open max
XPS13 Lid Open Penguins
If you didn't watch our demo video on page 1, you must go watch it to see the display in action

Would we have liked at least a 180-degree display hinge swing? Certainly we would, in this day and age of 360-degree fully articulating notebook hinge designs. However, the XPS 13's hinge swings open far enough, as you can see in the shot above, that the average person standing over the machine at counter height, will be able to position the display optimally for the best viewing angle. 

However, that small shortcoming is almost completely a distant memory when you set your gaze upon the XPS 13's 13.3-inch Infinity Edge display. With only 5.2mm of bezel on three sides, it accentuates the gorgeous 3200x1800 IGZO IPS panel Dell chose for the system, which pumps out a punchy 400 nits of brightness. Colors are also accurate and vibrant with 170-degree wide viewing angles. If you haven't done so yet, check out our video preview on the first page, which really does the panel justice at the 1:30 mark or so. We were actually able to capture the display better on video than the still shots here -- trust us, go check the video, it's impressive.

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