Dell XPS 18 Portable All-in-One: Haswell Reloaded

Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Like the previous version of the XPS 18 Portable All-in-One, the refreshed model reviewed here didn't break any benchmark records, however it did up the ante in every single measurement we took. Not only that, the dedicated 256GB SSD made a mockery of other AIO systems equipped with HHDs, with its read and write speeds consistently topping 500MB/s. It's also a big reason why it scored more than a 1,000 points higher than last year's model in PCMark 7, propelling it into second place among the systems we compared it against.

Dell XPS 18 Portable AIO Stock
 The Dell XPS 18 All-In-One - Find It At Amazon

Part of the problem with evaluating an upgraded system that's already been looked at is that there isn't much left to cover, assuming the first write-up was thorough. We managed to avoid that problem with the XPS 18 Portable AIO because the few upgrades, while subtle, are significant, making for a much more interesting system this time around. That's saying a lot, because we really liked the model we reviewed last year.

What we're really talking about here is the move from a mechanical hard drive to a dedicated 256GB SSD, an upgraded processor based on Haswell (the previous model was built around Ivy Bridge), and faster wireless for those of you who've upgraded your home network to 802.11ac.

These tweaks to the foundation not only made the system faster as a whole, but also more power efficient and worthy of a premium price tag. For those who don't need, want, or care about faster storage, Dell still offers lower end configurations with HDDs starting at $800, but for customers who have more money to spend, Dell does a better job this time around justifying the price tag. As configured, the model reviewed here runs $1,500 -- that's not a killer deal, but certainly a fair asking price for what you get in return.

Though we covered the system's portability last year, it's worth reiterating the convenience of being able to pick up the display (without throwing out your back) and taking it with you, whether it's to a hotel on a business trip or from room to room in your home. Don't underestimate that latter flexibility -- parts of this review were written in a home office, while others were typed in the living room during commercial breaks on Monday and Thursday Night Football. That's multitasking at its finest, folks, and it's far more feasible on a system like this than a traditional AIO.

There are still some shortcomings that we'd like to see Dell address in the next version, most notably the connectivity options. You get two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, and a Kensington lock. That's pretty sparse -- we'd welcome more USB ports, HDMI output, and a GbE LAN port just in case the wireless card goes belly up. A video input for those that may want to use the display as a TV or monitor would also be great.

Shortcomings aside, the Dell XPS 18 Portable All-in-One with its new Haswell foundation and dedicated 256GB solid state drive is a great option in the AIO category, and one that we've literally recommended to family and friends -- that's high praise.

  • Haswell and SSD upgrades give this AIO a pep in its step
  • Convenient form factor
  • Stand doubles as a charging dock
  • Bright 18.4-inch IPS display with good viewing angles
  • Virtually noise free cooling
  • Lacks extensive connectivity options (no HDMI, GbE LAN, or memory card reader
  • Not built for DIY repairs
  • Game performance, while improved, is still mediocre

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