Performance Summary & Conclusion
Performance Summary: Last year we said the Dell XPS 13 was the fastest Ultrabook we had tested to date. What about this year's refresh? Well, it didn't set records across the board in the Ultrabook category, but it did represent the form factor well with top-shelf performance in a number of areas, including PCMark 7, where it did take the top spot. In Cinebench, it ran with the front of the pack, and overall the system felt snappy, due in large part to the combination of a speedy SSD, an Ivy Bridge CPU, and Windows 8 running the show.
More than just a pretty face, the Dell XPS 13 is a peppy little machine. That's evident right from the get-go, as it takes a mere 12 seconds to boot into Windows 8. Microsoft deserves considerable credit for that feat, but so does Dell for pairing the operating system with a high-performance mSATA SSD from Samsung.
Speaking of Windows 8, a system like this really begs for touch support, and unfortunately you don't get that here. In lieu of that, the slick touchpad supports gestures, so you can still navigate Windows 8 like a boss, whether it's bringing up the Charms menu or cycling through open applications.
The only real weak point here is gaming, a real shame since the display is such high quality. Casual gamers will be well served, but if you're into triple A titles with cutting edge graphics, the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics engine isn't going to cut it for you.
Gaming aside, what you're left with is a well built Ultrabook that looks great, is thin and light, and performs exceptionally well in most areas. It's a little pricey at $1,400 (as configured), but it definitely delivers a premium experience for your investment.