Home / Trends / Dell XPS 13 (2019) Test: A near-perfect laptop

Dell XPS 13 (2019) Test: A near-perfect laptop

"The 2019 XPS 13 has resolved its only problem and perfected its formula."

  • Slim design
  • New color variations are great
  • Webcam repositioned
  • Newly designed hinge opens easily
  • Fast Ultrabook Performance

Editor's Note: Dell has the XPS 13 with the optional Availability of updated latest generation 10th generation Intel Core processors, including a six-core option. We had some hands-on time with the new Dell XPS 1

3 7390.

Our unreserved recommendation for the XPS 13 has always had a small but important limitation. The position of the webcam. Basically, Dell was a pioneer in the problematic nose camera, which is located under the display. Now the company has solved the problem.

The new XPS 13 has moved the webcam across the screen without stretching the frames. In addition, the already great laptop has a few tricks to sweeten the business. Starting at $ 900, the base version of the new XPS features a Core i5 Whiskey Lake processor, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. However, our 4K model extends this to a Core i7, 8GB of RAM and a terabyte of solid-state memory.

It's almost perfect.

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Frosty Shine [19659013] The XPS 13 has always been one of our favorite designs. With super-trim bezels and a 16: 9 aspect ratio, it's tiny compared to many similar laptops. This mobility is not only great for accommodating work in an airplane, it is also extremely attractive. This time the design was refined even further.

The color options are the first noticeable changes. Last year's model introduced the Rose Gold shell paired with a bold, white interior – a combination we enjoyed. This year, Dell has added a "Frost" exterior case color. It's just silver, but it's brighter than what we normally see. It really pops when matched with the white interior. You still have the option for rose gold or the traditional black-on-silver combination, but this is our favorite.

  Dell XPS 13 2019 review (9380)
Riley Young / Digital Trends

Whenever Occurred For one of the two white models, the woven fiberglass on the keyboard top and palm rest was brightened for a brighter, brighter whiteness achieve. We are aware that the use of plastic – and even white paint – is not for everyone. However, if you are tired of the sea of ​​silver aluminum laptops, the XPS 13 is a breath of fresh air. In addition, the choice of textures and materials at Dell is not so prone to fingerprints, which is much appreciated. It's a problem laptops like the Razer Blade Stealth are still suffering from.

Dell has also improved the hinge of the 2019 XPS 13. Earlier versions of the laptop used a fixed hinge that required two hands to open. The new hinge, called the "variable torque hinge," requires less effort so you can open it with just one finger.

Well, almost. There is still no lip for your finger and it is not perfectly balanced like the MacBook Air or the Razer Blade Stealth. In the last 25 percent of the arc, the lid usually needs some help from your other hand. Nevertheless, it is a significant improvement over previous models.

  Dell XPS 13 2019 Test (9380)
Riley Young / Digital Trends

The XPS 13 does not claim to be the thinnest or lightest notebook in the world. but it is anything but clunky. With a thickness of 0.46 inches (maximum) and a weight of 2.7 pounds, it is slightly thicker and heavier than the HP Specter 13, but undercuts the Razer Blade Stealth and the MacBook Air.

Port wise, this time has nothing changed. You get two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a standard USB-C port, a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack. One or two years ago we may have stained the XPS 13 because it does not contain a USB-A port. Today? It's a good choice for a lightweight, portable laptop.

About InfinityEdge and beyond

Since the introduction of the legendary InfinityEdge bezels in 2015, Dell has been working to bring the webcam back up, but the webcam has remained stubborn under the screen.

Fixing the problem was not easy, but Dell cracked it. By scaling down the sensor and shredding any wasted space, the bezel has grown by less than a millimeter, and the webcam is back up.

The XPS 13 also looks fantastic to the naked eye and can easily overwhelm the reflections of hard office light.

The result? Video calls look normal again. There is a compromise though. An infrared camera is no longer included, so the XPS 13 no longer supports Windows Hello for face recognition. To make up for this, Dell has integrated a fingerprint reader into the on / off switch.

Outside the webcam, there are some noteworthy changes to the inputs. First, the keyboard has been redesigned with the touchpad technology of the newer XPS 15 2-in-1. The key stroke is not as low as the XPS 15 2-in-1, but the keys have more spring. Thanks to a new texture, the caps are also less slippery than before. These changes will not affect the typing experience, and the use of the Dell XPS 13 is still outstanding.

  Dell XPS 13 2019 review (9380)
Riley Young / Digital Trends

Under the keys is the usual keyboard backlight, which is bright but with only two levels of brightness. This is a bit behind laptops like the Apple MacBook Pro or Razer Blade Stealth.

One thing that has not changed is the touchpad, which is fantastic. The click is a little louder than we are used to, but the tracking is accurate and the multitouch gestures are registered as they should. Some competitors, especially the Apple Macbook Pro, offer a larger surface, but the touchpad of the Dell XPS 13 is comfortable and feels more than big enough. Competitors such as the Asus Zenbook UX333 offer slightly smaller and more cumbersome touchpads.

A display worthy of its frame

The XPS 13 has three display options: non-contact 1080p, 1080p touch-enabled and 4K touch-enabled. The new option here is touch-enabled 1080p, although we've got the higher resolution model for review. Regardless of your choice, the included panel is one of the best you can buy.

The screen numbers are impressive, but the XPS 13 looks fantastic even to the naked eye. Overriding the reflections of strong office light is not a problem. It can burn up to 472 nits in the retina, the third only for the Huawei MateBook X Pro and the MacBook Pro. The colors are alive and look natural.

The contrast ratio of 980: 1 does not match the top performers like the Asus ZenBook UX333UN or the HP Specter Folio, but the gamma measurement is perfect at 2.2. That is, the pictures look as bright as they should. The MacBook Pro and some 15-inch high-end laptops beat the color space and register more of the Adobe RGB color space. But with 99 percent of sRGB, you probably have no reason to complain.

  Dell XPS 13 2019 Test (9380)
Riley Young / Digital Trends

The 4K screen of our review unit looked sharp, but as with other 13-inch laptops, we recommend 1080p. 4K is an expensive upgrade that shortens battery life. For this reason, the 1080p configuration is the option model that most users should consider. We have not tested it yet, but it uses the same panel as last year and it did a good job the last time we tested it.

The speakers on both sides of the case are fine. They are loud, but at higher volume they are a bit shrill. Laptops with forward-shooting speakers such as the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Razer Blade Stealth, or Pixel Slate can achieve better results, though none of them are exceptional. 13 was among the fastest 13-inch laptops. This was thanks to the company's redesigned thermal solution, which used two fans, two heatpipes and even strips of Gore-Tex fabric.

The same system is available for the new model. This time, however, it offers the added benefit of the latest Intel Core processors from Whiskey Lake. You can choose between Core i5-8555U and Core i7-8565U. Both are quad-core and very fast. Our device was shipped with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of memory, resulting in a powerful, well-rounded notebook.

  Dell XPS 13 2019 Test (9380)
Riley Young / Digital Trends

In Geekbench, we have seen modest performance improvements over the previous year. The 2019 model surpassed the previous year's level of approximately 8 percent in both single and multi-core performance. This is not the difference you will notice in daily use. In some tests, such as our benchmark, which encodes a short 4K video in Handbrake, the 2019 XPS 13 did not show any increase at all.

Still, the XPS 13 remains a top option. Other laptops featuring Intel's latest Whiskey Lake processors have shown their own modest improvements and generally do not surpass the XPS 13.

The storage options have changed slightly. All drives are now NVMe with read and write speeds in excess of 1000 megabytes per second and capacities ranging from 128 GB to 2 TB. While 128GB is not much, we think it's good that Dell offers a smaller version for those who want to shop for a low price. Most premium laptops offer at least 256 GB and therefore have a higher base price.

Not intended for games

The XPS 13 is not intended for serious games. Again, it's hard to blame Dell for that. The integrated UHD 620 graphics from Intel offers little gaming expertise.

Laptops like the MateBook X Pro, the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN, and the Razer Blade Stealth are all equipped with an Nvidia MX150 and therefore offer slightly more gaming and video rendering power. If you need such features, the XPS 13 is not for you. We hope this changes with the upcoming move from Intel to integrated Gen11 graphics cards, but that will not happen until the end of 2019.

A decline in battery life

The XPS 13 has always been a leader in this area of ​​battery life. However, this is the 1080p version. The battery life becomes clear with a 4K display, regardless of which laptop it is. For the 2019 XPS 13, this is a bigger decline than normal.

The 2019 XPS 13 is included in benchmarks that test its use for lighter tasks over extended periods of time. While surfing the internet and watching local video loops, we saw a 25-30 percent decline over the previous year's model. This is strange, considering that the same display and battery are used here. Dell claims that the Whiskey Lake CPU consumes a bit more power, but we have not seen this effect replicated in other systems. It's still better than the Razer Blade Stealth, though it has a higher resolution screen.

  Dell XPS 13 2019 Report (9380)
Riley Young / Digital Trends

The good news is that it's heavier utilization, the 2019 XPS 13 is better than last year's model. In Basemark, an online benchmark that puts more of a strain on the system, we're up 33 percent from the previous year, which is more than five hours in duration. That is, if your workload includes one intensive application, multiple monitors, or just dozens of browser tabs, the XPS 13 will not die immediately. We were able to cope with most of the workday of our moderate workload without looking for a power outlet.

Also, the 1080p version is still the one that needs to be selected because of its portability Web browsing battery life and over thirteen and a half in video lop. According to Dell, the 2019 version will differ slightly from these numbers, but you can expect a few hours more than the 4K model.

We are not pleased that battery life is particularly slowing down when options such as Chromebooks, Y-Series thin-and-light laptops, and Qualcomm 2-in-1 models are advancing. The battery life of the Dell XPS 13 is still solid, but it is outdated.

Our Opinion

The new Dell XPS 13 solves many of the problems we had with the original. It shows that the company is ready to receive feedback and actually do something about it. That is commendable. In addition, the new XPS 13 does not affect any of the things it did well in earlier iterations. It may not be perfect, but it is as close as we have seen so far.

Are there alternatives?

The 13-inch category is full of competitors – we rate many laptops at Digital Trends – but most make more compromises than the XPS 13.

The Specter 13 is the alternative from HP, though it has neither performance still the design offers to challenge the XPS 13. Microsoft has its own Surface Laptop 2 with a larger 3: 2 screen, but is hampered by an outdated port selection. The Razer Blade Stealth is fantastic, but costs a few hundred dollars more. The screen of the Lenovo Yoga C630 can not touch the XPS 13.

Apple fans will most likely opt for the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, but longer battery life, better performance, thinner bezels, and haptic keyboard make it a better choice than any fruity notebook.

How long does it last?

The XPS 13 is a well-built, forward-looking notebook. This applies to the various top class components included here and to the choice of connectors. For normal wear, the life span should be more than a few years.

The XPS 13 comes standard with a one-year limited warranty. This is typical for a new laptop.

Should you buy it?

Yes. It's the best 13-inch notebook you can buy and is no longer held back by a cumbersome webcam.

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