2016 Dell XPS 13 Laptop Review

dell1The Dell XPS 13 set high standards for design last year and it remains to be the king of the ultra-portables. The company got it right by slipping a 13.3 inch display inside an aluminum and carbon-fiber shell that’s about the size of many 11-inch laptops like the MacBook Air. The 2015 XPS 13 had a number of flaws including a messy screen coating and a track pad that only worked when it felt like. However, as its competitors try to catch-up, the latest 2016 Dell XPS 13 takes the game a notch higher by correcting the flaws and introduces a longer battery life, brighter screen, a new USB-C port and the latest 6th generation Intel core processor making it a masterpiece as the original 2015 XPS 13 used 5th-generation Intel Core processors. They maintained the most impressive features like its near-borderless Infinity Edge display, the use of extremely thin bezels, the signature feature of this device that makes Dell to stand out from the crowd. The location of the Webcam on the lower left side of the display is still awkward, but that aside this latest XPS 13 is a force to reckon.

Design

The device measures 12×7.9×0.33-0.56 inches and weighs 2.9 pounds, however this is not the lightest 13.3 inch laptop your money can buy, there is the Lenovo LaVie Z 1.7 pound and the LG Gram at 2.2 pounds. The XPS 13 rises above the competition with a solid design, a rigid lid, a stable keyboard, and has a hinge that does not wobble when tapping the touch screen as witnessed in other devices. Its portability is enhanced by the 4-cell smart lithium-ion 52WHr battery that lasts up to 11 hours that is much better than the Yoga 900 which lasted 7:57 but the MacBook Air is king with up to 14 hours of battery life.

Performance

The Dell XPS 13 flaunts an Intel core i7-5500U processor (4M cache, 2.4GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 3.0 GHz) and Intel HD graphics 5500 with shared memory that makes it handle heavy tasks effortlessly without slowing down having been fitted with 8GB DDR3L-RS RAM 1600Mhz which is enough for most users.

For storage, there is a 256GB PCle SSD which is average-sized and high speed drive that fits into the needs of most users. The space is enough to store most of your important files and documents if you take the option of streaming movies and music online from sites such as Netflix (with subscription) and YouTube. But if this will be your primary computer, then you may want to consider an external drive sometime in the future. On our storage tests, the machine delivered a transfer rate of 159 MBps, slightly behind the Lenovo Yoga 900 (181MBps) but far below the Microsoft Surface Book (318.01MBps) and the MacBook Air 13 (354.4 MBps) that have faster State-Solid Drives.

Connectivity

In the connectivity department, the device comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports, a headset audio jack and an SD card reader. The upgrade also brings on board a USB Type-C port that provides Thunderbolt 3 support. The new port offers fast data transfer for a speed of up to 40GBps and supports multiple display output. However, you will be forced to buy an adapter sold separately for video connections like HDMI. The laptop comes with 802.11AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for networking purposes.

The 13.3 inch touchscreen quad HD display comes with a 3200 x 1800 resolution that has a great range of colors, better brightness and wide viewing angles. While the 1080p display is nice, the high-resolution InfinityEdge version really puts the XPS 13 over the top. Game enthusiasts have something to smile about as the Intel HD Graphics 520 is capable of handling mainstream games. When playing Warcraft, it averaged 40fps with a 1080p resolution, the Lenovo Yoga 900 averaged 49fps which was a bit better having the same GPU. There is a nice spacing between the keys on the keyboard hence there is no cramp effect. The keyboard is also backlit allowing you to use it even in dimly lit conditions.

Conclusion

This notebook tells a story, a story about devout work, ambition, and perfectionism of Dell manufacturers. The XPS 13 has a state of the art design, features and performance that targets users who are after real speed in an ultraportable. Some of the power users could opt going for the MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina because of its popularity or even go ahead to consider the Surface Pro 4 but then the Dell XPS 13 is worth to have a look.

PROS

Powerful components and a compact, lightweight design balance performance and portability.

CONS

The webcam is awkwardly positioned, making video conferencing a challenge.