Dell XPS 13 (2013) review
Upgraded hardware and a stunning display make the XPS 13 the best-value Full HD Ultrabook on the market
Dell’s XPS 13 was one of the first Ultrabooks worthy of the name. It fused striking design with stellar performance, and was anything but another MacBook Air clone. Now, Dell has given the XPS 13 a spit and polish for 2013, adding Windows 8, a Full HD display and an Ivy Bridge CPU.
Dell hasn’t changed a thing on the outside, and for good reason. The compact carbon-fibre and metal chassis combines classy looks with high-end build quality. The metal lid is reassuringly rigid, despite measuring less than 6mm thick, and the base is almost flex-free; it isn’t until you twist it viciously from side to side that there’s any give whatsoever. A layer of Gorilla Glass on the other side does its bit to keep the Full HD display safe from harm.
There are two base models in the new range: one starts at £829 inc VAT, partnering a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U with a 128GB SSD, while a £1,079 model doubles the size of the SSD and upgrades the processor to a 2GHz Core i7-3537U. Whichever you choose, both come with 8GB of DDR3 low-voltage memory soldered onto the motherboard.
The Full HD display is the undisputed star of the show. The LED backlight sends maximum brightness soaring to 383cd/m2, and the panel’s combination of rich, inky blacks and pure, bright whites delivers a contrast ratio of 1,034:1. The colour balance does tend towards the warmer end of the spectrum – the measured colour temperature of 6,034k stops short of the 6,500k ideal – but the average Delta E of 3 indicates that colour accuracy is very good indeed. Viewing angles are gloriously wide, too, and the screen covers almost every corner of the sRGB gamut – something few rivals manage.
Performance doesn’t let the XPS 13 down, either. The combination of an SSD and Core i7 CPU kept our review unit feeling light on its feet, and, from a cold boot, the XPS 13 reached Windows 8’s Start screen in fewer than seven seconds. Application loading times were similarly swift, with multiple applications springing into life with barely a pause for thought. Our Real World Benchmarks more than bore out our subjective experiences: a result of 0.73 puts the Dell among the fastest Ultrabooks we’ve tested.
|Dimensions||316 x 205 x 21mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i7-3537U|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel HM77|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||0|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,920|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,080|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||0|
|Hard disk||LiteOn LMT-256M3M|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||N/A|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|Wireless hardware on/off switch||no|
|Wireless key-combination switch||yes|
|3.5mm audio jacks||1|
|SD card reader||no|
|Pointing device type||Touchpad|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.3mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||6hr 35min|
|Battery life, heavy use||1hr 55min|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.73|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 8 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 8|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition|