Dell XPS 14 review

Price when reviewed

Dell has long reserved its XPS brand for high-end machines, so it’s entirely natural that those three letters now adorn the firm’s swankiest Ultrabooks. Its latest, the XPS 14, instantly distinguishes itself from the horde of slim-and-light machines – for starters, it partners an Ultrabook physique with dedicated Nvidia graphics.

Before you even turn it on, though, the XPS 14 makes a stunning impression. The stout, metal-clad design is distinctive, and with a glossy 14in screen taking centre stage, it’s a little bigger than many of its Ultrabook peers too. It’s also a little thicker than most, measuring 21mm around the waist, and its 2.1kg weight makes it over half a kilogram heavier than the most slender models on the market.

Dell XPS 14 - keyboard

Dell hasn’t wasted the extra pounds, though, instead ensuring the XPS 14 is one of the smartest and strongest Ultrabooks we’ve used. We often find a little flex when it comes to a laptop’s chassis, but the XPS 14 is one of the few Windows-based machines that’s genuinely able to rival Apple’s aluminium MacBooks for build quality and premium feel. The Dell’s wristrest and base are as solid as it gets, and there’s very little flexibility in the screen.

Both the base and lid are crafted from aluminium, and the interior and underside are coated with a silky-smooth, soft-touch plastic. It’s a minimal design, as Dell has moved the normally required Windows 7 and Intel logos from the wristrest to an etched metal plate on the laptop’s underside.

That plate flips open to reveal the Windows 7 licence sticker, and pleasing details abound elsewhere: ports are carved out of the metal edges, the Gigabit Ethernet socket is hidden under a small flap, and even the SD slot cover, also crafted from aluminium, fits snugly into place. The only thing missing is a removable battery.

Dell XPS 14 - sides

The quality feel continues elsewhere. The build quality ensures there’s no give beneath the keyboard’s Scrabble-tile layout, and the keys themselves, which are slightly concave, are extremely comfortable. Our only issue is the single-height Return key, but it didn’t stop us getting up to speed.

Dell’s fuss-free approach continues to the trackpad, which is marked with nothing but a small, dark line to signify where to press for left- and right-clicks. It’s easy to glide a finger over the smooth, untextured surface, and the whole pad depresses with a slightly muffled click.

The processor is a cut above, too, thanks to 22nm Ivy Bridge technology. The 1.9GHz Core i7-3517U can Turbo Boost to 3GHz, and its benchmark score of 0.67 is nippy by Ultrabook standards.


Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions336 x 233 x 21mm (WDH)
Travelling weight2.4kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i7-3517U
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3

Screen and video

Screen size14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal1,600
Resolution screen vertical900
Resolution1600 x 900
Graphics chipsetNvidia GeForce GT 630M
HDMI outputs1


Hard disk usable capacity465GB
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportyes
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use9hr 30min
3D performance (crysis) low settings92fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.67
Responsiveness score0.73
Media score0.73
Multitasking score0.54

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7

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