Dell XPS 12 review

Price when reviewed

Recent months have seen all manner of hybrid devices make their debut, but none are quite like the Dell XPS 12. Dell’s split-personality hybrid is a laptop capable of transforming from a sliver-thin Ultrabook into a 12.5in tablet with a mere prod of a finger.

Open the lid, push firmly upon the display’s upper half and, with a soft click, the magnets and latches disengage, allowing the panel to pirouette through 180 degrees. Snap the lid shut, and the XPS 12 assumes its tablet guise; swing the base around, and, just like the Lenovo Yoga 13, the Dell’s hinged base doubles as an adjustable stand.

Dell XPS 12 - rear 3/4 (screen flipped)

While you might expect such a design to feel flimsy, the XPS 12 exceeds expectations. The base not only looks great, but it feels taut and flex-free, and the combination of a metal frame and carbon-fibre construction does a great job of keeping the display and bezel feeling more solid than you might expect. It’s only once you compare it to Lenovo’s Yoga 13 that the XPS 12’s flip-twist design begins to feel fragile.

The display is one of the best we’ve seen on any Dell laptop. With a Full HD resolution on a Gorilla Glass-covered 12.5in panel, everything is pin-sharp. We had to increase Windows’ DPI setting to avoid painfully tiny text, but the image quality is gorgeous. With a contrast ratio of 681:1 and a gleaming maximum brightness of 395cd/m2, the XPS 12 is only a tad behind the best laptops money can buy.

Dell XPS 12 - front

In laptop mode, the XPS 12 is excellent. More accident-prone purchasers will appreciate the spill-resistant keyboard, the backlit keys illuminate when the lights go down, and the slightly concave keys partner with a firm, crisp feel to make the XPS 12 a typist’s delight.

The glass touchpad is equally luxurious, with a silky finish that makes for a lovely feel under the finger. It’s almost flush with the wristrest, so invoking Windows 8’s edge-swipe gestures is easy and reliable. We had to do some fettling in the control panel to get the sensitivity just right, though, and experienced the odd hitch with two-fingered zooming and scrolling, with gestures occasionally not recognised.


Warranty1yr on-site

Physical specifications

Dimensions317 x 214 x 20mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.8kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i7-3517U
Motherboard chipsetIntel QS77 Express
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total0

Screen and video

Screen size12.5in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 4000
Graphics card RAMN/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Spindle speedN/A
Internal disk interfaceSATA/600
Hard diskSamsung PM830
Optical drivenone
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


Wired adapter speedN/A
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
FireWire ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readerno
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad/Touchscreen
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.9mp
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use7hr 1min
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.65
Responsiveness score0.68
Media score0.74
Multitasking score0.52

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 8 64-bit
OS familyWindows 8
Recovery methodRecovery partition

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