Dell XPS 12 (2013) review

Price when reviewed

Windows 8 ushered in a wave of weird and wonderful hybrid devices, and the Dell XPS 12 was one of the most flamboyant of the lot. Drawing on the designs of Dell’s XPS Ultrabooks and high-end laptops, the XPS 12 took the unusual flip-twist screen of the Inspiron Duo, improved the specification and cranked up the bling factor. Now, Dell has added an Intel Haswell processor into the mix. See also: The best laptops of 2014

Visually, there isn’t a slice of metal or a sliver of carbon fibre out of place. Not a thing has changed about the chassis, and thank goodness for that – the original XPS 12 was a lovely-looking bit of hardware. The base is moulded from a single piece of carbon fibre, which shimmers with a familiar criss-cross weave, and another plate protects the back of the 12.5in touchscreen. Chamfered strips of metal run around the edges of the laptop, and the backlit keyboard is surrounded by soft-touch matte-black plastic.

Dell XPS 12 (2013)

The XPS 12’s nifty flip-swivel hybrid mechanism works beautifully. Tilt back the lid and the XPS 12 ably masquerades as a compact Ultrabook, with a spacious, comfy-feeling keyboard and a large, responsive touchpad. Firmly prod the upper portion of the display and the magnetic latches hidden around the metal frame give way, allowing the touchscreen to pirouette through 180 degrees. You can then flatten the display into tablet mode, or angle it for comfortable movie-viewing and web-surfing.

If you were desperate to pick holes in the physical form of the XPS 12, you might point out that it’s a little thick around the waist by Ultrabook standards; including the broad rubber feet stretching across the underside, it measures 22mm thick. Compared to the pared-down Sony VAIO Pro 13, it feels slightly leaden in the hand, too, weighing in at 1.51kg. All the same, it all feels absolutely rock-solid — there’s no mistaking this for anything but a top-flight portable.

Dell XPS 12 (2013)

Inside, an Ivy Bridge processor has left via the back door; the XPS 12 now has a 1.9GHz Core i7-4500U processor beating at its heart. There’s 8GB of the latest DDR3L-RS RAM and a 256GB Liteon SSD alongside, which results in a hybrid that feels every inch as quick as its rivals. The SSD takes much of the credit here: in the AS SSD benchmark, it read large files at an average of 476MB/sec and wrote them at 399MB/sec, which translates to nippy boot times and seriously fast application load times.



Warranty1yr on-site

Physical specifications

Dimensions317 x 214 x 22mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.8kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i7-4500U
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3L-RS
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 4400
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Spindle speedN/A
Hard diskLiteon
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0


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
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readerno
Memory Stick readerno
MMC (multimedia card) readerno
Smart Media readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad, touchscreen
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating0.9mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use12hr 41min
3D performance (crysis) low settings52fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.68
Responsiveness score0.72
Media score0.76
Multitasking score0.55

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 8 64-bit
OS familyWindows 8

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