Dell XPS 13 (2013) review

Price when reviewed

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.

Dell XPS 13 (2013)

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.

Dell XPS 13 (2013)

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.


Warranty1yr on-site

Physical specifications

Dimensions316 x 205 x 21mm (WDH)
Travelling weight1.7kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i7-3537U
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM77
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3L
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total0

Screen and video

Screen size13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal1,920
Resolution screen vertical1,080
Resolution1920 x 1080
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs0
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1


Hard diskLiteOn LMT-256M3M
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
3.5mm audio jacks1
SD card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.3mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use6hr 35min
Battery life, heavy use1hr 55min
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.73
Responsiveness score0.84
Media score0.76
Multitasking score0.59

Operating system and software

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

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