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Dell XPS 13 (2018) review: This one hits it out of the park
Dell's new weapon for the compact laptop battle.
With the XPS 13 (2018), Dell seems to have done everything right. The company has managed to develop a notebook that only a few querulous users can find a flaw in. Although the XPS line up has always been among the best, now it has certainly come one step ahead of the competition. The best part is that Dell's latest addition to the XPS portfolio doesn't try to be anything like the Apple MacBook. In fact, it feels tad powerful than the latter. But is it worth shelling out your money? Let's find out.
- Higher resolution 4K touchscreen display
- Good fiber material for the palm rest
- Thin bezels
- Infrared facial recognition
- Placement of the webcam
- Reduced battery size
Dell has redesigned the XPS 13. The basic chassis remains the same but the new white interior gives this laptop a whole new look and feel. The company claims that the industry first woven glass has been designed with superior care for how it will look over time, and you can actually feel it. It rarely attracts stains, and if it does, just wipe a wet cloth and it's gone.
The bezels are now 23 percent slimmer compared to the previous generations. The Rose Gold and White interior model also has a UV coating on it too, users can wipe permanent marker off in case they have accidentally do it.
Also, the bottom of the notebook is designed better this time around, with the company cutting ties with all the legal information and other stickers giving a neater look to the device. Now the laptop only has the fan grille and the XPS logo.
The display is another front where Dell has made some serious changes. Users can now choose between a non-touch 1920 x 1080p HD display or the 4K Ultra HD Infinity Edge display with 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution. Also, it is the sharpest display among the competition. The touchscreen has an anti-reflective coating that cuts down the screen glare to a certain extent.
What's more impressive is the brightness of the display, we barely used it on 100 percent brightness, under halfway was enough. The colors look vibrant and vivid on this insanely high-resolution 13-inch panel.
Keyboard and trackpad
Dell has always offered the best-in-class inputs, and with the Dell XPS 13 manages to offer the same satisfying look and feel. The keyboard is excellent and offers a great level of comfort for long typing sessions. The spacing between the keys is perfect and feedback is also decent. You also get a two-level backlight.
The touchpad is coated with the same woven glass material and is scratch and stain resistant. It is smooth, responsive and accurate and clicking feels much better on this notebook compared to others in the same class.
Sadly while trimming down the XPS 13 to 0.46-inches, the company had to get rid of the standard USB Type-A ports and the full-size card reader slot. The left side houses two Thunderbolt 3 ports which can be used for charging the device as well as plug high-speed peripherals. It also holds a five white light battery gauge that shows the battery levels.
On the right side, you'll find the 3.5mm audio jack and a MicroSD card slot alongside a USB Type-C port. The Thunderbolt 3 ports also support four-lane PCI connection which allows gaming enthusiasts to use the notebook with an eGPU (external graphics card).
Comprising of the latest Intel processor, it goes without saying that the Dell XPS 13 is a zippy and a powerful performer. It is powered by a 1.80GHz Intel Core i7-8550U CPU paired with 16GB of RAM. For most this will be an over-the-top configuration, as an 8GB RAM would be enough to handle all the extensive tasks.
We were able to get most of this notebook during our time with it and also didn't notice any lag or stutter in the performance. Dell claims that the new configuration offers 40 percent performance bump from the previous generations, and you can actually feel it if you have used any of the previous models.
Touchscreens have never been Windows 10's powerful area, but here the experience is far better compared to other notebooks, and you don't have to poke the screen too hard for the notebook to register the gestures.
Despite all these features, we feel the 4K touchscreen isn't something you cannot live without. The Windows 10 touch input is still a hindrance and slows down the work, whereas a mouse is a convenient alternative.
As far as the battery is concerned, the XPS 13 is a powerhouse. Though the company claims that the laptop can last up to 19 hours after minimal usage, but for us, it survived for at least 8 hours 30 minutes, which included long typing sessions, heavy internet usage and sometimes gaming. The battery backup is impressive compared to previous XPS laptops, also because running a 4K display eats a lot of power. That being said, we expect the 1080p variant of the laptop to have a better battery life.
The infrared facial recognition works like a charm and we didn't face any problems with the login process. It's fast and accurate mostly, but it did fail to recognize my face couple of times. The company also provides a fingerprint sensor embedded in the power button which also performs accurately.
Overall the Dell XPS 13 (2018) qualifies as a top-of-the-line laptop. This is probably the new benchmark for 13-inch laptops. Adding Intel's latest chips, cramming in a four-mic array and adding the facial recognition tech have all come together to make the XPS 13 (2018) one step ahead of the competition. We would have preferred a top-mounted webcam, but then again the relocation was only to cut short on the bezels that make the device even more beautiful.
If you are someone looking for a compact, high-performing Windows notebook, then Dell XPS 13 might be something you should consider. But as they say, 'good things come at a hefty price,' the XPS 13 could burn a hole in your pocket. The laptop starts from Rs 95,000 for the base variant with i5 Intel processor and 256GB of storage.
While to get your hands on the top-end model with a 4K touchscreen display, Intel i7 processor and 512GB onboard storage you'll have to shell out up to Rs 1,60,000. Also, the Rose Gold & White interior color option is exclusive to the top-end variants only.
We can conclude by saying that the new XPS 13 is one of the best ultrabooks in the market. The company has done a excellent job by adding relevant features while giving the same vibe of an XPS laptop.
Although the XPS 13 starts at a lower price compared to the Spectre 13, its its hardware configuration at that level is hugely inferior. If we compare the base models of both laptops, it makes HP laptop a much cheaper option, also the RAM is tad faster on the latter.
The price difference is even more evident if we talk about the top end variant, where even the reduced price of the XPS 13 comprising of a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 4K display, and 512GB of storage, is way more expensive than the Spectre 13. So if you are looking for cheaper options, the Spectre 13 is a good alternative.