The Dell XPS 13 remains extremely thin and very small in this generation, makes the screen edges even thinner, delivers a more spacious touchpad, extends the keyboard and makes a small upgrade to the processor, which remains Intel’s tenth generation, but is now part of of the Ice Lake family and promises plenty of use time out of the outlet. Is it worth it? Is it still the best Windows notebook on the market that does not include notebooks for gamer audiences? Come with me and I’ll explain in the next few paragraphs.
Dell XPS 13 video review
Design and finishing
If you have seen the XPS 13 in any generation of the notebook and enjoyed the look, little changes here. It remains one of the most beautiful notebooks for those who do not want a Mac, with an external finish made in aluminum, while the keyboard part has carbon fiber with a slightly rubbery touch.
In addition to being very elegant, the set guarantees greater resistance to the elements of life, especially for those, like me, who do not have the habit of carrying the notebook in a cover to protect it from the enemies inside the backpack. In the corners a cut made with diamond makes the matte silver become brighter.
As you can see in the images, there is nothing but USB-C and this is good, besides being bad too. It’s good for keeping the look more modern and allows the side to be less thick, but it’s bad for forcing you to have an adapter for anything. At least Dell knows that there is still an almost infinite universe of accessories and gadgets with old USB, so in the box comes a dongle. Less bad.
A detail that can be bad for many people is that, in addition to having only two USB-C, which could be at least three, the memory card reader only accepts the microSD format. It’s okay that most people use this size in life, but on a computer that focuses on productivity and work, a slot to fill a conventional SD card would be more interesting.
Open, the XPS 13 has a generous sized touchpad for any job and has a keyboard that surprised me for its comfort. Ultrabook keyboards always suffer at two points: width and depth of keys. Here they are scissor-shaped and, even with a small travel space, typing is comfortable and quiet. As for the width, Dell managed to increase the size of the keys by 9% and not even the arrows were small. The use of the product base for the keyboard is great.
Ah, there is a key with a different texture that reads the fingerprint for login. It’s fast, works with Windows Hello and is the best option to authenticate the user – which can also be done with facial recognition.
Closing the design part, a detail that Dell has been working on for a long time and I love passionately is the cable that recharges the battery. It is a USB-C tipped cable, but it has a small LED that indicates when the plug is plugged into the wall. It sounds silly, but it is a way of identifying that the energy at least reaches the end of the cable. In addition to giving a modern, futuristic look.
If on the outside the Dell XPS 13 surprises by its beauty, inside the screen enters like the icing on the cake. In this generation of XPS, Dell was able to further reduce the bottom edge, in a sense that the display touches the base of the notebook. The hinge is also well hidden and even the manufacturer’s brand does not appear to the user.
The proximity of the keyboard increases the immersion of any scene, but in a moment I ended up touching the screen unintentionally. As the model we received for testing has a touch screen, I ended up opening the start menu. It’s a problem? It may be, but a quick learning curve made me lower my hand a little more and that’s it.
Now, inside the screen. It can be Full HD or 4K, changing only the amount of effort you ask for the graphics card and the CPU as well. The display is so small, after all it is a 13-inch notebook, that leaving it in 4K and placing the icons at 100% size, literally makes anything unreadable, crap. In Full HD everything improves, which makes it clear that the 4K screen is here just to show friends and Dell to be able to say that the screen is better than the MacBook Air. It has no practical use and is more disturbing than help.
But that aside, the screen supports HDR and Dolby Vision. Color reproduction is at a level expected from such a refined and expensive computer. There is not even a point of chromatic aberration, a point of error in lighting. A great screen for pandemic moments, with some streaming service and everything. The audio does not collaborate very precisely due to the lack of space in the boxes, so I recommend the use of headphones.
Hardware and battery
Inside, the model we received for the test comes with a tenth generation Intel Core i7 1065G7, which is an ultra low voltage version of the processor and that did not mean any moment of performance drop. What really helps is that it comes with a 1 TB SSD in M.2 format in NVMe, which works with 16 GB of LPDDR4 RAM.
In read and write tests, this SSD hit more than 3 GB per second in sequential reading and almost 2.8 GB in writing. In random reading it was 430 MB and wrote at 317 MB per second. It is enough for the boot to take a few seconds and the opening of most programs happens almost instantly, besides the guarantee that the good performance will follow this notebook for some years. I would guess about four years or more.
It does not come with a dedicated graphics card, only with the option of Intel and that is sufficient for work, to render videos, to edit photos, but it is not ideal for playing games. Can you play? Yes, but only lighter games like Minecraft or a MOBA with graphics in the middle. If you bought this notebook thinking about games, you will be disappointed and should have taken into account a gamer notebook – Dell itself has some, very powerful and with Nvidia’s RTX GPU.
There is a simpler version of this configuration, with a Core i5 and 8 GB of RAM, but maintaining the same type of SSD. Performance will drop, but not that much. Where you can suffer is in prolonged use for years and in this scenario the model with Core i7 and twice as much RAM will make a difference, especially when you take into account that this notebook does not allow upgrading RAM or storage.
The battery is four cells at 52 watt hours. Dell promises up to 18 hours and 49 minutes on a single charge, thanks to the processor’s low TDP and some internal adjustments. In the tests I did, I achieved something well below that and more consistent with everyday use. My use is Chrome open all the time with at least 10 tabs, more than two hours of podcast playing on the Pocket Casts pro Windows app, Slack’s app also open all the time, plus more than an hour of YouTube video on 1080p resolution.
I unplugged the computer when the clock struck 10 am and the battery reached 3% of charge left when it was 5:30 pm. It was almost the whole day of work and this without putting any energy saving settings, not even the native Windows tool to use less battery. This scenario was with the monitor in Full HD, with an hour less when I changed the resolution to 4K, which increases the feeling that 4K screen in a 13 inch notebook is not useful for anyone.
In the outlet, which sends 45 watts through any of the two USB-C ports, two hours and 30 minutes were enough to get out of 3%, which is when Windows 10 Pro shuts down on its own for low power, and go up to 100% again.
Look, if you are looking for the best thin and light ultrabook, with plenty of performance to last at least five years in your hand and without complaining halfway, the Dell XPS 13 remains the best option, at least in Brazil. It is the most elegant of all, weighs 1.2 kilos and the body is smaller than a traditional 13-inch notebook. The screen is fantastic, the use of the screen is the biggest I have seen on this type of computer and the keyboard is comfortable.
Performance won’t let you down even with heavy programs, you can run a light game and the battery can hold almost a full day of work without turning on economy mode. If you do that you will be past 10 am without much difficulty. It bothers me the presence of a 4K screen, which makes the entire interface tiny even for healthier eyes, uses more energy and does not deliver any worthwhile benefits.
Luckily it is possible to configure this XPS 13 on the Dell website without the 4K screen, which also removes the touchscreen. I think touch screens are still not practical on computers, so it’s an economy that hits R $ 1,000 and is very smart. If you want the best of the Windows world in a slim, elegant body with an impeccable screen, taking the Full HD model is the best purchase. It is not cheap, but it will certainly hold you back for at least five years.
Dell XPS 13 2020
- First-rate finish (there is a part that resembles Cybertruck)
- I’ve never seen so much screen use as on this notebook
- Battery as expected
- High performance for its category
- Only two USB-C
- 4K screen is only for Dell marketing