Dell XPS 13 (2013) review

5 Apr 2013

Upgraded hardware and a stunning display make the XPS 13 the best-value Full HD Ultrabook on the market

Price when reviewed: 
1,079(£1,079 inc VAT)
5

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £899
Price inc VAT £1,079
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr on-site

Physical specifications

Dimensions 316 x 205 x 21mm (WDH)
Weight 1.360kg
Travelling weight 1.7kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-3537U
Motherboard chipset Intel HM77
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3L
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 13.3in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 256GB
Hard disk LiteOn LMT-256M3M
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed N/A
802.11a support yes
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 35min
Battery life, heavy use 1hr 55min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.73
Responsiveness score 0.84
Media score 0.76
Multitasking score 0.59

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8
Recovery method Recovery partition