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Dell XPS 12 (2013) review

Verdict

Dell upgrades its XPS 12 with a Haswell processor – the result is a swanky, aspirational and long-lasting hybrid

Review Date: 26 Aug 2013

Reviewed By: Sasha Muller

Price when reviewed: £1,066 (£1,279 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

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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.

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.

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User comments

Looks great...

Will it suffer from the Usb 3.0 fault or does it ship with the revised C2 stepping chipset?

By jamesv1001 on 27 Aug 2013

A cracking machine

I've had this now for just over a month and love it.

Flexibility of configuration and the touch screen put it ahead of the Macbook Air for me.

Looks beautiful, all day battery life, superb build quality, one or two minor teething issues dealt with by Dell, including a BIOS update which I guess is pre-installed on new machines now anyway.

Sometimes the touchscreen is unresponsive, but I'm not sure if that is Windows 8, my imprecise prodding or the screen itself.

Surprised how quickly I swap between all different configurations ...

And although the power connector has changed, I got an adapter to use my old Dell chargers with it.

By kevinsefton on 29 Aug 2013

beware of gift horse

I have bought an xps
works well and keyboard good.
however
fan can be noisy and very warm if you use it as a tablet on your lap
the trade to save promotion is not as easy as it seems. after implying my computer would be suitable they then came back to tell me it wasn't. however only after I was outside the 7 day period when I was able to return the computer...

By WLD01 on 27 Jan 2014

beware of gift horse

I have bought an xps
works well and keyboard good.
however
fan can be noisy and very warm if you use it as a tablet on your lap
the trade to save promotion is not as easy as it seems. after implying my computer would be suitable they then came back to tell me it wasn't. however only after I was outside the 7 day period when I was able to return the computer...

By WLD01 on 27 Jan 2014

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