Dell XPS 12 (2013) review

26 Aug 2013

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

Price when reviewed: 
1,279(£1,279 inc VAT)
5

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. See also: The best laptops of 2014

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.

Details

Price ex VAT £1,066
Price inc VAT £1,279
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1yr on-site

Physical specifications

Dimensions 317 x 214 x 22mm (WDH)
Weight 1.510kg
Travelling weight 1.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i7-4500U
RAM capacity 8.00GB
Memory type DDR3L-RS
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 0

Screen and video

Screen size 12.5in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4400
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
Spindle speed N/A
Hard disk Liteon
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

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
3.5mm audio jacks 1
SD card reader no
Memory Stick reader no
MMC (multimedia card) reader no
Smart Media reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad, touchscreen
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 0.9mp

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 12hr 41min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 52fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.68
Responsiveness score 0.72
Media score 0.76
Multitasking score 0.55

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 8 64-bit
OS family Windows 8