I first saw Dell’s new XPS 13 (9370) at its global launch event in Las Vegas for CES 2018, and after three months of whining to Dell’s Singapore PR team they’ve finally sent me a unit to test – hurrah!
And it’s not just the regular XPS 13, which has a silver aluminium finish and black interior with carbon fibre palm rest, but the rose gold special edition that matches the gold-anodised aluminium with white woven glass fibre – a new material developed by Dell to not only look great but to be proof against not only stains and yellowing from age.
During CES 2018 I spoke to the notebook’s designer, Justin Kyle, who is Dell’s VP of consumer design, and he was justifiably proud of the look and feel of the new XPS 13, especially as the new design doesn’t use normal USB Type-A ports. While consumers might take issue with this (because you’ll need to buy external docks to get your existing USB-A peripherals to work with the XPS 12), for Dell incorporating only USB Type-C ports on the new XPS 13 not only enables Dell to “look to the future” but to also reduce the ‘Z factor’ (the maximum thickness of the notebook) to produce a laptop that’s in every way simply better than its predecessor – not only more powerful, but with a smaller size, weight and better screen, a true class leader.
As tested, our rose gold XPS 13 came with 16GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 4K UHD InfinityEdge touchscreen display which is nearly borderless – compared to my two-year old 13.3-inch ultraportable the miniscule bezel design enables the XPS 13 to be about 2cm by 2cm smaller in width and length. For 2018 Dell has added a new feature called Dell Cinema for a number of their laptops, and in the XPS 13 it means that not only is the screen tuned for HDR content with sharp contrast and blacks, but the audio and streaming have been improved as well – the slim side-mounted stereo speakers have been tuned with Waves MaxxAudio Pro and sound surprisingly loud and bassy for their size, while a high-end Killer 1435 802.11ac WiFi module ensures 4K content is downloaded very speedily.
Performance for a 13.3-inch ultrabook is stellar as the processor is a new 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U processor, which has plenty of horsepower, though with an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 the XPS 13 isn’t suitable for anything more than casual games. Oh and with the slim new form factor, heat mitigation was a major aspect of the design, which is why the Dell XPS 13 is the first consumer PC notebook to use Gore Thermal Insulation with silicon aerogel. It still runs hot enough that you really can’t use the XPS 13 on your lap (unless you wear heat resistant pants) and while the keyboard does get warm as well it’s still fine to type.
With the 2018 XPS 13, Dell has taken ultraportables to the cutting edge of current technology, especially in power, thermal insulation and battery life. Add in facial recognition and fingerprint scanning, that excellent 4K UHD screen, Dell’s Mobile Connect for iOS and Android smartphone integration that lets you make calls and reply to IMs from the XPS 13 and you have what is probably the best 13-inch ultraportable now available.