Mini Laptop – Dell XPS 13
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In today’s article we talk about the latest iteration of the Dell XPS 13 that is now available on the market. Even though the title says this is a mini laptop, the correct category in which this model fits in is the ultrabook segment. As a matter of fact, we are dealing with the very first ultrabook launched by Dell. The company is a little bit late in this segment but the good news is that they’ve come up with a worthy model.
One of the reasons why we like this model is because it is reasonably priced. For $999 you get a decent Intel Core i5-2467M processor and a fast 128GB SSD. Even so, you should know that there are some similar hardware specifications offered by companies like Toshiba and HP, ultrabooks that cost approximately 100$ less than this XPS 13. However, this Dell features a magnificent build quality as it has a body which consists of a combination between aluminum, carbon fiber and magnesium alloy. What’s also great is that it has a smaller size in comparison to other 13-inch ultrabooks.
This impressive package offered by the Dell XPS 13 is completed by a generous touchpad, a backlit keyboard, along with the edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass over the screen. Where it fails a little bit is in the resolution and quality of the screen, and also the battery performance, but more on that later on in the review.
Let’s talk about the hardware specifications of the Dell XPS 13 and mention that it is motivated by a second generation Intel Core i5-2467M processor clocked at 1.60 GHz. It has been configured with 4GB of DDR3 memory running at a speed of 1,333 MHz, while for storage it has the aforementioned 128GB solid state drive. The chipset of the ultrabook is an Intel UM67 while in the graphics department we notice the integrated Intel HD 3000. As for the operating system, the XPS 13 is working on Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit edition.
The Dell XPS 13 measures 12.4 x 8.1 x 0.24 – 0.71 inches and weighs only three pounds or 0.6 pounds if we take into account the AC adapter. According to the company, we’re dealing with a 13-inch screen fit in a chassis of an 11-inch laptop. However, it is not as compact as Dell says but it is indeed a little bit smaller than the rest of the 13-inch models.
Design-wise, it looks a lot like the MacBook Air from Apple, managing to be even more similar to that model than the popular Asus Zenbook UX31. The bottom surface of the Dell XPS 13 is more distinctive and it features two raised channels which have the purpose of allowing the heat to escape from a bottom vent. At the same time, these two raised channels are also raising the ultrabook by several millimeters.
Even though Dell installed a shallow keyboard, it remains a joy to use as it offers a clack-free and soft touch. We are dealing with a backlit keyboard so those of you who work during the night shouldn’t have any issues when typing. This XPS 13 comes with a glass touchpad of generous dimensions and features a matte surface which is drag-free.
Moving on to the first negative aspect of the ultrabook, its display. The 13.3-inch screen has a native resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels which unfortunately is lower than the 1,600 x 900-pixel resolution we have seen on a lot of recent 13-inch laptops, and it is also lower than the 1,440 x 900-pixel display that the Apple MacBook Air has. We like the edge-to-edge glass but unfortunately the screen’s viewing angles are not that good.
As far as the connectivity features are concerned, this Dell XPS 13 has been fitted with DisplayPort in the video area while for audio you only get a headphone jack. For data purposes it packs one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port, while in the networking area it comes with the usual Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi. Since this is an ultrabook, there wasn’t any room left for an optical drive. Unfortunately Dell forgot to install an SD card slot on this model which is a big disappointment to some people since most of the models in this segment have one.
This entry-level $999 configuration is enough for most people as you get 4GB of RAM, a Core i5 processor and a 128GB SSD. For more storage capacity, you could opt for the $1,299 model that comes with a spacious 256GB SSD, while the $1,499 Dell XPS 13 comes with a faster Intel Core i7 processor and that bigger solid state drive.
There’s also an IT-focused version of this model which features a bunch of corporate-friendly goodies like BitLocker data encryption, a TPM chip, along with static images which is suitable for companywide IT groups that must have identical systems even if these are bought at different times.
The Intel Core i5-2467M of the entry-level XPS 13 is just as fast as the i5-2430 or the i5-2450 that you will find in a lot of mainstream midsize and 13-inch laptops. If we compare it to other similar laptops, the Dell XPS 13 is somewhere in the middle, with minor difference between one another. Needless to say, it manages to be more than powerful enough for the regular day-to-day multitasking. However, since it only carries an integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics solution, you can forget about playing the latest video games, but this is a common situation among ultrabooks.
The Dell XPS 13’s battery is capable of lasting for almost 5 hours during a demanding video playback test which is not a bad performance but it isn’t enough for a full day’s work. In addition, the battery life is also shorter than what you’ll get with the rest of the ultrabooks. For example, the 13-inch version of the Apple MacBook Air can survive for approximately 6 hours and 45 minutes during the same test, while the HP Folio 13 will last about 60 minutes more than the XPS 13.