Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Review: The Best Portable Laptop on the Planet

Today i will be doing Dell XPS 13 ultrabook review. Recently i got my hands on a xps 13 and thought why not review this little masterpiece to my readers.

Just a month back, we had performed a Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook review and now we are back with this brand new ultrabook from Dell. Seems to me Dell is having an Ultrabook frenzy all year.

dell xps 13 ultrabook review screenshot 1 Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Review: The Best Portable Laptop on the Planet

First of all, let me tell the specs of this ultrabook:

  • Intel Core i5 2467M running at 1.60 GHz and clockable upto 2.30 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0
  • Windows 8 64 Bit Enterprise Edition
  • 4 GB DDR3 RAM
  • 2 GB Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • 13.3″ HD Display with a resolution of 1366×768
  • 128 GB Solid State Drive
  • 47 WHr 6 cell battery
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 Network Card with Bluetooth 3.0
  • 3W Waves MaxxAudio 4

These were the overall configuration of the lappie, and this setup cost is about 80k INR. As far as the operating system goes, XPS 13 comes preinstalled with Windows 7 but for demonstration purposes we are showing you the experience with Windows 8.

Now lets list out all the pros and cons of this ultrabook one by one, so that you will get a clear picture about what the XPS 13 is all about!

NOTE: Please note that this is not a paid review or a biased article. I am reviewing this ultrabook after using it for 4-5 days, so everything i say here is true to the best of my knowledge.

Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Review – Complete list of Pros and Cons

PROS:

1. Very very light:

First of all let me say that, this laptop is extremely light in weight. Perhaps this is because most of the materials used in this laptop are state of the art.

The base of the lappie is completely made of carbon fiber. Also because this laptop uses SSD instead of an HDD, and as you know SSDs are much lighter, XPS earns majority of its lightness right here. Not to mention the small sized 13″ display, this ultrabook weighs in at just 3lbs.

2. Sexy Design:

The top is made of aluminium and has an evenly smooth surface. The bottom is made of carbon fiber and has a textured finish. The laptop measures a mere 6mm at its thinnest point and 18mm at its thickest. The display comes with Gorilla Glass which looks attractive and is completely scratch proof.

dell xps 13 ultrabook review screenshot 3 Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Review: The Best Portable Laptop on the Planet

Other takeaways include a glass touchpad, and a chiclet styled keyboard with backlighting.

3. Awesome Typing Experience:

As i said earlier, the XPS 13 comes with a chiclet styled keyboard with backlight. Typing is really a leisure on this ultrabook.

The palmrest is comfortable and it doesn’t get heated up, stays relatively cool even when its on charging or doing processor intensive tasks.

The Dell people have made the keyboard size smaller by placing the Home, Page up, Page Down, and End keys on the arrow keys itself. They can be activated by pressing the key in combination with the Fn (Function key). Such as, if you want to press the Home button, press and hold the Fn key + the left arrow key.

dell xps 13 ultrabook review screenshot 2 Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Review: The Best Portable Laptop on the Planet

The Glass touchpad has a nice gesture support in Windows 7. Its responsive and gives you a smooth scrolling experience. Although you can’t enjoy the same if you are using Windows 8 since the Cypress trackpad drivers are not available for Windows 8 as of now.

4. HD Display:

XPS 13 display is HD ready i.e. it gives you resolutions of 720p. The Corning Gorilla Glass also adds to the beauty of this ultrabook. The display also has ambient light sensors so that it can adjust the level of brightness according to the lighting conditions in your room.

If you glance over at the top you will see a 1.3MP webcam and two microphones at both the sides.

5. Ample battery life:

The 47WHr 6 cell battery gave me plenty amount of time to surf, play music and watch movies. I did 2 hours of internet browsing, played a couple of songs and watched a 2 hour movie which gave me 4.5 hours to deplete my battery upto 3%, at which point the laptop shutdown automatically.

The laptop did get heated up a little. Please note, the cooling vents are at the base of the laptop and not at the side (to make it as slim as possible), so do not place the machine on your lap.

Also take into account, the presence of a 2nd generation Sandy Bridge processor ensures that the system is energy efficient and consumes less amount of battery all the while and far less when on standby.

6. Hyper fast SSD:

The use of an SSD makes this laptop extremely fast, and that’s why its rightly called as an Ultrabook. Cold Booting the laptop takes less than 10 seconds and hot booting (waking up from standby) took less than 2 seconds. As i said SSDs have faster read/write speeds compared to HDDs so you don’t have to worry about files copying slowly.

The 128 GB SSD also doesn’t make “any noise”. Stays cool (this is why you won’t feel hot when your hands are on the palmrest) and is as silent as a mouse.

7. i5 processor:

The i5 processor is a breeze to work on with and combined with a 4 GB RAM you are promised of an efficient performer. I tried opening 15-20 webpages simultaneously on Google Chrome and didn’t notice any lags or Force closes.

I also tried running Photoshop CS6 and defragmenting my disk at the same time and didn’t notice any slowdown. Quitting the photoshop process and restarting it, was also very quick.

I haven’t tested any high-end Games on this laptop, to check for any overheating or battery life issues. Personally, i don’t like playing games on a lappie, i use ‘em most of the time for surfing the internet!

If you have tried playing HD games or straining the XPS 13 CPU considerably, then i would definitely like to know the after effects. Please comment and i will be glad to add them to the Cons list.

CONS:

1. Small display:

Not a big con, but nevertheless i wanted to list out this point. The display being a small one, 13.3″ inch to be exact made me to lean in sometimes, straining my neck. Please note that i use a macbook and a PC which are of 15 and 19 inch respectively, so it takes me time to adjust to a relatively smaller screen sizes.

But i am sure if you are using the right office space and an ergonomically styled arrangement of seating it wouldn’t be a problem.

2. Cooling vents tend to get heated up

Please keep this machine on a wooden surface with ample amount of space between base of the laptop and the surface, so that there is normal amount of heat dissipation overtime. And never place it on your lap, because the bottom part, specifically the cooling vents get hot.

3. No proper support for Touchpad drivers

Dell has always been behind when it comes to driver support. The Cypress touchpad drivers for Windows 7 has some minor bugs and it takes some time to setup the gestures properly.

If you are on Windows 8 then you must, use the touchpad without any drivers and you will not get any gesture support as well. Instead of tap to click, you should press and hold the left button to actually make a click!

Hope the Dell team releases a set of touchpad drivers for the Windows 8 operating system soon.

4. Less storage space:

I think speed is necessary but size does matter too. After doing a clean install of Windows 8 (nothing but the OS and drivers alone), i was left with only 65GB of storage space on the SSD. If i had to install some software’s then i had to think twice if i would be using that software in the future or it was a one time thing only, same goes with the Games.

If you had like you can also grab a portable drive and hook it up to gain some amount of space, but then it means spending a few extra bucks too.

5. Less connectivity options

If you want to use wired internet using ethernet, then you have to use the USB to ethernet dongle, as there is no ethernet port available. There isn’t a DVD drive available as well, but i think they have already become outdated since the arrival of Macbook 2012.

There is 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0 port, Headset jack, and a mini display port which you can use to connect an external monitor. That’s about it.

VERDICT:

This is the best part of the article. In here we will tell you if you should go for the Dell XPS 13 and if it is worth every penny of your hard earned money.

As you can see the pros outweighs the cons, and most of the cons listed are all minor. The Dell XPS 13 is certainly a best buy if you are a traveler, go to places, or would like to use internet on the fly. Giving you outstanding bootup times and an extremely lightweight machine, the XPS 13 proves a winner in this area.

Add to that a battery with sufficient energy to power all your entertainment needs, this tiny little contraption is certainly an ultrabook!

If you are in case thinking to do some serious gaming or professional video editing then this may not be the right choice for you as the screen is way too small and a lesser disk space gives you least set of options to work freely.

In the end, it all comes down to, what type of user you are but for me the XPS 13 has been nothing but a perfect machine!

UPDATE: Dell has now released Windows 8 compatible drivers for the Cypress Touchpad. Features such as Tap to click, DragLock, vertical and horizontal scrolling, 2 finger zoom in/zoom out and multi finger gestures such as 3 finger flick and 4 finger swipes to select open programs are working phenomenally. There are a bunch of new fixes added too, such as the Palm rejection feature and better palm sensitivity to control cursor jumps. I guess you can now add this to your Pros list icon wink Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Review: The Best Portable Laptop on the Planet Thank you Olof!

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Comments

  1. Rops Reply

    Awesome experience, got it last weak ;)

  2. Olof Reply

    Drivers for Cypress Touchpad have been released the 08/30/2012 for Windows with complete gesture support : http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/uk/en/ukdhs1/DriverDetails/Product/xps-13-l321x?driverId=03PDC&osCode=W864&fileId=3000389340

  3. Jean-Pierre Schnyder Reply

    In order to disabled those damned gestures in Windows 8 for the Cypress trackpad,

    Control Panel / Modify mouse parameters / Cypress Trackpad tab. Then, uncheck the gestures you want to get rid off and enjoy your ultra portable, finally !

    • Gautam Doddamani Reply

      thanks for the suggestion john…i too find the windows 8 gestures like opening the sidebar from a flick on the trackpad very annoying. many a times the trackpad misinterprets what i need to do and opens the sidebar by mistake. the above solution is a lifesaver for this problem. perhaps the dell people will soon fix this by releasing a new driver for the cypress trackpad.

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