When I tested the Dell XPS 13 last year, I called it one of my favourite Windows laptops in recent years. And with a refresh of the XPS 13 this year, the same still holds true albeit some minor flaws.
Design & Hardware
The design of the 2018 XPS 13 is very similar to previous models, with a soft touch padding around the keyboard and an aluminum body. It has a great keyboard that has enough travel as you type and is backlit. The trackpad on the XPS 13 is good but not great, sometimes clicks wouldn’t register or as the wrong type of click.
The XPS 13 has Dell’s next-gen InfinityEdge display with almost no bezels. The model that I tested out has a Full HD 1080p display but you can get it with a 4K display. The display looks good but I did have an issue with the laptop’s automatic brightness, where the screen would dim at random times while using it, even though the auto brightness was technically turned off.
The built-in speakers on the XPS 13 are good but nothing amazing. The laptop is powered by the 8th-Gen Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM. It can be optioned with an 8th-Gen Core i7 and 16GB of RAM.
You can also get the laptop with either 128, 256, 512 or 1TB SSD, the one I tested had a 256GB SSD. Performance on the XPS 13 was great, I noticed some slow-downs while watching videos but nothing to be overly worried about. One thing I did notice is that the laptop would produce a lot of fan noise, even when it wasn’t in use and the lid was closed.
The XPS 13 also has the option for a Windows Hello camera, which makes it easier to log in just using your face. The laptop also has a fingerprint reader built-in to the power button.
As for ports, there are two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports on the left side, along with the battery indicator. Also since Dell has switched over to USB-C for the XPS 13, the company includes a USB-C to USB Type-A 3.0 adapter in the box.
One thing to note about the battery indicator is that button to light up the indicator is very small and hard to press. And there are five lights for the battery indicator but even if all five are white, it doesn’t necessarily mean your laptop is at 100% battery, it could be at 80-90%.
The right side has a USB 3.1 port, microSD card slot and headphone jack.
The XPS 13 charges over USB-C and one thing I didn’t like was that the charging cable had two white LED lights on it and the front of the laptop (near the trackpad) has a white LED. When the charger is plugged in, the LED indicators on the USB-C part of the cable would light up.
This got annoying because I would use the laptop during the day and then charge it overnight and I had the laptop plugged in my room and all I could see was the LED light emitting from the cable and the laptop. How many indicators are needed to show that the laptop is charging.
Dell says that the battery in the XPS 13 last up to 19 hours but I only found that the laptop lasts for about 10 or so.
The 2018 XPS 13 starts at $1,399 CAD, the model I tested goes for about $1,599 CAD. The laptop is available now from Dell’s website. The XPS 13 comes in two colours, Platinum Silver with black carbon fibre palm rest and new for this year, rose gold with an alpine white woven glass fibre palm rest is also UV-resistant and stain resistant.
The Dell XPS 13 is running Windows 10, which Microsoft says it the best version of Windows yet. Which I do agree with Microsoft, they have made major improvements to their OS. Windows 10 takes the best of Windows 7 and 8.
Even though the Dell XPS 13 is running Windows 10 Pro, it should be noted that you shouldn’t be using it for super heavy tasks, that’s where a beefier Windows laptop or desktop will come in handy. In my testing, when I was using the device, there was a lot of fan noise when even just running the Microsoft Edge browser or while idle.
Just like in Windows 8, Windows 10 can be used with devices with and without touchscreens. And unlike Android, there are lots of Windows 10 apps that work well on a tablet. Sure, there might not be as many apps as on Android or iOS but there are alternatives and you can easily install apps that are not in the Windows store.
I was able to easily multitask on the Dell XPS 13 and it easily kept up. Most of the other apps you’ll find pre-installed on the Dell XPS 13 are standard with any Windows 10 PC.
Dell still knows how to make a great laptop, albeit some minor flaws like the whole charging indicator situation, the issues with the auto brightness and the fan noise. Other than that, the XPS 13 is still one of the best Windows laptops you can get.
- Great battery life
- Has 3 USB-C ports, all can be used for charging
- Nice design
- Windows Hello support (both via camera and fingerprint reader)
- Comfortable keyboard
- Bottom of the laptop can get very warm while charging
- Random fan noise when not in use
- Too many charging indicators