One other yr, one other XPS 13. This time round Dell hasn’t precisely taken its flagship ultrabook again to the drafting board – you’d in all probability nonetheless must set the 2020 mannequin side-by-side with final yr’s to even spot the variations – it has made some vital tweaks.
They’re all good modifications too, with a 16:10 side ratio, edge-to-edge keyboard, and Intel’s extra compact and power-efficient 10nm processors to maintain it even slimmer than earlier than.
Sadly, lots of the basic XPS 13 drawbacks are nonetheless right here too, with restricted ports and an inclination to run actual scorching. This stays the most effective laptops on the earth, however Dell goes to should do extra to remain forward of the competitors subsequent time round.
Design and construct: Larger on the within, smaller on the skin
It’s not for nothing that I say that the 2019 XPS 13 was about nearly as good as a 13in laptop computer received.
In fact, a 13in ultrabook isn’t the very best laptop computer for everybody – others will need the facility of gaming or creator laptops, the dimensions of an even bigger show, or the flexibleness of extra ports you get with the XPS 15 or 17 – however for these proud of the inevitable compromises of an ultrabook, Dell’s tackle the format has hardly ever been bettered.
This yr’s XPS 13 follows the annual rhythm of minor tweaks throughout the board, with two larger modifications each taken from the 2019 XPS 13 2-in-1: a bigger, taller show; and a bigger, wider keyboard. All in a smaller physique, after all.
Let’s take the show first. The brand new 16:10 panel strikes into the area beforehand occupied by the underside bezel (and Dell brand), leaving a display screen that’s all-but-borderless. There’s nearly area for a webcam alongside the highest border (which is OK, however the 720p image is decidedly grainy), however in any other case the show is mainly edge-to-edge.
It’s 13.4in diagonally, with the selection of a 1920×1200 FHD+ panel or a 3840×2400 4K HDR improve – that’s what I’ve been testing. The 4K panel is simply obtainable with contact help, however the FHD+ variant provides you the selection of contact or not.
Each display screen variant runs to a decent 500 nits brightness, with 100% sRGB color gamut protection too. You may get brighter screens – and in the event you’re figuring out within the backyard loads proper now you truthfully may wrestle with this – however the color vary is difficult to beat, and in regular lighting situations this display screen is an absolute pleasure to make use of, whether or not for work or for watching.
The change to a 16:10 side ratio actually helps. The additional vertical display screen area leaves somewhat further room to breathe, particularly on in any other case cramped 12in or 13in fashions, and is very useful in the event you use it to work relatively than simply watch Netflix. Shedding the underside bezel doesn’t damage both, including to the clear, fashionable impression of Dell’s design.
Then there’s the keyboard. Just like the show that is now nearly edge-to-edge, which leaves the area for bigger keycaps throughout the board. Even the font’s been modified – it’s thinner and extra fashionable, with a shift to lower-case throughout the non-letter keys.
The sting-to-edge keys are made potential by shifting the fingerprint scanner into the facility key – a contact that each saves area and leaves an general cleaner aesthetic.
Importantly, whereas the keyboard measurement was impressed by the convertible XPS, this doesn’t use the divisive MagLev keyboard that mannequin does – as an alternative it sticks to the identical rubber dome keycaps as earlier than, with a 1mm journey that’s as comfy to sort on as ever – and extra so when you issue within the bigger keys.
I really feel fairly assured saying that that is the very best keyboard in any laptop computer proper now, and I truthfully can’t discover a single dangerous factor to say about it.
Regardless of the bigger keyboard and display screen, the entire physique is about 2 p.c smaller than final yr’s – not sufficient to note at a look, however each little helps. It retains the XPS 13 feeling ultra-portable and compact, particularly because it’s light-weight regardless of the sturdy aluminium aluminium building.
The draw back of that’s that ports have been trimmed again even additional. Two USB-C/Thunderbolt Three ports provide energy supply and DisplayPort performance, together with a headphone jack and microSD card reader. That’s it. For some that can be sufficient, however others will lament the truth that different producers nonetheless discover the area for USB-A ports in laptops simply as slim as Dell’s – very important when most equipment nonetheless use that bigger port.
It’s admirable that Dell has discovered the area to contract the XPS 13 down additional, and the modifications to the display screen and keyboard are completely welcome. The aesthetic could also be extra useful than flashy, however in any other case this is likely one of the finest constructed ultrabooks round – it’s only a disgrace that as ever it’s marred by the absence of a easy USB port.
Specs and efficiency: Cannot deal with the warmth
The XPS 13 received one huge inside change for 2020: the adoption of Intel’s 10th technology 10nm chipsets, which permit for improved energy effectivity and efficiency, together with that barely smaller physique.
Whereas some markets have a less expensive i3 base mannequin obtainable, within the UK you’ll have to decide on between an i5 or i7 – the latter is what I have been testing. Because the evaluation was initially revealed, the XPS 13 has now been up to date to incorporate Intel’s 11th-gen ‘Tiger Lake’ processors, which declare to enhance efficiency and energy effectivity by as much as 20%.
Nonetheless, what hasn’t modified is the utmost variety of cores – 4. Intel hasn’t made six-core variations obtainable but for its 10nm chips, so some should still want to go for the late 2019 XPS 13 refresh that provides six-core processors.
As you’d count on at this measurement there’s no choice for discrete GPUs, so that you’re caught with Intel’s built-in graphics – although there’s now the selection between UHD or its extra highly effective Iris Plus graphics chip. In the meantime, RAM ranges from 4GB as much as 16GB of DDR4, with storage from 256GB as much as 1TB – all SSD, naturally, and upgradeable relatively than soldered on.
When it comes to precise efficiency, the XPS 13 is predictably robust, however not excellent. In Geekbench’s uncooked CPU benchmark it exhibits an anticipated enhance over final yr’s mannequin, and maybe surprisingly the Iris Plus graphics has given it a critical enhance within the Sky Diver graphics check. It stays to be seen whether or not the Xe graphics on the late 2020 refresh will present additional enhancements on this space.
The telling benchmark is PCMark nevertheless, which is the one which finest simulates real-world day-to-day utilization, and right here the 2020 mannequin truly lags barely behind the 2019 version we examined. Why? My finest wager is that thermals accountable.
A smaller chassis means much less room for airflow and warmth dissipation. XPS 13s have all the time run scorching, however this yr’s is very susceptible to overheating – even simply operating Slack, Spotify, and some (or perhaps quite a lot of) Chrome tabs is sufficient to make the keyboard uncomfortably scorching to the contact. That type of warmth means throttling and diminished efficiency, which PCMark does job of catching.
That is nonetheless a robust machine, however the thermal points make me hesitant to advocate the i7 mannequin, as you’re unlikely to get all the good thing about the CPU anyway. In case your work is much less demanding and an i5 will suffice then this can be an important machine, however in the event you want the facility of an i7 then there are different ultrabooks that may deal with the warmth higher.
The brand new Tiger Lake XPS 13 has a near-identical thermal design, so do not count on any vital enhancements over the mannequin reviewed right here. You might need to attend till 2021 for Dell to kind out its overheating points.
As for battery life, the 10nm Intel chips save the day right here, with their added energy effectivity serving to Dell eke an additional hour out of the identical battery capability as final yr. This isn’t the longest-running laptop computer round, nevertheless it dealt with 12 hours of steady video playback in our testing, and will comfortably final a day for many customers.
Lastly, connectivity is robust, with each Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi 6, the most recent requirements for every. There’s no 5G help – although Dell did embrace that in its up to date Latitude 9510, so search for it to make it into subsequent yr’s iteration of the XPS.
Value and availability
The 2020 XPS 13 is out now worldwide. Within the UK it begins from £1,349 on Dell’s personal website, however be careful – that’s a mannequin that runs Linux, not Home windows. The most affordable Home windows 10 mannequin proper now could be £1,399, which will get you an Intel i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 512GB storage.
Within the US it begins from $999, which features a Core i3 processor, 256GB storage, and 8GB of RAM – Dell seems to have discontinued a earlier mannequin that had a laughable 4GB RAM.
The pricing is unchanged on the brand new Intel Tiger Lake XPS 13, additionally beginning at £1,399 within the UK and $999 within the US for Home windows fashions. As earlier than, the disparity in pricing is as a result of entry-level Intel Core i3 mannequin not being obtainable within the UK.
Regardless of technically now being outdated, the worth of the early 2020 XPS 13 is not outrageous by any means. Nonetheless, the likes of the HP Envy 13 may give you related specs for much less, when you may spend the same quantity on the Huawei MateBook X Professional and get an even bigger show, higher design, and a discrete GPU too.
Try the remainder of our greatest laptop computer chart for extra choices, and to see how the XPS 13 stacks up in opposition to the competitors.
The XPS 13 was as soon as the undisputed king of the ultrabook world, however the competitors has stepped up its recreation and Dell isn’t fairly doing sufficient to maintain tempo.
A ravishing 16:10 show and the very best keyboard you’ll discover wherever are sufficient to imply the XPS is effectively value a search for anybody contemplating a Home windows ultrabook, however the caveats really feel extra pointed than ever.
Rival units have extra ports, higher thermals, and infrequently value much less in addition, that means it now feels such as you’re paying an actual premium for the Dell identify alone.
That is under no circumstances a foul laptop computer, and improves on the earlier version in a number of methods. When you purchase one you’ll in all probability adore it, however poor ports and warmth issues cease this yr’s XPS 13 from reclaiming its throne. The meagre modifications on the brand new Intel Tiger Lake mannequin does not change that.
Dell XPS 13 9300 (2020): Specs
Processor: 10th-gen Intel Core i3-1005G1, i5-1035G1, i7-1065G7
Graphics: Intel UHD or Iris Plus
Show: 13.4in UltraSharp 4K Extremely HD (3840×2400) InfinityEdge HDR 400 contact show or Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge contact or non-touch show
Reminiscence: 4GB-32GB LPDDR4 Twin Channel SDRAM at 3733MHz (On Board)
Storage: 256/512GB/1/2TB PCIe SSD
Ports: 2x Thunderbolt Three with energy supply and DisplayPort (Four lanes of PCI Categorical Gen 3), microSD card reader, headset jack
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5
Dimensions: Top: 296 x 199 x 14.8 -11.6mm