Dell XPS 13 ultrabook review

Reviews James Hunt Feb 11, 2013

Is this Dell showing its age?

Dell's XPS range has always been at the high end of the notebook market, so you might be expecting big things of its Ultrabooks, and you'd be right to.

For a start, the build quality is fantastic. It's a reasonably light 1.4kg, cast in aluminium, and only 18mm thick at its widest point. The 13.3" display is stretched as tightly as possible to the outer limits of the case, meaning the unit is compact with almost no bezel. Under the lid, the surface is coated with soft, expensive-feeling rubber. The gesture-supporting touchpad feels similarly great, although 'invisible' mouse buttons may irritate those who like to have clear tactile feedback on what they're pressing. The keyboard is backlit, which is a useful feature some Ultrabooks omit.

Technically, there are some areas where it falls a little short. The screen resolution is only 1366x768, and although there are rumours that a full HD version is coming, this already places it a step behind some high-end competitors. The Core i7 CPU means it's at least competitively powerful, but a reliance on integrated graphics (Intel HD 4000) pegs it as strictly a business rather than gaming machine. The battery life could be better, but it issn't particularly bad, and when the rest of the unit is so well made, that's an easy oversight to forgive. Additional specs include 8GB of RAM, a 1.3MP webcam, and Windows 8, all of which are more or less standard for the Ultrabook range. A 256GB SSD is reasonably good too.

Despite being well-built and given decent hardware, the Dell XPS 13 has one major problem: the price. It was slightly expensive when it came out, but now it's getting on for a year old and new models from the competition have all but eclipsed its capabilities. Dell, though, is still selling the i7 model for £1,179. You can get cheaper i5 versions, but their specs are neutered and they're still outpricing the competition.

Maybe the high price points to its pedigree as a business machine rather than a home machine, which is fair enough, but if you're thinking of buying one, we'd suggest waiting for the hardware refresh, due any month now.


• CPU: Core i7-3517U
• SSD Size: 256GB
• Screen: 13.3"
• Weight: 1.4kg
• Thickness: 18mm
• Price: £1,179


Power: 7/10
Value: 5/10
Overall: 6/10 

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