Dell introduced us to its XPS 18 back in March of this year as the company’s newest all-in-one (AIO) computer, which at the time, we were impressed with its ultra-thin 18.4-inch display. In fact, the entire computer fits within the display making it quite an AIO to use as you don’t have to worry about setting up a mini tower somewhere on your desk, instead, just finding a spot for the display and you’ll be good to go.
During our hands-on time with the XPS 18, Dell made sure to emphasize its intention was to provide a true AIO experience and doesn’t want its users to think the product is just a rather large tablet. Instead, Dell wants us to consider the XPS 18 as a “mobile” computer that you can easily move around your home and not one that you would take with you to the park or across the U.S. when traveling. But if you’re looking for a desktop replacement, is the XPS 18 the kind of machine you would want instead of buying an actual desktop PC? That’s one of the factors we’ll be looking into of our review of the XPS 18. So, without further ado – let’s take a look at what Dell has to offer, shall we?
I haven’t had a desktop machine for at least six years since I have been using laptops for both work and personal reasons on a regular basis. When I did have a desktop PC, one of the factors I look into for my machine was how powerful it would be, specifically when playing PC games. And by PC games, I mean games that would require both a powerful processor and GPU, such as the latest Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and other similar graphic intensive games.
Desktop computers are all about mixing and matching accessories and peripherals, so if I don’t like a keyboard and mouse a manufacturer offers, I could easily swap them out for one I prefer. The same would go for internal specs that would become obsolete over the years, which is rather difficult for a number of all-in-one desktop machines since they’re not typically built to have their internals expandable. In this case, I’ll be judging how well everything a manufacturer includes inside of its retail box, especially the internal specs they include in their all-in-one computers.
Dell XPS 18 Specs
18.4-inch Full HD Display (1920×1080)
Intel® Core™ i5-3337U Processor (3M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz) + Intel HD Graphics 4000
8GB DDR3L memory up to 1600Mhz
Windows 8 64-bit
500GB HDD + 32GB mSATA Flash Module
Intel 2230 Combo w Wi-Di, Qualcomm 1202 Card (killer wireless)
Bluetooth 4.0 (via WiFi mini card)
2x USB 3.0 ; 1x Headphone/microphone combo jack
8-in-1 media card reader (SDXC, SD, MMC, MS, Memory Stick PRO, xD‐Picture Card, Hi Speed‐SD, Hi Capacity‐SD)
Dell Tangerine wireless keyboard + Dell Tangerine wireless mouse
463.6mm x 283.7mm x 17.7mm (18.2in x 11.1in x 0.6in)
Industrial Design (excellent!)
We’re sure by now you’ve experienced AIO computers in either your place of work, at a local library or maybe an Internet cafe, but AIO PCs are typically a tad on the bulky side in order to fit an entire computer inside of its display. The Dell XPS 18 is currently the thinnest AIO PC to be available on the market and it certainly stands out as it’s unbelievably thin, which would lead any normal passerbyer to assume the display was connected to a desktop machine. Being able to fit an entire computer inside of a 18.4-inch display that is 0.6 inches thick is certainly an amazing feat.
The Dell XPS 18 has an evenly distributed black bezel around its 18.4-inch display with the Dell logo featured on the upper-right corner of the display and its webcam sitting in the upper-center of the display. The rear of the XPS 18 is primarily made of anodized aluminum with a few areas featuring a rubber material that come into play when you use the PC in some of its additional methods. Two rubber flaps are placed at the bottom corners of the back of the XPS 18 to allow users to prop it up in two different methods: a viewing mode and a productivity mode. Snapping them out and back into place required very little effort and made the XPS 18 even more manageable when using it multiple ways.
The XPS 18’s speakers can be found at either side of the display facing outwards, while its volume buttons can be accessed on the left side of the display, and its power button on the right.
The Dell XPS 18’s stand is able to give it a proper place on your desk as it features a magnetized front which allows for the PC to glide into its wireless charging base with very little effort. When the charging ports of the stand and the XPS 18 are connected, a small LED will light up, indicating the PC is being charged. The stand is able to angle itself so the XPS 18 is completely flat, or all the way up, making the computer nearly perpendicular to where you’re viewing it.
The Dell Tangerine wireless keyboard requires two AAA batteries to function and connect to the XPS 18 through an internal USB 2.0 port that allows both the keyboard and mouse to function. The keyboard is pretty solid as it offers a nice mix of being clicky with a strong spongy feel at the end of each key press. Unlike typical computer keyboards that have rather long keys, the keys on the wireless keyboard are short and don’t require much effort in order to initiate a key press.
The keyboard and its keys are black with silver symbols on each key, light blue function keys and is outlined by a thin piece of silver-colored plastic. The area where its batteries are housed also serves as its stand as two strips of rubber are found close to the ends of the keyboard’s rear. The battery door is located in the upper center portion of the keyboard’s back, just above a Dell logo.
The Dell Tangerine wireless mouse functions very well, although the ergonomic feel is extremely light as only a bump can be found in the middle of it, which helps keep your hand’s natural arch when using. There’s a line splitting the upper region of the mouse, which helps guide the user to performing a left and right mouse click. The mouse’s scroll wheel not only helps scroll through scrollable menus, stories and anything else you’ll need to scroll through, but it also serves as a middle mouse click, which by default is to initiate an auto scroll. Two additional mouse buttons are available on both sides of the mouse.
The mouse shares the same color scheme as the keyboard and the XPS 18 as it’s primarily black with a silver outline, which the mouse’s scroller also has two small strips of silver on the outer sides of the wheel. The bottom of the mouse is where you’ll find its optical sensor which we had no trouble using on a reflective dining room table.
Ports: There aren’t many ports on the XPS 18 as two USB 3.0 ports, its combination headphone / microphone jack and its AC adapter port can all be accessed at the bottom-left portion of the display. At the middle of its left, rear side is where you can access the XPS 18’s 8-in-1 media card reader. All of the ports were easy to find and comfortable to use.
The XPS 18 Has Get Up And Go
One of the main selling points for the XPS 18 is its portability, although we would like to reiterate Dell doesn’t necessarily expect you to take its AIO around town or across the world. Instead, you’ll be able to take your computer from your home office, to the couch, dining room table, and even to the comforts of your bed if you feel so inclined.
We certainly found its weight comfortable enough to be able to carry the XPS 18 around our home, but in a world with tablets that, at most, have a 10-inch screen, sitting on the couch with an 18.4-inch “tablet” of sorts was a little strange, especially when using it alone. Using the AIO with another person or a group of people felt a little more natural as everyone could gather around it and partake in what was being displayed on the screen. This made us feel the XPS 18 would be an ideal machine for a small company or group of people who regularly collaborate on things, or even a small family where you use the AIO to play with your children, watch YouTube clips and even browse the web together.
Considering the internal components of the XPS 18 are all wrapped inside of its 18.4-inch display, it’s good to see Dell go all out by equipping it with a Full HD screen capable of a resolution of 1920 x 1080. That means you can expect to see a high amount of detail in high-resolution images, videos and everything in between while you’re using the XPS 18. The display is also equipped with IPS, which means you’ll be able to view what’s currently being displayed on the screen at extremely wide angles.
The XPS 18’s display has a 350 nit brightness, which seems to be the sweet spot for many manufacturers for their displays these days. On a sunny day while working indoors, we found it to be comfortable to work with the XPS 18 at around 20% – 30% of its full brightness. At 100% of its brightness, we could see the screen easily while working outdoors.
The 18.4-inch display on the XPS 18, combined with its Full HD screen, is absolutely stunning and we’re confident you’re going to like what you see when you check it out for yourself.
Webcam (very good)
The webcam on the Dell XPS 18 is an HD Camera that is capable of producing images and recording videos at 720p. For the purpose of our review, we put it up with the HD Camera on an Asus Zenbook.
In our daylight test, we noticed the XPS 18 produced an image that was a bit fuzzy, but its colors were pretty accurate to the subject and its surroundings. When compared to the image the Asus Zenbook produced, the XPS 18’s image looked much better, even with its slight fuzziness.
Our low-light test resulted in the XPS 18 performing very well as it could actually see us under low-light conditions. The colors were somewhat accurate, although we could certainly overlook that considering the conditions the image was taken under, and the webcam was able to make full use of the low-light to give a full view of the subject. The image the XPS 18 produced was much better than the one the Asus Zenbook produced, which could barely see the subject.
The Dell XPS 18 we reviewed came equipped with an Intel Core i5-3337U processor, which we’ve seen in a number of our ultrabooks that we have recently reviewed including the Acer Aspire S7 and the Toshiba KIRAbook. The Intel Core i5-3337U is a nice processor that typically gives users a nice bit of performance without too much power consumption and usually churns out 1.8GHz of processing speed, but because of the included Intel Turbo Boost technology, the XPS 18 is capable of churning out speeds of 2.70GHz when thermal conditions permit it.
One of the first benchmarks we like to run for PCs is PCMark 7 which is a benchmark used in order to simulate real-world tasks such as opening applications, booting up your computer and doing some mild graphical tasks.
In our PCMark 7 benchmark, the XPS 18 scored a 4409, which isn’t as high as the Aspire S7 and KIRAbook, but it’s certainly still a good score. All you need to know is that according to our benchmark results, you can still expect the XPS 18 to tackle a large amount of multitasking without giving you much trouble in terms of its ability to perform.
The second benchmark we like to run on our test machines is 3DMark 11, which is a benchmark that is more demanding as its primary focus is how well it’ll perform as a gaming machine. And we’re not talking Facebook or Flash-based games here as those tend to not demand so much from a system, but instead, actual games like Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed or any other current-generation games.
The Dell XPS 18 is equipped with a graphics processor that is typically available in ultrabooks and laptops, which is the Intel HD Graphics 4000. We haven’t seen any good scores come out of this GPU, and inside of the XPS 18, its performance is no different as its 3DMark 11 score of P621 has us believing this AIO shouldn’t be considered if you plan on doing a lot of hardcore graphical tasks, especially when it comes to gaming.
The final benchmark we like to run on our test machines is Geekbench, which isn’t a benchmark that tests the laptop with real-world applications, but instead squarely focuses on the CPU’s raw performance score by throwing mathematical equations at it.
The Intel Core i5 processor inside of the XPS 18 is quite strong as it scored a 5481 in our Geekbench benchmark. This means the raw power of the CPU in this AIO is quite powerful and will be able to crunch out mathematical equations at high speed.
Value for weight, price
We know when purchasing any PC, people tend to look at its internal specs and purchase a computer based on what they currently need. One factor many overlook is its weight as more powerful portable computers will most likely be heavier than PCs that aren’t as powerful. That’s why we also like to look at a PCs performance relative to its weight so we can see if all of that power is worth you breaking your back over or if a PC’s weight isn’t worth its sub-par performance.
The XPS 18 is a portable AIO, but Dell doesn’t consider it a truly portable computer as the company would like its users to limit its portability to within a person’s home. With that in mind, its score in our value for weight equation doesn’t really seem fair seeing how the XPS 18 really shouldn’t be considered a mobile computer. We found taking the computer from one room to another to not be an issue since it’s under 5 pounds, and when compared with other AIO computers, its value is one of the best considering the weight and performance of similar machines.
Battery Life (very good)
Dell equipped the XPS 18 with a 69Whr battery, which is quite a large battery, although considering they have over 18 inches of display, having a large battery made sense. In fact, the large battery inside of the XPS 18 helps in keeping its overall battery drain throughout a number of our tests manageable.
The first battery test we ran on the XPS 18 was a long-term battery drain test to see how long it would take for it to drain. Our testing showed an hour of battery drain resulted in a 18% drop in the its battery under the conditions of leaving its Wi-Fi on, its screen at 50% of its brightness and leaving it on to let its battery drain. This means you should expect a little over 5 hours of battery life under these conditions.
Having the XPS 18 sit and letting its battery drain is probably the last reason why you’d consider purchasing this AIO as you may actually want to use it once in awhile, which is why we run additional battery tests where videos are played to see how far its battery would drain. The first video test was done under the conditions of playing a 1080p local video with 50% screen brightness for an hour and noted a 22% drop in battery life, which means you can expect 4.5 hours of battery for local videos. As for streaming videos, we watched a 1080p YouTube video with 50% screen brightness for an hour and noted a 25% drop in battery life, which means you can expect 4 hours of battery for streaming videos.
Battery Charge (very good)
Since you’ll most likely have the XPS 18 connected to its charger in your home office or wherever else you decide its home base will be, we’re sure its battery charge won’t be that big of an issue. But in the chance that you happen to bring it with you into another room and drain its battery to the point where it’s completely drained, you can expect it to take around 3 ½ hours for its battery to fully charge. Once again, when you consider its massive 69Whr battery, the rate it recharges is especially impressive.
Conclusion (very good)
The Dell XPS 18 certainly has a split identity as it could certainly be used as a sleek-looking AIO computer where you’re completely free of any unnecessary cables hanging off of your computer in order to connect your display, keyboard, mouse and anything else you absolutely need to have connected to a desktop computer’s tower or even a laptop. On the other hand, it can also be used as a mobile computer where you can take it from room to room to collaborate, come together to browse the web, or just have fun on its 18.4-inch display.
If you look at its dual identities by themselves, then you’ll see it isn’t as powerful as a desktop computer and it isn’t as mobile as an ultrabook, laptop or tablet. But what it lacks in power and portability, it more than makes up for with its sleek, AIO design and its ability to bring people together. We feel Dell has reinvigorated the all-in-one market with the XPS 18 and can easily suggest it if you’re currently in the market for such a computer, especially if you plan on using it with more than one person.