Like clockwork, Dell is updating its flagship thin & light laptop right on time for CES, which starts this Sunday as far as media coverage is concerned. Two years ago, Dell broke new ground with this XPS 13 redesign, and a significant refresh has arrived.

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From a design standpoint, the new Dell XPS 13 features a better and 7% larger display (HDR certified), and it seems that everything else was designed around it.

The chin bezel is surprisingly thin, which makes it possible to add a little bit of height, thanks to a 16:10 aspect ratio. Vertical space is always better for productivity, and the 91.5% screen/body ratio (Dell’s number) looks stunning.

Despite the thin top bezel, a tiny camera is present at that location, as Dell recognizes that putting the camera at the bottom doesn’t produce the most favorable view of the user. This is a trend that we expect other PC OEMs to follow as web components have gotten even smaller, probably thanks to phones.

While the overall size and weight feel similar, the keys have been updated to be 9% larger, pushing the left and right key columns right on the edge of the laptop.

The trackpad has grown by an impressive 17%, so if you use complex gestures, multiple finger lateral swipes, circular motions, it is exceptionally comfortable. Dell has removed the visual separator between Left and Right-click to declutter as much as possible.

Even the XPS logo has been redesigned to reflect a more modern, slimmer product line. This particular model is 6% thinner than the previous XPS 13 – which was already one of the most compact clamshell laptops.

Dell has also redesigned the thermal vents to increase their performance, but also their aesthetics in one fell swoop. We noticed the screws at the bottom, and Dell confirmed that users could open the computer to do maintenance or even replace components without voiding the warranty.

The craftmanship of the laptop is terrific, with more metal than ever, going all the way to the sides, which was previously non-metal. The IO ports look much better and generally speaking, we really like this kind of design and are glad that several OEMs feature all CNC metal ports.

Configuration options

There’s mostly good news about the configuration options. The 10th generation Intel Core CPUs do offer nearly 100% graphics performance improvement, and modest CPU speedup as well. Unfortunately, there won’t be a 6-core option for the new XPS 13, even though that’s possible on the current one.

  • 10th Generation Intel ® Core™ i3 1005G1 processor (4MB cache, up to 3.4GHz)
  • 10th Generation Intel ® Quad Core™ i5 1035G1 processor (6MB cache, up to 3.6GHz)
  • 10th Generation Intel ® Quad Core™ i7 1065G7 processor (8MB cache, up to 3.9GHz)

Dell has decided to offer 4/8/16/32 GB of LPDDR4 (dual-channel) RAM configurations, which is terrific because we’d rather have more RAM than a slightly better CPU. Perhaps the best real-world performance value here is to have the i5 CPU with 16GB or 32GB of RAM, depending on your work.

Storage options are all SSD on PCIe 3 (x4) and go from 256/512/1TB to 2TB of capacity, which is excellent for such a small package.

There are four display options:

  • 13.4 inch 4K Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge touch display, HDR 400, 500 nit, 100% sRGB + DCI P3 90% color gamut, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 0.65% anti-reflective, anti-smudge
  • 13.4 inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge touch display, 500 nit, 100% sRGB color gamut, 1800:1 contrast ratio, 0.65% anti-reflective, anti-smudge
  • 13.4 inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge display, 500 nit, 100% sRGB color gamut, 1800:1 contrast ratio, anti-glare
  • Common specs to all models: Dolby Vision, 178-degrees FoV

There is a minimal number of ports and no full-size USB, but an adapter is included.

  • 2 Thunderbolt™ 3 [(DisplayPort / power delivery (4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3)]
  • 1 microSD card reader v4.0
  • 1 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
  • 1 TypeC to USB A (v3.0 adapter ships standard)

Dimensions: Height: 14.8mm (0.58”) x Width: 295.7mm (11.64”) x Depth: 198.7mm (7.82”)
Starting weight: 1.2kg (2.64lbs.)* for non-touch; 1.27 kg (2.8 lbs.)* for touch

Finally, the 52WHr battery has a capacity that is in-line with this high-end segment of the market and can be replenished with the 45W USB-C power adapter.

If you can’t wait, the Dell XPS 13 will be available on Jan 7th starting at $1000, and Linux users can obtain a “Developer Edition” one month later starting at $1200

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