Dell XPS 13 2020 (Core i5)
“The Dell XPS 13 has been the perfect laptop computer you should buy for years, and that is nonetheless true in 2020.”
- Attractive design
- Taller 16:10 display screen
- Practically bezel-less body
- Two Thunderbolt Three ports
- Bigger keyboard and touchpad
- Wonderful efficiency
Two designs outlined the previous decade in laptops. The early decade was all in regards to the MacBook Air, which dominated the primary half of the 2010s and impressed a sea of look-alikes. The second half, nonetheless, was all about Dell’s XPS 13. The unique thin-bezel, small footprint laptop computer, it began a pattern that’s now ubiquitous.
Nonetheless, after 4 years of iteration, Dell has cooked up one thing new. One thing contemporary. One thing that takes the whole lot I’ve lengthy cherished in regards to the design and strikes it ahead into a brand new period.
Don’t name it a reboot. That is the laptop computer’s endgame.
Design and show
Extra of what issues. That’s at all times been the XPS crew’s motto, however right here it’s extra obvious than ever. It begins with the display screen, which is now 13.four inches in a 16:10 side ratio, which is barely nearer to sq. than the standard 16:9. It’s solely 0.1 inches taller than earlier variations, however it feels like extra. The 16:10 ratio means further traces in my Phrase doc, extra rows in my spreadsheet, and fewer scrolls on a webpage.
This does end in black bars on most movies, that are normally formatted for 16:9. Nonetheless, for the one who spends nearly all of their time with a laptop computer in work mode, that’ll be a worthy trade-off.
The 16:10 display screen is similar one used on the XPS 13 2-in-1, which was already class-leading. It affords 500 nits of brightness, among the many greatest distinction I’ve seen, and wonderful shade accuracy.
It’s additionally sharp. The decision is 1,920 x 1,200, which implies extra pixels than your typical 1080p display screen. You received’t be selecting out pixels on it, so except you’re a photograph editor, you shouldn’t have to go for the higher-res panel. The good thing about the 4K+ display screen is extra than simply pixel rely — it’ll even have a wider shade gamut.
It’s not simply the panel itself that looks like extra of what issues. It’s additionally the best way the shortage of bezels frames the display screen. The highest and sides are as small as ever, however now the underside bezel will get to hitch in on the enjoyable. Dell makes use of a singular dropped barrel hinge that sits barely beneath the floor of the keyboard deck. A part of that bezel, which was already small, is out of sight. It’s a small trick to make the bezel look that a lot thinner. On the white mannequin that I reviewed, I like the choice to vary the bezel shade to black as an alternative of white. It makes it even much less pronounced.
Regardless of the slim bezel, Dell has squeezed its 720p digital camera module into the highest, and Nostril-cam is a factor of the previous. It’s not an awesome webcam, however it’ll suffice in a pinch. Making much more use of the house, there’s now an IR digital camera for handy Home windows Good day facial-recognition login.
Keyboard and touchpad
Shifting down from the display screen to the keyboard deck, the design continues to observe the “extra of what issues” philosophy. Not a millimeter of house on the keyboard deck has been left and not using a function.
The keyboard takes inspiration from the XPS 13 2-in-1 in look — although not in really feel. The keycaps are bigger, with much less house between every. They now stretch as much as the edges of the keyboard deck.
The ability button (and built-in fingerprint reader), which was as soon as off to the appropriate of the format, is now built-in into the highest proper, very like it’s on MacBooks. One other small change to the format I recognize is the full-size left and proper arrow keys. Earlier XPS keyboards have included half-sized keys, with Web page Up and Web page Down filling within the gaps. This might usually end in unintended skips down the web page.
It has rapidly change into considered one of my favourite laptop computer keyboards to kind on.
One a part of the keyboard I’m completely happy Dell didn’t redesign is the precise really feel of the important thing presses. Fairly than go the best way of butterfly mechanisms (reminiscent of on the XPS 13 2-in-1), they nonetheless have 1mm of journey and a quick mechanism. As we’ve seen even Apple transfer away from its personal butterfly keyboards, Dell made the appropriate selection right here. It has rapidly change into considered one of my favourite laptop computer keyboards to kind on.
The identical is true of the touchpad, which has grown in general dimension from final yr’s mannequin. Dell additionally labored on dampening the clicking mechanism so it’s quieter. I’d nonetheless desire it to be even softer, however the monitoring and gesture help is great, as at all times.
Ports and construct high quality
On the edges, you’ll discover large adjustments when you’re conversant in the older XPS 13. Due to the character of that edge-to-edge keyboard, there’s now not room alongside it for ports. There are few, and so they’re now pushed as near the again as doable. On the appropriate is a Thunderbolt Three port and the headphone jack, and on the left is one other Thunderbolt Three port and a MicroSD card slot.
That is one much less USB-C than the earlier mannequin, which sucks. Dell is now at Apple ranges of port choice, matching the MacBook Air in USB ports. Not like that machine, I do desire having a Thunderbolt Three port on all sides quite than collectively. It makes charging handy, no matter what aspect the ability outlet is on. HP’s Spectre x360 trades out the additional Thunderbolt Three port for USB-A to help older equipment.
Regardless of the stiffer general really feel of the XPS 13, it’s now simpler to open.
The perimeters at the moment are clad in diamond-cut aluminum, which provides a little bit of glitz to the framing and a sturdier general really feel to the construct high quality. A skinny layer of polycarbonate fiber covers the palm rests with its distinctive weave texture. Except for the unibody aluminum design of the MacBook Professional, it is a well-built as laptops come.
The additional aluminum provides simply the smallest quantity of additional weight, which is now at 2.eight kilos. That matches the load of each the MacBook Air and the HP Spectre x360 13. At 0.58 inches, although, it’s a bit thinner than each of these laptops.
Regardless of the sturdy really feel of the XPS 13, it’s now smoother to open. What a aid. For years, it was one of many few premium laptops that couldn’t be opened with only one finger. A one-finger open is straightforward now, although I want there was a lip to make it much more easy.
It’s straightforward to only take a look at a laptop computer’s processor and name it good. Nonetheless, there’s extra to efficiency than a spec sheet. The XPS 13 makes that apparent. Regardless of utilizing the identical components as different laptops, Dell has constantly innovated in pulling efficiency out of its parts.
All the identical methods are in play right here, reminiscent of strips of Gore materials used to dissipate warmth. And the processor is now upgraded to the latest Intel’s 10th-gen Core ‘Ice Lake’ chips.
Dell continues to lift the bar for efficiency.
That’s not too thrilling in 2020, however once more, the XPS 13 beats its opponents in uncooked single-core efficiency in Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R20. Even the 16GB of RAM that got here in my evaluation unit was overkill for what most individuals will do with this laptop computer. (The Core i7 mannequin I reviewed is priced at $1,250, although there may also be a Core i3 possibility beginning at $999.)
That is among the many strongest quad-core laptops you should buy, even flexing its muscle in HandBrake video encoding. Late final yr, Dell launched an XPS 13 with a six-core processor, however this new mannequin is barely 7% slower in HandBrake. Spectacular.
So, sure, Dell continues to lift the bar for efficiency. Improve to the 4K+ mannequin, and you’ve got a killer photo-editing laptop computer. That doesn’t imply you should purchase this laptop computer for 3D rendering or video modifying, however for many duties, you received’t discover a sooner laptop computer at this dimension.
It ought to be famous that the $999 Core i3 with 4GB of RAM can be out there (although not at present on sale). That dual-core processor received’t have close to the identical efficiency, although I haven’t examined it but myself. Nonetheless, when you simply need a laptop computer for net searching, Microsoft Phrase, and watching motion pictures, the Core i3 might be greater than sufficient.
Intel’s discrete graphics have improved fairly a bit with Ice Lake, which implies the XPS 13 can play video games. Form of.
Dell nonetheless pulls higher body charges out of those parts than its opponents, however that doesn’t imply it is a gaming laptop computer. Fortnite is playable in 1080p when you convey all of the settings down, however you’ll have to drop it to 720p to get smoother gameplay. Informal and fewer demanding video games play nicely sufficient, however you’ll see higher efficiency out of the Razer Blade Stealth 13, which options an Nvidia GTX 1650.
I’ve excessive expectations for the battery life of pricey laptops. One way or the other, the XPS 13 surpassed them. It lasted over 11.5 hours in our gentle net searching check, crushing laptops just like the MacBook Air, Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, and Floor Professional 7. It doesn’t fairly beat the perfect of the perfect just like the HP Spectre x360 or ZenBook 13 UX333, however it’s not far behind both.
Battery life will at all times depend upon what you’re utilizing it for. On one excessive finish, the XPS 13 can last as long as 14.5 hours in native video playback, or as few as 5 in heavier duties. For the typical particular person, constant use all through a full workday shouldn’t be an issue.
You possibly can count on these outcomes to be dropped by just a few hours when you purchase the 4K+ mannequin. Once more, that makes this 1080p+ mannequin the perfect resolution for most individuals.
The Dell XPS 13 is the perfect laptop computer you should buy. That has been true for a number of years, and it’s nonetheless true in 2020. That’s not a straightforward feat when making this many adjustments to an iconic design. The XPS 13 has slowly grown a bit dearer through the years, however once you’re this good, the premium branding has been earned.
There are nice decisions when you’re trying to spend beneath $1,000. For everybody else, the XPS 13 ought to be your subsequent PC.
Are there any alternate options?
There some very shut opponents to the XPS 13. If you happen to’re in search of a laptop computer with a 360-degree hinge, I like to recommend the HP Spectre x360. It’s small and refined just like the XPS, and it’s a bit cheaper.
One other good possibility is the brand new MacBook Air. Now that includes quad-core processors and a greater keyboard, it’s reclaimed loads of the respect of earlier generations of Macs. It seemingly can’t compete in battery life, nonetheless, and it nonetheless lags a bit in efficiency.
The Floor Laptop computer Three by Microsoft is one other fascinating possibility at a detailed worth level, thickness, and weight. It additionally affords a bigger 3:2 display screen with a better pixel density, as long as you’ll be able to bear its giant bezels.
How lengthy will it final?
The XPS 13 is constructed to final, because of its up-to-date parts and durable construct high quality. There’s nothing particular about its one-year normal guarantee, however this laptop computer ought to final you at the least three or 4 years.
Must you purchase it?
Sure. It’s the perfect laptop computer you should buy.