Dell XPS 13: the king of ultraportable PCs keeps its crown
In a few years Dell has managed to establish itself on the ultraportable computer market. XPS 13 is the name of its magic formula. In 2020, the manufacturer returns with a new updated edition with, as a bonus, a 4K screen.
In the world of the ultraportable PC , Dell is the manufacturer to cut down. If HP or Huawei manage to offer models almost as attractive, the XPS 13 keeps this little extra soul that makes all the difference. In recent years, Dell has been working to reduce the size of its PC while keeping a 13-inch screen. With this 2020 edition, it pushes the limits once again: the new XPS 13 has a 13.4-inch panel in a 12.1-inch format.
For the rest, no big revolutions. Dell keeps the ingredients that make the success of its flagship model (premium design, keyboard with unequaled comfort) and adds state-of-the-art components. If it comes in two versions (Full HD and 4K) I opted for the model with the best display. Where there is gene, there is no pleasure.
Dell XPS 13: Design and screen
Nothing looks like an XPS 13 and that’s probably what makes its excellent reputation. Each year Dell challenges itself to push the limits of compactness, reducing here and there the dimensions of an ever smaller computer but with identical comfort. For this 2020 edition, the manufacturer manages to contain its 13.4-inch screen (13.3 ” for the 2019 model) in a 12.1-inch format, covering 91.5% of the surface!
The borders around the slab are further reduced by a few tenths of a millimeter, the keys of the keyboard and the trackpad remain surprisingly large in view of the space available and Dell is paying the luxury of housing its camera in the center of the upper border (less 5 mm).
Obviously, this reduced format has a drawback: Dell must limit connectivity. The program includes two Thunderbolt 3 compatible USB-Cs (adapter to USB-A supplied in the box), a 3.5 mm jack and a microSD card reader. Connectivity WiFi and Bluetooth 6 5 supplement this minimalist setup, but mandatory to meet the space constraints.
Dell XPS 13: Keyboard and trackpad
True to its reputation Dell equips this new XPS 13 with a keyboard which it controls all the cogs. The space given to the palms of the hands is comfortable enough to let go of a few hours of writing. The fairly large keys fall perfectly under the fingers. The race is short and emits a very discreet sound with each strike. Perfect for working in open space.
The trackpad is just as qualitative as the keyboard. Its dimensions (115 x 65 mm) allow all kinds of manipulation (including gestures with several fingers). The sliding and soft touch at the same time as well as the resistance to the support are all pleasant sensations reinforcing my good impressions. Certainly, Dell knows how to optimize space better than anyone.
This year, Dell declines its XPS 13 in 4K version (3840 x 2400 pixels) with a 13.4-inch 10-bit screen in 16:10 format (unconventional). I remain skeptical about the choice of such a definition on such a small screen. Difficult to see a noticeable difference in daily use especially as the XPS 13 is designed for productivity.
However, I must admit that watching a Netflix program in 4K on this computer is a treat, especially since its HDR 400 Dolby Vision compatibility allows you to use the American platform in the best possible conditions. If it is thought of as a working tool, the XPS 13 is now established as a machine gifted for multimedia. We will not complain about it, unless autonomy is an important criterion for you (I will come back to this).
Finally, Dell provides the CinemaColor application which allows you to customize the display. You will therefore have plenty of time to adjust the saturation, color temperature or contrast to obtain your ideal rendering. If you venture out in this type of setting tires you in advance, Dell includes several display profiles (Cinema, Evening, Sport and Animation) adapting to your uses. I also recommend the Evening mode if you like to work after dark.
New generation requires, the XPS 13 (2020) ships state-of-the-art components including the tenth generation Intel Core i7-1065G7 chip (four cores clocked at 1.3 GHz and 3.9 GHz in Turbo mode). It comes with 16 GB of LPDDR4x RAM (on our test model) and 512 GB of NVMe SSD storage (SK Hynix PC661). This arsenal allows the XPS 13 (2020) to be particularly reactive in most uses. You will have no trouble working on several programs at the same time.
Ultraportable requires, the PC shows signs of breathlessness in game and with video editing software . Intel’s Iris Plus graphics chip does its best and even has the luxury of running a few games as long as they are well optimized and you accept to be content with Full HD definition. Forget the latest AAA licenses, but rest assured, you can play GTA V or Fortnite without any problems. Finally, photo editing and small video edits are also possible, provided that the files are not too heavy.
By choosing the 4K model, I expected to see a decrease in autonomy compared to the 2019 version, Dell having integrated the same 52 Wh battery (four cells). Unfortunately, I was not mistaken, the XPS 13 (2020) does not shine by its endurance . Allow about 8 hours for versatile use (office, web, social networks, photo editing, some video) and until 8:30 am by activating the energy saving devices. So you can leave for a good day’s work without your charger. It is therefore not catastrophic, but it remains less good than on the previous version.
The abuse of 4K video streaming is (logically) dangerous for its health: the XPS 13 (2020) will adopt the lateral safety position after 6:30 of continuous viewing. Finally, more demanding uses such as gaming or video editing melt the battery like snow in the sun. No wonder the XPS 13 is designed for productivity.
To earn life points Dell provides a USB-C power adapter that will charge the machine 50% in one hour . Allow a little over 2:30 for a full charge. Nothing extraordinary then.
Dell confirms what we already knew: the XPS 13 is the king of the ultraportable PC. With this 2020 edition, the manufacturer pushes the limits by integrating a larger screen (13.4 inches) while maintaining a 12 inch format.
Typing on this perfectly integrated keyboard is always a delight, the 4K screen is eye-catching and the power is there. Finally, only the decreasing autonomy will be able to upset some. However, 4K is not essential on this type of product, I recommend opting for a Full HD model, more enduring and cheaper.
Dell confirms what we already knew: the XPS 13 is the king of the ultraportable PC. With this 2020 edition, the manufacturer pushes the limits by integrating a larger screen (13.4 inches) while maintaining a 12 inch format. Typing on this perfectly integrated keyboard is always a delight, the 4K screen is eye-catching and the power is there.