We look at two premium Ultrabooks in this comparison: the Dell XPS 13 and the Acer Aspire S7. Both of these Ultrabooks feature 13.3-inch full HD displays and high-end build materials. Our comparison highlights differences in the quality, performance, battery life and other differences to pick a winner.
See the full NotebookReview.com reviews of these computers here:
Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook Review
Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook Review
Handling either the XPS 13 or the Aspire S7 immediately sends the message that they’re of high quality; the Aspire S7’s glossy exterior is Gorilla Glass while the XPS 13 has an aluminum lid and carbon fiber chassis. The XPS 13’s lid is less flexible than the Aspire S7’s, but otherwise these machines are equally matched. Design-wise the Aspire S7 is more intricate and detailed, but that’s more of a preference than an indication of quality.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Chiclet-style backlit keyboards on both Ultrabooks are easy to type on; I prefer the XPS 13’s keys since they have better tactile feedback due to their extended travel. The XPS 13 also has another row of keys; the Aspire S7 takes the F1-F12 keys and integrates them as secondary functions into the normal number keys. While the F1-F12 keys may not be as commonly used today versus a decade ago, nearly all programs have their share of shortcuts utilizing such keys. They can still be operated on the Aspire S7 but require using the [Fn] key; not optimal, in other words.
The touchpads on these Ultrabooks have a bonded glass surface and are responsive to the touch. They’re both clickpads, too; press anywhere to produce a click. The XPS 13 has the edge again here; it has some of the most uniform click pressure I’ve seen on a clickpad. Its accuracy is superior to the Aspire S7 as well, whose clicking action isn’t all that precise.
This is one area where these notebooks aren’t equally matched on paper. The XPS 13 and Aspire S7 employ a 13.3″ display using IPS technology for unlimited viewing angles and have a full HD 1920×1080 resolution. The difference is the Aspire S7 has touch capability, which gives it an easy victory; touch-enabled displays are an asset with Windows 8. The Aspire S7 goes so far as to have a display hinge that has progressive stiffness, so touching it doesn’t cause excess wobbling. It’s smart thinking.
The XPS 13 includes a larger and more powerful 6-cell battery standard as compared to the Aspire S7’s 4-cell. The XPS 13 as a result pulls off one-third better batter life coming in at 3:22 on our Powermark battery life test (it equates to 7+ hours of normal usage).
Heat and Noise
The Aspire S7 loses to the XPS 13 here because it’s just so loud; as a matter of fact it’s one of the loudest portable computers I’ve tested, ever. The fan noise is the reason we weren’t able to fully recommend the Aspire S7 in our review. The cooling systems of both Ultrabooks function normally otherwise, keeping the chassis within acceptable operating temperatures.
The Dell XPS 13 is the winner of our premium Ultrabook comparison. It is well-matched against the Acer Aspire S7 on paper but claims victory in the real world because of its much quieter cooling system, superior keyboard layout and tactile feedback, one-third better battery life, and lower price ($999 starting as of publishing).