Dell XPS 11 Review: Flexible or Flailing?

March 10, 2014 by Michael Epstein Reads (41,910)

Performance

The Dell XPS 11’s i5 processor + 4GB RAM setup is becoming a standard in laptops nowadays (especially ultrabooks), and for good reason: it reliably works for pretty much everything the average user will throw at it, and for a good value. The Metro interface is snappy and responsive with it, and most desktop applications will run fine, barring heavy-duty graphics programs that get a boost from multiple cores, and other applications and games that benefit from RAM increases. The system works, though it doesn’t necessarily excel.

Since it lacks a dedicated graphics card, most games won’t run as well as they might need to for optimum enjoyment on the XPS 11. The computer doesn’t even have Intel’s best integrated graphics (4400), so video editing and similar tasks may prove difficult.

When we tried running two Twitch game streams, a YouTube video and a Plex media stream of a 1080p action movie all at the same time, there was no noticeable slowdown in the computer, despite only having 4GB of RAM. This is likely far more data streaming than an average business or home user will use regularly, so the XPS 11 passes muster on that count.

The Dell XPS 11 we reviewed had the following specifications:

  • 11-inch UltraSharp LED 2560×1440 touchscreen
  • 4th gen Haswell Core i5-4210Y 1.5GHz
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Intel HD Graphics 4200
  • 128GB SSD
  • NXP NearFieldProximity provider (NFP)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 2x USB 3.0
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • HDMI port
  • Widescreen HD Webcam
  • Headset Jack
  • 3-in-1 media card reader
  • Noble lock
  • Price: $1249.99

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparisons (lower score means better performance):

wPrime

PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark and measures overall systems performance (higher scores mean better performance):

PCM 7

3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphic card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

3DM 11

Crystal DiskMark storage drive performance test:

crystaldiskmark

Heat and Noise

The XPS 11 is very quiet due to the SSD and more efficient processor, but heat became a problem with the device as we were testing it. The XPS 11 heats up to an uncomfortable degree along the hinge edge of the screen (where one would rest their thumb, at the right hinge) when in tablet mode. Poor venting also meant that the bottom of the device heats up when in notebook mode. This prevents one from using it comfortably as a true laptop computer, as this occurs even with basic, light use over short periods.


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  1. nbrI4U

    I was a bit afraid by your comment (and some of other reviews) about the keyboard. OK, you have to type differently, but with some days of use, I now type as quickly with this keyboard than with traditional one: 65 wpm in a sustainable mode (never exceed 78wpm on short tests).
    I had to change my way of touching the keys, but once done, it’s a very good, silent and pleasant keyboard. This fact change the view on this device, in my point of view, it’s firts an ultrabook, not a tablet.
    About the heat, we don’t have the same device: mine doesn’t heat at all in normal use, and very few in heavy load. Problem on your test machine?