Likely the biggest change for the new Dell XPS 13 comes from its upgraded innards. Making the jump to Intel’s fourth generation Intel core processors the Dell XPS 13 offers a notable boost to its overall performance and battery life. The unit that NBR reviewed was outfitted with an 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U CPU, with 8GB of DDR3, Intel HD Graphics 4400 and a 128GB SSD for $1,300. Users looking to save a few bucks can opt for the base model which is priced at $1,050 and comes equipped with an Intel Core i3-4010U processor and 4GB of DDR3, though users will have to concede the touch display for the lower price point.
Equipped with an Intel Core i5 CPU the Dell XPS 13 makes quick work of normal web and word processing functions. The ultrabook is also capable of handling more complex Microsoft Office tasks such as complicated excel spreadsheets. With 8GB of RAM the Dell can easily juggle multiple programs at once. NBR was able to run 10 web tabs while watching four HD video streams without experiencing any drop in performance.
Intel HD Graphics 4400 allow the laptop to handle basic visual tasks, such as editing HD videos or playing less demanding game titles such as League of Legends on lowered graphical settings. However, without dedicated graphics the machine will struggle to run newer high-end game titles or edit 3D videos.
Equipped with a 128GB SSD the Dell XPS 13 doesn’t offer a great deal of storage, but it’s fast and responsive. Programs load nearly instantly and the notebook resumes from sleep without delay. The laptop was also able to boot from a downed state to Windows 8.1’s home screen at an impressive 8.9 seconds.
- Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
- 13.3” FHD (1920 x 1080) Display
- 4th Generation Intel Core i5-4200U
- Intel HD Graphics 4400
- 8GB of DDR3
- 128GB SSD
- Intel Dual Band Wireless AC 7260
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 55WHr 6-Cell Battery
- Dimensions: 12.4” x 8.1” x 0.7
- Weight: 3.03 pounds
- Base Price: $1,050
- Price as Configured: $1,300
wPrime processor comparisons (lower score means better performance):
PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark and measures overall system performance (higher score means better performance):
3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher score means better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
Heat and Noise
The Dell XPS 13’s vents are located on the back end of the chassis resting opposite of the machine’s display hinge. The location does allow most of the hot air to be directed away from the user, but the machine can still heat up when taxed. After streaming video for 45 minutes the XPS 13 was producing a noticeable amount bit of heat. Even at its worst the notebook can still function as a laptop but users might find it uncomfortable.
In terms of noise the Dell XPS 13 is pretty tame. Under stress the notebook will produce a faint audible hum, but under normal circumstances it should go unnoticed.
To test battery life, we used our new PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than our previous test, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate real life use. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than our previous benchmark.
Powermark “Balanced” battery life test results (higher score means better battery life):
In our tests the Dell XPS 13 ran for 5 hours and 5 minutes before shutting down. Testing above 5 hours the XPS 13 offers exceptional battery life noting a marked improvement over last year’s model which only ran for 3 hours and 22 minutes. Considering that our tests are far more strenuous than traditional use (running the notebook through gauntlet of tasks) users can expect the Dell XPS 13 to last all day on a single charge. Even while watching videos or playing games the notebook should offer substantial stamina, though it’s best to have the charger on hand while running power intensive tasks.