Dell XPS 13 Review: Performance

February 21, 2013 by Charles P. Jefferies Reads (81,948)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 5
    • Usability
    • 8
    • Design
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 7.57
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Performance and Benchmarks

Our review unit of the Dell XPS 13 features the following specifications:

  • 13.3-inch display (1920×1080 resolution, IPS panel, glossy surface, 350 nit brightness)
  • Windows 8 64-bit
  • Intel Core i5-3317U dual-core processor (1.7GHz, up to 2.6GHz Turbo Boost, 3MB cache, 17W TDP)
  • Integrated Intel HD graphics
  • 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM (1x 4GB onboard, 1x 4GB removable; max. supported)
  • 128GB mSATA SSD (Samsung PM830)
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 wireless LAN
  • Integrated Bluetooth 3.0
  • Integrated HD webcam
  • No internal optical drive
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • 6-cell li-polymer battery (47WHr)
  • Dimensions: 12.4 x 8.1 x 0.24~0.71 inches
  • Weight: 2.99 lbs.
  • Price: $1,099.99

These are reasonable specifications for the money though they don’t represent an outstanding value by themselves. The XPS 13 is a value added product as we’ve seen earlier in this review; it includes features outside of mere specifications to make it worth its asking price.

Most Ultrabooks in this price range would be able to match the XPS 13 in sheer performance – an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB SSD provide plenty of power for everyday usage. It’s hard to match the beautiful 1080p IPS display though, which is a real gem and simply makes working with this notebook that much more enjoyable.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

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

3DMark 11 measures overall graphics card performance in games using DirectX 11 (higher scores mean better performance):

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:

Heat and Noise

The XPS 13 has a long air intake on the bottom for the single fan that exhausts air out the back left of the chassis; it’s aimed at the display hinge, which isn’t my favorite configuration. I can’t complain about the results – the chassis gets just lukewarm at most, even during benchmarking sessions. The XPS 13 is silent at idle, though the fan noise is noticeable under load. It has a slight whine but it’s subdued enough I can forgive it. The fact it produces a high-toned sound shows the fan is quite small in diameter and needs to spin fast to move an appropriate volume of air.

Battery Life

We use the Powermark battery life benchmark in Balanced mode to measure battery life; this software runs a variety of tasks including web browsing, watching video and playing games. It’s a more realistic take on battery life as opposed to just letting the computer sit idle.

The XPS 13 Ultrabook ran for three hours, 22 minutes on its inbuilt 6-cell battery. This is a respectable time and matches competing Ultrabooks with Core i5 processors.

Powermark battery life test results (higher scores mean better battery life):


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