Dell XPS 13 Plus overview: additional, in a great way


Dell XPS 13 Plus

MSRP $1,299.00

“The Dell XPS 13 Plus is the recent tackle laptop computer design I have been ready for.”

Professionals

  • Irresistibly recent design
  • Nice OLED display
  • Useful efficiency modes
  • Glorious haptic touchpad
  • Webcam has been improved

Cons

  • Will get heat on the underside
  • No headphone jack

The Dell XPS 13 Plus is the sort of laptop computer that can trigger head turns and double takes. Not as a result of it’s gimmicky or uncommon – however as a result of it simply appears that good. It’s actually one of the eye-catching laptops I’ve ever used.

However is it the finest laptop computer you should purchase? That’ll be a more durable case for the XPS 13 Plus to make to some individuals, even when it dares to really feel like a peek at the way forward for laptops.

Design

The lock screen shown on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

With one look, you possibly can inform somebody had a imaginative and prescient over at Dell for the XPS 13 Plus. That’s been true of the XPS line for years now, however you possibly can see why Dell gave this design a brand new title. It’s well-deserving of 1.

Gone is the carbon-fiber weave palm rests that turned synonymous with the XPS model, buying and selling it in for a sleeker and extra standard aluminum floor all through. There are two coloration choices accessible this time: the darker “Granite” coloration and the lighter Platinum choice, each of which have a novel tint. Exterior the Dell emblem on the again, although, there’s little or no that resembles earlier XPS laptops – at the very least not from the skin.

The gadget is 0.6 inches thick, which makes it barely thicker than each the new XPS 13 at 0.55 inches (but to launch) and final 12 months’s XPS 13 at 0.58 inches. The M2 MacBook Air, in fact, is sort of a bit thinner at simply 0.44 inches. It’s an identical case for weight, the place the two.71-pound Dell XPS 13 Plus is barely heavier than different XPS fashions.

And but, the XPS 13 Plus actually feels transportable within the hand. Chalk it as much as the simplification of all of the visible components, however the XPS 13 Plus very a lot seems like a compact little machine.

The keyboard and touchpad have additionally undergone probably the most radical redesign. I’ll contact extra on how they carry out later, however the look alone is actually placing. The touchpad now makes use of a haptic engine, which allowed Dell to make it invisible. The sides seamlessly mix into the palm rests, making for an extremely minimalist vibe. The entire thing makes use of a single panel of Gorilla Glass 3 and feels extraordinary beneath your arms.

It’s an identical story with the keyboard. The “edge to edge” design means as few traces and partitions as potential. It additionally means additional massive keycaps prolong large.

The side of the keyboard on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

And at last, one of the placing and controversial decisions, the perform row of keys has been changed by capacitive contact buttons. Many people have had poor experiences with some of these buttons up to now on tech merchandise, however I attempted to maintain an open thoughts as I used the laptop computer as my every day driver. The contact buttons actually have a futuristic look – and are a giant a part of what makes the gadget so distinctive.

The contact buttons have an engineering objective, too. Eradicating the bodily perform row allowed Dell to make use of this additional area right here to widen out the hinges, which the corporate says permits for higher cooling. The brightness of those keys, in the meantime, is managed by the ambient gentle sensor on the lid by the webcam.

Keyboard and touchpad

The capacitive touch buttons on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

Once I first noticed the XPS 13 Plus again at CES, I used to be unconvinced concerning the typing and touchpad expertise. Neat look, sure, however sensible? I wasn’t positive. Specifically, I had reservations concerning the haptic suggestions touchpad, which felt decidedly “off” in my brief time with it.

However not. After some tuning by Dell, the graceful monitoring that I’ve come to like on haptic touchpads works nice now. I turned down the sensitivity to 25%, as you are able to do in Home windows 11, and located a candy spot that completely simulated the sort of bodily click on mechanism that you just get with a {hardware} touchpad. Gestures work nice, too.

Typing on the XPS 13 Plus feels just like previous fashions. You get 1mm of journey, delivering clicky and satisfying keystrokes that really feel each agency and comfy. After all, the broader key caps are wonderful, making the format really feel spacious. I did discover that for me, personally, the palm rests had been a tad small for my bigger arms. It’s not egregious, however I used to be sometimes irritated by the sharp edges of the chassis digging into my palms.

As for the capacitive perform row buttons, in addition they really feel extra responsive right here within the remaining product. Regardless of my hesitation, they labored.

Ports

The USB-C port on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

The Dell XPS 13 Plus consists of simply two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, and that’s it. No headphone jack. No microSD card slot. No nothing.

You, like most individuals, most likely have a visceral response to having issues taken away from them, even when it’s to make for higher tech in the long term. That’s the case with the headphone jack, and I actually had among the similar emotions myself.

Dell isn’t the primary laptop computer producer to make this break, however it is perhaps probably the most high-profile case. In a world the place even Apple has saved the headphone jack within the MacBook Air, it feels just like the XPS 13 Plus is venturing out into the unknown.

I didn’t discover myself wishing I had a headphone jack as a lot as I believed I might.

And but, I attempted to maintain an open thoughts. Over the course of my time utilizing the XPS 13 Plus as my major pc, I solely got here throughout one situation when I discovered myself wanting to make use of a wired audio supply. My wi-fi earbuds had died, and I needed to hearken to some music whereas working. Happily, Dell throws a USB-C to three.5mm adapter proper within the field, so after I dug it out, my issues had been put to relaxation.

It’s a careless answer, positive. However in a pinch, my minor downside was solved, and I went again to finishing forgetting that this laptop computer didn’t have a beloved headphone jack.

Now, possibly if I used to be touring rather a lot or working in sudden tech environments, that might change. I actually have sympathy for individuals who need to hold analog audio connections round for numerous causes. That’s very true for the reason that gadget solely comes with two USB-C ports.

As for wi-fi connectivity, the XPS 13 Plus comes with help for the most recent Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.

Webcam and audio system

The webcam of the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

Now that all of us use them much more than we used to, although, a foul webcam is not a minor concern. And everyone knows that cameras have all the time been the Achilles heel of the XPS laptops.

Sadly, the Dell XPS 13 Plus nonetheless makes use of a 720p decision digicam, although this time, Dell has separated the precise digicam from the IR sensor, which is used for Home windows Hiya. This has allowed for some enhancements in picture high quality, particularly in each low gentle and excessive publicity conditions. To my shock, it’s a much more usable webcam for video calls than earlier XPS 13 fashions, even when it does lack the sharpness that you just get in 1080p cameras.

It’s an identical case with the audio system. They’re higher, simply nonetheless not wonderful. Dell now makes use of a four-speaker setup to offer the audio a bit extra oomph, and I might hear the distinction instantly. The whole lot is clearer, and other than the dearth of bass, these audio system create a good sound stage for the occasional film trailer or YouTube video. So, it’s an enchancment, however I’m not fairly able to name these “good” audio system.

Efficiency

The “Plus” on this laptop computer’s title is meant to check with improved efficiency. Leaning in on how Intel has divided up its new line of chips (with distinct U- and P-series chips), Dell is pointing to the XPS 13 Plus because the extra highly effective choice, utilizing a 28-watt chip as an alternative of a 15-watt chip. My overview unit used the highest-end choice, Intel’s Core i7-1280P, which comes with 14 cores (6 Efficiency cores and eight Effectivity cores) and a 4.8GHz max frequency. My overview unit paired this CPU with 16GB of 6400MHz RAM.

However on the subject of the laptop computer itself, don’t get fooled by the advertising and marketing hype, occurring from each Dell and Intel, on this case. The XPS 13 Plus is a lot highly effective, however it’s not any extra a performance-driven laptop computer than final 12 months’s XPS 13. In truth, the upcoming XPS 13 is the one which has been downgraded to a decrease wattage CPU. There’s a bigger story to inform there, however suffice to say: The XPS 13 Plus isn’t dramatically extra highly effective than different laptops of its measurement.

The keyboard and touchpad on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

Within the default Optimized mode, the XPS 13 Plus truly leans towards a cooler, quieter expertise. Inner temperatures by no means acquired too sizzling, which has typically been a difficulty with different XPS laptops. However keep in mind: With many laptops transitioning towards a bigger, 14-inch display measurement with a bit extra room for cooling, the XPS 13 Plus (and normal XPS 13) isn’t probably the most highly effective gadget to make use of this chip, as examined in nearly each benchmark I threw at it.

The excellent news is the bounce from Eleventh-gen to Twelfth-gen Intel chips was fairly vital in multi-core workloads, so that you’ll seemingly be pleased with the efficiency right here, even with some pretty heavy multitasking, and even gentle content material creation. Not precisely a machine you’ll need to spend all day enhancing 4K video on, however no laptop computer of this measurement actually is.

Somewhat than bump the display measurement as much as 14 inches and introduce some discrete graphics, the XPS 13 Plus is left as a succesful laptop computer, however one which feels prefer it’s overselling its capabilities. Know what you’re entering into, although, and also you’ll discover loads of efficiency for a laptop computer of this measurement.

Sidenote: I believed it was a extremely odd transfer when it was introduced earlier this 12 months. On the time, I believed a 14-inch mannequin would make extra sense, particularly since you possibly can possibly put in a 35-watt CPU and a discrete graphics card, which is what quite a lot of laptop computer producers have been doing lately. However after seeing what Apple has accomplished splitting its personal lineup between the M1 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Air, you possibly can see that Dell was going after a really related lineup. Even the costs nearly line up identically. 

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Full
Dell XPS 13 Plus (Core i7-1280P) 1316 / 8207 170 1311 / 6308 5470
HP Spectre x360 13.5 (Core i7-1255U) 1566 / 7314 169 1623 / 5823 4895
MSI Status 14
(Core i7-1260P)
1505 / 10041 114 1553 / 8734 6201
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
1650 / 8080 116 1587 / 7682 5537
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(Core i7-12700H)
1462 / 8531 104 1523 / 8358 N/A
Acer Swift 3 (Core i7-1260P) 1708 / 10442 113 1757 / 10339 5378
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420
(Core i7-1255U)
1703 / 6520 153 1729 / 6847 5138

Dell emphasizes the accessible Efficiency mode discovered within the My Dell utility, which has been engineered to unlock much more efficiency. I noticed a 19% improve in multi-core benchmarking and a 6% improve in single-core. Each firm (and gadget) handles these efficiency modes otherwise, and it’s not remarkable to see that sort of delta in efficiency modes, however the XPS 13 Plus actually takes larger benefit of this Efficiency mode than the common laptop computer.

The most important distinction I noticed between these modes was in Handbrake, the place Efficiency mode resulted in a forty five% quicker video encode. That’s a severe uptick, displaying simply how a lot efficiency is left on the desk in Dell’s Optimized mode. In the event you’re sitting all the way down to do some work in an software that requires some heavier lifting, switching modes is actually definitely worth the time it takes to open up the app.

As a result of it makes use of a 28-watt processor, the internals of the XPS 13 Plus truly share rather a lot in widespread with earlier entries within the lineup. It makes use of two followers, some warmth pipes, and a few small vents within the backside lid and by the hinge. And total, I favor the XPS 13 Plus’ method to balancing warmth and efficiency, although the underside of the laptop computer will get very heat. It was sufficient for me to not need to apply it to my lap for too lengthy, even in Optimized mode.

Dell’s “Cool” mode helps fairly a bit, and I truly discovered myself staying there for almost all of my day-to-day work. It restricts efficiency fairly a bit, however the one time I felt the slowdown was in video calls whereas doing different work concurrently.

Nonetheless, the floor temperature is a frustration, particularly if you examine it to Apple’s MacBooks. These laptops, both the M1 or M2 mannequin, do such an unimaginable job at staying cool and quiet – it’s laborious to not keep away from making that comparability.

Battery life

As we’ve begun to note whereas doing laptop computer evaluations in 2022, units powered by Intel’s Twelfth-gen chips aren’t precisely battery champions. Most see a discount from earlier generations, which is a disgrace. The XPS 13 Plus, with its 55 watt-hour battery, matches this pattern.

The laptop computer lasted eight hours on a single cost whereas working net shopping macros that cycles by means of web sites in Google Chrome. Subsequent, I tossed a neighborhood 1080p film trailer on loop, and the battery died after 9 hours and 20 minutes. Each of those outcomes are common for a laptop computer of this sort, particularly one with a 4K touchscreen.

In my very own workload, I used to be getting round 5 or 6 hours on a single cost, which meant I wanted to plug again in round midway by means of the work day. You’re sure to get a pair extra hours from the bottom mannequin with its decrease decision display, however I haven’t examined it but myself.

Curiously, the XPS 15 lasts round an hour and a half longer. Laptops just like the Lenovo Yoga 9i fare a bit higher as nicely, as does the HP Spectre x360 13.5. And, in fact, the MacBook Air lasts for over twice so long as most of those Home windows laptops, lasting as much as 18 hours in these similar assessments.

Show

The Dell XPS 13 Plus on a table outside.

The XPS 13 Plus makes use of the identical 13.4-inch 16:10 panel as utilized in earlier variations of the XPS 13 — and it’s improbable. Mine is the 3456 x 2160 decision OLED panel, although you possibly can go for the 3840 x 2400 show for the very same value. The latter choice isn’t OLED, however it’s a bit brighter and sharper.

Even should you had been to go for the decrease decision base mannequin, nevertheless, you’d be getting a strong display. The mannequin I reviewed has wonderful coloration saturation and coloration accuracy. And, in fact, as a result of it’s OLED you get absolute blacks for distinction that normal LED panels simply can’t compete with. That makes it a beautiful display for watching TV exhibits or movies on-line.

And the bezels, in fact, are as skinny as ever, together with up prime the place the webcam is. Even in comparison with the MacBook Air, these bezels are simply tiny.

Our take

It’s clear that Dell is onto one thing particular with the XPS 13 Plus. Greater than every other laptop computer I’ve reviewed up to now couple of years, that is the one individuals need to cease me and see. Whereas the usual XPS 13 will seemingly be the extra fashionable choice due to its value and extra standard keyboard and touchpad, the XPS 13 Plus feels much less like a wild experiment and extra like a delicate nudge to the remainder of the trade in a brand new route.

Are there any options?

The forthcoming Dell XPS 13 is an effective different because it’s cheaper and has a extra conventional keyboard and touchpad. It could be a bit much less highly effective although.

In the event you’re in search of a barely bigger, extra highly effective laptop computer, I’d suggest contemplating a 14-inch laptop computer such because the Asus Zenbook Professional 14 Duo, Lenovo Yoga 9i, Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon, and the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED.

Lastly, the M2 MacBook Air dominates the XPS 13 Plus in battery life and floor temperatures.

How lengthy will it final?

The XPS 13 Plus ought to final you 4 or 5 years, and there’s no cause to suppose it gained’t final simply so long as every other high-end laptop computer. The distinctive design could lose its luster over time, in fact, as increasingly laptops come out.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. If you need a show-stopping, cutting-edge laptop computer, look no additional.

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