exactly one year ago i reviewed one of the best ultrabooks of 2020 the xps 13. the refresh design from dell brought some amazing features to the table like a beautiful and bright 16 by 10 display a keyboard that strikes the right balance for typists and a premium build quality that you get for such a compact form factor the performance is also pretty good but the cpu ran a little bit too hot and i’m sure you’ll find some reddit form where you know people talk about quality control issues but uh this year dell has refreshed the xps 13 lineup with intel’s newest tiger lake processors and they’ve also added an oled display option which i have over here now i’ve been using the new xps 13 for the past few weeks and i have some thoughts both good and bad and we’ll also find out if dell addressed any of the issues that were brought up on the 9300 from last year also with the competition getting really good um is the new xps 13 still a good option let’s find out but first let’s pay some bills the be quiet shadow rock 3 it won’t block your memory thanks to the offset construction it will not sound like a hurricane thanks to the quiet shadow wings 2 fan it will give you a peace of mind with
exceptional cooling easy installation and the interesting bi-color design check it out below okay so before i get into pricing and spec configurations i do want to point out something that i discovered on dell’s official website they’re actually offering 11th gen processors on their older design models with the 16×9 displays and the battery indicator on the side which i still miss on the new design ids there’s only one option with the core i5 g7 eight gigabytes of ram and a 256 gigabyte ssd for less than 900 which is a pretty good deal in my opinion now the new 9310 model starts at a thousand dollars and for that you get a core i3 1115 g4 processor with two cores and four threads eight gigabytes of ram 256 gigabytes of storage and a full hd plus non-touch 500 new display for 200 more you can bump it up to an i5 1135 g7 with four additional threads and half a terabyte of storage our sample comes fully kitted out with the core i7 1185 g7 16 gigabytes of ram
a 512 gigabyte ssd and the new 3.5 k oled display the price 1900 us dollars but here’s the thing dell always has their laptops on sale in fact at the time making this video i found this particular model for around 1600 sometimes you might even be able to find it for less so just take my advice and never pay full price for dell or lenovo laptops when you’re shopping on their official website just think of it like canadian tire i think most canadians will get that reference anyways let’s start off with exterior impressions and well not a lot has changed from the 9300 you still get this beautiful cnc milled aluminum unibody construction throughout the whole chassis the hinge still feels the same it’s very rigid and smooth with no signs of wobble even when you use the display as a touch interface if you recall watching my previous xp statement review i mentioned how the lid wouldn’t stay flush to the body which bothered me quite a bit but that issue has been addressed on the newer model it’s magnetic and you can open the lid with one hand so that’s nice it weighs around 2.8 pounds which is slightly heavier than the zenbook 13 oled that i checked out recently but it’s still very thin coming in at 0.58 inches or 14.8 millimeters i had no issues fitting this thing in my messenger bag that i used to carry with me every day between home and my office so you know it’s small and very compact i love this form factor the interior space has also remained unchanged dell uses the same edge-to-edge keyboard layout i love how big the keys are and the spacing is adequate i never found myself making any typos the keys are excellent it uses the maglev system found on the xbase 15 and 17.
You get great feedback and a very satisfying feel when you bottom out seriously this is one of the best keyboards you can find for an ultrabook the trackpad is still awesome you still get that super smooth surface with the tactile integrated left and right buttons also i didn’t experience any unregistered clicks as i did with the xps 15 and 17 but that makes sense because the trackpad on this is significantly smaller compared to those laptops the carbon fiber palm rest is ridiculously comfortable to type on i honestly just love writing out scripts and stuff like that because like i said it just feels so smooth and it does a really good job resisting finger oil but also it’s very easier to clean as well the built-in fingerprint reader on the power button works eighty percent of the time you see sometimes windows just refuses to use that type of authentication so i just have to force myself to use the password to get in but if you use windows hello with the infrared sensors it works really well you just you’re automatically in once you open the lid so yeah there’s that so this is the webcam test on the xps 13.
the quality is pretty much the same compared to last year’s xps i mean dell hasn’t done any significant changes compared to that model it’s like i said it’s passable but at this point you know i think it’s time for notebook manufacturers to just step up and improve the quality of these sensors because everybody is trying to use them these days you know working from home is the norm so yeah maybe they should just step it up the speakers sound really good in fact they’re positioned in such a way where the sound just sort of bounces to the side off the surface and it gives you really great bass response with good clarity in high ends it’s really an awesome machine for content consumption and just doing a lot of media related stuff all right let’s talk display dell added a new 3.5 k oled option to the xps 13 which does a few things differently compared to the standard 1200p non-touch option the first thing is that it’s much sharper given the higher pixel density and it scales really well within windows it also offers deeper blacks just like amoled panels on smartphones along with vibrant colors for my analysis it covers 100 srgb 96 adobe rgb and 100 dcip3 and when you compare that to the standard display it’s an incredible upgrade uh to edit photos and other types of content that require precise color accuracy the only thing is that you’ll sacrifice on brightness because the 1200p and 4k options go as far as 500 nits whereas this oled model only got as far as 387 nits of peak level brightness from my test it is above average and dell has applied an anti-reflective coating to cut down as much as reflection as possible so it works pretty well for outdoor use now there’s always a question of burn-in for ola displays and i was curious about it as well so i reached out to dell and this is what they told us our display partners are developing more efficient oled materials that go into the panels themselves additionally they are implementing burn-in compensation algorithms that
are built right into the panel’s technology as for software solutions the operating system and graphics partners are implementing tweaks where they avoid long static icon exposure by shifting pixels periodically this is actually done in a way that is noticeable by the end user so it does look like they’ve taken care of that concern which is kind of nice i should also mention that when i loaded up premiere pro the graphics driver crashed resulting in this yeah it’s not a pleasant experience when you’re trying to get any work done i don’t know if i have to blame adobe for this one in fact i most likely would because every time when i open premiere pro on any laptop it just crashes something goes wrong so yeah if you do plan on doing a little bit of that or using adobe programs just you know keep that in mind the port situation is the same you only get two thunderbolt 4 usb-c ports a micro sd card reader and an audio jack now this is something that you’ll have to compromise on when you decide to go super slim now i’ve been using a thunderbolt 4 dock from razer to connect all my accessories and my display but keep in mind that thunderbolt docks in general are really expensive and it could be an additional investment uh if you plan on investing or plugging in uh multiple peripherals if you know that’s something that fits your workflow so um yeah it’s a compromise that’s all i got to say now if you’re looking to upgrade the xps 13 later down the road you’re only limited to accessing the primary nvme ssd the memory is
unfortunately soldered onto the pcb the drive speeds are actually pretty fast in fact it’s a noticeable improvement over last year’s xps 13 particularly with the right performance now just like every other windows laptop dell has included a few power plants for the end user to play around with depending on the type of workflow they’re used to so if you fire up dell’s power manager and head into thermal management there are four modes so optimize basically balances performance noise and temperatures cool focuses on lowering surface temperatures while increasing fan noise quiet is the exact opposite so higher surface temps and lower fan noise and finally there’s ultra performance that just pushes fan noise and performance speaking of that i really need to talk about dell’s intent with this generation of xps 13 laptops you see they aren’t meant to deliver barn burning performance but rather a good everyday computing experience you can see that perfectly in how the cpu draws power optimized and ultra performance are pretty much identical where they start out at 27 watts rise slightly above 30 watts and then finally level out to just 13 watts that’s just above the i7 1185 g7 minimum spec of 12 watts both of those modes will only boost performance for shorter workloads which makes sense since those are the ones you’ll most likely encounter on something like the xps 13.
Meanwhile the quiet mode just heads straight to that 13 watt happy place and cool well that focuses on reducing surface temperatures as much as possible so 10 watts is all that sucks down all of this translates to clock speeds but there’s something else going on here that’s pretty odd like clockwork about every 200 seconds clock speeds take a huge hit for a little while and then they go back to normal it’s almost like the cpu needs a little break takes a breath and then starts running at full speed again let’s check out temperatures to see if that’s what’s causing it on the positive side the xps 13 doesn’t get anywhere near throttling temperatures but as time goes on it looks like the culprit behind those frequency dips is still a mystery also while dell’s running this at just 13 watts in the long run the cpu is actually running faster than the 13 watt i7 1165 g7 in the zenbook flip s i reviewed just a little while back but that zenbook did hit higher speeds in shorter tests so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out in the performance
charts as for surface temperatures if you use this laptop in the ultra performance setting for intensive tasks it gets warmer to the touch but nothing crazy that would burn your lap if you choose the quiet setting expect it to get a little warmer fan noise is very respectable on this laptop the quiet setting is practically quiet and the optimized and ultra performance setting perform about the same the fans do ramp up but it doesn’t get too loud where you’re forced to use headphones another thing that needs mentioning is battery life and while dell supposedly made it one of their key selling points the oled screen and relatively small battery work against that claim i’ll be totally honest with you guys against the competition just over 10 hours in our test isn’t gonna cut it this might have been considered okay two years ago but not against newer ultrabooks i’m just sorry dell this is just a swing and miss now this is a bit better result but not all that much you also need to remember that the xps 13 is operating at just 13 watts making it one of the most efficient cpus here so dell had their cards stacked in their favor but still couldn’t get to the three hour mark now as we go through these real world benchmarks one thing is pretty evident while amd’s zen 3 is a huge winner in almost every benchmark their supply trouble means if you actually want to buy a laptop right now you’ll need to jump onto the intel wagon or look for a 4000 u-series device in that respect the xps 13 oled is a pretty solid middle of the pack performer and its scores start improving as we get into lightly threaded benchmarks seeing its
position improve basic apps is actually something we’ve always seen from tiger lake cpus their single third performance is really really good and that shows here as for premiere while the 13 watt allocated to the xps 13 cpu ends up hurting and the only thing keeping it from a dead last finish is the fact intel’s xc graphics had a really good encode and d code engine the interesting thing about these gaming results are they aren’t half bad for a thin and light gaming laptop with an integrated gpu and a processor operating at such a low wattage i mean you aren’t going to be winning any online tournaments but the results are good enough for some casual gaming in popular games the only exception to that is rainbow six which for whatever crazy reason intel is still having problems uh with a year afterwards i just don’t get it i mean fix it already so is the xps 13 a good option for users who are looking for a thin and light everyday computing device absolutely is it perfect no you see there are things that i wish they’ll improve compared to the 9300 the first being performance it’s just really unfortunate to see the thermal design limiting the full potential of these
new tiger league chips you know if they just gave it a little bit more power maybe redesigned thermal system it could have performed really really well the battery life is it’s okay i mean it’s not as good as amd’s ryzen based solutions but at the end of the day if i take a step back and admire the rest of the hardware things like this beautiful unibody construction a fantastic keyboard and trackpad a display that just puts a smile on my face all those factors just make me want to continue using this thing every day obviously i know what some of you guys might be thinking apple’s m1 macbook pros or microsoft surface laptops are great alternatives as well which i don’t deny in fact i hope to get my hands on those devices at some point but for now i think it’s time to ditch my razer book 13 for this laptop because it’s compact it fits my messenger bag pretty well if it’s my workflow so on that note thank you so much for watching let us know what you guys think about the xps 13 and uh yeah if you’re shopping around for ultrabook would you consider this on the top of your list or is it a meh i’m curious to know and i’ll talk to you guys in the next one also spend responsibly my friends
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