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Dell XPS 13 (2019) review: XPS notebook perfected?

By Kenny Yeo - 5 Mar 2019

Introduction

The new XPS 13 for 2019 comes in three distinct finishes.

It looks the same, so what’s new?

Oh ye, of so little faith. Yes, the new for 2019 XPS 13 looks identical to its predecessor but Dell has made some small but very important changes.

Dell engineered a tiny web camera so that it could fit above the display.

Repositioned webcam - It’s a small change but a huge deal. One of the most common complaints about the older XPS 13 models was that the webcam was positioned at the hinge which led to less than flattering camera angles. For 2019, Dell has managed to create a super tiny camera module that is only 2.25mm thick. This allows it to reposition it above the display - where it always ought to be. The downside is that you lose the ability to use Windows Hello with the webcam. But you can log in with the power button which has an integrated fingerprint reader.

Whiskey lake processors - The other big change happens under the hood. The latest XPS 13 is powered by Intel’s newest 8th generation Whiskey Lake processors. Like any new processor, Intel promises greater performance and power efficiency with these new Whiskey Lake processor. You can read more about them in our initial coverage here.

The new Frost finish is striking.

New Frost finish - This is a new colorway and it's a fancy way of saying white. With the new Frost finish, you get a white chassis with the same arctic white woven glass fiber palm rest as last year's rose gold model. Rose Gold (rose gold on white) makes a return as does Platinum Silver (silver on black).

 

Wait, wasn’t last year’s XPS 13 powered by 8th generation processors?

Yes, but last year’s model was using Kaby Lake R (R for refresh) processor. This year's model is powered by Whiskey Lake. Yes, I know it’s very confusing and you can all blame Intel for this mess.

 

The rest of the notebook is unchanged?

The bezel is just 5.2mm thick.

Yes, the display, overall dimensions, weight, fit and finish are all unchanged so you can read the review of last year’s model to get up to speed on these aspects. This isn’t a bad thing since the last year’s XPS 13 was very close to notebook perfection.

But to recap, like its predecessor, this year’s XPS 13 has an InfinityEdge display with super thin bezels. You can opt for either a standard Full-HD display or a 4K one with touch capability. The display, as you would expect from Dell, is great with nice vibrant colors and sufficient brightness.

The XPS 13 is really thin. Just 11.8mm thick. Note also the USB 3.1 USB-C port and microSD card reader on the right side of the notebook.

As for size, you are looking at a thickness of 11.6mm and a weight of just 1.23kg. The overall build quality is top notch. The chassis feels solid - there’s no wobble or flex in any of the panels - the keyboard has a nice weight and feel to it, and the trackpad, though a little on the small side, is responsive and accurate.

On the left of the XPS 13, you have two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and a nifty battery level indicator.

As for ports, you get three USB-C ports - two of which supports Thunderbolt 3 and the third one supports USB 3.1. There's also a microSD card reader and a headphone jack.

 

How many configurations are there?

If you ever need a rose gold notebook to match your rose gold iPhone, you know where to look.

Locally, the XPS 13 will be available in no less than seven configurations. To make it easier, look at the table below. Like last year, the configurations are a little restrictive. There's only a single Core i5 configuration, and if you want 16GB of memory you have to pair it with a 4K display and 512GB of storage. Greater flexibility would have been much preferred.

Dell XPS 13 configurations
Color Platinum silver Rose gold Platinum silver Frost Platinum silver Rose gold Frost
Display Full-HD Full-HD 4K, touchscreen 4K, touchscreen 4K, touchscreen 4K, touchscreen 4K, touchscreen
Processor Core i5-8265U Core i7-8565U Core i7-8565U Core i7-8565U Core i7-8565U Core i7-8565U Core i7-8565U
Memory 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB 16GB 16GB 16GB
Storage 256GB 256GB 256GB 256GB 512GB 512GB 512GB
Price S$1,998.98 S$2,198.99 S$2,398.99 S$2,498.99 S$2,699 S$2,798.98 S$2,798.98
  • Design 8
  • Features 8.5
  • Performance 9
  • Value 8
  • Mobility 9
The Good
Excellent performance in its class
Long battery life
Thin, svelte body, great build quality
Repositioned webcam
Fantastic display with thin bezels
Two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports
Cheaper than predecessor
The Bad
Trackpad a little small
Configurations can be limited
No USB Type-A, HDMI or full-size SD card slot
Fan can be noisy