Design

Dell pioneered the thin-bezel laptop, but that does not mean they did not have room to improve on their original design over the years. The first several generations featured a webcam at the bottom of the panel, which was flattering to no one. With the proliferation of video chat, such a decision would be a major negative to many people. But thankfully Dell solved that particular issue a couple of generations ago, and the new model continues to pack a 720p webcam in the correct location above the display, with only a slightly taller top display bezel to accommodate the camera. And speaking of the display bezel, Dell has tweaked their design language slightly over the XPS 13 2-in-1, with both the black and white models both featuring a black display bezel on the clamshell XPS 13, which helps it disappear into the background a bit easier than the white bezel on the 2-in-1.


The XPS 13 in Platinum Silver with black carbon fiber

Another nice change over the 2-in-1 version is that Dell is not using their MagLev keyboard design, instead outfitting the XPS 13 with a more traditional scissor-switch keyboard with 1.0 mm of travel. The MagLev has a very short throw, whereas I find the traditional keyboard to be much more reassuring to use.

Dell is offering the XPS 13 in the same color choices as the 2-in-1 as well. The Platinum Silver model features a black carbon fiber keyboard deck with a soft-touch coating, while the Arctic White model features a woven fiber keyboard deck which Dell has treated with a stain and UV resistant coating, to prevent the deck from yellowing with age. The Arctic White is only $49 more, and certainly makes a statement, although it still suffers from the same issue as all white-on-white laptops with white backlighting, which is that the keyboard backlighting can wash out the keys in a bright room. That is a fairly minor negative though, for an otherwise fantastic finish.

The XPS 13 also features an excellent trackpad, offering a very smooth finish, and good precision. Laptop trackpads have come a long way, and part of that is the standardization on the Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers, which Dell employs here.

Dell has eschewed the use of USB Type-A ports, instead offering just a single USB Type-C port on each side of the laptop. This in turn is paired with a 3.5 mm headset jack on the right, and a micro SD card reader on the left. Although the XPS 13 lacks ports in numbers, it somewhat makes up for that with both USB ports supporting Thunderbolt 3, including power delivery. It is unfortunate that the Type-C port has found itself to be so confusing in its capabilities, but with the XPS 13 supporting the full range of protocols, as well as four lanes of PCIe on both ports, that at least is not a liability here. Dell does include a Type-C to Type-A adapter in the box as well, for those that require the larger port. By including power delivery on both sides of the laptop, that also means the XPS 13 can charge on either side, which can be very handy when moving the laptop from place to place.

Dell’s design ethos with their XPS lineup has converged across the entire range of XPS laptops, and with great success. The CNC milled aluminum bodies, thin bezels, compact designs, and lightweight chassis make for some of the most compelling devices in the industry. Moving to a 16:10 aspect ration on their XPS line has been yet another design win for Dell, and helps provide the excellent 91.5% screen to body ratio found on this XPS 13 notebook by further shrinking the bottom bezel. Dell has sculpted a clean, sleek, and functional device, and while the rest of the industry has also adopted the thin-bezel design, Dell has really mastered it.

Introduction System Performance
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  • Deicidium369 - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    Leaks from Lenovo show Tiger Lake Core i7-1165G7 (not even the top end part) obviously besting the ancient Vega (AMD's choice) and equaling the MX350 - and with only 4 cores only being outran by 17% - double the cores for 17% lead - and when you factor in the flagging GPU - what's the Renoir's advantage again? Reply
  • gescom - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    Huh, let's wait for amd 5x00 cezanne, shall we? Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    Ice Lake is almost a year old. Comparing the latest AMD with an almost year old design should be a win for the newer part. the most appropriate comparison is 2020 vs 2020. That would be Tiger Lake Reply
  • gescom - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    Tiger Lake Q4 2020 vs
    amd cezanne Q1 2021.
    Reply
  • s.yu - Saturday, July 18, 2020 - link

    You think it's the effort? So they haven't been putting all their effort into 10nm?
    ...ok?
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    As always for a Deicidium post about AMD, Lots Of Citations Needed.

    "Problem with AMD is they are still trying to get Skylake levels of performance"
    - They already matched that clock-for-clock with Raven Ridge (at lower clocks, hence lower overall performance), and they have now exceeded it with Renoir.

    "Intel has well moved on from that architecture"
    - Not really. I'd accept this if they had Sunny Cove or better across most of their range, but they absolutely do not - not even in notebooks, let alone the entire market.

    Tiger Lake looks like it'll be a good release, when it arrives in quantity. Problem is that we're talking about today, not Jam Tomorrow.
    Reply
  • Santoval - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    It is still unclear if Tiger Lake will be a high volume release or a low volume release that will need to be released along perhaps Rocket Lake-U/Y, rehashing the way Ice Lake was released along with Comet Lake-U/Y. It should be higher volume than Ice Lake but maybe not high enough to fully supply the U/Y market on its own. Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    Well Ice Lake shipped in greater numbers than all of the Ryzen Mobile - so high volume is a relative term. Ice Lake was going to be low volume and relatively niche. Tiger Lake is high volume (not high volume like the Ice Lake SP Xeon) compared to Ice Lake U.

    I was surprised to see the 1065G7 in an Inspiron class machine at Dell - I had thought it was only the XPS class machines.
    Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, July 20, 2020 - link

    @Deicidium - Of course it shipped in greater numbers than Ryzen Mobile! Intel are ~35X the size of AMD - you'd kind of hope they'd be shipping products in larger absolute numbers. I was talking about Sunny Cove as a proportion of Intel's product range, and I was pretty damn clear about that. It's telling that you flipped metrics under discussion to suit your argument.

    "Ice Lake was going to be low volume and relatively niche" - says who? Why? To what end? You're pointing to the results of a sub-par product launch (by Intel's historically high standards) and claiming it was the plan all along. It's just like the AMD fanbois who used to laud the FX 9590's 5Ghz clock speed as if it was an achievement, rather than the best they could salvage from what they had.

    You said Intel have "moved on" from Skylake. That's untrue and will remain the case until Rocket Lake, Ice Lake SP and Tiger Lake are out. At that point in time (and not before) Intel will be fully competitive in all areas on a technical level. I'm genuinely interested to see how Sunny Cove on 14nm looks - there's no reason to believe it won't be solidly competitive with AMD on performance, but power draw and die size might not be quite so flattering.
    Reply
  • Santoval - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    "Problem with AMD is they are still trying to get Skylake levels of performance, but Intel has well moved on from that architecture. Intel is solid as they come in ultralights/ultrabooks."

    That's a very bizarre statement for quite a few reasons :
    1. AMD are not targeting Skylake performance levels. When they designed the original Zen they had in mind Cannon Lake - level performance (Intel semi-released a single semi-disabled Cannon Lake 2-core Core i3 in low volume and now they trying to pretend they never did) and when they designed Zen 2 (according to CTO Mark Papermaster) they were targeting it against Ice Lake - not knowing it would be limited to 4-core low power parts. AMD never had Skylake in mind because they never expected Intel would be stuck so many years with it.

    2. Intel have not "well" moved on from Skylake at all. They *just* did, at the beginning of the year (still in low volume, hence the dual release with Comet Lake-U/Y, which was the bulk of the release), with low power 4-core mobile parts and they are *still* stuck with it in the form of Comet Lake. Until Comet Lake is replaced by Rocket Lake Intel are still stuck with Skylake, still fabbing and releasing CPUs with an μarch they have been using, reusing and re-reusing and re-re-reusing since 2015. In which parallel universe would that be regarded as "well moved on from that architecture"?
    Reply

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