Dell XPS 13 (2018), The Featured Screen
A smaller chassis, improved internal cooling and a white finish for the most beautiful effect. The almost borderless screen is beautiful. The power button incorporates a fingerprint reader.
With a contemporary design, the new Dell XPS 13 remains one of the best 13-inch laptops. Unfortunately, his main fault is always present.
A long-time favorite of our editorial team, the Dell XPS 13 was one of the first laptops to tackle the tyranny of screen borders. It is also a very good machine, versatile, with a fine and elegant design, good performance and a satisfactory autonomy. But over the years, it finally got a little old while the new MacBook, Specter at HP and other premium notebooks innovated in design. Although a little less attractive, the Dell has always remained a solid reference.
The 2018 version of the XPS 13 has had a fairly substantial redesign with a new design that reduces overall footprint, new processors and improved cooling.
We tested two configurations. The first with an 8th generation Core i5, 8 GB of vice memory, 256 GB of SSD and a 1.920×1.080 screen. The second was equipped with a Core i7, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of SSD and a touchscreen Ultra HD. Dell offers twelve different configurations for the Windows 10 version with 1 TB of SSD and 4 configurations under Ubuntu Linux 16.04 SP1.
Most of the developments are welcome but some of the most annoying faults have not disappeared. The most important, the one that was unanimously against him, is still there: the location of the webcam under the screen. This is the price to pay for the virtual absence of borders that leaves no room for a webcam in the upper part. And despite extensive design work, Dell has not found an alternative. Suddenly, the view that provides the webcam is still unflattering for the user whose nostrils, neck and chin are featured. And if in bonus you type on the keyboard while conducting a video conversation, you will have your fingers in the foreground. Heavy videoconferencing users may see a fatal flaw. Personally, it is not something that hinders us beyond reason. But it’s unfortunate that Dell did not try to fix it, while some pc’s have flip-up webcam coming out on top of the screen.
The Touch Screen Is Not Generalized
The most affordable version we have tested does not offer a touch screen while it is an option that can be found on many semi-premium laptops. At Dell, the touch option is only available with the Ultra HD screen. It’s not only expensive, but it also means that the UHD screen will have a greater impact on battery life. It may be that you do not use the touch screen regularly on Windows 10. But the fact remains that it is a function now acquired in this price range. In addition, all users below a certain age expect a screen to be tactile.
Something else. If you fall in love with the new rose gold finish and its beautiful alpine white woven fiberglass hand rest, you’ll have to opt for the Core i7 configuration. The option is not available in the configurator for other more affordable models that have only one silver / black carbon finish.
A Fantastic Laptop
Despite these shortcomings, the XPS 13 is still a fantastic laptop, especially in its touch version. This is one of the few machines we have come back to for the high-end feel, excellent keyboard and ultra-portable design.
After working on HP, Apple, Asus and other notebooks with shallow keyboards, it’s really nice to find the super-comfortable XPS 13 keyboard. The glass touchpad is as good as Windows allows it , but like many other Windows notebooks, two-finger scrolling is smoother with Microsoft’s Edge browser than Google’s Chrome.
While the previous models of the XPS 13 proposed a variety of connectivity (USB ports, HDMI output), this 2018 vintage has given way to sirens at all USB-C (3 in all). There is a headphone jack and a microSD card reader. So be prepared to bring adapters if you need to connect non-USB-C devices.
On the other hand, we appreciated the integration of the fingerprint reader into the power button as well as the battery level indicator, an option we would like to see more often.
The transition to the new Intel Core 8th generation processors translates into excellent performance. On the side of autonomy, the advantage is the Core i5 HD screen that consumes less and reaches 12h18mn in our endurance test. The version with Core i7 and Ultra HD screen is less powerful with 9h08mn. In both cases, it is a very good autonomy.
The Screen Is The Star
Whether HD or Ultra HD, the display is clear, bright and colorful. But it is especially the edges of extreme finesse that give a rendering so bright and immersive. This is even more obvious on the alpine white model.
The problem of the webcam should be resolved. After all, we are now able to integrate in pairs of low-end glasses. It would also be really nice that each version of the XPS 13 is equipped with a touch screen. Because the almost borderless design is no longer the prerogative of this model as it was the case a few years ago. Other manufacturers followed suit. But it is still rare and the XPS 13 remains a reference.