The new XPS 13 – live test. It has been a few years since Dell has last showered its successful XPS 13 line with a major update. While the hardware has already been used in the older model the new thinner case is supposed to make everything better. One improvement we have already been able to spot: CABC can be fully disabled at last.
Update: battery life, power consumption, PWM, outdoor photos.
Dell’s XPS 13 has been one of the most compact sub-notebooks available for many years, but the competition has managed to slowly but surely catch up. And while the Texan OEM has finally decided to update and refresh the XPS 13, this refresh is one that differs from all other updates we have encountered hitherto. Dell has only redesigned the case, which is now thinner than ever before, but the Kaby Lake-R processors this latest XPS 13 is equipped with can already be found on its predecessor, the XPS 13 9360. After being able to take a first look at the new XPS 13 during CES we now finally got our hands on a review unit.
The temperatures are of particular interest to us given that Dell claims to have improved upon them drastically thanks to a new heat isolation layer and an extra fan. Intel’s latest ULV quad cores were struggling noticeably in the XPS 13 9360 and had massive trouble maintaining their high performance potential over long periods of sustained load. Today’s review unit is the brand-new XPS 13 9370 base model, which we have purchased directly from Dell’s own online web store. In exchange for 1,349 Euros (slightly over $1,600 at the current exchange rate), we received a current generation Core i5-8250U quad-core processor, a FHD display, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB large PCIe SSD.
Obviously, the new XPS 13 calls for more than a simple comparison with its predecessor. Thus, we will also include the Apple MacBook Pro 13 (no Touch Bar), the Asus ZenBook 13 UX331UN, the Huawei MateBook X, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop, and the Razer Blade Stealth(13,3”) in our test group.
The following article contains our first impressions and benchmark results. We will be updating this review as we go in the coming days. Simultaneously, our US colleagues are putting the 4K SKU through its paces, and we will be including their findings and impressions as well.
1/27: power consumption & battery life, PWM, display calibration, outdoor photos, USB-C ports.
Dell XPS 13 9370 FHD i5
Processor Intel Core i5-8250UGraphics adapter Intel UHD Graphics 620, Core: 1100 MHz, Memory: 933 MHz, 18.104.22.16815Memory 8192 MB, dual-channel, LPDDR3-1866, solderedDisplay 13.3 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 166 PPI, SHP1484, IPS, LQ133M1, glossy: noMainboard Intel Kaby Lake-U iHDCP 2.2 Premium PCHStorage Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV256G, 256 GB , 197 GB freeWeight 1.21 kg ( = 42.68 oz / 2.67 pounds), Power Supply: 227 g ( = 8.01 oz / 0.5 pounds)Price 1349 Euro
Will will go into further detail on the new case, but here are our initial impressions as well as side-by-side photos of the old and new model taken during CES. One important detail we were unaware of beforehand is the new model’s reflective display. We were expecting a matte panel, like on the predecessor. We suspect that the extra layer of Corning Gorilla Glas 4 became a necessity in order to ensure the thin display lid’s rigidity.
The device’s footprint has remained largely identical, as can be seen in our size comparison below. It is barely noticeable even when compared side-by-side. Its reduced thickness, however, is very noticeable when handling the device, and the new XPS 13 is the most compact laptop in our test group.
The new XPS 13 is equipped with two full-featured Thunderbolt 3 ports – including support for PowerShare and DisplayPort – on the left-hand side, and a single USB 3.1 Gen 2 port with support for PowerShare and DisplayPort on the right-hand side. According to HWiNFO64, both Thunderbolt 3 ports are connected to a PCIe x4 interface, but we will delve into that in more detail in the coming days. When benchmarked with an external SSD, we managed transfer rates of around 395 MB/s – the drive’s theoretical maximum. All three ports can be used for charging the laptop, and while we had no trouble with our 56.6 W USB-C charger the notebook refused to charge when connected to a power bank. According to the error message shown on screen (see above), a charger capable of at least 27 W of charging power is required.
The complete lack of USB-A means that users are pretty much lost without the right dongle. And while we highly welcome the fact that more and more modern notebooks charge exclusively via USB-C and manufacturers are slowly starting to include USB-C cables with their peripherals (see for example Samsung’s T5 SSD), most external hardware will require the use of a dongle. Thankfully, Dell is more than aware of that and includes one in matching color in the box.
After two days, we were somewhat disappointed with the USB-C ports on the new XPS 13: they started to develope noticeable play. Cables attached directly, such as for example the power supply, showed some substantial wiggle room, and this was further intensified with some dongles, e.g. when using our spectrophotometer that disconnected once during our tests.
SD Card Reader
Following the current trend Dell has also decided to remove the full-size SD card reader from the XPS 13 for good. This is particularly unfortunate because Dell has a history of providing its laptops with incredibly fast SD card readers with the potential to render external card readers obsolete. Instead, the new XPS 13 now features a microSD card slot on the right-hand side, and fortunately it is just as fast as we were hoping for. Using our microSD reference card (64 GB Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 UHS-II) the internal card reader managed between 180 and 200 MB/s. When fully inserted, a microSD card sits flush, and the reader can thus be used for the purpose of permanent storage extension
(Last Updated On: March 4, 2018)
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