In recent years we have seen interesting experiments in laptop format, such as the use of two screens to offer more possibilities, or new hinge designs to offer two experiences in one.
But what if you only want one laptop, one that ignores these fads and focuses on what really matters, one that, preferably, uses Windows? If you don’t mind using a Mac, the only question is the size and price of your new MacBook Pro. But if you want to use your Windows programs, you have so many options that it can be hard to find the right one. Of course, you can simply buy a Dell XPS.
Dell XPS 9300: the best portability
We have been able to test what will probably be one of the most popular models in Dell’s new XPS range: the 13-inch model, defined as the 9300 model. It is the one that bets more on portability, and therefore, the one that has more risk of making a fatal mistake.
The problem with netbooks has always been their total bet on format, above even something as basic as the user experience. They are devices that you buy because they are small and light, not because of what they can offer you.
Everyone knows the XPS 15 is going to be good, but what about the ‘little brother’? I’ve been able to spend a few weeks with this one, and what I’ve discovered has been nice, and I fall short.
This is a Dell, and that means two things: it’s going to be a little more expensive than the competition, but you’re going to notice it in the quality of manufacturing. The new XPS 13 is no exception: as soon as you take it out of the box you notice the difference in the feel of the aluminium.
But best of all, unlike other brands, Dell has managed to put the webcam in the top edge of the screen, its traditional place. In recent years, the fever to get the thinnest edges has forced you to experiment with different positions, such as the bottom edge or even inside a key. But that’s not exactly ideal for video calls, as many people are discovering in the age of Zoom.
Despite being 2.25mm thick, Dell has managed to integrate a four element lens to achieve decent quality; but more importantly, this makes the recording angle much more natural and doesn’t feel like we’re looking down on the rest.
A panel you can look at as you like
We can choose between two resolutions: FHD+ (1920 x 1200 pixels) or 4K (3840 x 2400 pixels); the model we’ve been able to test is the first, but it’s not the worst. In fact, at this size, and with this hardware, I would say that it is the ideal resolution, and this panel keeps the features that matter: a contrast of 1800:1 and a brightness of 500 nit.
By choosing the FHD+ screen you will lose the HDR400 support (although it keeps Dolby Vision), but unless that is a priority, with the FHD+ screen it should be enough. Especially as we still have incredible viewing angles of 178 degrees, so it really doesn’t matter how you look at your laptop. If we add to that the 500 nits brightness, the truth is that I haven’t had any problem using this laptop in different situations, except for the moments when the sun rays reflect directly against the screen.
Tenth generation Intel Core
Another reason to opt for FHD+ resolution is that it is much more appropriate for the hardware that the XPS 13 can be mounted on, but this doesn’t mean it’s not powerful; it offers the appropriate performance for such a laptop, but don’t wait any longer.
Of course, Dell has made the leap to the tenth generation of Intel Core processors, but it has done so by opting for the more modest, but also more efficient models, for reasons that we will explain later on.
This means that the most basic version of the XPS 13 uses the Core i5-1035G1 (up to 3.6 GHz), and the most complete, the Core i7-1065G7 (up to 3.9 GHz); by comparison, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has the most powerful versions of those same processors, the Core i5-1038G7 (up to 3.8 GHz) and the Core i7-1068G7 (up to 4.1 GHz).
Yes, all this means that the corresponding Apple model will always be more powerful, but this is a conscious decision on Dell’s part.
It won’t let you down, if you’re reasonable
The truth is that the differences, although they exist, do not translate into a slow system; the XPS 13 is capable of doing everything you ask of it, and more. The only question is how much you’re going to ask.
The model we have been able to test is based on the Intel Core i7-1065G7, accompanied by 16 GB of LPDDR4x RAM (no option to mount more) and an integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics (Intel UHD on the Core i5); with this computer, I have been able to work as I usually do, without problems. It is possible to use text editors, image manipulation programs and watch videos in high definition, all at the same time and without problems. For regular office use, the XPS 13 delivers the right performance.
The trackpad suffers especially from the size of the laptop and therefore I recommend carrying a mouse with it; but for an emergency or for casual use, it offers a good feeling.
Portability is the strong point in the experience of using the XPS 13. Closing your laptop, picking it up and taking it somewhere else is almost as easy as carrying a tablet; and in fact, while using this laptop I’ve been rethinking whether the idea of using a tablet for these tasks really makes sense.
While I was ‘rocking the boat’, I noticed that the XPS 13 behaved exceptionally well; a suspicion that I confirmed when I saw that, even when all the cores are working at their maximum, the laptop never gets too hot.