Review: Dell's New XPS 13 Is Primed For WFH

The CRN Test Center found a lot to like with the portability, display and design of the updated XPS 13.


With its latest update to the ever-popular and ever-capable XPS 13, we think Dell has delivered an ideal laptop for this COVID-19 work-from-home period.

Excellent portability, battery life and performance--plus an eye-pleasing design and a webcam situated in the right place--are all here with the XPS 13 for 2020. In short, it's a WFH dream.

[Related: 5 Things To Know About Dell's New Latitude 9000 And 7000 Devices]

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The display is a highlight as usual. The screen quality is so good that we had to double check whether this was the model with FHD+ resolution, rather than the UHD+ model (we did in fact have the FHD+ model). Thus, we think investing in the UHD+ display may not actually be necessary for many users.

Part of the enhanced vibrancy of the display has to do with a 25-percent increase in brightness, to 500 nits, from past models. The display size is also a bit larger now at 13.4 inches, and the aspect ratio has been switched to 16:10 for a larger workspace area on the screen--a handy update for work-from-home.

Our tryout model features a touch screen, which is also helpful in terms of flexibility of working around the house.

Meanwhile, the new XPS 13 features even smaller bezels around the "InfinityEdge" display, particularly when it comes to the bottom bezel, allowing for an impressive screen-to-body ratio of 91.5 percent. It's the closest thing to a true edge-to-edge laptop that we've tried so far.

The body has a premium look and feel as usual, made from a combination of machined aluminum, carbon fiber and woven-glass fiber. Our tryout model has the terrific-looking "alpine white" woven fiber material on the palm rest and around the keyboard. Having an appealingly designed laptop like this to work on, while always a real nicety, might make extra sense for a splurge during a time when niceties are in shorter supply for many people.

The compact all-around size of the latest XPS 13 is something Dell is heavily touting for the notebook. But there's truth to the claims: The XPS 13 has a volume of just 52.8 cubic inches--making it 13-percent smaller all-around than, for instance, Apple's new MacBook Pro. Basically, it's real small.

And it’s lightweight too, at a starting weight of 2.64 pounds (compared to 3.1 pounds on the MacBook Pro), while its thickness measures 0.58 of an inch. Need to suddenly get up and carry your laptop to a quieter room in the house during a videoconference? You can easily pick up and carry the XPS with one hand.

As mentioned, the XPS 13 offers serious performance, with 10th-gen Intel Core processors. Our model was configured with a quad-core, Intel Core i7 (the i7-1065G7) with 16 GB of RAM. A Geekbench 5 benchmark test revealed a single-core score of 1,239 and a multi-core score of 3,566--which puts the laptop on par with the new 13-inch MacBook Pro on single-core workloads, though below on the multi-core. Still, for everyday business multi-tasking, videoconferencing and the like, this notebook is certainly up to the task.

Speaking of multi-tasking, we tested the battery life on the new XPS 13 the way we usually do--by using it in real-world workday scenarios. Our tests yielded eight hours of battery life on a charge, which we see as a very strong result, considering that we kept the brightness all the way up and the "best performance" battery setting on in Windows 10.

What about the keyboard? The latest XPS 13 has in fact gotten a keyboard redesign, with 9-percent larger keycaps and key travel of 1 mm, identical to that of the MacBook Pro keyboard. That key travel is a reduction from the prior model, however, which had 1.3 mm of key travel. The new XPS 13 keyboard is still good but the shallower key depth is noticeable. It didn’t hold us back during our demanding typing routines, though. Notably, the touchpad is also 17-percent larger this time around.

On ports, the XPS 13 offers two USB-C ports on all models, along with a microSD card reader. Depending on your job and lifestyle, that lack of port variety and quantity may or may not be an issue for you.

On pricing, this year's XPS 13 starts at $1,199. As configured for our tryout--with Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB storage, FHD+ touch screen and white-color design--the laptop will run $1,750.

Ultimately, for anyone looking to get a new laptop that'll help them optimize their WFH experience--while also being easy on the eyes--the latest XPS 13 is well worth considering.