Dell XPS 13 review: Dell XPS 13

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

3 stars 18 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Decent build quality. Backlit keyboard. Dell's competitive pricing.

The Bad Touchpad can be erratic, especially when scrolling. No HDMI. Poor contrast screen. Vent on the bottom.

The Bottom Line Dell's ultrabook gets a passing grade. The touch pad is frustrating, and the battery life could be better. It's built well, but one obvious thing remains; there are better choices out there on the market.

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Update: Dell forwarded us a replacement XPS 13, which resolved some of our touchpad issues. This article has been amended accordingly.

Dell's reasonably late to the ultrabook party, but it's by no means the last across the line.

Despite hiding behind edge-to-edge gorilla glass, the 13-inch, 1366x768 screen isn't as bright or colourful as HP's Envy 14 Spectre, but given the price differential this is to be expected. Still, blacks are never black, but a disconcerting level of grey.

Dell's construction is excellent, with a rigid, strong chassis being the order of the day. While the lid may be rather similar to a certain fruit-themed manufacturer's thin laptop, open up the XPS and it's all matte black and silver inside. The surface begs for greasy hand and fingerprints to be left behind, so this isn't a laptop for those who need to keep things clinically clean. Flip it over, and you'll find a carbon-fibre base, which is a shame that you won't find it where it will be visible when you're using the laptop.

Typing response is springy but decent on the backlit keyboard, which gave us hope — then we discovered that Dell had strayed from Synaptics and Alps pads to try a brand called Cypress.

This usually doesn't bode well.

The pad is, thankfully, nowhere near as unpredictable and awful as those made by Sentelic. Our initial review unit had big issues with the palm check, even with the newer 2.3.6.33 drivers; thankfully a replacement unit from Dell addressed the issue, and typing became a predictable activity again.

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Where to Buy

Dell XPS 13

Part Number: FNPDP19UY

Typical Price: $1,699.00

See manufacturer website for availability.