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Dell XPS 13 (late 2017) review:

Next-gen performance with the same superb design

The laptop's also not a bad choice for a small office/home office setup, where you want a PC that can be used anywhere, but its Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port lets you quickly switch to a desktoplike experience capable of driving multiple monitors, Ethernet, external storage, speakers and power with a single cable connection. You also get a USB 3.0 port, an SD card slot and a mic/headphone jack. A fingerprint reader with Windows Hello support is also available, but it's optional and not standard, which is ridiculous.  

There is a built-in webcam, too, but due to the screen's lid-spanning design, Dell stuck it down in the lower left corner below the screen. The result is awkward up-the-nose video chats. On the other hand, if you're typing, your left hand appears so large that those on the other end of the conversation probably won't notice the extreme angle. 

The webcam is really the only design misstep (though switching the power connector to a USB-C port would be a welcome change). Even the laptop's stereo speakers, mere slivers on the sides, sound decent for listening to music or watching some YouTube clips. 

Also, while the UHD+ screen might be nice to have, the full HD screen looks good and delivers better battery life. According to Dell's tests, it reached up to 22 hours on BAPCo's MobileMark 2014 battery benchmark as well as 13 hours and 31 minutes of Netflix video streaming (the QHD+ version streamed for four fewer hours). 

Though I don't think you're likely to hit more than 20 hours in normal use, we did break the 12-hour mark in our online video streaming test. Anecdotally, with mixed use and brightness set to 50 percent, I worked an entire day using web apps and streaming music and still had battery life to spare for my hourlong commute home. 

As for the new processor, it's impressive, too. Dell claims the combination of the updated processors and Dell's own dynamic power mode results in a multitasking boost of more than 40 percent compared with the previous version. On the Geekbench 3 multicore benchmark test it hit a score of 13,783. The similarly configured XPS I reviewed last year with the seventh-gen Core i7 CPU reached 7,878. On the Geekbench 4 multicore test it hit 13,385. Although you might not notice this performance increase in regular use, it means you'll have some overhead to keep running smoothly for years to come. However, if you'll need to keep this laptop for a long time, you might want to get it with 16GB of memory, especially since Dell used slower 1,866MHz RAM. 

If it ain't broke...

The Dell XPS 13 has been a favorite ultraportable for the past couple years for its design and performance. The new processor just makes it that much easier to recommend. 

Cinebench R15 CPU (Multicore)

Dell XPS 13 (2017)
624
Lenovo Yoga 920
545
HP Spectre 13
517
Razer Blade Stealth (13-inch, 2017)
341
Microsoft Surface Laptop
328
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016)
312

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance


Geekbench 3 (Multicore)

Lenovo Yoga 920
13981
Dell XPS 13 (2017)
13783
HP Spectre 13
12892
Asus ZenBook 3 (UX490)
8098
Razer Blade Stealth (13-inch, 2017)
7897
Microsoft Surface Laptop
7193
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016)
7178

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance


Streaming video playback battery drain test

Lenovo Yoga 920
770
Dell XPS 13 (2017)
736
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016)
696
Microsoft Surface Laptop
621
Razer Blade Stealth (13-inch, 2017)
482
Asus ZenBook 3 (UX490)
449
HP Spectre 13
405

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)


System configurations

Dell XPS 13 (late 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
HP Spectre 13 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Lenovo Yoga 920-13IKB Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Razer Blade Stealth (13-inch, 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016) Apple MacOS Sierra 10.12.1; 2GHz Intel Core i5-6360U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 1,536MB Intel Iris Graphics 540; 256GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Laptop Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD
Asus ZenBook 3 (UX490) Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD

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