Dell XPS 13 review

Beautiful, high-resolution Windows ultrabook takes on the MacBook Pro

There's a webcam, unusually located at the bottom left of the screen rather than the top, but it works well for video conferencing. The built-in microphone, sadly, is somewhat less useful and in our tests voices sounded muffled and quiet. You may have to resort to a USB or 3.5mm headset if you want to be able to speak clearly to colleagues.

Display

The screen is this laptop's main showpiece, and our review model is the second-from-top specification device that uses a 3,200x1,800 pixel resolution touch screen display. However, while the surplus of pixels is welcome (to a degree, see below), it's the achingly thin bezels that surround it that really stand out. Because they're completely black and only 5mm thick, your eyes barely register them, instead allowing you to focus fully on the screen itself. Dell calls it an "Infinity Screen", but whatever you choose to call it, it's a wonderful design feature that makes this 13.3in form-factor laptop about an inch smaller diagonally than its rivals, including the now rather chunky-looking 13in MacBook Pro. Our one concern with the lack of bezel is that the screen will be much more vulnerable to cracking if the laptop is dropped and lands on one of its corners.

The screen performs well in our quantitative tests, covering 92.7 per cent of the sRGB colour gamut and managing 1068:1 contrast levels that make for very pleasing and vibrant images.

While having so many pixels serves high resolution images extremely well, it's actually more of a burden for users who have to put up with legacy business applications that may not have been updated in years. Windows 8.1 does not handle scaling these applications on small and high resolution displays very well, meaning many older applications appear tiny, with illegible text and small buttons. Even with Windows' built-in scaling options, many applications simply won't be usable. This compares poorly to Apple's OS X, which is able to scale individual objects on screen very effectively.

Featured Resources

Virtual desktops and apps for dummies

An easy guide to virtual desktop infrastructure, end-user computing, and more

Download now

The total economic impact of optimising and managing your hybrid multi-cloud

Cost savings and business benefits of accelerating the cloud journey

Download now

A buyer’s guide for cloud-based phone solutions

Finding the right phone system for your modern business

Download now

What’s next for the education sector?

A new learning experience

Download now

Recommended

Microsoft Surface Pro review: Still worth buying?
Laptops

Microsoft Surface Pro review: Still worth buying?

17 May 2021
Best laptops 2021: Acer, Apple, HP and more
Laptops

Best laptops 2021: Acer, Apple, HP and more

25 Mar 2021
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 might offer both AMD and Intel chips
Laptops

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 might offer both AMD and Intel chips

9 Mar 2021
Samsung Galaxy Book Ion 13.3in review: Welcome back, Samsung
Laptops

Samsung Galaxy Book Ion 13.3in review: Welcome back, Samsung

1 Dec 2020

Most Popular

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans
flexible working

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans

6 May 2021
Hackers use open source Microsoft dev platform to deliver trojans
Security

Hackers use open source Microsoft dev platform to deliver trojans

14 May 2021
How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

30 Apr 2021