Some might say that the Dell XPS 13 was already the best notebook Windows users can buy. That isn’t stopping Dell from refreshing the XPS 13 with a new design that allows the company to lay claim to superlatives like “smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet” and more.
Dell announced the refreshed Dell XPS 13 along with a refreshed Dell XPS 15, the Alienware 15, Alienware 17 and a new Venue 8 7000 series tablet this morning a the Consumer Electronics Show. Each are designed for and run Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system.
The new Dell XPS 13 itself is the crown jewel of Dell’s new line-up. Available online today, the Dell XPS 13 still features a 13-inch display stuffed into a smaller form factor. This time though, Dell included a display with a border so small that the Dell XPS 13 takes up the same amount of space an 11-inch Dell notebook would. The previous XPS 13 only managed to stuff a 13-inch display into a 12-inch body.
Like other Windows notebooks arriving on store shelves over the next few months, the XPS 13 uses Intel 5th generation Core processors. We’re seeing performance and battery upgrades across the board with these new machines. The same is true here, Dell says new XPS 13 buyers can expect 15 hours of battery life. That’s a lot for a notebook that only weighs 2.6 pounds. The new Dell XPS 13 with a display will get a little less battery life – 11 hours to be exact. Really, the screen and design are the big attraction with the XPS 13. Dell has managed to improve on the metal and carbon fiber design from the past two years. Both materials are still being used, but the Dell XPs 13 has a complete aluminum skin on the outside instead of carbon fiber. Opening the notebook reveals a carbon fiber keyboard deck, spacious trackpad and a bright screen with a ridiculously thin border.
Dell will offer the XPS 13 with five different processors ranging from the Intel Core i3 to the Intel Core i7. The base level machine will include an FHD Infinity Display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080p. A UltraSharp QHD+ Display with a resolution of 3200×1800 is an option too. No matter which version users purchase, they can look forward to interacting with Windows 8.1 using touch in addition to their mouse and keyboard. The only memory options for backing up the processor will be 4GB and 8GB. Users are also limited in the graphics department, there’s only Intel HD Graphics 5500. That being said, this a mobile first machine, so the limited graphics options are understandable. A front-facing web camera, dual speakers, backlit keyboard and 52WHr battery complete the experience. Available storage options include 128GB, 256GB and 512GB SSDs. There’s also a media card reader, 2 USB 3.0 ports and a headset jack on the new Dell XPS 13.
The Dell XPS 15 hasn’t gotten the full-on redesign as the XPS 13, but it has a new trick. Starting today Dell shoppers can configure the XPS 15 with a 4K display. The improved display is great for video, looking at photos and more. Because it hasn’t gotten a design upgrade, this model still looks like Dell XPS machines from the past year. Dell says it’ll roll out the XPS 15 with 4k Ultra HD display options to shoppers in the United States “soon” for $2,349.
All told, Dell is hitting all the right notes. The new XPS 13 is light, feels comfortable to type on and looks great up close and from afar. It’s too early for Dell to claim the title, but the company may just have the best Windows notebook on the market. At the very least, the new XPS 13 gives Apple’s MacBook Air notebook some decent competition.