Design

The latest generation XPS 13 2-in-1 is a stunner. Dell has tweaked the design in all the right areas to create one of the best looking laptops in its class, and it starts with the CNC aluminum chassis. While somehow thinner and lighter than ever, the new design still feels very sturdy. Even with the body ranging from just 7 mm to 11 mm in thickness, there’s very little flex in the chassis at all, even with the laptop open. The silver finish on the outside offers a nice texture while being resistant to fingerprints. And even though this is a 2-in-1 laptop, it still only weighs 1.32 kg / 2.9 lbs.

Dell offers two color choices, providing a small bit of personalization that many will appreciate, but the choices only apply to the interior, where you can opt for the more traditional black with the carbon fiber composite keyboard deck, or you can choose an arctic white interior which features a woven glass fiber with a titanium oxide coating to provide a pearlescent sheen, as well as UV protection to prevent yellowing of the color over time, and stain resistance as well. The arctic white looks and feels stunning, with a great texture for your wrists to rest on, although with a negative we will get to in a moment.

Opening the laptop is a joy, thanks to a variable torque hinge, which gets progressively tighter as the display opens, which allows the laptop to be opened easily, yet still be usable with touch. The hinge rotates and progressively raises the back of the laptop up, which is something that several laptops do that is not great for ergonomics, but the lift is subtle enough that it is not a big issue. Dell has also smartly added rubber pads to the hinge, so when it lifts the rear of the laptop up, it maintains a firm grip on the desk, eliminating one of the biggest issues with this design.

The display area is wonderfully large, and with Dell moving to a 16:10 aspect ratio, the taller display eliminates the large chin seen on many competitors laptops. The thin bezels house a tiny 4-element webcam in the correct location, and although it is just a 720p webcam, Dell is utilizing temporal noise reduction to improve video quality by using multiple frames concurrently to remove graining and noise from the video.

Dell has outfitted the XPS 13 7390 2-in-1 with their second generation MagLev keyboard, and if there was a weak point so far, this would be it. Dell has done this to save space – the MagLev keyboard is 24% thinner than a typical keyboard, and Dell has tuned it to be quieter and softer than before. But the extreme thinness means that there is just not a lot of keyboard travel, and typing on this will take some getting used to. It also means that Dell has flattened out the keys, so touch typists may be caught off-guard by the lack of any kind of contour.

Dell has also placed the power key in the keyboard, which isn’t ideal for a 2-in-1 device, and meaning the fingerprint reader may not be in a suitable location when using the laptop. It also means you could accidently turn the laptop off when typing, but Dell is far from being the only one to put the power button here.

Our review unit is the Artic White model, and while the keyboard deck feels great and the white color is wonderful to look at, white keys with white backlighting is never a good combination; so be aware of that if you do prefer the white. The backlighting wipes out all contrast with the keyboard fonts, as it does on almost any light-colored key cap with a white backlight, and even in dim lighting you may want to leave the backlighting off. Luckily it’s not difficult to turn it off and on, but for this reason the black model would be a better functional choice.

PC trackpads have come a long way from the dreary days of old, and Dell offers a signature touchpad on the XPS 13 2-in-1. The surface is extremely smooth glass, offering a great feel and accurate movements. Multiple finger gestures work flawlessly making it easy to switch apps or scroll.

There’s not a lot going on as far as ports, with just two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support with four lanes of PCIe Gen 3 on each. There’s also a micro SD card slot, and a 3.5 mm headset jack, and that is it. Luckily, that should be enough for most people looking for a smaller 2-in-1 device, and expandability is still available thanks to the TB3.

Dell has made some other nice touches as well. There’s a battery charge indicator bar at the front of the laptop that you can easily see whether the laptop is open or closed, and lets you know at a glance how much battery is charged because the light expands from left to right to show the current charge state, and then turns off completely when the laptop hits 100%. The laser etched logo also works very well with the overall design aesthetic. It is an impressive, modern take on the XPS 13 in 2019, and the added functionality of this being a 2-in-1 adds even more capability.

Introduction System Performance: Unleashing Ice Lake
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  • abufrejoval - Friday, November 15, 2019 - link

    First impression: This sure doesn't disappoint!

    1900x1200 makes a ton of sense (4k at 13" much less to my eyes), real CPU performance is better than Whiskey without draining the bottle, GPU performance is where I expected from a Skylake Iris 550 notebook I own, physical design sounds great... Perhaps I'd wait for a Lenovo variant, because I do type a lot.

    With the higher-resolution, touch screen and a pen I'm not sure I'd ever be able to get it back from my daughter who can paint for hours even on a 6" mobile phone.

    The most welcome surprise seemed the price: $1500 for 16GB and an i7 seems downright reasonable for what is most likely the current high-end.

    Alas, when I went into the local (EU) configurator and added 32GB RAM, that added €1000 for what is essentially a €50 item (16 GB SO-DIMM). Sure it also added a 1TB NVME (€100 total or another €50 for the delta) and a 4k display I don't care about, but at that point I can't but call it the usual rip-off: I like my 4k at 42" and storage to be replacable.

    So I'll hold back and onto my Lenovo S730 (16GB RAM, 1TB Samsung, AX200) for €1200 in May a little longer. That one also has an additional USB-C port in addition to the two Thunderbolts and that turns out to be really useful day-to-day, especially if your (mini) TB dock doesn't supply power, too.

    But I note with satisfaction that at least in the mobile space Intel is still able to execute and I wish them well, while I won't remotely consider any Intel while there is Rome in the datacentre.
    Reply
  • MASSAMKULABOX - Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - link

    I think these are priced for the Business Market .. and its "car" pricing .. the base model is surprisingly cheap, but when you addd satnav,better wheels, heated sunroof, upgraded stereo , you've added 50% to the price. But 1000 bux for RAM is a trick learned from Apple.
    And where does this leave NVidia going forwrd? All their BAse(models) belong to us.
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Friday, November 15, 2019 - link

    I'm suspicious of Anandtech's battery life tests for laptops.

    This is the only review where it doesn't regress and does significantly better than the Whiskey Lake generation.

    Icelake does really well on idle but on actual usage like web browsing it plummets. Perhaps its time for them to update their tests.
    Reply
  • yeeeeman - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - link

    Phoronix review of the same laptops gets to the conclusion that ice lake is more power efficient than 14nm parts in both idle and heavy use. Reply
  • timecop1818 - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - link

    Soldered in Killer Wireless garbage again. Not buying another Dell ever until they switch that shit out. I don't care if its made by Intel these days as long as they keep promoting that retarded branding shit in their non-gamer laptops, they will not have my money. Reply
  • Reflex - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - link

    Literally just install the Intel AX200 drivers. Took me 5 mins and works great. Reply
  • timecop1818 - Saturday, November 16, 2019 - link

    PCI IDs are different, no? Reply
  • Reflex - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    Doesn't seem to be. It will tell you its the incorrect driver but once you force it it will install, and future driver updates via Intel's updater will pick them up and install without a question. Reply
  • timecop1818 - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    Yeah, that means it's a different PCI ID. Because if they were included in the intel driver inf that would install without forcing. Intel would prolly be PCI\VEN_8086*DEV_xxxx and killer stuff probably uses their own vendor ID. Anyway, I'm happy with my current gemcut spectre x360 which has better screen and keyboard than XPS 13 anyway. Reply
  • Reflex - Sunday, November 17, 2019 - link

    I hear its a good laptop, it was on my list until I noticed it didn't have a 32GB of RAM option. They both appeal to slightly different requirements IMO and I'd recommend either depending on the user and what they need. Reply

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