Dell XPS 13 (Late 2015) review
Processor: Dual-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U, RAM: 8GB, Dimensions: 304x200x15mm, Weight: 1.29kg, Screen size: 13.3in, Screen resolution: 3,200x1,800, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics 520, Total storage: 256GB SSD
Dell boldly called last year’s XPS 13 the 'smallest 13.3in laptop on the planet' and that remains true of the latest model. The chassis hasn't even changed for 2015 - this is more of a specification refresh - but rivals haven't managed to slim down to the svelte levels attained by the XPS 13. Elegant and sophisticated, with truly wonderful build quality, it easily holds its own against other flagship laptops like the MacBook Air.
The slightly tapered design goes from 9mm to 15mm at its thickest point. The touchscreen model weighs an inconsequential 1.29kg, which is lighter than Apple’s MacBook Air; choose the non-touch model and this drops even further to 1.2kg.
It feels refined in the hand and looks stunning to boot, thanks to the virtually borderless ‘InfinityEdge’ display. The bezels have been reduced to mere millimetres in order to squeeze a 13.3in screen into a far smaller chassis. It still remains an amazing feat of engineering, but it helps that the 3,200x1,800 touchscreen panel is simply gorgeous. The high resolution makes working on multiple documents a real joy, with Windows 10’s improved scaling options coping admirably with the extra pixels.
With 93.3% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, the screen is also very accurate – beating last year’s equivalent model. A contrast ratio of 1,052:1 was also excellent, giving colours plenty of pop. It means that the XPS 13 is still a reasonable choice for the photographers. Very deep 0.17cd/m2 peak blacks help give darker images plenty of definition, with none of the backlight bleed that spoiled last year’s model.
Reflections are a slight issue, due to the glossy coating, but a bit of angle adjustment usually overcame it. The returning dynamic contrast adjustment is more irritating; this forces the brightness levels to jump around erratically based on what’s onscreen. Finally, the webcam is again placed below the screen. It’s unorthodox, but a side effect of those super-thin bezels.
Keyboard and Touchpad
A carbon fibre keyboard surround adds some variety to the inside of the laptop, contrasting nicely with the gunmetal grey exterior. It’s got a slight grippy quality to it and doesn’t conduct heat through the palm rests when you’re typing, which is always a positive.
The keys themselves are nicely spaced and don’t feel cramped as you type. They have a good degree of tactility, which leads to better accuracy as you can really feel when a key actuates. We had no problems typing for long periods and missed keystrokes were an infrequent occurrence. The keys are backlit, so typing in dimly lit conditions isn’t a problem.
The touchpad is great too. It’s large, at least in the context of the XPS 13’s slimmed down chassis, and is responsive and accurate. Windows 10 multi-touch gestures were all activated without a hitch, making swiping around a joy. You can also use the touchscreen; the hinge held firmly to prods and pokes, so we weren’t concerned the entire laptop would tilt back. Fingerprints do begin to mar the beautiful display, though, so you might want to carry around a microfiber cloth to keep it looking its best.