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Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 review: The sexiest 13.3in Windows 10 laptop

Christopher Minasians
10 Aug 2018
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,649
inc VAT

Dell’s new XPS 13 is an impressive laptop. If it weren’t for a few missing features we’d be looking at the new ultraportable top dog

Pros 
Class-leading performance
Stunning design
Excellent battery life for a 13.3in laptop
Cons 
No discrete graphics card
Doesn’t feature a touchscreen at £1,649
Missing a USB Type-A port
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UPDATE: Since my original review in April 2018, the Dell XPS 13 has dropped in price. It now starts £1,199 (down from £1,249) and the model I reviewed can now be found for around £1,350 (down from £1,649) – making it a lot more appealing. If you're looking for a portable Windows 10 laptop, this is it.

Dell’s XPS 13 is the physical embodiment of the “if it ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra. Little has changed over the past few years and, just as with the Apple MacBook Air, the faithful XPS has seen only the occasional internal upgrade in recent years.

The new XPS is set to change all that, though, with an all-new colour scheme. It’s a little like Marmite – you’ll either love it or hate it.

READ NEXT: Huawei MateBook X Pro review: Huawei’s next-generation MacBook killer

Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 review: What you need to know

Dell’s 2018 iteration of the XP3 13 (9370) comes in a 13.3in chassis with a Full HD InfinityEdge display, a circular fingerprint reader and a powerful Intel Core i7 processor.

This year’s XPS is quite the looker, too. Its new Rose Gold colour scheme sits alongside the regular XPS black design to offer you the choice of two stunning colours. However, Dell doesn’t have the premium laptop field to itself this year: the XPS 13 faces serious competition from the likes of Huawei, Asus, HP, Microsoft and Apple.

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Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 review: Price and competition

The new Dell XPS 13 starts at £1,249, which buys you a 13.3in Full HD display, an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVMe SSD.

The version I received for review is the top-spec Rose Gold model, costing a cool £1,649.

For that, you get a 13.3in Full HD display, an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD. If you choose the Silver colour instead, the laptop can be found for £100 less – not cool, Dell, not cool.

From Dell’s website I could only find the Full HD variant of the laptop, but if you dig around, you’ll find there’s a 4K model too. I found the full-fat Rose Gold version at John Lewis for £1,800. Apparently, there’s a touchscreen variant available as well, but I can’t find that model anywhere.

The new XPS 13 faces some formidable rivals. First, we’ve got Apple’s 13in MacBook Pro, which with the same configuration costs a whopping £2,399. Similarly, Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 costs a staggering £2,499, although it's a more versatile 2-in-1 device.

Moving on from the two giants, we’ve got the Huawei MateBook X Pro that costs around £1,650 – it features a near-identical spec, but has a discrete Nvidia MX150 GPU and a stunning 3,000 x 2,000 LTPS touchscreen display.

Finally, there’s the sleek and stylish Asus ZenBook 3 at just £1,549 and HP Spectre 13 at £1,200. The latter is cheaper and still something of a beauty, but features only 8GB of RAM and an older-generation Core i7 processor.

Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 review: Key specs

  • 13.3in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080)
  • 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-8550U processor
  • Intel UHD Graphics 620 iGPU
  • 16GB of RAM
  • 512GB of PCIe SSD storage
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • 302 x 199 x 11.6mm (WDH closed), 1.21kg
  • £1,649

Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 review: Design and features

Dell hasn’t deviated far from its now three-year-old XPS 13.3in design, but there are a few differences that set the new model apart from previous generations. The 2018 model now comes in a machined aluminium ‘Rose Gold’ and ‘Alpine White Woven Glass Fibre’ combination. To my eyes, it’s absolutely beautiful. I’m not one to normally go for a Rose Gold device, but the new XPS 13 is certainly one I’d consider. Worry not, if you’re not a fan of the new colour scheme, you can opt for the ‘Platinum Silver’ with ‘Black Carbon Fibre’ finish, instead.

The design doesn’t stop at the colour scheme. As I plugged in the charger, I noticed a small white LED that illuminates the cable, and a small LED strip running along the front strip of the laptop. This helpfully lets you know when the laptop is charging.

As for physical size, the new model is 30% thinner and lighter than last year’s model; just 11.6mm slim at its thickest edge and 7.8mm at its skinniest. It weighs 1.21kg, which is 6% lighter than the outgoing model. To accommodate the lighter frame, Dell shrunk the size of the battery, although the company claims that battery life hasn’t taken a hit. I’ll get onto that later.

There are changes on the connectivity front as well, with Dell ditching the full-sized USB Type-A port on its edge. That’s a pain for attaching USB peripherals, but Dell makes up for it by increasing the number of USB Type-C connections. The new XPS 13 has three of these, with one reserved for charging and the others supporting Thunderbolt 3. There’s also a microSD card reader and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The webcam is still as awkwardly placed as ever, set into the bezel below the screen rather than above it. This time, however, it’s fully Windows Hello-compatible, so you’ll be able to log in to Windows 10 with your face.

Likewise, the circular power button next to the keyboard now does double duties as a fingerprint scanner, which I found worked flawlessly. Having the ability to quickly unlock the laptop makes it a breeze to sign in and stay secure.

Finally, the laptop’s sound quality: there’s a set of stereo speakers on both the left- and right-hand edges. The two speakers deliver a rich sound that’s full of life, and due to their positioning, there’s a surround-like effect. However, the audio here is no match for the prowess delivered by the four Harman Kardon speakers found on the Huawei MateBook X Pro. It’s in a different league.

Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 review: Keyboard and keypad

The new XPS 13 uses a fully backlit (white LED) chiclet keyboard with 1.3mm of travel. It’s fantastic – typing on this thing feels so natural and sure that it’s hard to believe that you’re working on a very compact 13.3in laptop.

The touchpad is equally impressive, particularly as you can click down anywhere on the surface to left-click on the screen, with the right-click only actuated when you click on the bottom-right-hand corner. It’s a small thing, but the kind of small thing that makes the laptop even more pleasurable to use every day.

READ NEXT: Huawei MateBook X review: The first notebook from Huawei is very nearly a MacBook killer

Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 review: Display

The 16:9 InfinityEdge display makes another appearance in this year’s update, but this time with an anti-reflective coating. Use the XPS 13 under bright ambient light and you’ll find it easier to make out what’s on your screen. Combine this with a 454cd/m² peak brightness, as measured with the i1 DisplayPro calibrator, and the XPS 13’s IPS display is plenty bright enough for any situation. To give you some context, the HP Spectre 13 (2018) only manages a measly 348cd/m².

Of course, brightness doesn’t automatically mean the screen is any good. Well, with an average Delta E of 2.49 and a maximum of 7.95, the XPS 13 isn’t the laptop you’d choose for professional photo- or video-editing, where the Huawei MateBook X Pro’s 3:2 display trumps it with scores of 1.27 and 2.53, respectively. It’s a similar story with sRGB gamut coverage, with the Dell XPS 13 managing 90%, while the MateBook X Pro covers a near-perfect 96.2%. The result is that the Dell looks a little less vibrant, though the contrast ratio of 1565:1 is in-line with its rivals. Subjectively, it’s still a fantastic-looking screen.

READ NEXT: Asus ZenBook 3 review: A proper Apple MacBook substitute

Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 review: Performance

Stacked inside Dell’s laptop is a 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7-8550U that reaches a 4GHz boost clock, and 16GB of LPDDR3 2133MHz RAM to aid with multitasking.

The combination is spectacular, transforming the Dell into a mini powerhouse. In the Expert Reviews 4K media benchmarks, the XPS 13 netted an outstanding score of 96. By comparison, the HP Spectre 13 and MateBook X Pro only manage 63 and 76, respectively.

In the Geekbench 4 benchmark, the XPS 13 scored a very impressive score of 4,744 in the single-core and 15,047 in the multi-core test. The HP Spectre 13 is a stone's throw away at 4,648 and 13,158, respectively.

^ Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 benchmark results

You might be wondering why the results are so strong when all three laptops feature the same processor. My guess is as good as yours, but I suspect it’s down to thermal throttling. Even though all three have fans, Dell seems to keep the performance unrestricted. During the benchmarks, I found the processor hit temperatures of 100°C – a worrying sign for longevity, but a plausible explanation for those impressive numbers.

It’s also worth remembering that, while the MateBook X Pro features a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU, the Dell has to rely on the new Intel UHD Graphics 620 core built into the i7 processor. If you’re looking to game lightly or want to do graphical work with your laptop, you’ll find the Huawei a better choice, as it scores almost double in the offscreen GFXBench benchmarks (we have to compare offscreen results, as the Huawei runs at close to triple the resolution of the XPS 13). Still, in the rather intensive GFXBench Car Chase benchmark, the XPS 13 manages a respectable 31.9fps (onscreen). That’s not bad considering it’s only using an integrated GPU.

As for noise, the XPS 13 can be heard in a quiet environment, but only when it’s at full load; what hum there is isn’t in any way unbearable.

^ Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 battery results

Battery life is yet another strength; the new XPS 13 manages to stay alive for 10hrs 7mins in Expert Reviews’ battery test – an incredible result for a small 13.3in laptop. As you’ll be able to see (above), it outperforms its competitors and then some. How Dell (and Intel) managed to squeeze this much from a smaller-capacity lithium battery is beyond me, but their efforts should be applauded.

Finally, there's a 512GB NVMe SSD inside, which achieved sequential read and write speeds of 2,224MB/sec and 444MB/sec in the AS SSD sequential benchmark. Those are far from the fastest read and write speeds we’ve seen, especially when put up against the speedy SSD inside Apple's most recent MacBook Pro.

READ NEXT: HP Spectre 13 review: The ultraportable king

Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 review: Verdict

Dell’s latest XPS 13 might not be a dramatic shake-up, but this 2018 redesign is enough to reignite interest in the range: adding Coffee Lake CPUs, an impressive battery life, a Rose Gold finish, weight and size reductions, and more USB Type-C ports than you can shake a USB cable at. The new XPS 13 also hands in exceptional performance.

However, it’s worth remembering that Dell faces stiff competition from its rivals. Even though the Asus ZenBook 3 and HP Spectre 13 are slower and offer less battery life, they’re both cheaper. Add the Huawei MateBook X Pro and last year’s XPS 13 into the mix and you’ve got an even harder decision to make, as both offer an incredible package.

Opting for the XPS 13 also means missing out on a discrete graphics card and touchscreen. The main thing to consider is: how important are these to you? For me, they’re crucial, so I’d pick the Huawei MateBook X Pro over the new XPS 13 every time. If, however, you want the sexiest 13.3in laptop, incredible battery life and stellar performance, go straight for the XPS 13.