Dell Studio XPS 13 review

Alan Lu
11 May 2009
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT



13.3 in 1,280x800 display, 2.2kg, 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400, 3.00GB RAM, 250GB disk, Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit

Dell's Studio XPS 13 has a few features that set it apart from its rivals.

The most obvious one is the 13.3in display, which although smaller than the others in this price group, has the same 1,280x800 resolution of larger screens. It has an LED backlight that produces a very bright image, unlike those on the two Asus models reviewed in the £650 and £800 groups. We were dumbstruck by the picture quality in our side-by-side tests. Colours were deep and vibrant, but a high contrast ratio kept details pin sharp, and the only downside was a slight blue tint to whites.

The small screen makes for a smaller case, which in turn means this laptop weighs just 2.2kg. With a battery life of over four hours, the XPS 13 is a good travelling companion.

The 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo P8400 and 3GB of DDR3 RAM (the only laptop here to use this new memory standard) are a powerful combination and the XPS 13 achieved the third highest Windows benchmark results here.

The Nvidia GeForce 9400M G graphics managed 8.8fps in our Call of Duty 4 test. While it won't run the latest first-person shooters, older games and less demanding strategy titles should be fine.

The XPS 13's build quality is superb. There's no flex in the keyboard or case, and the subtle, white LED controls and indicators ooze class. A slot-loading DVD drive looks good but can't load 8cm discs. The touchpad is small, but at least its buttons have a light action. The full-size keyboard has a standard layout, and although we're not fans of the flat-topped keys, they provide good feedback for touch-typists.

The 250GB hard disk is the minimum we'd expect for a laptop in this price range, and there are only two USB ports, one of which doubles as an eSATA port. You'll need to invest in a USB hub if you want to connect several peripherals to the XPS 13.

With its excellent build quality, great performance, light weight and decent battery life, Dell's Studio XPS 13 is fantastic value and wins our Best Buy award.

Basic Specifications

ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo P8400
Processor clock speed2.26GHz
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
SoundIDT HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption idle18W
Power consumption active48W


Viewable size13.3 in
Native resolution1,280x800
Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce 9400M G
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI, DisplayPort
Graphics Memory256MB


Total storage capacity250GB
Optical drive modelTSST TS-D633A
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports2
Total Firewire ports1
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11a/n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/54
Supported memory cardsSDHC, MMC, Memory Stick Pro/Duo
Other portseSATA (shared with USB socket), 2x minijack audio output, minijack microphone input


Carrying caseYes
Operating systemWindows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition, restore disc
Software includedMicrosoft Works 9, Roxio Creator DE 10.2, Cyberlink Power DVD 8.1

Buying Information

Warrantyone year onsite