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Dell XPS 13 (Late 2015) review: A fantastic laptop if you can still find it

Christopher Minasians Nathan Spendelow
26 May 2017
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The Dell XPS 13 is still one of the best ultraportables around, with an impressive processor and added Thunderbolt 3


Dell XPS 13 review: Performance

This version of the XPS 13 has a dual-core, 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U, which can Turbo Boost to 3.1GHz with the right thermal conditions. It’s paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of PCI-express SSD storage. Performance was exactly what we'd expect from the low-voltage CPU, managing an overall score of 46 in our application benchmarks. You wouldn’t expect a svelte, ultra-portable laptop to be a processing powerhouse, but the i7-6500U will be able to handle most tasks without issue.

Some light gaming is even possible, with Intel’s HD 520 integrated GPU managing 31.9fps in Dirt Showdown at 1,280 x 720 resolution, High-quality settings and 4x anti-aliasing. You’ll need to tone down the quality settings and resolution to obtain playable frame rates for most games, but it’s a nice option to have.

In our battery test, the XPS 13 lasted 11hrs 30mins, which is an improvement on the older model. This is easily enough for a full working day away from the mains, and the charger isn’t too cumbersome to carry around either.

Dell XPS 13 review: Connections

Two USB 3 ports, an SD card reader and a 3.5mm headset jack would be generous enough for a laptop so thin, but the XPS 13 also has a Thunderbolt 3 port. It uses the USB Type-C connector, but allows for faster 40Gbits/sec transfer rates (as opposed to USB 3.1’s 10Gbits/sec). It replaces the mini-DisplayPort found on the old model, meaning there’s no way to output to an external display without buying an adaptor; Dell sells VGA and HDMI dongles, plus one for wired Ethernet. There’s also a useful battery gauge indicator for checking your remaining charge at a glance.

Dell XPS 13 side closed

Dell XPS 13 review: Conclusion

The new XPS 13 might be more of a refresh than a complete overhaul, but the upgraded components and the addition of Thunderbolt 3 bring it right up to date. It remains visually stunning, and that gorgeous display means it’s still one of the most portable laptops around. Windows 10’s display scaling makes working on the high-resolution display a joy, and image quality is improved over last year’s model. The XPS 13 is one of the best ultraportables around, and holds its own against the likes of Apple’s MacBook Air.

Still haven't found what you're looking for? Check out our list of the best laptops from 2017

Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U
Memory slots (free)Not disclosed
Max memoryNot disclosed
Dimensions304 x200 x15mm
SoundRealTek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)
Pointing deviceTouchscreen, touchpad
Screen size13.3in
Screen resolution3,200 x 1,800
Graphics adaptorIntel HD Graphics 520
Graphics outputsHDMI
Graphics memoryIntegrated
Total storage256GB SSD
Optical drive typeNone
Ports and expansion
USB ports2x USB3
Networking802.11ac Wi-Fi
Memory card readerSD, SDHC
Other portsThunderbolt 3
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
Operating system restore optionRestore partition

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