The Dell XPS 13 has led the way in which on high-end Windows productiveness laptops for a lot of a yr, however its lead has slowly diminished as rivals like Asus, HP, and Lenovo shut the hole with worth and improved options. The MacBook Air (9/10, WIRED Recommends), with Apple Silicon, offered a seismic shift in effectivity that the XPS 13 couldn’t match. Nevertheless, Dell’s gadget has remained one of many best laptops round.
The discipline is powerful, however a better priced MacBook Air M2 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) hasn’t fairly lived as much as its predecessor—which suggests Dell has a chance. The XPS 13 design is a key space the place beforehand it’s didn’t sustain, however that’s about to vary. The new Plus mannequin goals to regain the vary’s crown with a modernized look—backed by Intel’s new twelfth technology P-series processors.
Through The Looking Glass
The XPS 13 Plus is all in regards to the design. The efficiency has been boosted, nevertheless it’s the shift in model that’ll draw consideration. When the look was first revealed earlier this yr, it did simply that. No seen trackpad, a contact bar, and a glass floor—it appeared like an idea gadget. Dell could be attempting out a number of new concepts earlier than bringing them all the way down to the common XPS 13, however we all know the XPS 13 2022 will likely be accessible with solely the decrease powered U-series Intel chips, whereas the XPS 13 Plus sports activities the extra performant P-series processors. The Plus mannequin isn’t only a automobile for concepts—a far cry from one thing like Microsoft’s attention-grabbing however flawed Surface Pro X (5/10, WIRED Recommends)—however a real, real looking evolution of the XPS 13.
For some, this actuality could also be disappointing. It isn’t a radical change. These new options really feel seamless and thoroughly push proper up in opposition to the boundary the place gimmickry lies. The new glass design is a welcome change from the outdated carbon fiber look that the XPS 13 has worn for a while. I’m utilizing the Platinum mannequin, which, contained in the clamshell, has white keys to go together with the glass. The glass components home the trackpad and capacitive contact perform row—Dell’s title for its contact bar.
It was placing to see no seen trackpad when this gadget was first showcased, nevertheless it doesn’t require a lot adjustment. I used to be swiftly utilizing it as I’d every other, with muscle reminiscence doing the trick and a powerful capacitive click on backing it up. If you’re an everyday laptop computer person, you’ll don’t have any bother.
Despite its eye-catching look, the contact bar isn’t attempting to do an excessive amount of; it simply will get the job achieved. The keys are fastened, past needing to change between perform keys and media keys (brightness, quantity, and so forth.) by urgent “fn,” and there’s lots much less happening than with Apple’s equal. The lack of performance really means it feels far much less intrusive. It’s a worthy addition, even whether it is only for the sake of minimalistic model. Its solely folly is that coming into a shortcut like “alt+f4” alongside holding “fn” is a little bit of a problem, significantly with smaller palms.
Surprisingly, it’s the remainder of the keyboard, reasonably than the invisible touchpad, that takes some getting used to. There aren’t any gaps, with the keys stretching edge to edge. They could also be a good dimension, however I did discover myself touching different keys when typing, interrupting my movement however stopping in need of a wry keypress. Fortunately, the distraction does go away after a number of days of use.
The keyboard, nonetheless, has an even bigger drawback. It isn’t the journey or the suggestions—the keypress is suitably deep for such a skinny gadget and the response is satisfying; this can be a nice gadget for essay writing—the difficulty is the backlight. The drawback could also be decreased on the darker Graphite mannequin, providing extra distinction between the white gentle and the remainder of the laptop computer. However, the keyboard backlighting on the Platinum mannequin I’m testing, with its whiter colours, is poor. It’s patchy in its protection throughout the keys and simply doesn’t get vivid sufficient. It’s an odd oversight, however does uninteresting the attraction of this laptop computer for many who may fit in lower than perfect lighting circumstances, like college students in lecture halls. The XPS 13 Plus has a rejuvenated model, however this hurts its clear look.
Power, Packed In
This machine will eat up all of the productiveness tasking you may throw at it—with our mannequin sporting the top-of-the-range twelfth Gen Intel Core i7-1260P, 32-GB RAM, and 1-TB SSD storage. Even at decrease specs, primarily based on different twelfth Gen gadgets I’ve examined, the relative efficiency of the XPS 13 Plus, and former XPS 13 fashions, these searching for a tool that’s nice for high-demand productiveness received’t be dissatisfied. The twelfth Gen Intel chips see an enormous increase in multicore efficiency from the final technology, permitting for comfy picture enhancing and a few gentle video work (although it’ll be the dongle life for creatives who’d like to make use of reminiscence playing cards or headphone jacks). You’ll discover solely two Thunderbolt 4 ports right here and nothing else. It’s no less than handy to have one on both aspect, although.
The XPS 13 Plus stays extraordinarily cool beneath low-demand workloads: suppose 5 to 10 tabs and lightweight multitasking. However, while you ramp issues up, a lot of the gadget turns into heat on the highest and the underside. The energy Dell has managed to pack into this gadget is spectacular, and so are the distinctive design decisions it has made to realize it. But it nonetheless isn’t there in relation to competing with Apple’s M2 or M1 chips on effectivity and sustained efficiency. Throttling comes with the laptop computer’s heat while you push the XPS 13 Plus, and it begins to stutter. Less performant energy modes forestall this, like a Quiet setting that works properly, however limits capabilities.