Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 – Ditch The MacBook Pro 13?

Article Source: Forbes

Written by: Brooke Crothers

Can Dell top itself and a great laptop like the MacBook Pro? Read on.

This is a brief first-take review and not comprehensive.

After almost 48 hours with the late-2019 Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, it appears to surpass even the excellent XPS 13 9380. And it makes the most recent MacBook Pro and MacBook Air* look a bit dated.

Back in 2008, the MacBook Air and the all-aluminum unibody MacBook Pro were pretty much unrivaled in laptop design – and that was the case for many years to follow. But not anymore. In the last few years, Dell has taken the best of Apple’s design ethos and ratcheted it up a notch – or two. That’s how I would describe the XPS 13 line overall.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is essentially a slightly better take on the standard XPS 13 because of its 360-degree hinge and small things like better speakers, larger keyboard and trackpad, and slightly roomier display.

Key Specs:

  • 13.4-inch 360-degree 16:10 touch display FHD+ (1,920-by-1,200): 7% larger than before, 500-nit brightness, 100% sRGB + DCI-P3 90% (the latter on 4K display)
  • Up to 2.5x more performance over previous XPS 13 2-in-1 but 8% thinner
  • Twin-fan, vapor chamber cooling and Gore thermal insulation
  • 2nd gen. edge-to-edge MagLev keyboard
  • Diamond-cut sidewalls, double anodised side edges
  • Intel 10th gen. quad-core Ice Lake CPUs
  • Better speakers than XPS 13 9380
  • Option of Intel Core i7 1065G7**, Iris Plus graphics, 16GB LPDDR4 RAM, 512GB storage, FHD+ display

Let me hit a few first-impression highlights.

Keyboard: The typing experience on the very thin 2nd gen MagLev keyboard is similar to Apple’s 3rd-generation Butterfly keyboard. Dell’s has better travel and tactile feedback and it’s easier on your fingers. But, again, to me, it’s not dramatically different than Apple’s (though the MacBook keyboard is more prone to problems).

Display: The FHD+ (1,920-by-1,200) 13.4-inch display is good enough that the vast majority of users won’t need Dell’s 4K display option. I typically spec my systems with a 4K display (my XPS 13 9380 is 4K) but I think I can live with the FHD+. And at 13.4 inches, it’s slightly larger than the typical 13.3-inch.

But note that the top display bezel is so thin (a good thing generally) it cannot, like the 9380, accommodate a Windows Hello face-recognition infrared camera. There is, however, a fingerprint reader built into the power button like the 9380.

Performance: Intel’s 10th gen Core i7 CPU (15-watt) benchmarks well. (See these Geekbench benchmarks). For comparison, check out the benchmarks for the highest-end mid-2019 MacBook Pro 13 with a 25-watt 2.8-GHz Core i7 (8569U). Dell has managed to squeeze a fast Core i7 processor (quad-core) and Intel high-end Iris graphics into a chassis as thin as the Retina MacBook Air. Why can’t Apple do that?

Palm rest: the arctic white palm rest is one of the XPS’ best features. Besides the soft texture, another thing I like about it is, no fingerprints. Some laptops I use are fingerprint magnets and require constant cleaning. Not the XPS 13. Always looks clean.

Speakers: Definite improvement over the XPS 13 9380. More bass, more mid-range. Though not as good as MacBook or HP EliteBook speakers, a big improvement over the 9380.

Heat: no heat issues so far. Doesn’t overheat. Intel’s 10-nanometer process technology has something to do with that. But more testing is required.

Weight: good weight distribution. At 2.9 pounds it feels lighter than it actually is. And it’s extremely thin.

Battery life: so far, battery life appears to be good. I’ve used it for a day on one charge. And I have the brightness at about 90 percent. My estimate is that you’ll get all-day battery life with the FHD+ display config – if you’re not pushing the system too hard (e.g., gaming, video editing or binge movie watching). That said, I need to do more testing because I haven’t loaded my full suite of apps on the 7390 yet. Will update this post.

Overall:

Laptop design doesn’t get much better than this. It’s light, fast, has a good keyboard, good display, and is stunning to look at. The arctic white woven glass fibre palm rest (with UV-resistant and stain resistant coating) is the icing on the cake.

NOTES:

*I used the late-2018 MacBook Air Retina for six months. The problem I had with the MacBook Air was performance. Apple offers only one Intel processor choice on the late-2018 and mid-2019 MacBook Air. It’s an ultra-low-power (i.e., slower) Intel Y series dual-core processor. The redesigned MacBook Air deserves a faster processor, imo. I will revisit the MBA, however, if Apple updates it this year with a newer and faster Intel processor. (I still have a 13-inch MacBook Pro.)

**The 10th gen. processors are Intel’s first 10-nanometer chips.


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