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Dell XPS 13 2020 Review

The Dell XPS 13 2020 is the best ultraportable laptop right now. That’s thanks to Dell’s bold decision making and relentless commitment to innovation. Following in the footsteps of the outstanding XPS 13 (2019), Dell is taking its innovation to the next level by removing the last ring on the company’s InfinityEdge display. This means the laptop is virtually limitless, making it the first of its kind. And today, we are here with our Dell XPS 13 2020 review.

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But that’s not all. For $1,749, you get a device that has a larger display with a larger, more comfortable keyboard and touch-pad, all in a chassis that is somehow smaller than its predecessor. Cosmetic changes aside, the XPS 13 is much more powerful, with a 10th Gen Intel’s Core i7 processor, and comes with over 12 hours of battery life. That’s why the Dell XPS 13 2020 is one of the best laptops available.

Specifications

Dell XPS 13 2020
Price:$1,749
CPU:Intel Core i7-1065G7
RAM:16GB
Storage:512 M.2 NVMe SSD
Display:13.4-inch, 1080p
GPU:Intel Iris Plus
VRAMN/A
Battery life:12 hours and 30 minutes
Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6-inches
Weight: 2.8-pounds

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review: design

From the outside in, the XPS 13 is a showstopper. The Frost White, anodized aluminum finish on the lid, feels cool and looks stylish when packing and unpacking my bag. The glossy Dell logo looks an elegant accessory and adds the right amount of sparkle. I’m a fan of the twin-coil hinge that makes opening the laptop’s lid with one hand as easy as turning the page of a book. Once the laptop is open, you’ll find more of that wintery white theme.

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review

Made from Dell’s patented fiberglass fabric, the stain-free Arctic White deck is gorgeous. Running my fingers across the textured surface is like ASMR, but for your hands. The keyboard is pushed to the top of the deck, leaving just enough room for a glass touchpad. The XPS 13 has a built-in fingerprint reader in the power button for easy login with Windows Hello. It’s an excellent, easy way to add an extra layer of security. I wish Dell had found a way to either add a physical shutter for the webcam or an electronic kill switch. By using a piece of tape, the beauty of the barely present bezels is compromised.

This is a short part because the XPS 13 is lacking on the ports. The slim beauty has on the right a Thunderbolt 3 port with a headphone jack. On the left, you will find another Thunderbolt 3 port and a microSD slot. That’s it, so if you plan to use a mouse or an external hard drive, you’ll have to invest in a USB Type-C hub.

At 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches, the 2.8-pound XPS 13 is one of the smallest ultraportables available. It’s 2% smaller than its predecessor. In terms of weight, it’s at the same level as the MSI Prestige 14 (2.8-pounds, 12.8 x 8.5 x 0.6-inches), and is lighter than both the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (2.9-pounds, 12.1 x 8.8 x 0.6-inches) and the MacBook Pro 13-inch (4.4-pounds, 12.8 x 8.9 x 1-inches). However, the HP Spectre x360 13 (2.7-pounds, 12.1 x 7.7 x 0.7-inches) is a little lighter but slightly thicker.

Keyboard and Touchpad

No, your eyes won’t fool you; the XPS 13’s edge-to-edge keyboard has larger keyboards – 9% larger, to be precise. Despite the larger size, the keys are still well distributed, and none of the keys have been reduced in size to create space. I also like the backlight that’s bright enough to distinguish each key character in a dark room. Typing on the keys turned out to be a comfortable experience, although I prefer a little more feedback.

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review

My fingers glide effortlessly over the glass Precision touchpad. At 4.4 x 2.6-inches, the touchpad is 17% larger than previous versions, giving me extra space to navigate web pages. Using the Windows 10 gestures such as pinch-zoom and three-finger swipe was seamless. The bottom corners of the touchpad provided reliable, clicking feedback.

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review: display

When you look at XPS 13 for the first time, it is what you don’t see that you will notice first. This is the first time Dell has dumped all the bezels, including the double chin. But Dell has not only ditched the thick lower bezel, but it has also managed to reduce the other three lunches even further, with the side rings being 0.15 and 0.2 inches, respectively, and the lower bezel down to just 0.18 inches. In the wake of that barely present bezel, you get a 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200 (Full-HD) touch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio.

The panel is 6.8% larger than the previous models. Somehow Dell has managed to give consumers more visual real estate in a 12.8-inch chassis – all while keeping the webcam smack-dab in the middle of the top edge. But what does it look like? Bright and extremely vibrant. I was transformed by actress Tracee Ellis Ross’ ruby-red sequined dress who played her light brown skin in The High Note trailer. The details were so sharp, and I saw every pattern embroidered in Ice Cube’s inky black tuxedo jacket.

As beautiful as Ross looked, I was surprised that the XPS 13 wasn’t as vivid as I thought. At least, not on paper. The laptop reproduced 115% of the sRGB color gamut. That’s more than enough to stop the Prestige 14 (112%) and the Spectre x360 (109%), but the MacBook Pro (118%) and Surface Laptop 3 (121%) are as vivid as the average of the 123% premium laptop.

However, Dell’s CinemaColor utility adds an extra amount of color by adjusting saturation, contrast, and white balance through several presets (Movie, Evening, Sports, and Animation). And as if that wasn’t enough, the laptop also has Dolby Vision to improve the HDR.

The XPS 13 compensates for the slight color deficiency with an average brightness of 417 nits. The notebook easily surpassed the average of 357 nits and the competition. The MacBook Pro came second with 408 nits with the HP Spectre x360 (369 nits), the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (348 nits), and the MSI Prestige 14 (269 nits) right behind it.

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review: audio

This is a big case of big things and small packages. Even though the XPS 13 speakers are mounted on the bottom, it delivered a loud, relatively clean sound. Megan Tea Stallion’s bragging stream on “Savage” quickly filled my small living and dining rooms. The Waves MaxxAudio Pro software made sure that the bass pop of most laptops of this size is usually missing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about replacing headphones or external speakers, but the XPS 13 is great for watching movies or having a spontaneous dance party.

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review: performance

For such a thin and lightweight laptop, the Dell XPS 13 beats a heavyweight. With an Intel Core i7-1065G7 (Ice Lake) processor with 16GB of RAM, the laptop let me watch an episode of Tiger King on Netflix along with 25 other open tabs in the Chrome browser – all without stuttering.

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review

The notebook also performed remarkably on our synthetic tests. On Geekbench 4.3, which tested its overall performance, the XPS 13 achieved 19,053, beating the average of 16,669 premium laptops handily. The Spectre x360, which also has an Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU, scored 18,408, while the MacBook Pro 13-inch (Intel Core i5 CPU) and the Msi Prestige 14 (Core i7-10710 CPU) scored 18,221 and 17,296 respectively. The Surface Laptop 3 (Core i7-1065G7) barely made the XPS 13 at 19,078.

During the HandBrake test, the Dell XPS 13 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 15 minutes and 10 seconds, exceeding the 19:40 average. That time was also faster than the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (24:55) and the HP Spectre x360 (21:13). But both the MacBook Pro (14:20) and the Prestige 14 (14:01) were faster.

The Dell XPS 13’s 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD duplicated 4.97GB of mixed multimedia files in 8.3 seconds, registering a transfer rate of 613.1 megabytes per second. That speed is faster than the average of 622.4 MBps, the Surface Laptop 3 (541.4 MBps, 256 GB M.2 PCIe SSD), and the Spectre x360 (318.1 MBps, 512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD). However, the Prestige (512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD) achieved 978.7 MBps, while the MacBook Pro (256 GB SSD) achieved an incredible 2,573 MBps in the BlackMagic test.

The Intel Iris Plus GPU in the XPS 13 is not designed for hardcore gaming but works in a snap. The laptop produced 59 fps (frames per second) on the Dirt 3 gaming benchmark. That’s just below the average of 60 fps, but still higher than the MacBook Pro 13-inch (38 fps), the Intel Iris Plus GPU-equipped Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, and the Spectre x360, which all have 47 fps. The Prestige 14, with its Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU, hit 150 fps.

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review: battery life

Whether you’re on the road or working from home, the Dell XPS 13 can take a full working day and then some. The laptop lasted as long as 12 hours and 30 minutes on our battery test, which consists of continuous surfing the web over Wi-Fi with 150 nits of brightness. The XPS 13 effortlessly exceeded the 8:47 average for the premium laptop, as did the Prestige 14 (9:49), Surface Laptop 3 (9:17), and MacBook Pro 13-inch (8:41). But the HP Spectre x360 was the last laptop to beat, with a time of 13:20.

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review: heat

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review

Even though the Dell XPS 13 looks hot, it stays cool. We measured the temperature of the laptop in the main areas after running a full-screen video for 15 minutes. The touchpad, middle and the bottom measured 79, 86, and 91 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively.

Prie and configuration options

The basic model of the Dell XPS 13 costs $1,149 and has a 1-GHz Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor with 8GB RAM, a 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, an Intel’s UHD Graphics GPU, and a 1920 x 1200 display. I had the opportunity to view the $1,749 model, which features a 1.5 GHz Intel’s Core i7-1065G7 CPU, 16GB RAM, a 512GB of M.2 NVMe SSD, and Intel’s Iris Plus GPU, and a 1920 x 1200 (full-HD) touch display.

The laptop can also be configured with up to 1TB SSD ($150), 2TB of SSD ($350), and a 3840 x 2400 (4K) touch display ($300). A top-end XPS 13 costs $2,309 and gives you the Core i7 processor, 2TB SSD, Windows 10 Pro, and a super-high resolution display.

Dell XPS 13 2020 Review: Conclusion

The new Dell XPS 13 shows that the company still knows how to push the bars without going too far. It’s an exercise in patient restraint, improving the device in several small ways that add up to a giant leap for the system. For $1,749, you get a laptop that has virtually no bezels, a powerful 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor, a fast SSD, a beautiful display, over 12 hours of battery life, a comfortable keyboard, and surprisingly good audio, all in an elegant chassis that is 2% smaller than its predecessor.

However, if you want something with longer battery life, you will want to consider the $1,313 HP Spectre x360 13-inch. Need more power? The MSI Prestige 14 may be more your speed. Still, if you’re looking for the total package, the Dell XPS 13 is the laptop to beat.

10 Total Score
Our Verdict

The best laptop in the world just got better in terms of design, performance, and portability.

PROS
  • Attractive, premium chassis
  • Powerful performance
  • No bezels whatsoever
  • Excellent battery life
CONS
  • Lacks legacy ports
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