Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook hands-on review

An overall review of the recently launched Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook with features, technical specifications and a video demo.

Dell's latest offering is the new XPS 13 Ultrabook after a great launch like the Vostro V131. It provides a high level of mobility with cutting edge industrial design and uber cool product protection.

Ultrabook is Dell's version of a compact notebook: affordability, great battery life, advanced connectivity options, the illusion of great performance though the use of an SSD and most importantly, a compact design that can easily be carted around just about anywhere. Dell's XPS 13 is probably a poster child for the Ultrabook.

Dell has paired up their XPS 13 line with a number of configurations. The lower end variant Dell includes an Intel i5 2467M low voltage processor, 4GB of memory and a 128GB SSD. There are a few other configurations which substitute the i5 or a higher performance i7 processor and the SSD for a 256GB unit.

XPS 13 hands-on review

We reviewed this ultrabook in our review lab this week and we are really impressed with this super cool ultrabook. Watch the hands-on video of XPS 13 by our young blogger:

Hardware configuration

Here is the hardware configuration of the unit we reviewed:

Model: XPS L321X

Processor: Intel Core i5-2467M CPU 1.60GHz


Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium (we upgraded to Windows 8 Enterprise trial edition)

Dell XPS 13 hands on reviews

The are multiple variants of the XPS 13, some of which comes with i7 processor.


If you think this thin and sleek ultrabook may not be a performance machine, you might find it wrong. The computer performs very well with various programs we tried including some CPU hungry games. Take a look at the Windows 7 Experience Index, which shows reasonably high score for this ultrabook, even though it does not match some of the high end model computers.

Dell XPS 13 Performance with Windows 7

The base score (5.8) for XPS 13 is much higher than the base score of my primary laptop (Lenovo Y560p). One strange thing we noticed was, when we checked the performance index with Windows 8, it showed a very low score for Desktop Graphics Performance (3.9). Since the graphics card is the same, the low score indicated by Windows 8 can't be a realistic indication of the device, instead, there must be some more tuning to happen for XPS 13 to work with graphics in Windows 8. We will recheck this once Windows 8 final release is available.

XPS 13 features

Connectivity: Dell includes Bluetooth v3.0 within the Centrino wireless module rather than the newer 4.0 protocol. One of the most important features of the Ultrabook is the warranty which Dell includes. Much like their professional Vostro lineup, Dell has gone the extra mile by adding a year of on-site tech support.

Body and finish: The XPS 13 is a relatively small notebook which weighs in at a mere 2.99lbs, making it highly portable. A machined aluminum top cover that's been anodized a simple silver color tops things off on the right foot. It feels great, won't slip out of your hands at an inopportune time and doesn't pick up fingerprints like so many other finishes.

Seamless construction and high strength exterior finishes, the XPS 13 clearly sets the benchmark in this category. This is one of Dell's best built products to date.

To ensure highest levels of quality, Dell has incorporated a magnesium palmrest with soft-touch paint which keeps blemishes and greasy palm stains to a minimum. This finish continues around most of the XPS 13's flat surfaces and gracefully blends into the brushed aluminum frame.

Amazingly, the chassis rigidity doesn't lead to an overly thick profile. At a mere 18mm with its small rubber feet and a 6 mm body-only profile, this is one of the thinnest Ultrabooks available.

Smooth and perfect keyboard: Another huge plus in the pint sized ultrabook is its extremely user friendly backlit LED keyboard that's drawing rave reviews from the blogging community. The Chiclet keys with a cupped design make it extremely comfortable to type on and make no noise whatsoever. The touchpad is surprisingly large for a notebook of its size.

Ports: One side of the Ultrabook houses a USB 3.0 port and a mini DisplayPort while the other has a USB 2.0 port with PowerShare and a combo 3.5mm headphone / mic connector.

The XPS 13's base is composed of a soft, rubber-like finish on top of the carbon fiber composite material. This makes it easy to hold and almost impervious to scratches. It is simply brilliant to hold and absorbs impacts quite well. Small integrated rubber strips further aid stability. One drawback however is the absence of a CD Drive. Dell probably hopes that their clients are pen drive friendly.

Windows 7 loaded, ready for Windows 8: The unit we received came with Windows 7 Home Premium loaded. We installed Windows 8 RTM trial edition and the installation was a very smooth process with no issues. We were able to use all features of XPS 13 with Windows 8 and we could find any issues to point out. It takes just a couple of seconds to restart this ultrabook with Windows 8. If you love Windows 8, you are really going to admire it on XPS.

XPS 13 is Windows 8 ready

Windows 7 and Intel logos have been incorporated into a flush mounted aluminium panel which can be removed for the user to access the Windows serial number. This is extremely practical and useful since it ensures the Windows activation number and Dell service tags will never be rubbed off.

Dell Support, the Dell way: Another big plus that we found when we reviewed the XPS 13 was the DELL support software that allows the user to access information and manage the workings of the system in critical areas like anti virus protection, power saving options, battery life, hard drive status, firewall protection and online file protection .

Dell Customer Support

The compact notebook market is nascent and huge. There are a number of players, but in our opinion the XPS 13 is sure to provide the competition a run for their money.

Article by Tony John
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including,, and many more.

Follow Tony John or read 695 articles authored by Tony John

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