Dell XPS 13 OLED review

The Dell XPS 13 is held in high esteem right here at Tom's Guide: the fact that it packs powerful parts into a slim, trendy chassis with remarkably thin bezels makes it one of our top alternatives for the best Windows laptop you'll buy, and one of the crucial best laptops period.

Dell XPS 13 w/ OLED

Price: ~$1,699
Display: 13.4-inch OLED touchscreen (3,456 x 2,160 pixels)
11th Gen Intel Core i7-1185G7
Intel Iris Xe built-in graphics
Sixteen GB
512 GB SSD (1/2 TB additionally available)
2 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports, headphone jack, microSD card reader
11.6 x 7.Eight x 0.5 inches
2.Eight pounds

In 2021 Dell unveiled a brand new configuration of the XPS 13 that incorporates a three.5K OLED touchscreen, and after spending a while with a review unit I can tell you that the addition of OLED makes this nice ultraportable even better. In truth, it is so just right that it won the awards for best possible pc display and best laptop total in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

You can expect to pay a pair hundred bucks additional for the privilege of an OLED screen on your XPS 13, but if you care about image high quality, it is completely value it. OLED presentations are identified for turning in vibrant colors and deep, wealthy blacks, and after some thorough checking out (read: gazing method an excessive amount of UHD TV) I'm here to let you know that the XPS 13 with OLED does precisely that. The incontrovertible fact that it's fastened within the XPS 13's just about bezel-less InfinityEdge display handiest enhances the appeal — learn on for a complete review of Dell's newest addition to the XPS 13 line.

 Dell XPS 13 review: Price and availability

You can purchase an XPS 13 with a 4K OLED display at the moment on Dell’s website, and you might also be capable of to find it at make a selection outlets. The OLED display is technically a $four hundred upgrade; at the time of writing, you'll be able to get the lowest-spec Dell XPS 13 for $979, but that’s a type with an Intel Core i3 CPU and a 2K non-touch screen. To get the 4K OLED display, you'll be able to expect to pay (at time of e-newsletter) no less than $1,649; that will get you an Intel Core i7 CPU with Iris Xe integrated graphics, Sixteen GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD, although you'll be able to pay over $2,099 for those who configure a type with the utmost 2 TB of garage. 

Our review unit got here configured with the 512 GB SSD, and at time of newsletter it will have had a $1,699 ticket. That includes an extra $50 for Dell’s Arctic White paint job, which decks the interior of the computer out in a comfortable white. It’s a pleasant look, but you’ll need to make a decision for your self if it’s value the additional price — the XPS 13’s default matte black internal is totally serviceable.

Dell XPS 13 review: Design

We’ve reviewed a few Dell XPS 13 configurations at this level, and each one earned reward for its slender, stylish chassis and incredibly skinny bezels. The addition of a 4K OLED touchscreen does not anything to mar the XPS 13’s design strengths; that is nonetheless a trim, gentle, robust 13-inch laptop with super-thin bezels round all four edges of Dell’s InfinityEdge display. 

At 11.64 x 7.eighty two x 0.58 inches and 2.8 kilos, this OLED-equipped XPS 13 weighs as much as a MacBook Air with M1 and measures fairly smaller, regardless that Dell’s newest nonetheless can’t fit the 0.45-inch skinny, 2.5-pound Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga. But then, the Titanium Yoga costs extra and simplest comes with a 2K show.

Dell XPS 13 review: Ports

With a narrow chassis comes a narrow port variety: the Dell XPS 13 sports a pair of USB-C/Thunderbolt Four ports, one on all sides, as well as a headphone jack and a microSD card reader.

The freedom to plug within the USB-C charger on either side is sweet, but the loss of a USB-A port will harm for those who hope to make use of a mouse, keyboard, or different accessories quite a lot of years previous.

However, Dell does come with a USB-C to USB-A adapter in the field, which is a nice touch I wish other manufacturers would copy.

Dell XPS 13 review: Display

A three.5K OLED display is the big selling point of this Dell XPS 13 configuration, and in individual it appears beautiful. With a native decision of 3,456 x 2,One hundred sixty pixels it’s no longer slightly 4K, however it does enhance HDR, and films and TV look stunning on this display. The OLED display permits for deep, inky blacks and high distinction ratios, as a result of every pixel generates its own gentle and can be personally switched on or off. In apply, that means that I was able to notice small details like the gradations of sunlight reflecting off an actor’s face in The Expanse, or a flash of gold embroidery catching the light in a dismal scene of Knives Out.

The show is able to making colors glance colourful, and reds and golds in point of fact pop in darkish scenes. In our testing, we discovered the XPS 13 with OLED is in a position to protecting 117.3% of the sRGB spectrum, which means colors look nice (and doubtlessly over-saturated). That's better than the 13-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (108.3% of sRGB) however no longer quite as just right as the 15-inch Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (120.2% of sRGB).

The nigh-4K decision is helping those small main points stand out, despite the fact that on a 13.4-inch display it makes textual content so small you’ll virtually indubitably want to rely on Windows’ built-in show scaling to make issues readable. However, I think the fact that this is an OLED screen is extra meaningful than the three.5K decision. I happen to still have a Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 review unit readily available, with its 1080p AMOLED display; once I set it up subsequent to the XPS 13 and began watching the similar movie on each, I used to be struck by way of how similar the picture high quality is, despite the decision disparity. The Dell XPS 13’s higher-resolution screen no doubt delivered a sharper image, and colours (particularly greens and yellows) glance just a little warmer at the XPS 13 compared to the Pro 360, but if I wasn’t scrutinizing them I’d have a troublesome time telling the adaptation.

The black bezels of the Dell XPS 13’s patented InfinityEdge display are as skinny as ever, and now that they’re wrapped around an OLED display they nearly seem to vanish into the deep black borders of whatever you’re watching. The display screen doesn’t mirror much light both, particularly when it’s powered on with the brightness cranked up.

However, since this is a touchscreen it is moderately prone to choosing up prints and smudges throughout regular use. It’s hardly ever a deal-breaker, but it is one thing to keep in mind — and a good reason to throw some kind of cleansing material into your pc bag along this machine.

 Dell XPS 13 review: Audio 

When it comes time to blast some tunes at your table or out at the patio, the Dell XPS 13 gained’t let you down. Just underneath either edge of the keyboard deck there’s a thin cutout revealing speakers which pump sound out to the edges, serving to it fill the room even if the laptop is on a desk or lap. 

The quality of the sound is lovely good, too; I’m no audio snob, however whilst streaming tracks like Pink Floyd’s Welcome to the Machine or The Police’s Spirits within the Material World I couldn’t find a lot fault with the Dell XPS 13’s speakers. Bass comes through clear but with out much kick, while more treble-y stuff like vocals and power guitar solos sound warm and sweet. 

 Dell XPS 13 review: Performance 

With an Intel Core i7 CPU and 16 GB of RAM, our Dell XPS 13 review unit had 0 hassle handling all my daily duties with no single stutter. Even when I loaded it up with a frankly unreasonable (40+) choice of Chrome tabs, Three simultaneous video streams from other services, and a 10GB file transfer in the background, the XPS 13 didn’t choke: CPU and SSD usage never went above 50%, and RAM utilization never went previous 75%. 

When we put our review unit to the check the use of the Geekbench 5.4 multi-core CPU benchmark, it turned in a score of five,420. That’s higher than we saw out of the similarly-equipped 13-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (4,829), and almost as excellent as the larger 15-inch Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (5,575).

The Dell XPS 13’s SSD is reasonably rapid as neatly, managing to achieve a switch price of 742 MBps when tasked with duplicating 25 GB of multimedia recordsdata. That’s a lot faster than the 13-inch Surface Laptop 4 (562 MBps) and just about as rapid as the SSD in the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (869 MBps).

If you’re having a look to do a little severe video enhancing, the XPS 13 can get it achieved -- however no longer precisely briefly. In our Handbrake video editing take a look at the pc transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 18 mins and 12 seconds, which is more time than it took the 13-inch Surface Laptop 4 (17:01) or the 15-inch Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (16:24) to complete the similar process.

The XPS 13 can get sizzling beneath this sort of pressure, too: under the watchful eye of our warmth gun the pc accomplished temperatures as high as 98.2 degrees along the tip row of the keyboard. During customary lap use I by no means noticed greater than a bearable quantity of warmth radiating into my palms and legs, but it surely definitely gets sizzling when you check out such things as taking part in 3D games with complicated graphics.

Dell XPS 13 review: Graphics and game performance 

Speaking of which, the addition of an OLED display screen hasn’t suddenly turned the Dell XPS 13 into a graphical powerhouse, but it surely does assist video games and different apps glance nice. Without a dedicated GPU this pc will have an actual hard time working essentially the most tough PC games — good luck getting one thing coming near an affordable framerate in Cyberpunk 2077 — but you'll be able to nonetheless experience plenty of older or much less hard games. 

Games like Fortnite, Othercide, Into the Breach, and Crusader Kings III run beautiful smartly at the XPS 13, regardless that performance will dip when you crank the sport’s resolution up previous 1080p. Sure sufficient, once we put it to the take a look at the usage of the graphical benchmark in Sid Meier’s Civilization 6: Gathering Storm, the XPS 13 managed to achieve a tight 22.1 frames in line with second operating at 1080p and 14.4 frames consistent with 2nd at its local 3.5K decision. 

Dell XPS 13 review: Keyboard, touchpad and touchscreen 

It’s arduous to seek out much fault with the Dell XPS 13’s keyboard. If you might have huge palms you could find the keys just a little cramped and the travel just a little shallow on your tastes, as I do. But that’s arduous to steer clear of on a 13-inch pc, and after a few days of the usage of the XPS 13 I had no bother hitting One hundred fifteen WPM in a typing check. There’s also a fingerprint reader built into the top-right key on the keyboard, affording you the option of logging in and out with a swipe of the finger.

The touchpad underneath the keyboard is equally practical, and I hardly ever had bother or spotted missed inputs whilst using it. It alternatives up Windows 10’s touchpad gestures very reliably, although I did realize it “lock up” two or 3 times all over trying out and prevent registering enter for a couple of seconds.  

Tapping and swiping at the 3.5K OLED touchscreen feels intuitive and responsive. I discovered myself pinching and zooming in on webpages and documents incessantly, simply to make the textual content more readable at the high-res display. However, as famous above, do be aware that the display selections up smudges and prints moderately simply, so it’s a good suggestion to hold a cleansing fabric with you.

Dell XPS 13 review: Webcam 

The Dell XPS 13’s 720p webcam is a tiny dot crowning the end of the show, and it delivers grainy, unexciting picture high quality. I occur to own one of the vital older XPS 13 models with the webcam fixed in the top of the keyboard, which ended in a lot of up-the-nose digital camera angles throughout video calls; I still really feel some lingering gratitude to Dell for shifting it as much as the tip of the display screen where it belongs.

Still, it will be great to look an XPS 13 ship with a 1080p webcam. Such extravagances are nonetheless pretty hard to find constructed into laptops, especially 13-inchers, however with so many of us running remotely amid an international pandemic the standard of our webcams has change into more vital than ever.

If you like to log in along with your face by way of Windows Hello, good news: the XPS 13’s webcam has IR sensors that allow it to do that for you, affording you a hands-free (albeit moderately creepy) approach of unlocking the gadget.

Dell XPS 13 review: Battery existence 

Sadly, the addition of a three.5K OLED display screen comes at the expense of battery life. In our battery take a look at, which duties the laptop with without end browsing the internet over Wi-Fi with the display set to a brightness stage of a hundred and fifty nits, the Dell XPS 13 w/ OLED controlled to last just under 8 hours — 7:59, to be actual. 

That’s moderately a bit of much less battery life than both the 13-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (10:46) or the 15-inch Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 (13:33). If you’re open to the usage of a Mac, you’ll get much better battery life from the MacBook Air with M1 (14:41) or the MacBook Pro with M1 (16:32).

For comparability’s sake, in our trying out the Dell XPS 13 with a 4K non-OLED display screen lasted even much less time on a full rate (7:32), while the Dell XPS 13 with a 2K screen lasted hours longer (11:07) in the same test. 

However, the XPS 13 does fee lovely quickly: I plugged it in at 5%, and an hour later it used to be sitting at 51% charged, which is enough to get any other two or three hours of use.

Dell XPS 13 review: Verdict 

The Dell XPS 13 has been one in every of our favourite Windows laptops for years, and the addition of a three.5K OLED screen simplest enhances the enchantment. Paying an additional couple hundred dollars for it is probably not worthwhile for those who don’t generally tend to get hung up about image quality, however given that one of the crucial Dell XPS 13’s big sights is its stunning, nigh-borderless InfinityEdge show, paying extra to slap an OLED in there is a worthwhile addition.

If you want one thing a little bit bigger and extra performant for kind of the same value, the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 may be a good selection. It has a 1080p AMOLED touchscreen that appears nearly as good because the XPS 13’s OLED, with quite higher performance and significantly better battery lifestyles. However, it’s additionally a larger, heavier 2-in-1 that incorporates a large number of Samsung bloatware installed. And of course, in case you’re open to the usage of a Mac, the M1-equipped MacBooks offer significantly better battery existence than almost about any Windows pc on the market.

That stated, the choice to add an OLED display makes one of the most absolute best laptops in the marketplace even higher. With great performance, just right audio system and a stupendous 3.5K OLED touchscreen, the Dell XPS 13 is a top rate Windows laptop that should stand you in excellent stead for years. 

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