Dell launched the 2015 version of their XPS 13 at CES in January, and it made a big impression because of something that was very small. The first thing you see when you look at the XPS 13 is how small the bezels are around the display. At 5.2 mm, they are easily the thinnest display bezels on any laptop made today. Dell claims the XPS 13 is a 13 inch display in the chassis of an 11 inch notebook, and while they have made that claim before, for 2015, it would be hard to argue with them. But the XPS 13 is more than just a display, and Dell has outfitted it with some very modern hardware to give us our first look at an Ultrabook based on the just launched Intel 5th Generation processors, Broadwell-U.

At CES, Dell also told me that the new XPS 13 would have great battery life, with the company claiming that it would get up to fifteen hours. That claim seems hard to believe, with our battery life test topped at just a hair under ten hours by the current leader, the MacBook Air 13. However, this will be our first look at a laptop running on the new 14 nm  process from Intel, so we can get a chance to see just how power efficient the new processors are.

Dell is offering quite an arrangement of options as well, allowing the new XPS 13 to fit into a lot more budgets than some of the other premium notebooks around. The base model comes with the Intel Core i3-5010U processor, but if you need more speed you can upgrade to the i5-5200U or i7-5500U. All of the storage options are solid state drives, which is great to see. The base is 128GB, and optional upgrades are to 256GB or 512GB. Memory choices are dual-channel 4GB DDR3L-RS-1600, or a dual-channel 8GB option.

We received two models for testing, with the first being a Core i5-5200U with the 1920x1080 non-touch display, 4GB of memory, and a 128GB SSD, which lists for $900. The second model is the Core i5-5200U, with 2x4GB of memory, a 256GB SSD, and the 3200x1800 touch display. This model lists at $1400.

Update: Originally I had listed the 4 GB model as single channel, but it is actually 2 x 2 GB for dual channel. Sorry for the mistake.

Dell XPS 13 9343 Specifications
Processor Intel Core i3-5010U
(Dual-core + HT 2.1GHz 3MB L3 14nm 15W TDP)
Intel Core i5-5200U - model tested
(Dual-core + HT 2.2-2.7GHz 3MB L3 14nm 15W TDP)
Intel Core i7-5500U
(Dual-core + HT 2.4-3.0GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 15W TDP)
Chipset Broadwell-ULT
Memory 2 x 2GB or 2 x 4GB DDR3L-RS-1600
(Dual Channel 8GB Max)
Graphics Intel HD 5500
(23 EUs at 300-900MHz on Core i3)
(24 EUs at 300-900MHz on Core i5)
(24 EUs at 300-950MHz on Core i7)
Display 13.3" Anti-Glare IPS 16:9 FHD (1920x1080)
(Sharp 1420 Panel)
13.3" Glossy IPS 16:9 QHD+ (3200x1800) IGZO2
(Sharp 1421 Panel with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT and Touchscreen)
Storage 128GB/256GB/512GB SSD (Samsung PM851 M.2 2280)
Optical Drive N/A
Networking Dell Wireless 1560 plus Bluetooth 4.0 - model tested
(2x2:2 802.11ac 867Mbps capable Broadcom)

Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 plus Bluetooth 4.0
(2x2:2 802.11ac 867Mbps capable)

Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7265 plus Bluetooth 4.0
(2x2:2 802.11n 300Mbps capable)
Audio Realtek HD
Stereo Speakers professionally tuned with Waves MaxxAudio Pro 1w x 2
Headset jack
Battery/Power 52Wh non-removable
45W Max AC Adapter
Front Side Charge Light
Left Side Headset Jack
Battery Meter
1 x USB 3.0 with PowerShare
1 x mini DisplayPort
Speaker
AC Power Connection
Right Side Noble Lock Slot
1 x USB 3.0 with PowerShare
SD Card Slot
Speaker
Back Side N/A
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimensions 11.98" x 7.88" x 0.33-0.6" (WxDxH)
(304mm x 200mm x 9-15mm)
Weight 2.6 lbs (1.18kg) Non-Touch
2.8 lbs (1.27kg) Touch
Extras 720p HD Webcam
Backlit Keyboard
Colors Silver
Pricing $800 (i3, 4GB, 128GB, FHD)
$900 (i5, 4GB, 128GB, FHD) - model tested
$1000 (i5, 8GB, 128GB, FHD)
$1300 (i5, 8GB 128GB, QHD+)
$1400 (i5, 8GB, 256GB, QHD+) - model tested
$1600 (i7, 8GB, 256GB, QHD+)
$1900 (i7, 8GB, 512GB, QHD+)

The display has some choices as well. The base model comes with a 13.3 inch 1920x1080 IPS display, with a matte finish, and no touch capabilities. This is still a respectable 165 pixels per inch, and is a good option to keep the costs down. The upgraded display is quite the upgrade. Dell has worked with Sharp to outfit the XPS 13 with an optional 3200x1800 resolution IGZO panel, which features Corning Gorilla Glass NBT over the top, along with ten-point multitouch. This works out to 272 pixels per inch, and the IGZO panel is a full RGB stripe.

There are a couple of other options as well, such as a range of wireless adapters, with the Dell 1560 outfitted on the review laptops that we received. This is a Broadcom wireless adapter, with 802.11ac support. Some of the options, like the 512GB drive, are only available with the top CPU and upgraded display. Dell does offer some degree of flexibility when ordering, but not all options are available for all devices.

Dell has crafted a fine looking laptop, with some new parts from Intel and Sharp paving the way. On paper this is a great start, so let's get into the finer details.

Design and Chassis
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  • GTRagnarok - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    You can only upgrade the SSD. It's an M.2 form factor. Reply
  • Aristotle16 - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    I bought the Core i3 version and had serious performance issues, to the point of trying to return the device. What I found was, even after doing a clean install of Windows 8.1, that the Intel Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework Settings (located in the advanced settings of the battery profiles) were set to 0.6GHz@15W for the Balanced and Power Saver profiles, even for plugged in mode. And for the High Performance profile, the battery setting was also set to 0.6GHz. I had not thought to look at that specific setting, but I couldn't accept that this brand new device was slower than my Venue 8 Pro tablet. It's weird that they choose to have this performance setting - even for the plugged in mode mind you - on the standard battery profile that ships with the device and/or OS. So after changing that setting, the device performance is night and day. So just a heads up if you get this and it feels slow, have a look at those settings. Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    Which ssd is being used in them? A m. 2 ssd works definitely give a boost to battery and performance Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    It is listed in the specifications - Samsung PM851. Reply
  • Chrispy_ - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    Wow, that's a HUGE battery life penalty for the QHD+ screen that delivers very slightly sharper text.

    It's not like 1080p @ 13.3" isn't already pin-sharp, and the IGP is useless in most games at even super low resolutions, so I'm genuinely thinking the FHD screen is a better choice here....
    Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    I must say, I've been liking Dells output ever since they went private. Reply
  • 01nb - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    Posted this yesterday at Engadget:

    "I have an XPS13 on my desk at the moment. It's definitely the best I've seen from Dell to date, but it's got some issues that would drive me absolutely bonkers.

    The touchpad, for starters, is just not there. That is to say it cannot hold a candle to anything the fruit has put out for the past I dunno, 8 years. The webcam placement? I mean, I know you have a lot to do to make that bezel so small, but this is just stupid. Who wants to look at my nosehairs and boogs during a chat? And another pretty annoying bit - Dell, dude.... put a friggin right angle on the damn power plug already! Or please come up with some non-patent-infringing magsafe like tech dammit. This plug is unsightly, ungainly, and flat out terrible for this class of ultrabook.

    Otherwise, there is a lot to like - the unreal screen, the size, plenty of speed, etc.

    It's just a few minor issues from being able to truly unseat the MBA which i'm sure were made to cut cost. The problem is, with the new (r?)MBA due out any moment, it may not even get the chance."

    Dell is on the right track. Hopefully they address the issues in the next version (and release it post-haste).
    Reply
  • sporkloudly - Friday, April 10, 2015 - link

    Did you have any issues with the buzzing noise everybody seems to be talking about? Reply
  • Laxaa - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    Alongside the new ThinPad, this looks like a very nice machine indeed(and great to see that PC laptops are catching up with MacBooks in terms of performance and design!) My only gripe is that I wish there was a 16GB option. Reply
  • Hrel - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    Touch is stupid, any resolution beyond 1080p is stupid. (it negatively affects EVERYTHING, as evidenced in this review.) I don't want actual glass on my laptop.

    If it weren't for these specific issues, mostly the glass, this would be my next executive laptop. I'm gonna need one next year. So hopefully they can fix these things before then, either that or I switch the company to Lenovo. Doesn't really matter to me, but I do really like what they did with the power adapter/battery.
    Reply

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