- Great Keyboard & Trackpad
- Solid Build
- Good Battery Life
- Gorgeous Display
- Good Performance
- Burn-in Issue
- Underwhelming Thermals
One of the interesting category of laptop that tends to get ones’ attention – it’s the Business Grade Flagship laptop from huge brands. Last time we took a look at one of the finest creations from Asus – that is the Asus Zenbook 3 Deluxe. But before that, I was using another laptop as my daily driver. That’s the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 – this particular laptop is mainly targeted towards people who take their productive very seriously. I have been using the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 as my daily driver for almost 4 months. Yes, you heard that right. It’s about time for me to give you guys my final verdict on how the laptop was and my experience with it. This is the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Review.
Design & Build Quality
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 has a very business centric design going on with the angular cuts on the sides. This particular XPS only comes in this silver shade which isn’t striking but blends into any kind of environment without trying so hard. Looking from the side – you’ll notice that the side top and bottom panel has this aluminum slab sandwiched with the black finish in the middle. This is possibly one of the laptops I’ve used that possibly has the cleanest finish – I am a huge fan of that. Nothing flashy but very minimalist.
In terms of build quality, I have to say – the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is built like a tank. Imagine carrying a solid aluminum block around that does not bend or obtain any structural impact – that’s how good it is. This is the first time I’ve seen a hinge on a 2-in-1 laptop that is this solid and I love it. Since it’s a 2-in-1 – the laptop can be folded and the added stiffness gets rid of the concern of yours.
On the inside, the laptop has this carbon fibre weaved pattern finish with gives the laptop the nicest touch to it. The soft matte finish is very nice to lay your hands on and it’s very orgasmic. Sadly, it’s not all perfect.
The XPS 13 2-in-1 has few tiny flaws that could make you feel, “Why they did this?”. Starting off with opening the laptop. There isn’t any lip or cutout to open the laptop with ease. I found myself opening it with both of my hands and it did annoy me a bit. The buttons to turn the laptop on is located on the side and it feels very mushy and it’s hard to click at the same time. They could have brought the power button to the keyboard or near it.
I/O & Connectivity
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 only has 2 USB-C ports – one on either sides, a Kensington Lock and a Micro SD card slot. On the left side, you’ll notice the Battery LED indicator and on the right side – there’s the power button. The only thing Dell includes with the box is a USB 3.0 dongle and if you need anything additional – you’ll have to purchase either from Dell or a third party. I purchased mine from Mi China because 1 USB isn’t enough.
As for connectivity, the laptop boasts Bluetooth 4.2 and Intel 8265 802.11 ac 2×2 WiFi.
As for security, the XPS 13 2-in-1 takes two extra measures to keep your data safe with IR Face Scanner and a fingerprint sensor. Logging into the laptop is quick and it all happens in a matter of seconds. The one touch fingerprint unlock is equally wonderful. I had no issues with this. Sometimes under bright or dim lighting – it doesn’t unlock properly but it improves by capturing my face under that lighting and improves it.
Now on to the specification. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 we received has the following.
- Intel Core i7 7Y75 @ 1.30 GHz
- 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 RAM
- 512GB NVMe SSD
- Intel Graphics HD 615
That’s the specification. Yes, this is one of the very few laptop to power the low power Intel processor which was targeted towards to 2-in-1, tablets and so. The NVMe SSD is an added bonus for that swift bootup and load time. It may not have a dedicated graphics but the Intel HD Graphics 615 is decent enough. How did it perform? Well, I have to be honest about this. Thanks to Windows (sarcasm intended), this laptop received the Spectre patched update for the laptop and this is exactly where things went down the hill.
My first experience
Thanks to the super fast NVMe SSD under the hood, setting up the XPS was a piece of cake. Once I finished setting it up and installing all my personal applications which I use on a day to day basis, I finally clicked the “shut down” button. After placing it in my bag and heading my way back to home – I felt this weird warmth on the back padding of my bag. I checked my bag to see what’s up – that’s when I realized the laptop turned back on by itself and it was running in my bag. You guessed it – it was hot – 88 degrees hot.
I did try shutting down, hibernating, restarting and I looked at my laptop – it went into sleep and woke back up. So, the first month using the XPS 13 was a complete nightmare. It didn’t end there either. The laptop occasionally goes into Blue Screen of Death and reboots itself. So, here’s what I had to do – thanks to the Windows 10 Creators Fall Update – I was able to enable the developer update which I did and I updated my laptop as fast as I could. The problem was finally fixed after a month later.
Performance – After Updating
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 worked better (after the dev. Update). Booting it up and turning it off was easier. But one thing to note was the CPU’s core temperature – It was always around 58 – 62 degrees. It was warm and toasty even when the laptop was not under any kind of synthetic load. Only thing that the laptop was running is Chrome. Dell did claim that the XPS 13 2-in-1 has the capability to handle applications like Photoshop and such with no problem. I did use Photoshop Lightroom to touch up some of my pictures and yes, it handled well. The temperature went to 67 degrees and stayed around there.
I wouldn’t recommend gaming on this laptop but titles like Cuphead it will run well. You can check out the benchmark scores and the other screenshot relevant to the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.
Our unit was equipped with a 13-inch UltraSharp QHD+ resolution display with 276 pixels per inch. It offers 400-nit brightness and the display has a color gamut of 72%. I have to say, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 display is by far the best looking displays I’ve come across on a laptop, hands down. The display was rich in colors and watching movies on Netflix is just gorgeous. The viewing angle is not too shabby either. With 170 degrees of viewing angle – the laptop looks just great. Since it’s a QHD+ display, it does have a serious burn in issue. Our unit had a burn in issue at the bottom and the right side of the display. It didn’t affect my work or my usage – but the burn in was just too sad to see on a machine that boasts a huge price tag.
It does come with a FHD+ version – so, I’d personally recommend that over the QHD+ display. Our device, has touch capabilities and yes, it supports Windows Ink. Good thing Dell includes the pen when you purchase the laptop.
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 has a 4-cell (46Whr) battery under the hood. According to Dell, if you are going to use your laptop completely for productivity – it should last for 8 hours and 35 minutes and if streaming Netflix Content – it should last for 7 hours.
I use my laptop for both work and entertainment. This involves – being connected to the internet and get my work done, reading some research papers and when I am free, watch Netflix. Under 75% brightness and Performance mode, the laptop lasted for 4 hours 12 minutes and under batter saver mode, the laptop was able to give another hour extra for me to work. I was confident enough to leave my charger at home and go for my class, release articles at the event and be on my way. I barely had to worry about the battery as the experience was good.
This might vary if you were to opt in for the FHD+ Display variant because it uses less power to give the display output and chances are you might get a better battery life. Also, it uses a USB-C port to charge the laptop – which means you can get their 65W USB-C powerbank to charge it on the move as well.
Keyboard and Mouse
As for the keyboard, Dell opted in for a chiclet style keyboard with a 1.3mm key travel and has a white backlit to it. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 minimal to no flex and it is by far – again – the best keyboard I’ve used so far. The clicky and tactile feel to the hands would make anyone have any discomfort while typing on the move. The only thing I didn’t like – is the arrow keys which is too small. But other than that, it has a great layout – easier to get used to.
The Trackpad on the XPS 13 2-in-1 is amazing. With Windows Precision drivers, performing gestures and even using the left and right click is just simply satisfying – A very solid trackpad indeed.
Dell went for a Stereo speaker setup with the XPS 13 2-in-1 which is professionally tuned by Waves MaxxAudio Pro. It has a 2W side firing speaker. At 50%, the clarity is good and not too shabby but if you were to crank it up to the max – there is a bit of distortion and things become unclear a bit. If you were to use the speaker to watch movies, it shouldn’t be a problem.
That’s my review on the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. Did I like it? I did. Did I hate it? A bit. The experience I had with the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a nightmare because of Windows. Other than that, the laptop packs a good keyboard and Trackpad, decent specification and sorts. The thermals on the other hand is just disappointing and also, the burn in issue is indeed heart breaking. Despite all that, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is a tough cookie.
This particular variant goes for RM 7,848. You can purchase one from the Official Dell Malaysia store but do take note, if you don’t want the touch screen – you’d be better off getting the new Dell XPS 13 which comes with the latest 8th Generation Intel processor and has improvements over this. I’d like to see Dell improve their 2-in-1 with their next one. I have high hopes for their next one – the refreshed XPS 13 2-in-1 but just not for this one.
Microsoft, if you’re reading this – please get your head in the game with your updates instead of causing a mess.