Dell XPS 13 Evaluation – Catrachadas

Today, let's take a look at the brand new Dell XPS 13 9560. You can't see it from the outside, but the latest XPS 13 has received one important update compared to the model that came on the market in late 2016: the switch to Intel's 8th generation Kaby Lake-R processors.

Although it's a simple CPU swap, it's a big upgrade for the XPS 13 when you consider the performance difference between the previously used dual-core Kaby and the new quad-core parts. Initial tests we ran a few months ago showed performance increases of almost 50%, but we'll learn more about that later.

First, I wanted to discuss the design of the XPS 13, which has hardly changed in almost three years since the launch of the first Broadwell model. We saw some minor additions, like the fingerprint sensor for Windows Hello and a USB-C port, but the basics with the ultra-slim bezel have largely stayed the same.

Some reviews suggest that the design of the XPS 13 is a bit dated and needs to be updated to stay relevant compared to other modern ultraportables. Although I think the design is a bit dated, I don't think it needs to be updated.

When the XPS 13 hit the market in early 2015, the design was way ahead of the competition, delivering a massive display in a smaller case. A few years later, the XPS 13 design isn't as outstanding as it used to be as competitors improve their game, but it's still pretty good and can stand up to other manufacturers' offerings. In fact, we still haven't gotten to the point where all other laptops maximize screen area and minimize frames, although we're getting there slowly.

If you've never seen an XPS 13 before, aluminum is used on the lid and bottom, and soft-touch carbon fiber around the keyboard and trackpad. The two-tone design looks fantastic and feels good when closed thanks to the matte metal surface. The keyboard's palm rest collects fingerprints fairly easily, although it also feels good when typing.

Dell isn't particularly interested in making the thinnest or lightest laptop. For this reason, the XPS 13 is up to 15 mm thick and 1.3 kg for the touchscreen model. This is a good choice anyway, as they pack a large 60 Wh battery and can keep the overall space requirement small. The XPS 13 is still one of the smallest 13-inch notebooks you can buy.

The slim bezel experience with the XPS 13 is great, although you have to live with some compromises like the less than ideal placement of the webcam. You'll also have to choose between the non-contact 1080p and QHD + touchscreen display options, which are identical to those of previous models: the higher-resolution display has a longer battery life, but is a bit sharper.

The keyboard and trackpad remain unchanged, both of which offer a decent experience. Some of the modifier keys are slightly smaller than other keyboards, although this doesn't compromise usability, and the feel for each key is pretty average for a laptop these days. The trackpad is excellent and you won't have any problems with it.

The I / O also remains unchanged. Two USB 3.0 ports on both sides, a Thunderbolt 3 port with only two PCIe lanes, a 3.5 mm headphone jack and an SD card slot. Unfortunately, the XPS 13 is still charged via a proprietary port instead of USB-C. I'd rather see an additional USB-C port for charging the device that could serve as convenient connectivity.

My test device came with a 13.3-inch 1080p IPS LCD, which is the basic option. I prefer this over the QHD + model, although the higher resolution model has a touchscreen, mainly because 1080p is perfectly fine for a 13.3-inch display and you can get longer battery life at a lower resolution.

The brightness of this display is excellent and exceeds 450 nits at peak times when a pure white screen is shown. Viewing angles are also very good, and using a matte finish instead of shine helps reduce reflections and improve visibility.

Although the display looks pretty good from a casual standpoint, it's not the best for creatives who demand color accuracy. The XPS 13 implements dynamic contrast that adjusts brightness and other display parameters on the fly to improve the experience. As far as I can tell, it is impossible to disable this setting, resulting in poor color performance.

The display is tinted blue, the average temperature is 7100 K and the grayscale performance is poor. However, if you look at the Saturation and ColorChecker results that exceed a DeltaE average of 8.0, it gets worse. This is very inaccurate and completely unsuitable for those who want to take accurate pictures or even look at things closely.

Even so, it is difficult to accurately measure the performance of an ad that adapts dynamically because the composition of an image can affect the display of each color. For my tests, I measured the stationary color performance with spot colors. In practice, however, the performance could be better or worse. Who knows?

If Dell wants to improve the performance of this display, there should be a way to disable dynamic contrast. The good news is that the function is somewhat subtle. Therefore, it is difficult to see the changes in real time, although professionals want to avoid this panel.

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