Dell XPS 13 hands-on | Trusted Reviews

Written by Colton

Dell XPS 13: Hands-on with Dell’s latest tiny powerhouse

Dell has unveiled the brand-new 2018 XPS 13, and while it might not look particularly different from previous models – the sleek design and infinity display are still present and correct – there’s plenty going on that makes this a major upgrade.

For starters, it now comes packing Intel’s 8th-generation mobile processors, for up to 44% better performance. But it’s the smart thermal dynamic work and build materials that make the Dell XPS 13 2018 special.

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Dell XPS 13 2018: New materials and impressive thermal performance

Dell has created a new weaved glass fibre finish that feels warm and comfortable to the touch. Dell promises this material is also extremely hard-wearing, ensuring the XPS 13 will maintain its good looks even after three years of solid use. That’s especially important if you opt for the new rose gold Dell XPS 13, which comes with a white weave finish.

It’s the thermal dynamics that make a significant difference to both performance and use. Dell has introduced Gore thermal insulation to help dissipate heat more effectively. If you’ve ever been skiing or to very cold environments then you’ll be familiar with Gore. It keeps you dry and warm because it doesn’t conduct heat; in fact, it has thermal connectivity that’s less than that of air.

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Its addition means that Dell is now able to direct heat in the new XPS 13 better than ever before; it all goes to the fans and out the back of the laptop. That means your hands won’t get warm and neither will your lap. I couldn’t feel any heat emanating from the bottom of the laptop while using it, but then I wasn’t taxing it too much. It also results in higher peak performance.

Dells XPS 13 2018: Can it really last 20 hours on a single charge?

The most incredible statement Dell has made about the 2018 XPS 13 is that it will offer up an astonishing 19hrs 46mins of use. This is the sort of battery life you’d expect from a tablet with a mobile processor, not an i5 or i7-powered Windows 10 PC.

We haven’t yet had the opportunity to test these battery life claims, but if true, this will make the Dell XPS 13 2018 the Ultrabook to beat.

Dell XPS 13 2018: Cinema Color, Sound and Stream

We’re all consuming more media on our mobile devices, and especially our laptops that offer a decent screen size compared to a smartphone. Dell wants to make watching films and shows on its XPS laptops comparable to watching them on a good TV.

How? Well it has brought HDR to the PC for the first time. The new Dell XPS 13, as well as the new Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, comes with high dynamic range. That means more realistic colours and better low-light scenes.

Dell Cinema Sound attempts to combat the often poor sound quality laptops offer. Dell promises deeper bass but also better overall clarity when watching movies and shows on the XPS 13. Unfortunately it was impossible to test this in the bustling and loud environment I was in.

Dell Cinema Stream, on the other hand, tries to combat one of the biggest turn offs when watching streaming content; buffering. What it does is essentially turn off all background tasks that leech bandwidth when you’re trying to watch your favourite shows online. Dell claims that this can improve streaming performance by up to 10 times, but again there was no way to test this doing my hands-on time with the XPS 13.

The Dell XPS 13 2018 goes on sale today, with prices starting at £1041/$1000. Stay tuned for our full new Dell XPS 13 review.

You can see a list of various XPS 13 spec options in the table below.

Dell XP 13 (2018) Specs


CPU 8th Gen Intel i5-8250U

8th Gen Intel i7-8550U

Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM LPDDR3 4-8GB Dual Channel SDRAM at 1866MHz

LPDDR3 16GB Dual Channel SDRAM at 2133MHz

Storage 128GB SATA

256GB PCIe

512GB PCIe


Display 13.3-inch 4K (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touch display

13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge touch display

13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge non-touch

Connectivity 2x Thunderbolt 3 with PowerShare

DC-In & DisplayPort  

1x USB-C 3.1 with PowerShare DC-In & DisplayPort

microSD card reader

Headset jack

Noble lock slot

Dimensions Height: 7.8 -11.6 mm

Width: 302 mm

Depth: 199 mm

Weight Starting at 1.21 kg
OS Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 Home

Ubuntu 16.04