When talking about premium laptops, the flagship models of PC manufacturers are automatically part of the list. You’ve probably already heard of Dell’s XPS line of notebooks. If you haven’t, maybe you’ve seen it before in a cafe or at a store because it’s pretty distinct. Just look for the notebook with an incredibly thin display bezel, and that’s most likely the Dell XPS 13.
Since its introduction in 2012, the design of the XPS 13 hasn’t changed much. It was in 2015 that the Ultrabook (the name of premium Windows notebooks before) got its recognizable bezel-less display. Dell is not yet ready to give the XPS 13 a major makeover, so the 2018 version only has slight changes. Is it still the XPS 13 we know and love? Here’s my review.
The edge-to-edge design lives on
Let’s first talk about the display because it’s the first thing one would notice about this notebook. Since the introduction of the InfinityEdge display on the XPS line, we’ve been wanting other laptops to have the same design. Dell is able to achieve an 80.7 percent screen-to-body ratio with the XPS 13.
My particular XPS 13 comes with a 4K Ultra HD IPS panel with touch input, but it also comes in Full HD with the base configuration. Dell already claims to have covered 100 percent of the sRGB color space with a 1500:1 contrast ratio. Not only that, it’s got a Corning Gorilla 4 with an anti-reflective coating and it can reach 400-nits of brightness which guarantees optimum screen visibility outdoors.
Basically, there’s nothing to complain about the XPS 13’s display: It’s color accurate, bright, and immersive. I can’t say the same for the side stereo speakers, though. While the display excels, the speakers do fall a bit behind. They do sound quite pleasant but distort a bit at max volume.
As with smartphones, there’s a catch to borderless designs. Thankfully, nobody has tried releasing a notebook with a notched display, but the webcam has to go somewhere, and here it’s at the bottom of the display. I’ve been using the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S as my daily driver which also has its selfie camera in an unusual position, so this camera placement isn’t weird for me.
To be frank, I don’t use the webcam that much. Most of the time, I open it to act as a mirror. When I do need to call someone on Skype or any video-calling service, the camera is looking right up my nose and the quality is so-so.
Good thing it’s not a plain webcam. It has an additional infrared sensor that’s fully compatible with Windows Hello. I never had to type my password or PIN to unlock the XPS 13 because the facial recognition unlock is nearly instant.
Aside from face recognition, there’s also a fingerprint reader embedded into the power button. So when I wake the notebook from sleep by pressing the power button, it already authenticates and automatically unlocks the device. Pretty neat!
Moving on to the left side, there’s a couple of USB-C ports with support for Thunderbolt 3 and four lanes of PCI Express Gen 3. So, an external GPU (eGPU) will be able to turn the XPS 13 into a graphics powerhouse.
This will make the XPS 13 both a great laptop on the go and a workhorse when docked. There’s also a 5-LED battery indicator and a Noble lock slot beside these ports.
On the other side, there’s another USB-C port. This one doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3, but it’s DisplayPort-compatible for external monitors. Thankfully, there’s also a 3.5mm port for headphones and microphones but I’m disappointed about the microSD card reader.
The bottom of the laptop hides the unsightly grilles for ventilation and maintenance screws. There are two long rubber feet to keep the laptop in place when on a surface. The back foot is raised a bit higher, making the XPS 13 slightly inclined. You don’t notice this but it actually gives you a better angle when typing.
Speaking of typing, it’s easy to adjust to the layout of the XPS 13’s keyboard. Every key is where I like it to be with a good amount of spacing, and the travel of each key is just right. Overall, the whole keyboard never felt cramped.
What I like more is the touchpad. Despite being a bit constrained due to the size of the notebook, it’s smooth, responsive, and has full Windows Precision Touchpad support. Windows 10 now has many useful gestures and they’re a breeze to flip through.
The new rose gold exterior with white interior variant is also new on the 2018 version of the XPS 13, and it’s more than a new tint. We’re looking at an “alpine white woven glass fiber palm rest” which claims to be UV- and stain-resistant to prevent yellowing over time and staining. Just like last year’s XPS 13, it’s body is cut from a single block of aluminum.
A powerful yet compact notebook
Now onto the specs, the XPS 13 (2018) is powered by the latest eighth-gen Intel Core processors. The model I have has a quad-core Intel Core i7-8550U processor paired with 8GB DDR4 RAM and Intel UHD Graphics 620. The base clock speed of the new ultra-low power processor is 1.8GHz with a turbo boost to 4GHz when needed.
It’s a specced-out notebook for everyday use and it can handle Adobe Photoshop and some video editing with Adobe Premiere Pro. Gaming is also not an issue for the XPS 13, but don’t expect it to play AAA titles at high frame rates. The likes of CS:GO and League of Legends on low to medium settings is what it can handle.
The XPS 13 boots fast and is zippy. There are some minor hiccups from time to time but that’s pretty normal when Windows 10 is under stress. What grabbed my attention though is how fast apps load. This is probably due to the fast read times of the notebook’s 256GB M.2 SSD storage.
Moreover, the base of the XPS 13 feels pretty cool when on my lap, yet it does get really warm while being charged. Its fans are relatively quiet unless I’m running a game or benchmarking software. Overall, I have nothing to complain about the laptop’s fan noise even when it’s under heavy load.
Long-lasting on a single charge
We buy 13-inch notebooks for portability, but that normally comes at the cost of battery life. Fortunately, the XPS 13 is able to last long on a single charge.
I consider my use of the laptop as moderate, which includes constant Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, Chrome with multiple tabs, and brightness levels staying around 50 percent most of the time. On average, I get about seven and a half hours of power. The longest I got was around nine hours when I mainly used the notebook to binge-watch the whole day.
When it’s time to fill up, the XPS 13 charges through any of the USB-C ports. Ain’t that convenient? It takes about two hours to fully charge the notebook using the included small 45W charger. Maybe a bigger charger with a 65W output can charge the notebook faster.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
If you’re looking for the best 13-inch Windows laptops out there, the Dell XPS 13 (2018) should top your list. Why? I have three reasons.
First, the display and design alone will make you want an XPS 13. Second, it’s a portable powerhouse because it can also be an editing and gaming machine with the help of an eGPU. Ideally, I’d use the XPS 13 when I’m on the road, then plug it in at home to a bigger monitor and eGPU to transform it into a capable desktop PC. Lastly, after my more than two weeks of use, I didn’t have any negative experience that left a bad impression.
The lack of full-size ports might turn off some, but living the dongle life is pretty unavoidable with new laptops, especially when they’re this small. As long as it’s got Thunderbolt 3, you’re safe and there are a number of quality and useful adapters already available in the market.
The Dell XPS 13 (2018) starts around US$ 999 in some markets with the base configuration. The particular variant I have here retails for US$ 1,450 in the US, SG$ 2,399 in Singapore, and PhP 99,990 in the Philippines. It’s quite pricey, but you’re getting a premium notebook and not just another Windows 10-powered laptop.
SEE ALSO: Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1 Review: The complete business laptop
Free Steam code awaits MSI RTX 40 series purchases
Review and get free codes too
MSI recently unveiled its latest set of laptops that are up the date with the latest 13th Gen Intel Core HX processors and RTX 40 series graphics.
These include the following models:
- Stealth 16
- Katana 15
- Cyborg 15
- Raider GE78 HX
- Titan GT77 HX
Such Intel Core HX processors with 24 cores deliver up to 5.6GHz of processing speed, a big jump which shall be felt by users when it comes to gaming performance, creative applications, and programs requiring the heavy workload.
In the graphics department, the NVIDIA RTX 40 series cards are more efficient and feature Ada Lovelace architecture to take gaming to the next level.
Early bird, review bonuses
To spice things up, MSI is offering US$ 50 Steam wallet codes for customers who will pre-order any of the participating 2023 MSI RTX 40 series models until April 30.
Likewise, customers who post a review of any of the eligible models will also receive a free US$ 50 Steam wallet code as part of the Shout Out for MSI program.
Redemption will be until May 14. To check the full mechanics, click here.
Logitech products now available in Watsons stores
Not a drill!
Looking for cosmetics brands inside a Watsons store? Nowadays, the chances are you’d come across some Logitech products too.
Logitech, a brand known for its tech devices such as headphones, keyboards, and mice, has partnered with Watsons — yes, the popular beauty and health retailer.
The interesting development means all 28 Watsons locations in Singapore, as well as the shop’s online store, will have Logitech’s various products on display and ready to be purchased.
According to Logitech’s Bernard Chow, the Head of Cluster for Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, the move tries to cement the brand’s identity as not only a “tech” brand but also a “lifestyle” brand.
Among the products to be sold in Watsons stores are the following:
- K380 multi-device Bluetooth keyboard: SG$ 59
- Pebble wireless mouse M350: SG$ 45
- Lift vertical ergonomic mouse: SG$ 119
- POP wireless mouse: SG$ 54
- BRIO 500: SG$ 199
- Zone Vibe 100 wireless over-the-ear headphones: SG$ 159
On the part of the Watsons, making tech devices available on its stores’ shelves also allows the brand to expand outside of beauty and health products, integrating such products to cater to an even broader customer demographics.
Lenovo partners with AMD to launch newest ThinkPads
Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops have always taken pride in being portable powerhouses. The company has partnered with AMD to make the newest ThinkPad P16s Gen 1, ThinkPad Z16 and Z13 Gen 1, and ThinkBook 15 Gen 5 available in the Philippines.
These workstations all come equipped with AMD Ryzen pro processors, a slew of enhancements, and even more advanced security features for the benefit of those on the go.
The most affordable of the batch, the ThinkBook 15 Gen 5 is available for PhP 30,999 and comes with Ryzen 5000 series processors with Radeon graphics, as well as AI features that make virtual communication a breeze.
Meanwhile, the ThinkPad P16s Gen 1 is priced at PhP 57,999 and has ThinkShield security suite and MIL-SPEC testing.
Improved usability features include a fingerprint reader, full numeric keypad, wider touchpad, and all-day battery capacity.
For a more powerful option, there’s the ThinkPad Z13 Gen 1 which retails for PhP 74,999 and can breeze through even the heaviest of tasks as it is equipped with a Ryzen 7 Pro 6860Z processor.
It is expected to deliver maximum responsiveness even when multitasking or having a handful of programs open. It can also be relied on for Zoom or Teams, as well as music and video streaming.
Lastly, the larger ThinkPad Z16 Gen 1 is designed not only for business use but also for content creation and gaming. The powerhouse laptop of the batch is priced at PhP 105,999.
It comes with Radeon RX 6500M discrete graphics and AMD smart technologies to fully support users’ needs, as well as groundbreaking security features.
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