A computer purchase is not a simple undertaking. You’re shelling out a lot of cash for what will essentially become your new closest friend and ally.
Dell’s XPS brand of consumer laptops has had years to establish itself as possibly one of the best series available, producing incredibly high-quality products that have frequently appeared in our lists of the best ultrabooks and even the best laptops overall.
The XPS 13 Plus (2022), a more expensive variant of the Dell XPS 13, was introduced as a new member of the XPS family last year. It attempted to provide something a little different, with more emphasis on design aesthetics and more powerful internal components.
This new XPS 13 Plus outperforms its predecessor significantly due to upgraded specifications, most notably the 13th-generation Intel Core processor inside. In short, we have some really good performance here, though don’t expect it to compete with the best gaming laptops as this XPS lacks a dedicated graphics card. I’ll get into the finer details later in this review.
Whether you’re a tech enthusiast, a creative professional, or a student seeking a reliable companion for work and play, this laptop promises to tick all the right boxes. We’ll delve into its sleek aesthetics, dissect its robust hardware, and examine how it fares in real-world scenarios. By the end of this review, you’ll have a clear picture of whether the Dell XPS 13 Plus is the laptop for you.
Dell XPS 13 Plus
Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023) Key Features:
- Dimensions – 29.5 x 19.9 x 1.5 cm
- CPU – Intel Core i5-1340P / Intel Core i7-1360P
- GPU – Intel Iris Xe Graphics
- RAM – 16GB, 32GB LPDDR5
- Storage – 512GB, 1TB, 2TB PCIe NVMe SSD
- Screen – 13.4-inch FHD+/ 3.5K/ UHD+ (1920 x 1200)/ (3456 x 2160)/ (3840 x 2400) OLED, 60Hz, Touch,
- Ports – 2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C
- Wireless – Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
- Camera – 720p 30fps webcam, IR cam
- Weight – 1.26 kg(2.77lbs)
The 2023 Dell XPS 13 Plus is more expensive than its standard-model sister, but not noticeably so. Prices for the base model of the computer with an Intel Core i5 processor, 512GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and a Full HD non-touch panel start at £1,298. On the other end, an Intel Core i7-1360P processor, 1TB of storage, 32GB of RAM, and a 3,840 x 2,400 touchscreen will cost around £2,009.
Other notable upgrade possibilities include the 3,840 x 2,400 OLED touchscreen (£200 more expensive than the FHD option), the Intel Core i7-1360P processor (£100 more), and Linux rather than Windows (£100 less). A 2TB SSD and 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of RAM are also options.
Design and Build Quality
The 13 Plus is incredibly lightweight at just 1.23kg (the OLED model is 300g heavier) and quite small for such a sturdy device. I don’t understand how you could ever make a 13.4-inch laptop much smaller given the 295 x 199 x 15.3mm dimensions.
The XPS 13 Plus represents the most significant change from the original XPS design to date. The Alder Lake-refreshed XPS 13 is still recognizable as a predecessor despite having a new, CNC-machined aluminum body.
The new XPS 13 Plus looks and feels very similar to the previous models when the lid is closed. The lid and body of aluminum are still completely resistant to twisting and bending. The lid opens with a well refined one-finger motion, revealing a screen that occupies 91.9% of the surface and has amazingly small bezels (4mm at the sides, 5mm above and below).
Unfortunately, Dell is adopting the trend toward minimal physical connectivity. There are two Thunderbolt 4 ports available, but no USB-A, HDMI, 3.5mm audio, or card reader. Dell does include audio and USB-A adaptors as a small courtesy to those of us who reside in and conduct business in the real world. However, a good USB-C hub (like our favorite Anker PowerExpand 6) will still be required.
With a redesigned “zero-lattice” keyboard, capacitive touch bar, and invisible touchpad, the Dell XPS 13 Plus distinguishes itself from its non-Plus stablemate. To sum up, all three qualities appear to be really wonderful.
The keyboard’s edge-to-edge zero-lattice design offers the biggest keys on a laptop this size with no space between the keys at all. The keyboard offers wonderful movement and plenty of travel. Even the most sausage-fingered typer should most of the time strike the appropriate key due to the sheer size of the keycaps (19mm square by my measurement). It’s easier and quicker to tap the icon for Volume Up or Brightness Down than it is to look for the icon on a busy keycap, which is another major benefit of the capacitive buttons above the keyboard.
Since there is no obvious indication of the touchpad’s start or finish, it takes some getting accustomed to. But after a few hours, the place becomes obvious. The bridge is nearly ideal once you’ve crossed it; it’s smooth, tactile, and silent. Although the click-action is rather brief, it is also very positive and tidy.
One of the most energy-efficient members of the Alder Lake family is the 12-core Core i7-1360P processor, but with eight “efficient” cores, four “performance” cores, and a maximum Turbo frequency of 5.00GHz, performance is anything from light. Our evaluation unit’s 32GB of quad-channel DDR5 RAM undoubtedly didn’t harm its benchmark scores either.
Because of the NVMe SSD, data transfers are comparatively quick, and the system’s responsiveness is generally good. The boot and wake speeds are almost instantaneous, which is amazing and in line with the Intel Evo branding. After a good hour of benchmarking, I also noticed that it didn’t grow too warm or noisy from the fans, which was a relief because the 2022 model.experiences some thermal difficulties.
I was pleased with the XPS 13 Plus’s price to performance ratio even though it’s not a cheap laptop. Due to the lack of a GPU, the only thing it will likely struggle with is running 3D rendering or scientific modeling applications. This ultrabook outperforms its predecessor for almost everything else, including office work, web surfing, light gaming, and even watching some Netflix in bed.
Display and Audio
On the other hand, the 13.4-inch display is a masterpiece. The 3,840 by 2,400 resolution provides a 337dpi pixel density that is incredibly clear, and the maximum brightness is an amazing 440cd/m2. The screen can produce up to 111.7% of the sRGB color gamut and 79.1% of DCI-P3 and has a contrast ratio of 1,953:1. With a Delta E variance against sRGB of just 1.3, it is also color correct. If I had to find fault, I’d say the refresh rate is just 60Hz, but for a laptop used for productivity, that’s almost irrelevant.
There are four speakers—two upward-firing tweeters and two downward-firing full-range drivers—have been crammed into the 13 Plus by Dell. The audio system of the XPS 13 Plus performs a great job considering how tiny it is. There is a lot of volume (the system has a 4W rated output), with peak music level recorded at 87dB and average output from a pink noise source recorded at 83dB, both measured at 1 meter. There is some bass and the music is well-balanced and cohesive. At full intensity, it can get a little noisy, but turning it down to about 80% makes it loud enough for casual listening.
The XPS 13 Plus falls short of its predecessor in this one area. The laptop’s battery life in our typical internet use battery test with Wi-Fi turned on was 6 hours and 20 minutes.
For comparison, that is less than almost every other current flagship laptop brand in this weight class. It is even less than the preceding M1 MacBook Air and less than half the size of the most recent 13-inch MacBook Air.
In light of the competition, it falls short, and I noticed that the battery depleted more quickly the more tasks you tried to do. Simply said, you cannot expect to take this laptop to work the next day after leaving it in your luggage overnight without charging it. Thanks to Thunderbolt 4 power transmission, it at least charges fairly quickly.
I really like the new keyboard deck design with its concealed touchpad, large keycaps, and capacitive touch bar, and the modernized chassis design gives the tried-and-true XPS formula a fresh new look.
But since there are a few things you should be aware of, it would be inconsiderate of me to not discuss the areas where XPS 13 Plus laptop falls short. Since the XPS 13 Plus only has two Thunderbolt 4 connections, a USB drive cannot even be attached. Additionally, the laptop gets very hot. So much so that I advise switching to using it on a tablet instead.
When you combine all of it with Intel’s 12th generation CPUs, a fantastic touchscreen display, and a potent sound system, Dell has a winner on its hands. This is a fantastic alternative, however the average battery life puts it behind the M2 MacBook Air.