Dell XPS 13 Plus review: the ultra-portable that borders on excellence

Construction

The chassis of the Dell XPS 13 Plus is made of brushed aluminum, the manufacturer’s logo sits in the center of the cover, and there are long openings under the chassis to let the speakers speak.

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From the outside, the Dell XPS 13 Plus looks pretty tight.

© The Digital

At first glance, the Dell XPS 13 Plus looks like a regular ultrabook, but it’s inside that things change. Opening the screen is a little difficult, as Dell has removed any notches in the aluminum that could detract from the design. You’ll simply have to rely on the chamfer formed by the edge of the screen to catch it.

Dell XPS 13 Plus aluminum

The XPS logo only appears under the chassis.

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Once the screen is installed, the Dell XPS 13 Plus allows you to admire its keyboard with square and perfectly flat keys. It’s all completely refined, with the touchpad completely hidden under the glass palm rest, which takes up the bottom third of the PC.

dell xps 13 plus touchpad

The interior is particularly successful.

© The Digital

In use, this keyboard offers comfortable typing with a slight mechanical noise, and contrary to what we feared, we didn’t make any more typos with its large, flat keys. However, the row of sensitive function keys is a little less sensitive than expected – it takes some getting used to. Note that the home button also doubles as a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader. It is located in the upper right corner of the keyboard.

The touchpad is truly tactile between the lower left corner of the Spacebar and the lower right corner of the AltGr key. The haptic feedback from left and right clicks is particularly convincing. All Windows gestures are fully accounted for and we quickly adapt to this new hidden touchpad.

Dell XPS 13 Plus usb c

A single USB-C port on each side of the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

On the connectivity side, Dell has refined its XPS 13 Plus a little too much. Two unique Thunderbolt 4 ports in USB-C format are responsible for communicating with your external devices. Even the headphone jack is gone. To pass the pill, the manufacturer provides a USB-C to USB-A adapter and a USB-C to jack adapter.

For wireless connectivity, Dell used an Intel AX211 chip on our model that offers 6E wifi at 2400 Mb/s as well as Bluetooth 5.2. Well integrated above the screen, the 720p webcam is of decent quality but clearly lacks detail.



In the shadow


With good light

The cooling system in the Dell XPS 13 Plus consists of two fans, two radiators and a heat pipe. They evacuate the heat generated by the processor at the hinge. The air thus blown can go up to 45°C, and after our video coding we note 40°C in the middle of the keyboard. We also note that the strip of sensitive keys does not benefit from the fan’s fan and can greatly exceed 40°C.

Dell XPS 13 Plus intel evo thermal image temperature keyboard

The temperature of the keyboard keys can reach almost 40°C.

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In terms of noise pollution, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is particularly discreet. Even after encoding for more than 30 minutes, it does not exceed 33.7 dB (A). We had to double check that both fans were functional and that the CPU was fully charged.

Disassembling the XPS 13 Plus does not pose any particular problem. Six Torx screws hold the shell to the chassis, but once opened, only the SSD can be removed, as well as the battery. The RAM and wifi card are soldered.

internal disassembly disassemble dell xps 13 plus intel evo

Only the SSD can be updated in the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

© The Digital

Editor's rating: 4 out of 5

Performance

Our XPS 13 Plus model houses an Intel Core i5-1240P processor accompanied by 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. The Core i5-1240P benefits from the Alder Lake hybrid architecture with four hyperthreaded performance cores and eight cores said to be efficient. This is a processor dedicated to “thin” laptops with a thermal envelope of 28 W.

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With its 12th generation Intel Core i5 processor, the Dell XPS 13 Plus performs well.

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The Dell XPS 13 Plus and its Core i5-1240P achieve a performance index of 101, thus placing it between a Ryzen 5 5500U mounted in the Honor MagicBook 15 (87) and a Ryzen 7 6800U in the Asus Zenbook S 13 Oled ( 111). We also dug into our database to compare its performance with its predecessor, the Intel Core i5-1135G7. The latter achieves an index of 69 in the HP Envy X360 13, a gain of almost 44% in favor of the Core i5-1240P.

During our coding, the Core i5-1240P stabilized the frequency of its P cores at 2.14 GHz after a boost to 3.8 GHz and 900 MHz for its E cores with a boost to 3 GHz. Its thermal envelope stabilizes at 21 W with a maximum of 62 W for a very short time.

The 512 GB Samsung PM9A1 SSD is particularly fast with 6.78 GB/s read and 5 GB/s write.

Editor's rating: 4 out of 5

Screen

The 13.4-inch IPS screen integrated by Dell in its XPS 13 Plus is quite classic with a definition of 1920 x 1200 pixels in 16:10 format. Only eccentricity, a tactile overlay, but nevertheless indispensable on an ultrabook format, the screen of which cannot be rotated, adding weight to the device and a glossy finish of the panel. However, we note the impeccable integration of the webcam, which does not require a notch. The particularly thin edges bring the screen coverage percentage up to almost 92% according to our calculations.

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The edges around the screen are particularly thin.

© The Digital

Under our probe, the Dell XPS 13 Plus panel shows a delta E just below the fateful bar of 3 (2.9). As a reminder, the colorimetric drifts are visible to the naked eye above 3. The contrast is high for an IPS panel at 1779:1, without however reaching the perfect blacks of an Oled version. The color temperature is 6087 K, which is slightly lower than the video standard’s 6500 K.

Brightness exceeds 500 cd/m² (517 cd/m²), enough to make outdoor work more comfortable, especially since the anti-reflective treatment of the glossy panel is particularly effective with less than 25% reflected light, according to our reflectometer.

The afterglow time is controlled at 16 ms, which is more than enough for use outside of video games.



Editor's rating: 4 out of 5

Mobility / Autonomy

The Dell XPS 13 Plus is slightly smaller than an A4 sheet (29.5 x 19.9 cm) with a thickness of 1.52 cm – our touch version weighs 1.26 kg. With such a format, the XPS 13 Plus fits in any backpack, especially since its 60 W charger is extremely compact. The USB-C cable is removable, as well as the bulky mains cable.

Dell XPS 13 Plus charger 60W USB-C cable

The 60 W charger is extremely compact, the mains cable much smaller.

© The Digital

The independence of the XPS 13 Plus left us a little unsatisfied, despite its Intel Evo certification, which is supposed to provide 8 hours of autonomy in real use. However, it only reached 7 h 50 min on our test protocol. As a reminder, we set the brightness to 200 cd/m², then watch a series on Netflix on a loop with Bluetooth and backlight off and headphones set to 50% volume.

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