Dell unveils a slimmer XPS 13 and a detachable 2-in-1
Get ready for some new spins on Dell's premium ultraportables.
While all eyes are on the flashy new XPS 13 Plus, Dell hasn't forgotten about its mainstay premium ultraportable or its convertible cousin. This year, the XPS 13 been redesigned to be slimmer and more power efficient. The XPS 13 2-in-1, meanwhile, has been transformed from a foldable laptop into a detachable Surface competitor. Both are being positioned to make room for their new family member—if you want power, you'll want the XPS 13 Plus with its beefy 28-watt CPU. But if portability matters more to you, then the XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1 may be more appealing.
Here's how you can tell Dell is thinking of the XPS 13 differently: It's now running 9-watt 12th-gen Intel processors, whereas last year's model was powered by 15-watt 11th-gen chips. According to Dell, you can get the new CPU to run at 12-watts in performance mode, which gives you the same performance as the previous processors. While we haven't tested the XPS 13, that claim makes sense given the massive performance gains we've seen from Intel's new hybrid processor design, which rely on a combination of high-power and high-efficiency cores.
Dell also managed to craft a motherboard that's 1.8x smaller than last year's model. (Notably, it's also the most compact motherboard the company has ever created.) The new setup is so efficient, it only needs a single fan to cool the entire system, down from the two fans in last year's model. Dell tells us that fan could be noisier than before when it's running at full blast, but for typical usage it'll be quieter. On top of generating less heat, having more internal space gave Dell room to throw in larger speaker enclosures, as well as a bigger battery (now rated at 12 hours of juice).
While the XPS 13 looks similar to last year's model, there are some notable changes. Now its keyboard is surrounded with the same tinted metal as the outside of the case—no more carbon fiber or woven glass. And, unfortunately, it also loses the headphone jack just like the XPS 13 Plus. There's a USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter in the box, but that will also take up one of the machine's two USB-C ports. As with most ultraportables, if you want to get real work done, you'll probably need to invest in a mini-hub.
As a fan of Dell's previous XPS 13 2-in-1 notebooks, I'm also intrigued to see how the company tries to tackle a premium detachable, especially after the failure of the XPS 12. The new 2-in-1 sports a 13-inch screen, is powered by 12th-gen Intel chips and, notably, it's also Dell's first PC with built-in 5G. At 1.6 pounds (for the Wi-Fi model) or 1.8 pounds (for the 5G), the 2-in-1 tablet also weighs less than the 1.96-pound Surface Pro 8.
Unfortunately, Dell also appears to be taking the wrong lessons from Microsoft, as its XPS Folio keyboard accessory will be sold separately. That case looks compelling, at least, with three angles of screen adjustability and a borderless keyboard with 1 millimeter of travel. It also won't lead to a heavy convertible PC, since it weighs 1.2 pounds on its own. Additionally, there's a new XPS Stylus to go alongside the tablet, but of course it's also sold separately.
The new XPS 13 is available today starting at $999. You'll have to wait until this summer to nab the latest XPS 13 2-in-1, and we're still not sure how much it (or its accessories) will cost.