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

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.

dell xps 13 plus intel evo

From the outside, the Dell XPS 13 Plus looks quite austere.

© The Digital

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

Dell XPS 13 Plus Aluminum

The XPS logo only appears under the chassis.

© The Digital

Once the screen is deployed, the Dell XPS 13 Plus lets you admire its keyboard with square and perfectly flat keys. The whole is completely refined, the touchpad being completely concealed under the glass palm rest which occupies the lower third of the PC.

dell xps 13 plus touchpad

The interior is particularly successful.

© The Digital

In use, this keyboard offers a comfortable typing with a slight mechanical noise, and contrary to what we feared, we did not make more typos with its large flat keys. The row of sensitive function keys, however, is a little less sensitive than expected – this will take a little getting used to. Note that the start button also acts as a fingerprint reader compatible with Windows Hello. It is located in the upper right corner of the keyboard.

The touchpad is truly tactile between the lower left corner of the space bar and the lower right corner of the AltGr key. The haptic feedback of left and right clicks is particularly convincing. All Windows gestures are fully taken into account 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 peripherals. 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 offering 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 of 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 encoding, we note 40°C in the center of the keyboard. We also note that the strip of sensitive keys does not benefit from the blowing of the fans and can greatly exceed 40°C.

Dell XPS 13 Plus intel evo thermal imaging temperature keyboard

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

© The Digital

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

Dismantling 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 is removable, as well as the battery. The RAM and the wifi card are soldered.

interior 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 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB 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.

dell xps 13 Plus processor intel evo core i5-1240P performance benchmark

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

© The Digital

The Dell XPS 13 Plus and its Core i5-1240P obtain a performance index of 101 and thus place themselves 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 against its predecessor Intel Core i5-1135G7. The latter obtains an index of 69 in the HP Envy X360 13, a gain of nearly 44% in favor of the Core i5-1240P.

During our encoding, 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 in reading and 5 GB / s in writing.

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 yet dispensable on an ultrabook format whose screen is not rotatable, which adds weight to the device and a glossy finish of the panel. We note, however, the impeccable integration of the webcam which does not require a notch. The particularly thin borders bring the screen occupancy rate to nearly 92%, according to our calculations.

dell xps 13 plus thin bezel edge screen

The borders around the screen are particularly thin.

© The Digital

Under our probe, the Dell XPS 13 Plus panel displays 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 with 1779:1, without however reaching the perfect blacks of an Oled version. The color temperature is 6087 K, which is slightly lower than the 6500 K of the video standard.

The 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 with 16 ms, which is more than enough for use outside 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 19.9cm) with a thickness of 1.52cm – our touch version weighs 1.26kg. With such a format, the XPS 13 Plus fits in any backpack, especially since its 60 W charger is particularly 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 particularly compact, the mains cable much less.

© The Digital

The autonomy 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 the Bluetooth and backlight off and headphones set to 50% volume.

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