Dell XPS 13 2020: The ultimate executive’s notebook gets some refinements

Mala Bhargava | Updated on September 04, 2020 Published on September 04, 2020

The device is smart, elegant, thin and light, and has a good build

The sleekest of the sleek Dell XPS line is targeted at those in the prime of their working lives — 30 and 40 somethings who are wholly focussed on productivity and fully mean to look the part.

For this, a high quotient of premium elegance is essential. The XPS 13 fully obliges by looking smart, slim, and ultra portable, something to be coveted and meant for go-getters. The larger XPS laptops with 15 and 17 inch screens are aimed at creators, while the XPS 13, the smallest of the laptops in the XPS line, is for those in executive positions or aspiring to be.

The 2020 generation of this iconic line doesn’t have a design that’s dramatically different from before — and nor should it, or it would tamper with one of the most important things about it, which is looking good. There are actually quite a few variants, some with touchscreens and some without, some with a two-in-one form factor, some with a 4K screen and some without, and with differing amounts of RAM and storage and even different Intel processors.

We’re looking at one of the simpler and more straightforward models with a regular screen that neither folds back nor has touch capability and which is not of the 4K variety.

Our review unit is silver anodised aluminium on the outside, looking satisfyingly metallic, and black on the inside. The build is impressive. However, all the material around the touchpad where you rest your wrists gets nicely smudged and oily looking, which is most unfortunate for a product this premium.

There’s a variant with white interiors that may fare better but again, may not. Other than that, the build feels strong and sturdy and satisfyingly metallic. I can’t but mention all the outer edges of this machine. If you hold it up and turn it all around, you’ll see the outer edges glinting and looking really contemporary. I particularly love the stiletto like sides that lend to the sleekness of this notebook.

Slim and trim

In the world of ultrabooks, the XPS 13 is one of the thinnest and lightest at 1.27 kg. Portability has obviously been an important dimension here. It can now be opened with one hand, if that’s important to you. The 13.4-inch screen on this laptop has been fitted into what Dell says would have been an 11-inch format. The bezels have been thinned down to what seems like absolute minimum. And that’s done without interfering with the camera on top.

The display itself is really nice with good colours and razor sharp crispness. If, like me, you’re accustomed to a touch screen, it’s worth looking at the XPS 13 model that does have this as I instinctively kept reaching out to touch some element and only realising afresh this wasn’t a touch model when the element would fail to react.

The keyboard is one you can trust outright. I feel the keys have a little less travel than before but that seemed to make no difference to the typing experience which was as good as ever. Sadly, thinning down the machine seems to have meant fewer ports on board. There’s a Thunderbolt 3 port and a 3.5mm headphone jack on one side and and another Thunderbolt 3 port and MicroSD card slot on the other. There’s no regular USB Type-A port. You’ll need an accessory adapter to use a mouse or a flash drive. Easily bought, but a nuisance to carry and an overall annoyance.

The configuration for our review unit is Intel’s 10th gen Core i5-1035G1 processor, with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD. For light work, this is just fine. If you’re planning on heavy video editing or using software that is very graphics intensive, one of the other larger models will be more tuned to it. For basic everyday corporate work, the notebook is snappy and fast enough. It comes with fingerprint security and Windows Hello and wakes up pretty fast and is a pretty good device to work with. If you’re not looking at getting into the Apple ecosystem, the XPS 13 could be an alternative to the MacBook Air.

Price: Starting at ₹1,49,507.49

Pros: Smart and elegant, thin and light, good build, considered top of the line

Cons: Expensive, gets smudged on the inside, too few ports

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Published on September 04, 2020
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