Dell XPS 13 (2020) review

Two minute review

The Dell XPS 13 (2020) builds on everything that has made the XPS line so stellar in the past for a remarkable laptop that exceeds expectations. Not only does it continue the line’s excellence, which has ranked among the best laptops for about a decade now, but makes crucial improvements to stay current such as an upgrade in performance, an innovative webcam, and thinner bezels.

This iteration of the XPS 13 has solidified the XPS line as the standard for not only all other Ultrabooks on the market but most Windows laptops as well. With the 2020 version, you not only get the elegant design this line is known for, but a fantastic display, a surprising amount of power, and a feature-set that can’t be beaten. And, Dell has managed to do all this without making any compromises to what has made XPS laptops so great in the first place.

The 2020 version of the Dell XPS 13 is not cheap. In fact, it’s one of the more premium options out there but it’s worth the price of entry. There might be a few drawbacks to it, but it’s about as perfect of a laptop as you could ask for, particularly if you want a premium device that can handle just about any task you throw at it.

  • Check out our top picks for the best Dell laptops for 2020.

(Image credit: Future)

Spec sheet

Here is the Dell XPS 13 (2020) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7 (quad-core, 8MB Intel Smart Cache, up to 3.9GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus (integrated)
RAM: 16GB LPDDR4x (3,733MHz)
Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) touch
Storage: 512GB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, M.2)
Ports: 2x USB-C 3.1 with Thunderbolt 3, microSD card reader, combi audio jack
Connectivity: Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650, 2 x 2, Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: 1080p IR Webcam
Weight: 2.8 pounds (1.27 kg)
Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.58 inches (296 x 199 x 14.8 mm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

The Dell XPS 13 9300 starts off at $1,249 (₤1,399, AU$2,499), with a 10th-gen Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD – or a 512GB SSD in the UK and Australia. At this level, you’re also getting a 1080p display without touch capability – you’ll have to pay extra to touch your screen.

Of course if that’s not enough, you can configure the new Dell XPS 13 with more powerful hardware and better displays, with the price tag going up in turn. The unit we reviewed, with the hardware listed to the right, will set you back $1,749 (₤1,599, AU$3,099), with a 10th-gen Core i7 and a touchscreen. Again, however, we have to mention that the 1080p touchscreen doesn’t seem to be available outside the US.

It’s definitely an expensive piece of kit, but much like the MacBook Pro it’s trying to compete with, the XPS 13 feels like an expensive piece of kit. We have our reservations with charging this much for this level of hardware, but premium design is something you’re into, Dell is serving it up here.

And, if you really want to go all-out with it, you can have Dell strap a 4K touch screen on here for an extra $200 (about ₤160, AU$330) and a 2TB SSD for an added $300 (about ₤250, AU$500). This means that with everything added up, a fully kitted out Dell XPS 13 9300 is going to set you back a whopping $2,249 (about ₤1,850, AU$3,720).

(Image credit: Future)

Design

This will probably not surprise anyone, but the Dell XPS 13 is an absolute stunner. Not only is this laptop extremely lightweight at 2.8 lb (1.27kg), but it’s super thin, too, measuring in at just 0.58 inches (14.8mm) at its thickest point. This makes the Dell XPS 13 an incredibly easy laptop to just throw in your backpack and carry around. However we do have to admit that we didn’t actually toss it in our backpack in our testing – thanks to that social distancing.

But there’s dozens of laptops out there that can say they’re thin and light, where the XPS 13 really excels is in other areas of the design. There is very little in the way of wasted space here, as the keyboard extends nearly to both edges of the laptop, along with a healthily-sized and incredibly smooth touchpad.

The keyboard itself is again a winner, with key travel that is just deep enough to be comfy without having to make compromises to the portability of the laptop. The touchpad, too, is pretty incredible. It’s not on the level of, like, a MacBook Pro, but no Windows 10 laptop has ever even come close to that. For the most part, tracking is incredibly smooth and accurate, and the buttons don’t feel as mushy and weak as they do with other Windows laptops.

Likewise, the display is a thing of beauty. We reviewed the Dell XPS 13 with a 1080p touch display and it is without a doubt one of the brightest, most colorful displays we’ve seen in a while. Sure, the 4K model probably looks better, but we struggle to really see the point in getting a 4K display in a 13-inch laptop anyway. When we got the laptop ready for its battery test, we set the display brightness down to 50% – and we just left it there. The laptop was set to 100% brightness when it was first pulled out of its box, but it’s more than bright enough for our work at 50%.

We wish the same could be said for the speakers, however. For some reason Dell continues to kneecap its most premium laptop by putting the speakers on the bottom of the device. Especially when there’s a little strip right above the keyboard where the speakers would genuinely fit. They don’t sound great.

For a bit of background, Dell is hyping the Dell XPS 13 as being part of its Dell Cinema program, aiming to bring pristine video and sound quality for folks that want to watch a lot of content on its laptops. The video part of that equation is definitely there – everything simply looks amazing on the Dell XPS 13 display. But wow that sound is not there.

The speakers on this laptop are probably going to be pretty decent for watching a quick YouTube video or binging some Netflix in the middle of the night when you’re too stressed to actually sleep. But if you really want to enjoy your media, the speakers aren’t going to cut it.

Listening to Toxic by Britney Spears, the speakers on the XPS 13 almost completely stripped out the bottom end of the track. And that track without the booming bass – what’s even the point? Even less bass-dependent tracks like Cirice by Ghost sound like they’ve completely lost their teeth. Just imagine, you’re watching the latest Hollywood action movie and an explosion just sounds like a gust of wind.

Watching the last action scene in Thor Ragnarok, even when the giant demon thing bursts out of the castle in Asgard, the sound leaves so much to be desired. One of the most bombastic scenes in the history of Marvel sounds boring on the XPS 13. If you’re going to watch your favorite movies on the XPS 13’s gorgeous display, please, for the love of everything good: wear some of the best headphones.

(Image credit: Future)

Moving on.

There’s an annoying trend in current laptops to cut down ports in the name of portability, and the Dell XPS 13 is definitely guilty of that. You’re getting two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a microSD and a headphone jack. That’s it. That’s admittedly more than many other laptops on the market right now and there’s not really any space on the laptop for more, it just means you’ll have to live that adapter life.

Like previous versions of the XPS 13, the top of the keyboard deck is covered in this composite fiber palm rest. This is pretty comfy, but it is definitely something that will get gross over time.

Ultimately, the Dell XPS 13 is a premium device aimed at folks that want to get lightweight computing done and look good while doing it. And, really, it ultimately succeeds. It’s a beautiful piece of kit, we just wish Dell would take audio seriously for once.

(Image credit: Future)

Benchmarks

Here’s how the Dell XPS 13 (2020) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

Cinebench R20 CPU: 1,700 points
Cinebench R15 CPU: 760 points
3DMark Time Spy: 901; Fire Strike: 2,856; Sky Diver: 10,066
GeekBench 5: 1,251 (single-core); 4,781 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,890 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 5 hours 35 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 9 hours 40 minutes

Performance

The Dell XPS 13 we got for review is rocking an Intel Core i7-1065G7, a 4-core, 8-thread mobile processor built off of Intel’s Ice Lake architecture. And, well, it’s fine.

This little processor provides enough juice to power you through pretty much any mundane computing task, but might struggle in super heavy workloads like video editing. But, there’s one key feature to Ice Lake that should be noted: the GPU.

The Intel Gen11 graphics, or “Intel Iris,” are supposedly about 2x more powerful than the integrated graphics found in last-generation Intel Whiskey Lake processors. That definitely sounds impressive, and the fact that this laptop can score a healthy 2,856 points in Time Spy compared to the LG Gram 17 2019’s 1,094 backs up Intel’s claims. Still, this is very much not a gaming laptop.

The Dell XPS 13 might be able to handle some esports titles at 720p, but you’re not exactly going to be getting killer Doom Eternal PC performance is all we’re saying.

Raw CPU performance is another interesting story. Ice Lake in general is targeted more towards media consumption than raw performance, which is what its sister architecture Comet Lake is meant for. This means that in benchmarks like Cinebench and Geekbench see slightly lower scores than 8th-generation.

As for what that’s like in practice, we were able to have dozens of Chrome tabs open in a panicked bid to keep up with work without having the laptop slow down even a little.

What is super impressive, however, is that there is virtually no heat that transfers up to the keyboard or trackpad. Now, while the bottom of the trackpad does warm up quite a bit when it’s working hard, the keyboard feels just as cool after 8 hours as it does when we first open the laptop up at the beginning of the day.

Even some of the best-cooled laptops will transfer some heat to the top-side of the chassis, but we’re super impressed by how well the Dell XPS 13 handles this.

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life

Sure, the Dell XPS 13 performs extremely well, but because this is such a portable laptop, you’d expect long battery life so you could carry the laptop around for a long time without worrying about carrying around a charger.

And, well, the XPS 13 largely delivers. In our movie test, the Dell XPS 13 lasts a respectable 9 hours and 40 minutes, and even in the more demanding PCMark 8 battery test lasts just under 6 hours.

Benchmarks only tell so much of the story, though. What’s really impressive is how well the battery keeps up with our daily work. We’re not exactly easy on the laptops we test, loading up chrome with dozens of tabs and listening to music – and we have no problem getting through a full day of work, with some battery left over for the next morning.

If you’re looking for a laptop to take to the office with you, where you can chill and watch some Netflix on the train home, the Dell XPS 13 makes a pretty good case for itself.

(Image credit: Future)

Software and features

Because the Dell XPS 13 is a flagship, it’s not bogged down with a ton of needless bloatware. However, there are a few pieces of software that offer some good ease of life bonuses.

Of course you have update assistants and customer service apps, but one of the most unique pieces of software here is Dell Cinema Guide. This allows you to basically collect all your streaming services under one app, and search for movies or TV shows you want to watch through all the libraries at once. Not exactly the most vital piece of software in the world, but we have to admit its pretty cool.

Beyond that, the Dell XPS 13 features both versions of Windows Hello, with a fingerprint scanner above the backspace key that doubles as a power button, along with a IR-capable webcam that can scan your face to let you into the device.

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if…

You’re after something fancy
The Dell XPS 13 is without a doubt one of the most premium-feeling laptops we’ve laid hands on, and it will doubtless get some glances at the local coffee shop. It’s a laptop you’ll want to show off.

You want a beautiful display
Dell excels with its display yet again, delivering a panel that’s bright and color accurate. And, with the tiny bezels, your entire view will be screen.

You want something lightweight
This is an incredibly thin and light laptop, making it super easy to carry around wherever you have to go. If you want a competent computing device that feels like a feather, this is it.

(Image credit: Future)

Don’t buy it if…

You’re on a budget
The Dell XPS 13 is a premium device, and with that comes a pretty steep price tag. You can get the same level of hardware elsewhere for less cash.

You want great laptop audio
Dell chose to put the speakers on the bottom of the laptop again, which means that audio quality isn’t great. You can get around this by using some headphones, but when you’re paying this much, we’d like to see better built-in speakers.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

The best cheap Dell laptop deals and prices for August 2021

Dell laptop deals can offer some excellent low prices on machines with specs that outrank their price tags. That’s excellent news, whether you’re looking for a super cheap everyday machine ... Read more »

The best cheap Chromebook prices and deals in August 2021

The best Chromebook deals can save you even more cash on already-cheap machines. Often that means you’ll be able to pick up a budget device for under $200 / £200, ... Read more »

Best AMD gaming laptops 2021: the top gaming laptops powered by Team Red

When it comes to choosing the best AMD gaming laptop, you’ve got a lot more to choose from than you might have had even a year or two ago. From ... Read more »

Save on refurbished Dell and HP computers this weekend

You don’t need an expensive computer to be a productivity machine. In terms of functionality, all you really need is solid RAM, enough storage, and a high-quality screen. You also ... Read more »

Save $200 on an Alienware gaming laptop, plus more cheap laptop deals

OUR TOP PICK: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 — save $1,025.55 BEST APPLE DEAL: 2020 Apple MacBook Air — save $149.01 BEST MICROSOFT DEAL: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 — ... Read more »

Need a cheap laptop? Grab this HP Chromebook for $220.

Save $120: The HP Chromebook 14-inch FHD laptop (Intel Celeron N4000, 4GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC) is on sale for only $219.99 at Amazon as of July 29. When you’re ... Read more »

XPG Xenia 14 review

Two-minute review You have to hand it to XPG: since entering the laptop market a couple of years ago, the Adata sub-brand has certainly taken a good stab at shaking ... Read more »

HP Spectre x360 (2020) review

Two-minute review With the HP Spectre x360 2020 rocking double the RAM of prior Spectres, Iris Plus integrated graphics and the Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU, it can stand toe-to-toe with ... Read more »

Getac K120 G2 ruggedized laptop review

Getac makes a wide range of computers made to work in the types of environment that can often spell doom for the delicate electronics inside of modern systems. While they’re ... Read more »

Dell XPS 15 (2020) review

The Dell XPS 15 (2020) may be the closest any manufacturer has come to a perfect device, elevating the line to a new level. Among the best laptops right now, ... Read more »

Dell XPS 13 (2020) review

Two minute review The Dell XPS 13 was already a great machine, but the Dell XPS 13 (2020) has cemented its status as the benchmark for all Windows portables. This ... Read more »

Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review

Two-minute review The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may be the biggest leap forward the smallest Pro line has gotten in years. Instead of the usual Intel processors, Apple opted ... Read more »

Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review

Two-minute review The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) has given Apple’s slimmest laptop line a giant leap forward. With the manufacturer’s highly-acclaimed Apple M1 processor, the ARM-based chip that’s replaced the ... Read more »

The best cheap laptop deals in July 2021

We’re bringing you all the best cheap laptop deals currently on the shelves, and right now you can pick up some excellent specs for some great prices. Not only are ... Read more »

Best Chromebooks 2021: the top Chromebooks for kids, students and more

The best Chromebook combines great reliability with a price that won’t break the bank. Loaded with the capable yet lightweight Chrome OS, while not as full-featured as the Windows 10 ... Read more »

Apple MacBook Air's rumored upgrades could take the world's best laptop to another level

It looks like the best laptop in the world, the MacBook Air, will be getting a major upgrade in 2022, with Apple reportedly planning to include a Mini LED display ... Read more »

How do I connect my laptop to my TV?

There are many reasons why you might want to connect your laptop to your TV. Maybe you haven’t got a smart TV or streaming box and watching your favorite TV ... Read more »

How to use Nvidia GeForce Now on a Chromebook

People think you can’t game on a Chromebook, but we’re here to show you how to with Nvidia GeForce Now, which brings top-flight gaming to your Chromebook for free!  “For ... Read more »

How to screenshot on a Chromebook

Knowing how to screenshot on a Chromebook will come in handy, whether you use yours for work or for school. Taking screen grabs is a basic function of any decent ... Read more »

How to clean your laptop screen

Learn how to clean a laptop screen with this guide. Your window to the digital world is crucial to your computing experience. But it also has a habit of attracting ... Read more »

Switch effortlessly from studying to gaming with the right tech for college life

Getting your head around a new semester is all about using your time and resources wisely. Cutting-edge gaming tech can power your downtime at school, but it can also help ... Read more »

Back up your files with ease using this portable device

TL;DR: Back up your computer, phone, or tablet anywhere with the AnyBackup device. As of July 24, get one for only $59.95 — a 14% discount. With the AnyBackup device, ... Read more »

Save $100 on a 2020 MacBook Air, plus more cheap laptop deals this weekend

OUR TOP PICK: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 — save $249.01 BEST APPLE DEAL: 2020 Apple MacBook Air — save $100 BEST LENOVO DEAL: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 — ... Read more »

Amazon's exceptional MacBook Pro deal has the Apple Store beat

SAVE $199.01: Typically $1,299, the MacBook Pro (M1 chip, 256GB) is on sale on Amazon for just $1,099.99 as of July 16 — a 15% savings. Looking for a new ... Read more »

Save $1,000 on a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, plus more laptop deals this weekend

OUR TOP PICK: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 — save $329.01 BEST LENOVO DEAL: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 — save $1,219.60 BEST GAMING DEAL: Razer Blade 15 — save ... Read more »

Get the job done with a Lenovo 2-in-1 laptop on sale for $429

Save $110.99: This Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14-inch 2-in-1 laptop is on sale for $249 at Walmart as of July 15. If you need a new laptop, you don’t always have ... Read more »

MacBook camera not cutting it? Try a 1080p webcam instead.

TL;DR: Upgrade your video call quality with this 1080p HD Webcam, on sale for $36.99 — a 53% discount — as of July 16. For the price tag that comes ... Read more »

How to connect AirPods to Chromebook

If you were concerned that you couldn’t get in on the AirPods craze with your Chromebook, don’t worry. Your Apple AirPods and Google Chromebook are compatible via Bluetooth. While AirPods ... Read more »

Get the kids ready for class with an Asus Chromebook on sale for $139

Save $130: The Asus C423 14-inch Chromebook with 4GB of RAM and 64GB hard drive is only $139 at Walmart as of July 8, a 48% savings on its list ... Read more »

Microsoft is having a sale on the Surface Pro X, but Amazon's is better

Save $210.05: The Microsoft Surface Pro X (SQ1, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD) is going for $788.95 at Amazon as of July 8 — beating Microsoft’s own sale price by more than ... Read more »

This Samsung Chromebook is still on sale at its low Prime Day price of just under $160

SAVE $70.99: Typically $229.99, the 32GB Samsung Chromebook 4 is on sale at Walmart for just $159 as of July 6 — a 31% savings. Let’s play a quick game of ... Read more »

Gateway laptops are back and better than ever — available exclusively at Walmart

The following content is brought to you by Mashable partners. If you buy a product featured here, we may earn an affiliate commission or other compensation. The under-$500 laptop has ... Read more »

Apple might launch 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro in September

Apple is preparing to completely overhaul its lineup of MacBook Pro devices. This is according to a new report by Digitimes (via MacRumors), which claims that Apple plans to launch ... Read more »

Get a dual-screen work station wherever with a portable monitor

TL;DR: Use a second screen on the go with the Mobile Pixels DUEX portable monitor, on sale for $229 with code DUEXLITE as of July 1. That’s a savings of ... Read more »

Huawei MateBook 13 review

Two-minute review The Huawei MateBook 13 is another excellent release from Huawei, providing performance on par or better than many laptops in its class and at a lower price. In ... Read more »

Razer Blade 15 (2020) review

Razer Blade 15 (2020) deals Razer Blade 15 Base Gaming… Razer Blade 15 (2020) (15.6-inch 256GB) Amazon $1,230.65 $1,189.97 Reduced Price Razer RZ0903286E22 Blade 15… Razer Blade 15 (2020) Walmart ... Read more »

macOS Monterey turns your iPad, MacBook, and iMac into one big screen

Last year, Apple scaled Big Sur. This year, it’s taking us to Monterey. Apple announced the next iteration of the Mac’s operating system, dubbed Monterey, at WWDC 2021. As we ... Read more »

The best early Prime Day Apple deals so far — MacBooks, AirPods, and plenty more

Early Prime Day Apple deals as of June 18: BEST MACBOOK DEAL: 2020 Apple MacBook Air with Apple M1 Chip — save $50 BEST IPAD DEAL: 2020 Apple iPad Air — ... Read more »

Take gaming on the go with limited time deals on Intel-powered laptops

TL;DR: Save on Intel gaming laptops at Best Buy through June 27. Travel and gaming are no longer mutually exclusive pursuits. Thanks to the advent of better, faster, and, let’s ... Read more »

Best cheap laptop deals this weekend: Save on Asus, Lenovo, and more

OUR TOP PICK: Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 — save $400 BEST LENOVO DEAL: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 — save $1,251.60 BEST 2-IN-1 DEAL: Asus Chromebook Flip C434 — ... Read more »