Review: Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook
March 26, 2012
In January 2012, Dell announced the XPS 13 Ultrabook; it became available in late February 2012. The XPS 13 is Dell's first Ultrabook.
The XPS 13 Ultrabook weighs 3.0 pounds and is constructed of aluminum, carbon fiber, and magnesium alloy with a travel weight (including a small power adapter) of 3.5 pounds. The aluminum case feels sturdy and rigid and is 0.71 inches thick at its thickest point. The keyboard is backlit and keys are the now expected "chiclet"/"island" style.
Base and maximum RAM on all XPS 13 Ultrabook models is 4.0 GB. An SSD (either 128 GB or 256 GB) and a 1.3 MP web-cam with dual array digital microphones are standard. The XPS 13 does not include an optical drive or a wired Ethernet port. It does include a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) - important for reliable encryption and relatively unusual in a consumer oriented notebook.
The XPS 13 Ultrabook includes a 13.3-inch 118 pixel per inch glossy 1366 x 768 display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and edge to edge Gorilla Glass. Video output is solely via mini-DisplayPort - neither VGA nor HDMI are present.
Other standard XPS 13 Ultrabook connectivity includes a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port, Bluetooth 3.0, and a 802.11a/g/n WiFi card. There's also a headphone jack. Missing is a Secure Digital slot, which is present in many other Ultrabooks.
The XPS 13 Ultrabook has received an EPEAT Silver rating and is Energy Star 5.0-certified.
Configuration and Ordering Notes
A few notes when ordering a XPS 13 Ultrabook through Dell's Premier Page for the University:
See ISC's Notebook Purchasing Guide for more configuration suggestions. As of March 2012, configuring a XPS 13 to the Lightweight Notebook specification is approximately $1,350. The University's Computer Connection has two XPS 13 configurations available for order.
ISC tested XPS 13 Ultrabook with a 1.6 GHz Core i5, 1333 MHz 4.0 GB RAM, integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics, a 256 GB SSD, and Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate 64-bit. After updates to Windows, drivers, and the BIOS, it received a Windows Experience Index base score of 5.7, with individual scores of:
These scores suggest that Windows 7 performance will be excellent for most users on a XPS 13 Ultrabook configured in this manner. In testing, the XPS 13 seemed quite responsive.
ISC sees the XPS 13 Ultrabook as being an interesting and attractive choice among lightweight notebooks available in early 2012. The inclusion of TPM is welcome (though it must be turned on in the BIOS) and will allow XPS 13 deployment where whole disk encryption is required.
When correctly configured to the lightweight notebook specification in the Notebook Purchasing Guide, the XPS 13 Ultrabook is approved for general use at the University.
XPS graphic courtesy of Dell
--John Mulhern III, Lead for Client Technologies, ISC Technology Support Services (March 26, 2012)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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