A Standout in a Crowded Field
The commercialize for bounty Windows laptop is ultracompetitive, with Dell, Asus, Acer, HP, Lenovo, and other companies updating their flagship models frequently—sometimes more than once per year. The XPS 13 2-in-1 is up against similarly excellent convertible laptops with 13-inch screens, among them the HP Spectre x360 13 and the Asus ZenBook Flip S. Several of these have been updated with Intel ‘s 11th Generation Tiger Lake Core processors or their age-related macular degeneration equivalents, the Ryzen 4000 series .
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Reading: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310) Review
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Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buy decisions. ( See how we test. ) I ‘ll get into why the XPS 13 2-in-1 rises to the top of this field below, but the first question shoppers should consider is whether they need a convertible laptop or the also-excellent conventional clamshell-style XPS 13. The main difference between the two is the 2-in-1 ‘s 360-degree rotate hinge. This lets you use it not lone as a laptop, but it besides allows you to prop it up on your desk like an easel or camp ( with the keyboard folded underneath or behind the screen ), or use the arrangement in your lap as a tablet. In these modes, your chief interaction with the laptop is via its contact screen. Fingers or Dell ‘s optional digital stylus can be used to write, draw, and manipulate onscreen elements, while the pop fly virtual keyboard built into Windows 10 serves as a mean of typing .
not everyone needs this extra flexibility, specially seeing as the clamshell-style XPS 13 besides offers a touch sieve. But neither does the flexibility require many sacrifices. Both models share similar style and physical dimensions. They ‘re made from machined aluminum with carbon- and glass-fiber accents, and both offer sleek ash grey exteriors and two refined interior color options : black or white palm rests with coordinated keyboards .
Both are besides quite compact, fitting their 13-inch displays into an sphere that was once reserved for laptops with 11-inch or smaller screens. The XPS 13 2-in-1 weighs 2.9 pounds and measures 0.56 by 11.7 by 8.2 inches ( HWD ). The XPS 13 is slenderly lighter and shallower, since it does n’t need to incorporate the extra hardware for a 360-degree hinge, but the differences are negligible—it weighs 2.8 pounds and is 7.9 inches deep. The XPS 13 2-in-1 ‘s dimensions are comparable to those of its HP archrival, the Spectre x360 13 ( 0.57 inch dense, 2.9 pounds ). The Dell has a 13.4-inch display ( an unusual size ) in an rare 16:10 widescreen expression ratio, alternatively of the more distinctive 16:9. This gives it a slender advantage over similarly sized convertible notebooks with 16:9 screens that measure 13.3 inches on the diagonal. You ‘re not probably to immediately notice that tenth of an column inch, but it does pack in closely one million extra pixels, and its tall size can display a snatch more of a erect document like a web page .
A Rigid and Compact Body
The XPS 13 2-in-1 ‘s compact size does n’t leave it feeling unconvincing. At equitable under the three-pound terminus ad quem that typically defines the ultraportable laptop category, it feels solid, though not bulky. It ‘s besides quite well engineered. You can open the hat with one hand, rather of needing both crowbar open cadaver hinges. Whether you ‘re tapping on the affect riddle or on the very comfortable touchpad, the laptop responds instantaneously. The screen bounces very little, and the touchpad does n’t suffer from the languor or cheap-feeling clicks that are common on many Windows laptops .
With an 85 % screen-to-body ratio, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is besides enviably modern-looking. The borders around the display are vanishingly small, unlike those of the Apple MacBook Pro, which has a lower screen-to-body ratio that results in extra quad around the keyboard and display. The convertible ‘s screen is gorgeous. On our review unit, it offers a native resoluteness of 1,920 by 1,200 pixels, which is a spot higher than broad HD ( 1,920 by 1,080 ) because of the jury ‘s 16:10 aspect ratio. photograph timbre seems better than most other full HD screens I ‘ve used, with more vivid colors and a sky-high rated contrast ratio of 1,800:1. Brightness is rated at 500 nits, outshining the 300 to 400 nits of many competing laptops, and that makes for comfortable see in brilliantly lit rooms ( though not outdoors ). When you ‘re viewing the sieve up close, however, textbook can be a snatch pixelated, which is park to all full HD displays. Dell does offer a 4K ( 3,840-by-2,400-pixel ) riddle option, which should make everything appear much crisp, though lighting four times as many pixels will take a toll on battery animation. The 4K riddle adds documentation for the DCI-P3 discolor gamut, which could result in more bright and faithful color reproduction, but it has a slenderly lower 1,500:1 contrast ratio .
I see merely two drawbacks to the XPS 13 2-in-1 ‘s physical blueprint. The most significant is the shallow keyboard. Both the clamshell and convertible XPS 13 models have used Dell ‘s unique charismatic keyboard switches for the past few generations. Compared with Apple ‘s old butterfly-style switches, which have about no travel distance, Dell ‘s implementation is slenderly more comfortable. But now that Apple has switched to its Magic Keyboard design, with much greater travel, the XPS 13 2-in-1 offers a less comfortable typing experience by comparison. Keys are hardy enough, but they travel merely 0.7mm, and the overall sensation is more akin to tapping than typing. The XPS 13 2-in-1 ‘s preferably anemic port choice is besides a drawback, but it ‘s less baffling than it once was. A earphone jack and two USB-C ports, each with Thunderbolt defend, are all you get. The Spectre x360 13, by line, offers a USB Type-A port for extra peripheral compatibility. More and more of the latest peripherals, such as external hard drives, now use USB-C, though, so the lack of ports is only an offspring if you have lots of bequest devices to plug in .
Dell besides thoughtfully includes a microSD tease proofreader on the left edge for easily storage expansion or transferring footage from a television camera .
Tiny Webcam, Rich Audio
The XPS 13 2-in-1 shares the XPS 13 ‘s innovative webcam, which manages to fit IR sensors ( for face-recognition logins via Windows Hello ) vitamin a well as the 720p television camera itself into the bantam margin above the screen door. Another password-free means of logging into your Windows 10 account is via the exponent button, which doubles as a fingerprint reviewer. The latter occasionally failed to successfully log me in, and the orthogonal human body of the button made it unmanageable for my boastfully fingertips to register their prints. once I got used to placing my finger in the right spot, though, the subscriber ‘s accuracy improved. I found the webcam quality to be above median in a well-lit board, though it suffers from slenderly distracting make noise and pixelation in dimly light conditions. unfortunately, this is true of closely all laptop webcams .
The Dell ‘s audio quality is deep and full, but the placement of its stereo speakers on the bottom of the laptop makes sound a morsel muffled in laptop or pad mode. There are six offprint grilles along the leave and properly edges of the laptop ‘s base. Four of them are used for tune inhalation, while two hand over audio. When you ‘re propping the XPS 13 2-in-1 as a tent ( with the speakers facing you ) or using it as an easel ( with the speakers facing up ), the sound recording quality is better. Wireless connectivity includes a Killer Wi-Fi 6 ( 802.11ax ) module built into the Intel chipset, a well as Bluetooth 5.1. Dell backs the XPS 13 2-in-1 with a annual hardware guarantee, a period that can be extended up to four years for an extra charge .
Testing the XPS 2-in-1: ‘Tiger Lake’ and Iris Xe on the Bench
The entry-level adaptation of the XPS 13 2-in-1 includes an Intel Core i3 with UHD desegregate graphics, 8GB of memory, and a 256GB solid-state driveway. A core i3-powered laptop that costs more than $ 1,000 is hard to recommend, but fortunately the price does n’t get out of hand as you add components that are more fit for the money. Our review unit includes a Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD for a reasonable $ 1,499. As with the latest XPS 13, all of the XPS 13 2-in-1 ‘s processor options come from Intel ‘s latest “ Tiger Lake ” class. While the Core i3 interpretation uses UHD graphics, our core i7-1165G7 unit features more knock-down Iris Xe graphics silicon. The CPU besides comes with four cores, eight threads, and a maximum hike clock focal ratio of 4.7GHz. Coupled with the 16GB of RAM, this Core i7 and Iris Xe setup should provide plenty of computing baron for most of the tasks that XPS 13 2-in-1 users are likely to do. I compared the laptop ‘s operation in our benchmark tests with a few comparable machines whose specs are listed in the chart below. Most are 2-in-1 hybrid or convertible designs priced in the $ 1,500 range .
The one exception is the HP Envy x360 13, which is a footprint down from the Spectre x360 13 and is priced equitable under $ 700. I chose this car in separate because we have n’t so far tested the latest “ Tiger Lake ” adaptation of the Spectre, and in character because the Envy comes with an AMD Ryzen CPU alternatively of the more common Intel Core ones. The latest Ryzen 5 laptops have been rivaling the performance of more expensive Core i7-powered ones on some tasks. ( See how we test laptops. ) That turned out to be the encase with the XPS 13 2-in-1, whose operation in the PCMark 10 productivity benchmark proved slenderly inferior to that of the Envy x360. The margin is not significant, but the test is authoritative, because it measures network browse, word action, and light multimedia edit, all of which are the XPS 13 2-in-1 ’ mho bread and butter .
interim, all of the laptops ‘ rapid SSD boot drives performed roughly equally in our PCMark 8 repositing subtest. ( That is distinctive of late-model SSD-equipped laptops. )
In workflows that are more demand, such as rendering a 3D picture using the CPU, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is slightly superscript. It scored 890 to the Envy ‘s 841 in the Cinebench rendering trial, which is amply threaded to make use of all available processor cores and threads .
Cinebench is frequently a good forecaster of our Handbrake video-editing test, another bully, threaded workout that ‘s highly CPU-dependent and scales well with cores and threads. In it, we put a stopwatch on test systems as they transcode a standard 12-minute clip of 4K television to a 1080p MP4 file. It ‘s a time test, and lower results are well. In this case, the Dell convertible was slenderly slower than the Envy x360 and the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga, but not meaningfully so .
We besides run a custom-made Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Using an early 2018 free of the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop, we apply a serial of 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG test image. We clock time each process and, at the end, add up the total performance time. As with Handbrake, lower times are beneficial here. The Photoshop test stresses the CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, but it can besides take advantage of most GPUs to speed up the work of applying filters, so systems with herculean graphics chips or cards may see a boost.
The XPS 13 2-in-1 turned in an exceeding score in the Photoshop test, taking a bit more than two minutes to complete all of the filters and effects. This is not far behind the Asus ‘ time, but importantly faster than any of the other three competitors .
Decent Gaming Performance
Integrated graphics march has improved by leaps and bounds in the past two years, as Intel and AMD have significantly upgraded the capabilities of their Iris and Radeon silicon. In our 3DMark and Superposition gaming graphics tests, the laptops equipped with Iris Xe and Radeon graphics importantly outperform the ThinkPad X13 Yoga and Microsoft Surface Pro 7, which are both equipped with older UHD or Iris Plus Graphics. 3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is more suit to laptops and midrange PCs, while Fire Strike is more necessitate and made for high-end PCs to strut their material. The results are proprietorship scores. Unigine ‘s Superposition benchmark besides pans through a detail 3D setting, using a different rendering engine for a moment public opinion on each personal computer ‘s graphic art .
The XPS 13 2-in-1 is the clear winner in both of these tests, but the veridical accomplishment is not the modest gains over the ZenBook Flip S or the Envy x360 13 but the closely treble improvement over the Iris Plus and UHD systems. Hardcore gamers wo n’t find much of pastime here, since even a grudge of 16 frames per second base in Superposition ‘s 1080p preset is barely representative of silky-smooth game turn. But if you ‘re a casual crippled content to play at lower resolutions and graphics detail settings, the XPS 13 2-in-1 could serve as a adequate to platform .
Class-Leading Battery Life
Lasting for more than 14 hours of television playback at 50 percentage shield brightness, the XPS 13 2-in-1 offers a few extra hours of unplug time compared with its rivals. This is an excellent consequence that suggests that the laptop will last through a full moon day of light bring without visiting a ability mercantile establishment. The Dell ‘s 51-watt-hour battery charges quickly, taking a act more than an hour to go from a 5 % to a 90 % charge in my quiz .
While 14 hours is impressive, it ‘s no longer in the avant-garde. respective ultraportable laptops we ‘ve tested recently have topped 24 hours of battery life, including the Apple MacBook Air and the Lenovo Flex 5G .
Still Pole Position Among Convertibles
A few generations ago, the XPS 13 was about flawless, earning a five-star follow-up. Both the 2-in-1 and the clamshell versions remain exceptional, offering class-leading performance and battery biography in a streamlined, compact, and uncompromising chassis. But competitors have closed the col significantly, even with models that monetary value less. This is particularly true when it comes to operation, as is clear from the Ryzen-equipped Envy x360 13. The Dell ‘s shallow identify travel is besides more of an emergence than it once was, now that Apple has implemented a more comfortable keyboard design in its MacBook batting order. however, though it ‘s not perfect, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is the best premium convertible you can buy. It well earns our Editors ‘ Choice award .
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9310)
Editors ‘ option
Base Configuration Price $ 1,099.00
The Bottom Line
satiny, mighty, and compromising, Dell ‘s latest XPS 13 2-in-1, now packing “ Tiger Lake ” silicon, is our top pick among premium convertible laptops .
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