Dell XPS 13 review: The best Windows laptop just got better – The Verge
Windows trackpads have been terrible for what feels like forever. Luckily, the Dell XPS 13 trackpad feels like the perfect size. It’s still the same large glass pad with a soft finish like earlier in the year, but Dell has definitely improved the driver situation, so the trackpad performs very smoothly across Windows 10. I still notice some occasional scrolling issues in Chrome, but I have those problems with every Windows laptop I use. The cursor doesn’t randomly jump across the screen anymore, and two-finger scrolling is smooth everywhere it needs to be. I’ve tested many Windows laptops this year, and this is without a doubt one of the best experiences for using gestures and just simply scrolling. You would think Microsoft’s own Surface Book trackpad would be better, but Dell has done a great job of balancing the size and position relative to the small form factor of this laptop.1
I should note here, though, that Dell had to replace my XPS 13 due to a trackpad issue. The original unit clicked and felt slightly loose, and even the replacement unit felt like that out of the box but appeared to oddly remedy itself.
Like the trackpad improvements, most of the new XPS 13 changes are hidden away. Dell has added a USB Type-C connector on the side, but it’s the only external change. It’s useful for new peripherals that will start to appear regularly next year, and will also support Thunderbolt 3, but it’s mostly just future-proofing. There are still two standard USB 3.0 ports and a full-size SD slot. The only thing that’s missing is a DisplayPort, and Dell has removed that to make way for USB Type-C. For most that won’t be an issue, but if you want to hook up a monitor, you’ll need an adapter.
Sadly, Dell hasn’t solved the webcam issue — it’s still in the lower left corner of the display. That’s the price you pay for an edge-to-edge display, but it means there will be plenty of unflattering up-the-nose angles during video calls. Whenever I’m on conference calls the participants wonder why I don’t have my video enabled, and this terrible webcam position is to blame. The camera also lacks support for Windows Hello, a new Windows 10 feature, so you won’t be able to log into the XPS 13 with just your face.
Dell has made some important changes behind the scenes
Two other key changes to the new Dell XPS 13 provide performance improvements. Dell has refreshed the processor with Intel’s latest Skylake chip, and the non-touch models use the Core i5, while the touchscreen version is powered by Intel’s Core i7. Apart from the base model, all of Dell’s new XPS 13 variants ship with faster solid state drives. I haven’t noticed a huge change in performance from the model earlier this year, but the addition of Windows 10 certainly makes the new XPS 13 feel snappier. Running Chrome, Slack, Office apps, Photoshop, and a variety of Windows 10 apps doesn’t seem to slow the XPS 13 down at all. I’ve been using it to work daily, and it has never frozen up or frustrated me at all. Dell hasn’t loaded the XPS 13 with a lot of bloatware apps either, and a McAfee trial can easily be removed quickly.