Dell XPS 13 Review: Is it better than a MacBook? Is the Dell XPS 13 Skylake 9350 the best ultrabook?
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As a Mac user I replaced my MacBook Pro with the Dell XPS 13 for the past month, and I’m here to share my experience and full review. Dell sent this to me for free, but these are my honest opinions. The Dell XPS 13 9350 was released in late 2015 and starts at $799. My model includes Windows 10 64-bit, Intel 6th Gen Core i7 6500U 2.5Ghz Skylake processor, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, Intel HD 520 Graphics, and a 13.3″ QHD+ InfinityEdge touch display.
The Dell XPS 13 is currently the world’s smallest 13″ laptop, with an aluminum exterior and carbon fiber interior. It’s Dell’s attempt at a MacBook killer. It has a stunning display like the 12″ Retina MacBook, the portability and slimness of the MacBook Air, and the power and ports comparable to the 13″ MacBook Pro.
The InfinityEdge QHD+ touch display is one of my favorite features and has 5.7 million pixels. That’s 276ppi compared to the Retina MacBook’s 226ppi. The colors are rich with just the right amount of contrast, and since it is an IPS panel it has good viewing angles. Unfortunately, due to the nearly border-less display, Dell had to put the webcam in the bottom left which is kind of awkward. But at least it’s an HD webcam unlike the 2015 Retina MacBook. The touch screen is a glossy finish with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, but there is a matte option for their non-QHD model.
The Dell XPS 13 touchpad is the best touchpad I’ve used on a Windows laptop, but it’s also frustrating. One of the reasons I immediately fell in love with my MacBook Pro was the Apple trackpad, mainly the two-finger scrolling. For the most part the Dell XPS 13 touchpad does a good job, and it is comfortable to use. However it has big problems with certain apps, most importantly Google Chrome. It may be a Chrome or Windows driver issue because the touchpad works great in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. But in Google Chrome the touchpad is constantly causing the page to jump up and down when trying to two finger scroll. On the other hand, I love the keyboard. It has backlit chiclet style keys which I got accustomed to on my Mac and I am able to type super fast on it.
The Dell XPS 13 shines in mobility & performance. Weighing less than 3lbs and super thin, it’s one of the most portable laptops. It’s much easier to carry around compared to my 15″ MacBook Pro. It has a 56 watt hour battery that lasts a decent amount of time. I’m getting around 6-12 hours of battery life on a single charge. In addition, you can purchase the Dell Power Companion which is a portable battery that can charge your XPS 13 and other devices.
With the 6th gen Intel Core i7 Skylake processor and 16GB of DDR3 RAM, the XPS 13 is a speedy machine. The 1TB PCIe solid state drive has fast read/write speeds which you will notice when the laptop cold boots in about 10 seconds . The speeds are very similar to my 2012 Mac Mini’s Fusion Drive. Apps load very quickly, and the XPS 13 was able to handle multiple browser tabs just fine. Even though this ultrabook was designed for mobility, it is still fast and powerful. It can certainly handle casual HD video editing and other tasks like Photoshop. Another exciting feature is the new USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port. A separate Dell Adapter can turn the USB-C port into a single hub for Ethernet, USB, HDMI, and VGA ports.
I enjoy this new Dell XPS 13 even with its minor flaws, but is it better than the MacBook or MacBook Air? That depends on what you’re specifically looking for out of a laptop. I own an iPhone and I use Apple’s Final Cut Pro X so it makes sense for me to use a Mac unless I want to learn a new video editing app. A Mac would be best for you if you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem and you want the additional benefits of owning a Mac because of the tight integration between iOS and OS X.
If you’re not already invested in the Apple ecosystem and you’re looking for a small, compact, yet fast laptop that looks good and feels solid then you should consider the Dell XPS 13 9350. To me it’s the best Windows ultrabook of 2016 and excles in productivity. It’s perfect for people who are on the go but still need a strong machine to help them get things done quickly. That’s why I’m keeping mine and will continue to use it as my go-to travel laptop when I don’t need to do any video editing.
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