Dell XPS X13 Ultrabook Review

Dell XPS X13 Ultrabook Review

April 25, 2012 7:49 pm 0 comments


Reviewed by JPerez, 4/25/2012

When I first heard about the Ultrabooks, I have to admit that I was a bit sceptical. I bought into the Netbook craze only to be disappointed. In short, it was a tool to surf the web and nothing more. I feared that the Ultrabook was just a larger screened version of a netbook. As it turns out, I was wrong.

I was asked if I would like to test the Dell XPS X13 Ultrabook. I had been pricing them out and jumped at the opportunity for a hands on experience. The unit had already been through our Office Technologies group. It had our business essentials such as office application and VPN installed. To start things off I added a couple of additional browsers (Firefox & Chrome), dropbox, Nook application by Barnes & Noble, and finally my normal array of clean-up applications such as CCLeaner and SuperAntiSpyware.

I was quickly impressed by how much the Ultrabook was NOT a Netbook. I had no speed issues opening and editing any of my office files. The screen resolution was such that I had great images in my documents, PDF’s and when viewing websites. It is still a 13.3” screen. Anyone with hopes of seeing a full page even at the unit’s highest resolution will be disappointed. I did get enough of a page on screen though that it was not an issue for me.

Some people may have an issue with the size of the keyboard. It took me a short time to get used to the size and spacing of the keys but then again, I had a Netbook previously that had a tighter smaller keyboard. I personally found the keyboard to be comfortable especially when typing in close spaces such as a two person seat on a train. When at home, I paired the unit with my Logitec wireless keyboard and mouse. I kept the unit on my desktop while I used the keyboard and mouse on my slide out keyboard drawer underneath.

The unit’s size was a big plus for me as well. I have a small compact notebook bag. I keep some essential devices such as portable hard drives, thumb drives and various wall chargers and cables. Keeping my Ipad and the XPS 13 in the bag’s compartment barely took any room at all. I was also worried about heat. After all, this device technically runs constantly in sleep mode when the lid is closed. That’s how it boots so fast.  Using the device all day at work, on the train, and stored in my bag I expected it to run rather hot. Fact is, it hardly ever got hot. The XPS series boast of the carbon fiber construction keeping it cool held the test.


The most impressive part of my time with the unit is just how fast it booted enabling me to be productive during my commute to and from work. I spend a good 4 hours a day commuting, mostly by train. During that time, I sometimes get emails or calls for assistance by various groups. Paired with my Verizon 4G WiFi device, I was able to slip the X13 from my notebook bag and within seconds start the process of accessing our company VPN. This device became my favourite go to device in a very short time.

I did some comparison benchmarks against my desk pc the Dell Optiplex 780. I expected the 780 to blow the X13 away. As it turns out, the opposite happened.



The X13 benchmarked faster than the 780 as seen in the test results shown here:

1) Dell XPS x13 benchmark score

2) Dell Optiplex 780 benchmark score

 In conclusion, I highly recommend the Dell Ultrabook XPS series to anyone who requires or desires an ultra-portable, and capable notebook computer. You will not find the X13 to be lacking in the speed or CPU department for standard uses. The device runs cool and looks cool (yes I drank the propaganda Kool-Aid on this one). I find myself missing the device now that I handed it back. It definitely had its uses and beats the iPad for certain things like VPN. I know some people will compare it to the MacBook Air and call it a clone. To those people I say, it didn’t matter in the end. I could run my video apps, music apps such as ITunes and picture apps just fine. When I needed it the most, it was there and enabled me to be productive! It’s also cheaper too.

Product Description

XPS Ultrabook Series

An Ultrabook is a higher-end type of subnotebook as defined by Intel. Ultrabooks are designed to feature reduced size and weight, and have extended battery life without compromising performance. They use low-power Intel processors with integrated graphics and solid-state drives. This is for responsiveness, and for the unibody chassis to fit larger batteries into smaller cases. Because of their extremely thin profile, the number of external ports (e.g. USB) is limited.

Dell has come out with its own series of Ultrabooks. The model which was tested by the Information Systems group of NJ Transit is the XPS X13 Ultrabook. The X13 series has common characteristics found with all variations.

  • Carbon fiber base for high strength-to-weight ratio. It also makes the unit cooler than most standard notebooks.
  • Battery life up to 8 hours and 53 minutes 47WHr battery. 6cell Li-Polymer
  • Machined precision cut aluminium lid
  • Extremely thin the unit is 6mm at its thinnest and 18mm at its thickest
  • Display is edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass. 13.3” HD (720p) Truelife WLED Display
  • 1.3mp HD Webcam
  • Backlit spill resistant keyboard and glass touchpad.
  • Wakes up from sleep mode in as little as 8 seconds
  • Can be purchased with 2nd gen i5 or i7 Intel processors
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 802.11 a/g/n with Intel Smart Connect technology + Bluetooth 3.0
  • Intel Wireless Display Ready
  • USB 3.0 (1) + USB 2.0 with PowerShare (1); mini DisplayPort (1); Headset jack (1)
  • Dimensions Height: 0.24-0.71” (6-18mm)/Width: 12.4” (316mm)/Depth: 8.1” (205mm)
  • Weight: 2.99lbs

X13 as tested

The Dell XPS X13 Ultrabook that was tested had the following specifications:

  • Intel Core i7 @1.70Ghz (Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology up to 2.80 GHz)
  • 4GB Dual Channel DDR3 @ 665MHz
  • Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • 250GB Samsung SSD (solid state drive)
  • Realtek High definition audio
  • MS Windows 7 64-bit Home premium

*Photos taken by GServo, GServo Photography

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