The Dell XPS series has long been our go-to laptop for Windows use, delivering design details that are streets ahead of much of the competition.

For 2020 the XPS 13 really goes for broke, with a four-sided InfinityEdge display meaning minimal bezel to all sides. That results in a laptop with a small footprint, aiding portability without compromising performance.

Ahead of CES 2020 kicking off, we got to sample the Dell XPS 13 at a dedicated showcase to get a taste of what it's all about. Is it still the undeniable Windows laptop king?

Design

  • 13-inch 16:10 aspect ratio screen
    • Resolution: 3840 x 2200
    • Four-sided InfinityEdge
  • 2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports, 1x microSD card slot
  • 14.7mm thickness / Weight: 1.2kgs

While many manufacturers are trimming back on the bezel, the XPS 13 takes things to a whole other level. There's so little off the black edging to all sides of this laptop's screen that its standout design can be caught from across the room. We were immediately magnetised towards this striking-looking laptop.

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Up close and it's even more impressive. The bottom bezel has shed some 15mm of bezel compared to the outgoing model, making for perhaps the most screen-dominant laptop that we've ever seen. It's a hugely resolute panel, too, with greater-than-4K pixels squeezed into that screen for ultimate sharpness (a Full HD model will also be available).

Finished in a carbon fibre-like white, the visual texture of the white model we saw at the showcase is unlike much else on the market. The black version is much more subtle, and probably the one everyone will buy, but we like seeing points of difference and imagination like this. The machined aluminium frame really does look the part.

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At sub-15mm thick, the XPS 13 not only has a small footprint - despite having a 13.3-inch screen, it's closer in size to a typical 11-inch laptop - but slender frame too. That does cause one potential hurdle though: there are only two USB-C connections, one either side, with the classic USB-A ports being shunned in this design. Furthermore one port doubles-up as a charger.

Performance

  • Full size backlit chiclet keyboard (1mm key travel), glass surfaced trackpad
  • Fingerprint reader in power button
  • 10th Gen Intel Core i processors
  • 4GB to 16GB RAM
  • 52WHr battery

We used the XPS 13 briefly and found the full-size backlit keyboard engaging, with ample key travel and enough click without the clatter of loud noise. The glass-topped trackpad is equally usable, with just the right degree of 'glide' across its surface. A fingerprint scanner lives in the power button, for double-quick power-up and login verification in one.

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In terms of power, the XPS 13 has always been well balanced. There's lots of power here, depending on configuration, without it going into the realms of ultra-powerful. Think of it as a work and play machine, just don't think of it as a gaming laptop.

That kind of spec should see the XPS 13 to last for a decent innings on its battery life. The count-down timer suggested 10 hours per charge to us, which isn't class-leading, but is better than a lot of competitors with similar spec.

First Impressions

Once again Dell has knocked it out of the park with the XPS 13. The diminishing bezel in this series' design is a standout feature that not only looks great, but makes for a smaller footprint product that's easier to carry about.

We've still got some questions over longevity from the battery, and we'd like more ports, but apart from that, once again it looks as though Dell might have the best laptop of 2020 sewn up already.

The Dell XPS 13 is available from 7 January 2020 in the USA, prices starting from $999.99; and from 4 February 2020 in the UK/EU, priced starting from £1,399.99.