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Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review: This is the convertible XPS notebook you have been waiting for

By Kenny Yeo - 4 Apr 2020

Performance & conclusion

Performance analysis

To evaluate the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, we will be comparing its results from our benchmarks against other new and portable ultraportable notebooks such as the recently reviewed HP Spectre x360, ASUS ZenBook 14 UX434 , Lenovo Yoga S940, and Microsoft Surface Pro 7.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is only available with Intel's newest Core i7-1065G7 processor.

The unit we have on hand is the top-of-the-line Full HD+ model and it comes with a Core i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB of memory, and a 512GB SSD.

Its most obvious rival is HP’s Spectre x360. Both are convertible notebooks, built to a high level of fit and finish, and have comparable specifications. Here are the configurations of all the notebooks we tested and how they stack up.

Specifications comparison
Model Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Acer Swift 5 ASUS ZenBook 14 UX434 HP Spectre x360 Lenovo Yoga S940
Display 13.4-inch, Full-HD+ 13.3-inch, Full-HD 13.3-inch, Full-HD 13.3-inch, Full-HD 13.9-inch, 4K
Processor Intel Core i7-1065G7 Intel Core i7-1065G7 Intel Core i7-10510U Intel Core i7-1065G7 Intel Core i7-1065G7
Memory 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB
Storage 512GB SSD 1TB SSD 1TB SSD 1TB 1TB
Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics NVIDIA GeForce MX250 NVIDIA GeForce MX250 Intel Iris Plus Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Price S$2,898 S$2,398 S$2,098 S$2,899 S$3,099

 

Benchmark results

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 was a strong performer. Its general computing scores in benchmarks like PCMark 10 were slightly above average. Its CPU scores on Cinebench R20 was very good as it recorded the highest scores amongst all the notebooks. Its graphic performance wasn’t shabby either as evidenced by its 3DMark and Tomb Raider scores. In fact, if gaming is important to you, it’s worth noting that the XPS 13 2-in-1 was about 15% faster overall compared to the Spectre x360. It’s only blemish was its poor score on WebXPRT 3, but the difference – only around 5% – isn’t something I would be concerned about.

 

Battery life

Our battery life test consists of running PCMark 10 on two workloads – Modern Office and Gaming – with the screen brightness set to 100%. Here are what the two workloads cover:

  • Modern Office - web browsing, word processing, and video conferencing
  • Gaming - runs 3DMark Fire Strike, one of the more intensive scenarios in the 3DMark suite

Compared to the Spectre x360, the XPS 13 2-in-1’s battery life is somewhat disappointing. To be fair, the XPS 13 2-in-1’s battery is smaller but the Spectre x360 managed to last over 4 hours or 80% longer. Looking at the power consumption figures, we can see that the Spectre x360 consumes considerably less power. Nevertheless, the XPS 13 2-in-1’s performance here was decent. And 5 hours on the Modern Office benchmark with the screen set to full brightness isn’t something to be scoffed at. It’s just that the HP did so well.

 

The one you've been waiting for

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is arguably the most elegant premium convertible notebook.

This new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a massive step up from its predecessor. The new model retains much of its predecessor's svelteness but it's much more usable because it now has a full-fat Core processor. All things considered, it's truly is one of the best ultraportable notebooks you can buy. Now, if that sentence seems familiar to you, that’s because I said the same of HP’s Spectre x360.

The fact is that the two have a lot in common. Both are compact and slim, built and finished to high standards, and are powered by the latest 10th generation Core processors. Where the XPS 13 2-in-1 excels is in its sleeker design. The Spectre x360, in comparison, by virtue of being thicker, feels a bit clunky when compared to the more elegant XPS 13 2-in-1. In this rarefied space of high-end convertible notebooks, every millimetre matters.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is also the better performer. While the two are mostly comparable in general computing tasks, the XPS 13 2-in-1 has the lead when it came to more graphics-intensive workloads and gaming.

The Spectre x360, on the other hand, counters with its versatility and practicality. It’s one of the few high-end ultraportable notebooks today to come with a full-size USB-A port. It also has a better keyboard and a much longer battery life.

As for pricing, the two are equally pricey. You won't get much change from three grand. To recap, the unit I’m testing which has a Full-HD+ display with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD is S$2,898. To compare, HP charges S$2,899 for a Spectre x360 with a Full-HD display, Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. So one can make the case that the Spectre x360 is better value.

Dell has made incremental improvements to its XPS notebooks in recent years and the newest XPS 13 2-in-1 is easily the best XPS convertible notebook yet. It’s a very accomplished ultraportable and convertible notebook – easily one of the best – but it faces stiff competition. If performance and design are your utmost concerns, go for the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. But if I had to pick one to buy with my own money, I’ll go for the more practical and more value for money Spectre x360.

  • Design 9.5
  • Features 8.5
  • Performance 8.5
  • Value 7.5
  • Mobility 8
The Good
Slim, elegant design
Versatile form factor
Good performance
Fantastic display with thin bezels
Larger trackpad
USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports
The Bad
Keyboard has shallow travel
No USB-A ports
Pricey