Dell XPS 13 Gold Edition (2016) Review – Worlds Best Ultra Puts MBA In Its Place

INFINITY EDGE DISPLAY

Dell’s 13.3″ QHD+ (3200×1800) Infinity Edge Touch Display is probably the true genius of this ultrabook as it provides a smaller bezel than we have ever seen before in similar. This surpasses the Apple MBA which still does not have a Retina display and also surpasses the newest Macbook with Retina 2304×1400 resolution.

Dell XPS 13 9350 Bezel 2

The beauty of this screen can be seen at all angles and, even with the XPS 13 almost completely sideways, the picture remains very crisp and clear.

Dell XPS 13 9350 Side View

If you are one who doesn’t like reflective screens, the touchscreen version of the XPS 13 might not be for you.  Its surface is as reflective as one might see in a smart phone with its Gorilla Glass and this picture of me taking a shot of the screen is a great representation of such.  Yes, this is simply a reflection with the system screen black.

Dell XPS 13 9350 Glossy Screen

SPECIFICATIONS AND PRICING

Understanding that there are several configurations of the XPS 13, our sample unit in this report is the most costly as it is the ‘Gold Edition’.  Yes, the color alone will increase the price of this unit by a few hundred bucks.  Having said that, our XPS has an Intel Core i7-6650 Skylake CPU (4M Cache, up to 3.2 GHz), 8GB LPDDR3-1866MHz RAM, Intel® Iris™ Graphics 540, Dell 1820 WiFi and Bluetooth, along with a 256GB Samsung NVMe SSD that we will be upgrading immediately to a Toshiba XG3 1TB SSD.

Click to Check out the Dell XPS 13 at Amazon Today!

Dell XPS 13 9350 Contents

Exterior casing is a simple black cardboard box with minimal paperwork and the power cord and adapter; drivers are available via the net.  The left side of the XPS 13 contains ports for power, Thunderbolt 3/USB Type-C, USB 3 SuperSpeed, headphones and a button with five LEDs that indicates remaining battery life, when the button is pressed.

Dell XPS 13 9350 Left Side

On the right side we have ports for the Kensington Lock, another USB 3 SuperSpeed and a SD card.

Dell XPS 13 9350 Right Side

Pricing for the Dell XPS 13 can be found at Amazon for as little as $800, keeping in mind that configurations can be found with touch or non-touch screens, Intel i5 or i7 processors, 128 or 256GB SSDs, 8 or 16GB of memory, and yes in gold or silver.

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JosephAndrews
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JosephAndrews

My decision to purchase the XPS 13 has not yet been finalized–I want a matte touch screen!

Les@TheSSDReview
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I don’t think we will ever see the matte screen with that Gorilla Glass. Personally, this was well worth the trade off in knowing that, short of a drop and break, there will not eventually be marks from the keyboard. This glass will likely look brand new for years to come.

Alpaca_Dean
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Alpaca_Dean

Just a suggestion, but what about going with one of those matte-ish screen protector overlays? A couple of faculty have them on really reflective touch screen laptops at the University I work at and they really help a lot..

Quix
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Quix

It’s a choice between the two and will likely remain that way. Unless you can come up with a way to make Gorilla Glass matte. I’d go touch screen on this because the matte screen option isn’t as good. I have the glossy-screen XPS 15 and it’s not a problem except in direct sunlight.

Babies r Gross
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Babies r Gross

Bought one then returned it and bought an MBP. While on paper it looks nice, somehow the performance is not up to par with the MBP. Further, it had this issue where the screen would suddenly turn black and only a hard restart could fix this. Obviously, all work would be lost. This made the computer unusable, and after 12 hours and 4 sessions with Dell customer support I was done. This issue is a known issue and common enough that Reddit has a page on it.

Les@TheSSDReview
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Thanks for jumping in and sorry for your experience. I personally love this laptop and, of course, will adjust that view in the report should anything change that view in the future. I haven’t experience ANY BSOD or black screen issues, but then again, I always install my own fresh OS and choose not to rely on manufacturer configurations.

RL
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RL

Les, I appreciate your work. I use OS X at home and Windows at work. I will say that that the OS X 8GB and Windows 16GB (Memory) are comparable. Otherwise, I am settling w/ Windows 8GB. If you are going to dispute this, I’ll label you a fanboy who has lost objectivity. I’m not a Windoze hater, just a knowelegeable user trying to get work done.

Felix
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Felix

Very interesting article. “New owners of the XPS 13 do not have to switch off the SSD as we did; we just wanted 1TB of storage in this ultra.” Does this mean, that even the stock SSD would deliver similarly fast (or at least much faster) benchmark results if software settings would be been set as you did with with the Toshiba XG3? How would the stock SSD compare to the XG3 with the same optimized settings in the OS/bios? At the moment you can get the Samsung PM951 1tb version for less than half the price of the retail… Read more »

Les@TheSSDReview
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I apologize for the misrepresentation as what was written did not read as we intended. We have added this to that para: “There is not a person in the world that would be able to differentiate between the stock SSD or the Toshiba XG3 we are testing today, in typical everyday use.” We were able to push the stock SSD only slightly with a fresh install but not come anywhere near the others. The PM951 uses Samsung’s older 19nm TLC NAND flash memory which is slower than the other SSDs we are seeing today. We dug up this PM951 spec… Read more »

Grigore
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Grigore

Les, if you ended up complaining about the “slow” Samsung 951 SSD in this ultrabook, then something’s really wrong. With you, not with the laptop or the SSD. This is an ultrabook, not a desktop replacement. I’d understand if you’d complain about SM951 being chosen instead of the new OCZ (or the SM961 that just went on sale) in a powerful machine that’s designed to take advantage of such fast storage. But this Dell, with its “U” processor, its soldered, slow and small RAM, its lame graphics and such, this is not a workstation but an average laptop in a… Read more »

Les@TheSSDReview
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My first impression reading this is that you have misunderstood what I wrote, but more importantly, failed to even gain an understanding of the hardware in this laptop. This ‘U” processor is the Intel 6650U which runs at a base frequency of 2.2GHz with a Turbo max of 3.4GHz. The memory attached to this is 8GB DDR3-1866MHz and, together, they are paired with Intel’s newest Iris 540 HD Graphics which most definityely can be used for gaming. Look around because there are very current examples. This is more power than many have in their desktop. Next up, I never complained… Read more »

Grigore
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Grigore

“failed to even gain an understanding of the hardware in this laptop” – No, sorry, you failed to understand what this whole laptop is. It’s an ultrabook, not a desktop replacement. You are very picky about its storage not being the fastest ever but only the world’s 3rd or 4th. I know very well that this is an ultrabook, and a very fast one, but you expect workstation-like performance from it. As it doesn’t have workstation-like CPU, cooling, memory and anything else, of course it doesn’t have workstation-like storage. – “with a Turbo max of 3.4GHz” – a “U” proc… Read more »

Les@TheSSDReview
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I am going to guess you sit behind a workstation extensively as that is your comparable. The problem with that is you cannot fold up and throw that workstation into your bag when you travel. Comparing an ultra to a workstation doesn’t make much sense. As for editing all media and publishing it on the road, I see it all the time when people attend tech events and must get stuff up fast, and by companies much larger than our small website. They manipulate all types of media right then and there….and typically on their Mac. This was the comparison… Read more »

Grigore
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Grigore

Well, my bad then. If editing an SLR-captured video (a single track) and uploading it to an FTP from an expo is what media professionals usually do, then sorry but I had a very wrong impression of that profession. Or maybe your impression is based on the people you see at tech events… A workstation can’t be folded, of course, but an ultrabook is not exactly the answer to an unfoldable workstation. No matter what, an ultrabook can’t hold a candle to a solid workstation. As you asked what portable I’m using… Yeah, it’s a workstation but not a very… Read more »

Yammy_Fan
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Yammy_Fan

For the record, my XPS 13 (Gold edition) shipped with a Toshiba XG3 (THNSN5256GPU7 NV) from the factory. I received it on June 15th. Typical write speeds are over 1000 MB/s when benchmarked. The XPS is a fantastic machine!!