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Dell XPS 13 Plus review: Futuristic but impractical

Dell XPS 13 Plus review: Futuristic but impractical

Dell XPS Plus 13

The Dell XPS 13 Plus would make an excellent prop in a sci-fi movie. Its sleek minimalist design looks futuristic — it gives me Tesla Cybertruck vibes. But it's not the most practical laptop for everyday use. Still, you do find top-notch hardware, and impeccable build quality in this Dell ultrabook, albeit at a price. My souped-up review set, for example, costs S$4,099, though the base unit starts from S$2,199.

Quick specs

  • 13.4-inch UHD (3,840 x 2,400 pixels) touchscreen
  • Core i7-1260P processor with 32GB system memory
  • 1.26kg
  • 55 watt-hour battery

The first thing you'll notice about the XPS 13 Plus is that the touchpad appears to be missing. It's still there, of course, but there are no lines to delineate the touchpad. Instead, the area roughly below the space bar is where this “invisible” touchpad lies. It's a haptic touchpad like the one you'll find in some laptops like the Apple MacBook Pro. There's no real physical click, just vibrations that stimulate the clicks. I actually didn't mind it, since the intensity of the haptic feedback can be adjusted in the PC settings. The Function bar now consists of touch-sensitive LED buttons displaying functions like the Esc key, as well as volume and screen brightness controls. Thankfully, these functions stay the same, and don't change according to context unlike Apple's now-defunct Touch Bar. But there's no haptic feedback to tell you that you have hit the Function key.

Dell XPS Plus 13
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The Dell XPS 13 Plus doesn't use the island or chiclet style keyboard found in most notebooks. Instead, there are no gaps between the keys, which are slightly larger than usual. This “zero lattice” keyboard, as Dell calls it, also extends from edge to edge, which is nice. The power button (with integrated fingerprint sensor), for example, is this narrow, unmarked key to the right of the Backspace key, which can lead to accidental key presses. Key travel is decent for an ultra-thin laptop. The notebook has just two Thunderbolt 4 ports — you'll likely need a dongle or two. However, Dell didn't stop here. The PC maker has also removed the headphone jack from the XPS 13 Plus. This means you'll likely need Bluetooth headphones, too.

Dell XPS Plus 13
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

Surrounding the Dell's 13.4-inch 4K touch display are bezels that are barely there. The lid itself is very sturdy and rigid, like the rest of the notebook chassis. The XPS 13 Plus is responsive for daily computing tasks. This is thanks to its 12th-gen Intel i7-1260P processor that's designed for performance ultrabooks. My review set also has a whopping 32GB of memory and a 2TB solid-state drive. But the laptop does run warm enough that I wouldn't recommend placing it on your lap, especially if you're doing more intensive tasks like photo editing. Its PCMark 10 score of 5,196 is also lower than that of the Asus Zenbook 14 OLED (5,519), which has a similar Intel processor. Battery life is so-so at 5hr 20min in a video playback test, though that's unsurprising due to the bright 4K screen.

Dell has never been shy to experiment with its XPS laptops. But even for the series, the XPS 13 Plus is perhaps too daring, and placing form over function. While it definitely looks striking, this ultrabook is a tad too impractical for me, requiring users to adapt to its sometimes-eccentric design choices. The thermals aren't great, either, which coupled with the middling battery life, make it hard to recommend unreservedly. But if you're attracted to its slim good looks, and are willing to make some compromises, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is available online here. You can also buy specific configurations from local third-party vendors on Lazada and Shopee.

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Note: Review unit provided by Dell.


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Verdict



CAN BUY...BUT

Impeccable build quality and hardware that places form over function.

Buy it from Dell
Buy it at Shopee
Available at Lazada

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