Laptop manufacturers have worked hard in the past few years to bridge this gap between value and aesthetic, to the point where modern ultrabooks have become quite capable options for most use cases. However, with a strong focus on making these laptops as sleek and slim as possible, there is an obvious ceiling when it comes to how powerful you can make these systems without running into thermal throttling issues.
It seems like Dell has decided to test these limits with its new XPS 13 Plus model, which features a proper 14-core processor. Let us take a closer look at this model to see how they managed to pull it off while still maintaining an ultra-slim profile than is less than an inch in thickness.
Design and Build Quality
The only way to achieve such results is precision engineering, and Dell has certainly worked hard on getting it right. They started with a CNC-machined aluminium chassis that was designed to fit all the components in a neat stack. Then, they added a special zero-lattice keyboard with no space between the keys and a barely noticeable 0.3mm dip in the centre to position your fingers.
To further save space, they replaced the trackpad area and the function key row with touch-sensitive glass panels that feature Gorilla Glass protection. They even went ahead and removed all the IO except for a single USB-C thunderbolt port on either side, which doubles up as the connectivity and charging source. The result is a sleek and slim body which looks unlike any other ultrabook on the market. While there are some worries about the longevity of the glass panels, there is no doubt that the build quality and aesthetics are completely worth the price.
The visible package is rounded off by the addition of the 13.4” InfinityEdge Display, which features almost non-existent bezels and a wide variety of panel choices. You can pick between FHD+ IPS panels available in both touch and non-touch versions. Both feature anti-glare coatings and can reach a peak brightness of 500 nits.
You can pick between a 3.5K or UHD+ panel if you want OLED instead. Once again, both get anti-reflection coatings and can reach a peak brightness of 400 nits. All the displays are locked at 60Hz, which is a bummer considering most modern laptops in this price range support at least 120Hz refresh rates by default these days. Still, the choices you do get are all vibrant and immersive, making it a perfect device for media consumption.
The real highlight of the setup remains the performance available under the hood. You can pick between various 12th gen Intel processors, with the base model featuring the i5-1240P chipset. It is a 12-core processor that can be overclocked up to 4.50Ghz. Other options include the i7-1260p and the i7-1280P, with the latter being the infamous 14-core processor capable of 4.80Ghz turbo speeds. They are paired with Intel Iris Xe graphics by default and can be configured with up to 32GB of LPDDR5 5200MHz integrated dual-channel RAM and up to 2TB M.2 PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD storage.
All of these are state-of-the-art components that give even the most hardcore gaming laptops a run for their money. While they might not be able to compete with them in terms of peak cooling and graphical output, they certainly can stand toe-to-toe in terms of daily usage. Even with the limitations of space and connectivity, it is still the most powerful setup you can get in the ultraportable segment today, regardless of the brand or price range you are looking at.
The entire setup is powered by an integrated 3-cell, 55Wh battery, which can be charged by a 60W Type-C AC adapter. The amount of usage you get from a single charge depends solely on the type of display you opt for. For the most battery output, we would recommend the base FHD+ display, which can sustain up to 13 hours of mixed usage.
Once you switch to OLED, the battery output drops to roughly 7 hours, irrespective of whether you get the 3.5K option or the 4K model. This is more than enough battery for most users in all types of use cases. Even if you think it isn’t enough for your personal preferences, you can easily recharge the battery from 0-80% in less than an hour, thanks to the ExpressCharge utility.
All this value certainly comes at a steep price, with the base configuration alone coming with a hefty $1,149 price tag. You will get the i5 processor, the non-touch FHD+ display, 8GB RAM and 512GB storage for the same. Adding another $100 will get you the touch variant of the same display, while another $100 can see you upgraded to Windows 11 Pro.
The mid-tier model with double the RAM and storage, the base i7 processor, and the same FHD+ display will cost you $1,599, which is barely $250 removed from the top-tier base configuration that we mentioned above. For another $200, you can further upgrade to the 3.5 OLED touch panel.
The top-tier model with 32GB RAM, 2TB storage, the 1280P i7 processor and the UHD+ OLED panel comes at an eye-watering $2,249. That is easily a $1000 add-on to the base model price tag, which is already a high price to pay for an ultraportable notebook. Very few people out there would be able to justify spending that much on any laptop, let alone an ultrabook. But if you are one of them, we can safely say that you won’t find a better option in the segment for now.