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  • Cheryl Tan

Can The XPS 13 2-in-1 Replace Your XPS 15?

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Now, if you’re a creative, I’m pretty sure that you’ll agree that the XPS 15 is a really popular choice. Great hardware, great display, beautiful design, so on and so forth. Not without its problems, but still.

But what if you want something smaller, yet just as capable? Can this, the XPS 13 2-in-1, replace the XPS 15? Let’s find out.

If you’re familiar with the XPS line of laptops, you’ll definitely recognize its iconic two-tone design flair. It’s an all-metal build made out of CNC machined aluminium in that familiar silver, while the keyboard deck is made of a carbon fibre composite in black.

That means it pretty much still looks like an XPS. But for us creatives, the more important thing is the display.

You get a new 13.4-inch panel in a 16 by 10 aspect ratio. For those of you who don’t know, most laptops out there use a standard 16 by 9 aspect ratio, which is fine for general use and entertainment. But when you’re editing photos, or even editing videos, that slight increase in vertical space is much appreciated. It actually gives you just enough extra space for things like your tools or tabs.

I would also say that with the Macbook still using that aspect ratio, it does prove a point. Even so, you still get thin bezels all around and you’ll be glad to know that the webcam is in its ideal position up top.

As for the panel itself, you actually get a choice between two options. Either a Full HD, 1920 by 1200 IPS display, or a 4K, 3840 by 2400 IPS display, both of which are touch displays. Now, our model comes equipped with the 4K variant, but to be honest, it’s too much.

If you’re looking to get this laptop, just get the Full HD option. Although the 4K panel does support Dolby Vision and is HDR 400 rated, at this screen size 4K doesn’t really make sense, especially with Windows Scaling. So just go for the Full HD. It’s good enough.

And for those of you who want OLED, not today. But perhaps in the future.

Regardless, the display is really nice, and you’ll be able to view your photos and videos with increased clarity, especially when you zoom in. It also handles a max brightness of over 500 nits, so it’s totally usable outdoors.

Of course, since this is a 2-in-1, you can flip the display a full 180-degrees and use it as a tablet. It’s on the bulky side for a tablet, but it is what it is. The new hinge design is really robust, and although it is on the stiffer side, you’re still able to easily open the lid with one finger and the display won’t wobble that much.

You can also get an optional pen, which might be a good option for some of you out there to take down notes, or perhaps

even do design or draw in Photoshop.

The next thing I want to mention however, I really did not enjoy, and that’s the keyboard.

There’s nothing wrong with the keyboard per se. In fact, the keys are larger than standard, and all the important keys such as Control, Shift and Backspace are all nice and big. I rarely made any mistakes on this keyboard. And there’s even a fingerprint reader for Windows authentication.

My issue with it, is the actuation.

It’s really low-profile, which is fine most of the time, but here, it feels almost exactly like typing on the Macbook keyboard with the butterfly switches. If you’re a fan of those, great, I think you’ll like this. If you don’t, well, it’s not as bad as that, but I would say it comes down to preference.

The trackpad however is really nice. It has a glass surface and it runs Precision drivers. It’s smooth to use even with gestures, and both the left and right clicks are decent. If you’re out in the field, editing photos and whatnot, it’ll do. You most likely won’t be scampering around for a mouse.

Now we move on to ports, and there isn’t much. You get two USB-C ports on either side, both of which supports Thunderbolt 3, which is a nice touch, along with your trusty headphone jack and a microSD card reader.

Of course, this also means that it charges via USB-C with the included 45W AC adapter that’s actually pretty compact, which brings down the overall weight of the entire system. That’s the whole idea of getting a smaller laptop.

As for USB-C, it is kind of the norm nowadays for thin and light laptops, but Dell does include a USB-C to A adapter in the box, so at the very least, you have that option. Personally, I would rather also have a full-size SD card reader, but if you fly drones frequently, perhaps microSD might be good enough for you.

Lastly, you also get a pair of decent-sounding speakers, which are downward-firing and there’s also a small LED light strip on the lower lip that tells you the battery level as it’s being charged.

So that’s the XPS 13 2-in-1 in general, its features and overall build quality. We now move on to the more important bit, and that’s performance.

Our unit comes with the Intel Core i7 1065G7, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD. As usual, we ran Cinebench and our DaVinci Resolve renders, and these are the results.

The Core i7 1065G7 scored a Multi-Core performance of 1560 with a Single-Core performance of 343. Compare this to the previous generation Core i7 8565U on the Asus, it is a slight improvement. Not much, but still an improvement.

As for DaVinci Resolve, our 10 min 1080p render took about 51 minutes while our 4K 15 min render took over one and a half hours.

In all honesty, don’t touch 4K editing using this laptop. It’s not that great of an experience, at least for DaVinci Resolve. Stick to 1080p at most. If you did also notice, the results were a little worse compared to the 8565U, but that’s most likely because of the thermal solution, in which the Asus had a little more leeway thanks to added thickness. In fairness, both performed similarly.

But if you’re looking at just editing photos in Lightroom or Photoshop, the 10th-gen Intel Core i7 in here will definitely be fine. Browsing through photos has almost zero to no lag, and the editing process was smooth.

The 512GB NVMe SSD on the other hand, is slightly lacking. Read speeds are great, above 2GB per second, but write speeds are on the lower side, especially if you compare to other laptops out there, at just over 1.2GB per second.

This time around, it’s all about creatives, so we didn’t touch on gaming. And to be fair, you shouldn’t buy an XPS for gaming. But, and it’s a huge but, if you want to play esports titles like CS:GO, or Minecraft with your friends, it’ll be fine. You’ll get a decent experience.

But please, don’t buy an XPS solely for gaming.

Lastly, we have to talk about battery life. Dell claims around 7 to 10 hours of usage on this variant with the 4K panel, and it’s just about there.

General use, such as browsing, documents, Netflix and a little bit of editing in Lightroom, got me roughly 8 hours and 5 minutes on the better battery setting. Of course, your results will vary depending on your usage, but safe to say, most of you will be happy with it.

Overall, can the XPS 13 2-in-1 replace your XPS 15? Yes and no. It really depends on what you use it for.

If you’re using it for photo editing in Lightroom, or graphic design in Photoshop, this is a great option. To a certain extent, you can also use it for video editing in a pinch, though I’ll suggest using Premiere Pro instead and stick to 1080p.

If you want to lighten your load and carry around a smaller backpack, this is it. It’s great.

If you’re looking at 3D work or 4K video editing and more, stick to your XPS 15. The inclusion of a GPU does make a huge difference.

More information about the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (S$2,299) and purchase options are available on Dell’s website.

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