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Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023) Review: Aesthetic Meets Performance

Dell’s second-gen XPS 13 Plus, an ultrabook, prioritizes form over function, which doesn’t always work in its favor. Despite its affordable price, it exudes premium aesthetics, yet some design choices, made for the sake of looks, continue to be problematic, even with the improved processor.

NewForTech Opinion:

Pros:

  • The sleek and stylish design remains.
  • Stunning OLED touchscreen.
  • Impressive performance courtesy of the 13th-gen Intel CPU.
  • Lightweight yet sturdy build.

Cons:

  • Very limited port options.
  • Accessibility issues persist with the touchpad and touch bar.
  • Once again, lacks a 1080p webcam.
Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023) Review: Aesthetic Meets Performance

DELL XPS 13 Plus (2023): Quick Overview

Dell’s XPS line, a leading consumer laptop series, has consistently delivered top-tier devices, frequently appearing in our best ultrabooks and laptop rankings.

Last year, they introduced the XPS 13 Plus (2022), aiming for a more premium version with enhanced internal components and a focus on design aesthetics.

This year, the new XPS 13 Plus is Dell’s second attempt at refining this pricier compact laptop. While it improves upon the original model in some aspects, it still grapples with issues that led to a less favorable review of the 2022 model.

In simpler terms, it remains one of the most visually appealing laptops, although the style sacrifices don’t always justify it. The ‘invisible’ touchpad could be irksome, especially for visually impaired users, and the limited port options may deter potential buyers.

Fortunately, this new Plus version gains a significant boost in specs, notably the 13th-generation Intel Core processor, providing solid performance, although it’s not designed for high-end gaming due to the absence of a dedicated graphics card.

DELL XPS 13 Plus (2023): Quick Overview

There’s more to appreciate here, from the stunning 3.5K OLED touch display to its impressively lightweight build. It’s undoubtedly a premium laptop, with a starting price that, while not budget-friendly, offers value considering its quality.

At worst, it’s a slightly enhanced version of the XPS 13 Plus from last year. At best, it’s an aesthetically pleasing ultrabook with reliable performance in an ultra-slim and light body, though certain features, or the lack thereof, might deter some potential users.

Personally, I admire the XPS 13 Plus, but I’ve had to be discerning in my assessment. While I appreciate its aesthetics, it seems somewhat imperfect compared to the broader XPS range. It’s perhaps the best-looking XPS laptop currently available, with the Platinum color option accentuating its charm. How does it fall short of perfection? Continue reading to find out.

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023)

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023): Price & Availability

  • Price: $1,249.00 / £1,198.99 / AU$2,398
  • Availability: Now in the US, UK, and Australia

The 2023 Dell XPS 13 Plus is priced slightly higher than the base model but offers superior performance. Starting at $1,249.00 / £1,198.99 / AU$2,398, it aligns with the 2022 XPS 13 Plus pricing, considering the performance boost.

Currently, it’s available in the US, UK, Europe, and Australia, with some variation in higher-end pricing for UK and Australian buyers. Nevertheless, the midrange pricing for this premium laptop is appealing.

Price & Availability

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023): Specs

Our review unit, priced at $1,499.00 / £1,719.38 / AU$3,281.30, features a 3.5K OLED screen and Intel Core i7-1360P processor. The UK offers a configuration with an i5-1340P instead.

Dell’s website allows full customization, offering choices for RAM (up to 32GB DDR5) and storage (up to 2TB SSD). There are three display options: a standard FHD+ 60Hz touch panel, the 3.5K OLED (in our review model), and a superior UHD+ OLED panel with slightly better brightness. The highest configuration costs $1,749.00 / £2,119.38 / AU$3,880.80.

Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023) Specs Comparison

ComponentBase ModelReview UnitTop Configuration
Price$1,249.00 / £1,198.99 / AU$2,398$1,499.00 / £1,719.38 / AU$3,281.30$1,749.00 / £2,119.38 / AU$3,880.80
CPUIntel Core i5-1340P / Intel Core i7-1360PIntel Core i7-1360PIntel Core i7-1360P
GPUIntel Iris Xe GraphicsIntel Iris Xe GraphicsIntel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM16GB LPDDR532GB LPDDR532GB LPDDR5
Storage512GB PCIe NVMe SSD512GB PCIe NVMe SSD2TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Screen13.4-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) OLED, 60Hz, Touch13.4-inch 3.5K (3456 x 2160) OLED, 60Hz, Touch13.4-inch UHD+ (3840 x 2400) OLED, 60Hz, Touch
Ports2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C
WirelessWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Camera720p 30fps webcam, IR cam720p 30fps webcam, IR cam720p 30fps webcam, IR cam
Weight1.26 kg1.26 kg1.26 kg
Dimensions29.5 x 19.9 x 1.5 cm29.5 x 19.9 x 1.5 cm29.5 x 19.9 x 1.5 cm

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023): Specs

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023): DESIGN

The 2023 model maintains its stunning aesthetics but disappointingly lacks in ports. The display impresses, but the webcam leaves much to be desired. Seriously, Dell? A $1000+ ultrabook with a 720p webcam? I’m not interested in whatever they’re smoking; any modern laptop in this price range should boast a 1080p webcam.

While I might belong to a minority of ‘webcam resolution enthusiasts,’ the disparity becomes evident during video calls. A 1080p camera isn’t an ultra-premium feature; I’ve seen them on more affordable laptops. It does, however, come with IR functionality for convenient Windows Hello face logins.

DESIGN

Putting my webcam qualms aside, this laptop oozes sleekness. The keyboard seamlessly integrates into the chassis, devoid of any key-edge rounding. This not only offers a futuristic look but also enhances typing comfort. The backlit keys emit uniform white light, and the function keys are replaced by an illuminating touch bar with dynamic icons when you hold down the function key.

The overall design closely mirrors the 2022 model, which isn’t necessarily a drawback. It boasts a minimalist charm, featuring narrow bezels around the touchscreen and a clean brushed silver exterior. The power button also doubles as a fingerprint scanner and sits in the keyboard’s corner.

The touchpad, though it aims for a seamless appearance, lacks any tactile indicators, which could pose accessibility challenges for users with visual impairments. However, it remains highly responsive, with a subtle but noticeable click.

USB-C
design choice

One design choice that should have been left in 2022 is the port selection: merely two USB-C ports. That’s it. Even when charging via USB-C, you’re left with just one usable port. While I primarily attribute this trend to the MacBook Air, it’s disheartening to see Dell follow suit.

Thankfully, the box includes a pair of USB-C adapters (one for USB-A and one for a headphone jack), and both ports support Thunderbolt 4 for exceptional transfer speeds. However, the absence of a native 3.5mm jack feels like an oversight. Not everyone relies on AirPods, Dell.

Lastly, let’s discuss the display. The 3.5K panel, with its unique resolution of 3456 x 2160, may not be the highest-tier option for the XPS 13 Plus, but it’s undeniably stunning. The colors are vibrant, the blacks are deep, and the brightness is ample for use in well-lit environments. It unquestionably stands out as the laptop’s crowning feature.

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023): PERFORMANCE

The Core i7-1360P provides a noticeable performance boost over the previous model. General speed and responsiveness are commendable, even allowing for some light gaming.

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023): LAPTOP BENCHMARKS

Let’s dive into how the Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023) fared in our suite of benchmark tests:

In 3DMark tests, it achieved: Night Raid: 15,085; Fire Strike: 4,891; Time Spy: 1,778.
For GeekBench 6, it scored: 2,238 (single-core); and 10,541 (multi-core).
In a 25GB file copy test, it achieved 1,659MBps.
Handbrake 1.6 completed in 8 minutes and 14 seconds.
For CrossMark, the scores were: Overall: 1,504; Productivity: 1,393; Creativity: 1,713; Responsiveness: 1,282.
Playing Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm at 1080p on High settings resulted in 27.8fps, while on Low settings, it achieved 51.1fps.
During web surfing (Battery Informant), it lasted for 6 hours and 20 minutes on battery power.


In assessing this laptop’s performance, I naturally compared it to last year’s XPS 13 Plus, although our benchmark selection has evolved since then. The comparisons turned out to be a bit perplexing.

In synthetic graphics tests, the integrated graphics in this review unit performed nearly identically to the previous model. However, our practical gaming test showed a significant improvement. In fact, I even downloaded Valorant and found it ran smoothly, making casual gaming in less demanding titles a viable option.

PERFORMANCE

When it comes to CPU benchmarks, both synthetic and real-world, there was a noticeable performance increase of around 20-30% across both single-core and multi-core workloads. The i7-1360P is a reliable mobile processor, delivering consistent performance even when subjected to heavy tasks, like having numerous Chrome tabs open while streaming a YouTube video.

However, it’s worth noting that the laptop’s speakers left room for improvement. While not terrible, they lacked bass, and the high notes sounded slightly scratchy at maximum volume.

Thanks to the NVMe SSD, data transfers were swift, and the system remained responsive. It lived up to the Intel Evo branding, boasting near-instantaneous boot and wake times, which is a significant plus. Unlike the 2022 model, thermal issues were notably absent, and the laptop didn’t get uncomfortably warm or excessively noisy even after an hour of benchmarking.

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023): BATTERY

Despite not being a budget-friendly laptop, the XPS 13 Plus impressively delivers a satisfying price-to-performance ratio. Its only potential shortcoming lies in running demanding 3D rendering or scientific modeling software due to the lack of a dedicated GPU. However, for most everyday tasks – office work, web browsing, light gaming, and even some bedtime Netflix – this ultrabook outperforms its predecessor.

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023): BATTERY

Battery life disappoints, lasting less than seven hours under moderate usage. On the bright side, it charges swiftly. Unfortunately, this is where the XPS 13 Plus falls short compared to its predecessor. In our standard internet usage battery test with Wi-Fi enabled it managed only 6 hours and 20 minutes on a full charge.

For context, this falls short of almost every other leading laptop in its weight class today. It’s less than half the endurance of the latest 13-inch MacBook Air and even lags behind the previous M1 MacBook Air. In my real-world usage, running NewForTech tasks from 9 AM to 6 PM with a lunch break, it fared slightly better but still dipped below 20%, triggering Windows 11’s Battery Saver.

It falls short considering the competition and drains faster with heavier usage. This isn’t a laptop you can leave in your bag overnight and expect to use for work the next day. Fortunately, it compensates somewhat with fast charging, thanks to Thunderbolt 4 power delivery.

SHOULD YOU BUY THE DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023)?

SHOULD YOU BUY THE DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023)?

AttributesNotesRating
PriceDespite not being budget-friendly, the XPS 13 Plus provides decent value given its solid performance.4 / 5
SpecsEnhanced internal components represent a notable improvement for Dell’s ‘Plus’ line.4 / 5
DesignAesthetically pleasing, although it retains some frustrating design quirks from the original.4 / 5
PerformanceOutstanding for productivity and casual use, the i7-1360P delivers impressive performance, and the inclusion of 32GB of RAM in such a compact laptop is a bonus.4.5 / 5
BatteryWhile not terrible, it falls below the expected standard for ultrabooks in this price range. Dell should step up in this department.2.5 / 5
Average RatingA stylishly designed laptop that offers better overall performance than its middle-of-the-road predecessor but doesn’t quite reach greatness.3.8 / 5

Buy it if:

  • You value aesthetics.
  • You desire an exceptional screen, as this OLED display is fantastic, making it an excellent choice for avid video watchers.
  • You need a compact, portable laptop that fits easily into a small bag or backpack, with a compact charger to match.

Don’t buy it if:

  • You prioritize long battery life and often forget to charge your laptop after your commute.
  • You plan to use multiple peripherals since the laptop lacks sufficient ports. A USB-C hub will be a necessity. Additionally, consider getting a Bluetooth mouse.

DELL XPS 13 PLUS (2023): ALSO CONSIDER

Dell XPS 13 Plus (2023)Dell XPS 13 (2022)Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 8
Price: $1,499.00 / £1,719.38 / AU$3,281.30$1,049 / £1,004 / AU$2,299$1,399.99 / £1,440 / around AU$2,185
CPUIntel Core i7-1360PIntel Core i5-1230U
GPUIntel Iris Xe GraphicsIntel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM32GB LPDDR516GB LPDDR5
Screen13.4-inch 3.5K (3456 x 2160) OLED, 60Hz, Touch13.4-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200), 60Hz, Non-Touch
Storage512GB PCIe NVMe SSD512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Ports2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C
WirelessWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Camera720p 30fps webcam, IR cam720p 30fps webcam
Weight1.26 kg1.17 kg
Dimensions29.5 x 19.9 x 1.5 cm29.5 x 19.9 x 1.4 cm

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