Dell’s new XPS 13 laptops are thin, light, and generally a lot smaller than you’d expect a notebook with a 13.3 inch display to be. That’s because the bezel around the screen is just 5.2mm, allowing Dell to fit a 13.3 inch screen into a laptop the size of a normal 11.6 inch notebook.

At the same time, Dell is dropping the starting price by hundreds of dollars. Laptops that wear the Dell XPS 13 name have always been premium products, and in the past prices have tended to run $1000 or more. But the new 2015 models with Intel Broadwell processors will start at just $799.

But not all Dell XPS 13 models are created equal. The company will actually offer two different versions… and for some folks, the cheaper model actually might be the more attractive option.

xps_01

That’s because the model with a $799 starting price has a matte, non-touchscreen display and up to 15 hours of battery life.

If you want a touchscreen display you’ll have to pay $1299 or up and you’ll get a glossy screen and up to 12 hours of battery life. To be fair, both laptops get much longer run time than a typical notebook from a few years ago. But it’s still interesting that the cheaper model gets more battery life.

The cheaper model is also a tad lighter. Both models measure about 0.6 inches thick, but the version with the matte, non-touch display is 2.6 pounds while the touchscreen version is 2.8 pounds.

You do get some premium features with the more expensive model though. In addition to the touchscreen display, the more expensive ultrabook has a 3200 x 1800 pixel Sharp IGZO display panel with edge-to-edge glass, while the entry-level model has a lower-resolution (but still pretty crisp) 1920 x 1080 pixel Sharp screen. The bezel on the matte screen is still super-slim, but the glass doesn’t cover the bezel, so there’s a bit of aluminum and plastic around the display.

And while the entry-level model features 4GB of RAM, a 128GB solid state drive, and a Core i3 Broadwell processor, the cheapest touchscreen model has 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a Core i5 CPU.

You can opt for a faster processor or more RAM with the non-touch version, but you’ll have to pay extra for those features.

xps_06

Note that the RAM is attached to the motherboard on all of Dell’s news XPS 13 laptops. If you want more than 4GB, you should pay for it when you buy the laptop. The solid state drive is not glued in, so theoretically there’s nothing stopping you from upgrading the storage yourself. The same goes for the battery, although it’s not clear if attempting to replace you own battery or storage will void the warranty.

All told, both the touchscreen and non-touch versions of the Dell XPS 13 look like pretty great laptops, especially for folks looking for a compact machine with long battery life. But if you don’t need a 3200 x 1800 pixel touchscreen display, not only can you save a lot of money, but you might get longer battery life and the ability to view your laptop outdoors.

Oh yeah, I learned one more thing today: some folks had been concerned that Dell’s “infinity display” with super-thin bezels didn’t leave room for a webcam.

xps_camera

These laptops do have cameras. They’re just in the thickest part of the bezel: the part between the keyboard and the display.

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34 replies on “Dell’s $799 XPS 13 ultrabook might be better than the $1299 model”

  1. I just chatted with Dell and the representative seemed convinced that all XPS 13 laptops had matte screens, including the non-touch. (see attached chat) Any idea what the truth is? This is kind of a big deal for me! Love matte screens.

        1. Anything is possible, but it’s much more likely that the rep you spoke with was incorrect. There are very few devices I’m aware of with matte touchscreens.

  2. I was going to order one from Dell, but they told me that ALL versions (including non-touch) are glossy, and there are NO matte options. Is that for real?!

    1. The 1080p non-touch version is matte, it says it right in the article and on their website.

  3. I have a question about touchscreen- Is it true that from windows 8.1 the OS is basically geared towards a touchscreen? In which case, if one has the cash it seems that one ought to get the touchscreen version if one wants to benefit from the OS?
    I wonder what Windows 10 will be like.

    1. Windows 8.1 really does not require a touchscreen. It’s a nice feature sometimes, but certainly not a vital one.

  4. I wanna buy the i7 model with a 1080p non-touch panel. At 13″ anything beyond 1080p is insanity and you’ll just be using DPI scaling anyway, which is awful.

    Of course Dell doesn’t offer this option, for whatever asinine reason.

    1. I’m in the same boat. I really want one but want the i7 non touch. They only offer the non touch in i5, I would much rather trade the touch for longer battery life being a light portable notebook

  5. Brad, is it possible to post high res copies of the photos? Want to compare in details.
    Glossy is a great concern for me. But extra protection of GG and ability to do 900px2 is sweet,

  6. Do you know if it is a msata or m2 or 2.5″ ssd? Is it easy to replace?
    I have my eye on the $799 version or the $999 i5.

  7. Just checking one of the $799 on the Dell Website. There are coupons that make it about $725 (pre tax).

  8. Honestly would get one right away if the $799 one had a touchscreen, even maybe if it were like a $50 upgrade, but holy hell you need to spend a lot. I’m perfectly happy with 1080P, hell even 720p on a 13 inch isn’t bad. I’ll stick with my current xps 13 model, I wish they updated the design a bit, the silver and black just isn’t the best looking.

    1. Until you use one for like a month and get used to it. I didn’t get it either, now I hate not having one.

      1. After just a week I completely stopped using the touchscreen on my notebook. I’d rather get the premium specced model without the touchscreen (an annoying glossy screen at that).

    2. it’s not about using it all the time, but using it to click a button once every 2 hours
      Yes, that sounds pretty useless, even more so if you can always resort to a touchpad or connect a mouse. But still: once you had the ability for some time, you tend to do this as first reaction of needing to do something that isn’t possible via keyboard. You start to miss touch-screen on devices without.

      this is more apparent with shrinking device-sizes, because the distance between keyboard and click position tends to get smaller and clicking that way is faster than moving a cursor via touchpad.
      so on my 10″ T100TA it would be annoying not beeing able to use it, on the 12″ Thinkpad of my wife i stumble once per hour and on desktop-pcs i’m almost never trying to do such things.

      So on a 12/13″-Device i’d like to have it, but it wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me if it comes without touch.

  9. That’s a lot of money for poor perf.
    Those are ultrabook Broadwell , low power equals lower perf. The so called i3 and i5 branding is designed to mislead since CPU for this category failed when they were labeled Celeron (that was a far more accurate label). Intel is behaving like con artists and what they are doing is actual fraud.

    1. How is it fraud? There’s no standard for i3/i5/i7 label. Even if there are, it’s an Intel standard, not an industry standard. It’s marketing 101, not fraud.
      Also, Intel always had ULV version of i series every generation and this is not any different.

      1. The issue is that they are replacing the U-class CPUs with the Core M CPUs which are on par with the Y-class but marketing them as if they were on par with the U-class.

        1. These systems use 15W Core i3, Core i5, or Core i7 parts, not 4.5W core M chips.

          Dell says they ran tests and found that the difference in battery life was negligible, but performance was noticeably better than it would be with Core M chips.

          1. I guess I don’t really have a good grasp of this, but how can a 15W chip have neglible worse battery life than a 4.5W chip?

          2. a) during average usage, both chips use less than their full amount of power
            b) at this point the processor accounts for a relatively small amount of a laptop’s power draw. The screen and other hardware use much more energy.

            Dell says the difference was maybe 20-30 minutes in battery benchmarks. When you’re talking about 12-15 hours of run time, that’s not very much and Dell figured it made more sense to offer the chips with better performance.

            Real-world results might be a bit greater though.

          3. Don’t tell me that, now I’ll have to clean the drool off of my keyboard…

            But yes, the power to performance ratio seems pretty bad for the Core M’s I’ve seen so far.

        2. I was under the impression that the Core M name was being applied to the Broadwell-Y CPUs (4.5w and 3.5w), and the Broadwell-U CPUs (15w and 28w) are not going to receive the Core M naming.

    2. I don’t really understand your comment, but it seems like you are under the impression that because these are using low-wattage CPUs, that Intel is trying to fool you into thinking that they are the same as the higher wattage CPUs?

      Intel clearly markets several different TDP-classes of CPUs. Within their mobile line, they have M, U, and Y classes (Mobile, Ultra-low wattage, and Extreme-low wattage). The i3,5,7 names are applied to products within each class.

      If you feel lied to, you probably just need to learn to read better.

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