Dell’s XPS line of laptops have earned a reputation for delivering solid performance in a sturdy yet slim and light package. But this year the company is bringing extra horsepower to the equation.

While previous-gen Dell XPS 13 laptops have been powered by 15-watt Intel processors, the new Dell XPS 13 Plus is a compact notebook with a 28-watt, 12th-gen Intel Alder Lake-P processor. First announced in January, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is now available for purchase.

Prices start at $1299 for a model with Windows 11 or $1249 for the Dell XPS 13 Plus Developer Edition, which ships with Ubuntu Linux.

Despite the higher-power processor, the new XPS 13 Plus is still a thin and light notebook, measuring just 0.6 inches thick and weighing as little as 2.73 pounds. Dell says you can thank an improved cooling system that includes larger fans for 55% more airflow for the processor upgrade, but the company says the new fans don’t generate any more noise than previous-gen models.

While the processor upgrade is a welcome change, some of Dell’s design decisions for the XPS 13 Plus are likely to be a little more controversial.

The function keys are now capacitive touch buttons above the keyboard rather than physical keys. The upshot is that Dell says only the keys you need will be illuminated at any given time. So if you’re using media keys, those functions will be lit up. If you’re using the Fn keys, those will be illuminated.

Dell has also moved to a “seamless glass haptic trackpad,” with no visible lines separating the touchpad from the palm rest. That gives the laptop a much more interesting, uniform look… but I can’t help but wonder how often users are going to find themselves accidentally dragging their fingers past the edge or missing the touchpad altogether.

The Dell XPS 13 Plus also features an edge-to-edge backlit keyboard with a “zero-lattice” design, meaning that there’s little separating one key from the next which, again, looks pretty, but I have to wonder how functional it will be.

The laptop has a 13.4 inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, and Dell will offer display options including:

  • 3840 x 2400 pixel OLED 400-nit touchscreen
  • 3840 x 2400 pixel LCD 500-nit touchscreen
  • 1920 x 1200 pixel LCD 500-nit touchscreen
  • 1920 x 1200 pixel LCD 500-nit non-touch

Processor options range from an Intel Core i5-1240P 12-core chip to a Core i7-1280P 14-core processor. Those chips are part of Intel’s new Alder Lake-P series of processors, which are 28-watt chips that sit between the U-series (15-watts) and H-Series (45-watts).

Dell will offer the laptop with 8GB to 32GB of LPDDR5-5200 memory (soldered) and up to 2TB of solid state storage.

The Dell XPS 13 Plus has an aluminum body and glass palm rest, and the laptop measures 11.6″ x 7.8″ x 0.6″.

It has a 720p webcam with support for Windows Hello face recognition, a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, dual microphones, and a 55 Wh battery. There’s support for WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.

One thing the laptop is light on is ports: it has just two Thunderbolt 4 ports, but Dell does include a USB-C to USB-A adapter that you can use to connect legacy peripherals.

The Dell XPS 13 Plus will be available this spring with prices starting around $1200 for a model with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage.

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  1. It’s a beautiful design to be photographed, but I suspect it will disappoint greatly to actual users: if the function keys and trackpad weren’t enough, another major omission is the lack of a 3.5mm audio jack.

      1. Because plugging one of the gazillion sets of headphones I have lying around into a computer that I have to sit down to use effectively anyway is still less of a hassle than messing around with bluetooth.
        Especially if you don’t want the computer’s microphone picking up it’s speaker output.
        Maybe if they come up with a standardized scheme for rapidly pairing wireless earbuds to computers and phones via NFC, (or if they have and I just don’t know because I’ve been living under a rock) then maybe it won’t be such a big deal.

  2. Can’t believe they went the Apple way to screw up the keyboard and use the touch bar approach for F keys (including Esc) – because that worked SO well on Apple’s MBPs.

  3. All that matters for a review like this:
    Can I shut the lid and actually have the laptop sleep?
    The latest XPS models are all completely broken for this, Dells answer is “you should shut the laptop down each time”.

    If you don’t the fans stay on and it cooks itself in your bag (voiding the warranty no less).

      1. Have you checked the lid settings on the os of the computer if it’s set to sleep with lid closed?

  4. “The function keys are now capacitive touch buttons above the keyboard rather than physical keys.”

    Wow…

    And Esc too!

    Wow…

  5. Stop screwing with my function keys!

    On the plus side, since the function/media keys will be so awkward to access, maybe Dell will give me back the Fn+left and right arrow = home and end?

  6. It’s great that Dell took all of Apple’s worst ideas, made them worse, and crammed them into this laptop.