Dell changed the Windows laptop market in a single stroke with the launch of the updated XPS 13 back in 2015, ushering in the world of the InfinityEdge display, and moving the entire industry forward. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to check out the precursor to the new XPS 13 back in November, with a review of the XPS 13 2-in-1. Dell had chosen not to rest on their laurels, and the 2-in-1 proved to be one of the best notebooks around if you needed a compact and powerful convertible laptop. Today we are evaluating the traditional clamshell version of the XPS 13, and while it offers many of the same features and design touches, it does so in a more familiar form factor that many customers are going to prefer.

For the 2020 refresh, Dell has made the refreshing move to taller displays, as we saw with the XPS 13 2-in-1. As a result the XPS 13 uses 13.4-inch display panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio, offering more vertical space for getting work done, and some convenient padding to place controls when watching 16:9 content. The larger display fits into a chassis that is actually 2% smaller than the outgoing design, with the new XPS 13 offering a 91.5% screen to body ratio.

This is actually the second time that Dell has refreshed the XPS 13 within the last year. The company previously updated the XPS 13 in August 2019 to use Intel's 10th generation Core processors, but presumably due to limited supply of Intel’s then-new Ice Lake platform, Dell opted to launch that iteration with Comet Lake-U processors. And under more normal circumstances we would have expected Dell to stick with an annual cadence – and thus Comet Lake – for an entire year. Instead, to some surprise, Dell gave the XPS 13 a further mid-generation refresh, launching the Ice Lake-based XPS 13 9300 model that we are reviewing today, and bringing the clamshell XPS 13 to parity with the 2-in-1 version.

The switch from Comet Lake to Ice Lake, in turn, is a significant one. it means the XPS 13 gets Intel’s new Sunny Cove CPU architecture, as well as the much-improved Gen 11 graphics. Dell offers Core i3, i5, and i7 models, with the Core i3 and i5 offering G1 graphics, meaning 32 Execution Units (EUs), and the top-tier Core i7-1065G7 featuring the full 64 EUs on the GPU side. Just as a comparison, the Comet Lake-U only offered 24 EUs of Gen 9.5 graphics, so even the base Ice Lake models still offer a 33% larger (and much newer) GPU than the outgoing models.

The move to Ice Lake also brings some badly-needed LPDDR4X support, which in turn means a 32 GB maximum memory option in the XPS 13 9300, up from 16 GB previously. Although Dell still lists a paltry 4 GB option on their specifications sheet, a quick look at the site shows that, at least in the USA, it appears that 8 GB is the new minimum, and that is a welcome change. Offering just 4 GB of RAM in a premium Ultrabook was always a poor choice, even if it did allow Dell to hit a slightly lower price bracket. On the storage front there is more good news, with 256 GB the new minimum, with up to 2 TB available, and all drives are PCIe x4 NVMe offerings.

Specifications of the Dell XPS 13 9300-Series
  General Specifications
As Tested: Core i7-1065G7 / 16GB / 512GB / 1920x1200
LCD Diagonal 13.4-inch
Resolution 1920×1200 3840×2400
Brightness 500 cd/m² 500 cd/m²
Contrast Ratio 1800:1 1500:1
Color Gamut 100% sRGB 100% sRGB
90% P3
Features Dolby Vision Dolby Vision
Touch Support with or without touch Yes
Protective Glass Corning Gorilla Glass 6 in case of touch-enabled model
CPU Intel Core i3 1005G1 (4MB cache, up to 3.4GHz)
Intel Quad Core i5 1035G1 (6MB cache, up to 3.6GHz)
Intel Quad Core i7 1065G7 (8MB cache, up to 3.9GHz)
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics
Intel Iris Plus Graphics
RAM 4 - 32 GB LPDDR4X-3733 DRAM (soldered/onboard)
Storage 256 GB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD
512 GB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD
1 TB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD
2 TB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD
Wireless Killer AX1650 Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth 5.0 (based on Intel's silicon)
Killer AX500 Wi-Fi 6 + Bluetooth 5.0 (based on Qualcomm's silicon)
USB 3.1 2 × TB 3/USB Gen 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C
3.0 -
Thunderbolt 2 × TB 3 (for data, charging, DP displays)
Cameras Front 720p HD webcam
Other I/O Microphone, 2 stereo speakers, audio jack
Battery 52 Wh | 45 W AC Adapter (USB Type-C)
Dimensions Width 295.7 mm | 11.64 inches
  Depth 198.7 mm | 7.82 inches
  Thickness 14.8 mm | 0.58 inches
Weight non-touch 1.2 kilograms | 2.64 pounds
touch-enabled 1.27 kilograms | 2.8 pounds
Launch Price Starting at $999.99

Dell has gone all-in on USB-C with the new XPS 13, with one port on each side of the notebook. Both feature Thunderbolt 3 with 4 lanes, as well as power delivery for charging. The lack of a Type-A port may inconvenience some, but Dell does include an adapter in the box to assist. Wireless is the Killer AX1650, which based on the latest Intel AX200 wireless adapter – and with Intel purchasing Killer this partnership seems like it is not going anywhere.

If you read our review of the 2-in-1 version of this laptop, you will undoubtedly notice a lot of similarities. As they are from the same product line, that is not an accident: Dell has now refreshed their entire XPS series of laptops with a similar design philosophy. Let’s take a peek at what is new.

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  • TheinsanegamerN - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    If tiger late is as impressive as ice lake the ryzen 4700u will retain a significant advantage in performance, and I'll believe it releases when I see it.
  • Deicidium369 - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    Much more impressive. 4C Tiger Lake is 17% slower than 8C Renoir - and Xe LP is at least 2x as fast as Gen11 (in Ice Lake) and performs as well as a Nvidia MX350 (hence why Nvidia is pushing out the Turing MX450) - which wrecks the ancient Vega.

    So double the cores and a whopping 17% perf advantage - and much slower iGPU - are we sure that AMD understands the laptop market?
  • rhysiam - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    You are doing some gold-standard cherry picking here. Which chart gets you this "17% slower" number you keep quoting as if it's gospel? The 15W thermal envelope is the limiting factor here, so "double the cores" won't net you anywhere near double the performance, nor are they supposed to.

    According to this very review, lightly threaded tests show the 4700U on par with the similarly clocked Ice Lake. They are neck and neck. IPC is very close between Zen 2 and Sunny Cove.

    Highly threaded workloads are dominated by AMD:
    CB: 4700U is 52% faster
    HB(software): 4700U is 71% faster
    HB(hardware): 4700U is 79% faster
    7-Zip(comp): 4700U is 34% faster
    7-Zip(decomp): 4700U is 40% faster

    Remember that the 4700U is **not** the top SKU (though admittedly the 4800U isn't much faster).

    Again - where is this "17%" coming from if not deceptively cherry picked?

    Tiger Lake looks to have a massive GPU, but what are we looking at CPU wise? A few % IPC and very small clock bump? Maybe Intel squeeze out a tiny single threaded lead, while still getting trashed in multi-core workloads - in exchange for a better iGPU.
  • Spunjji - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    @rhysiam - He's basing his claims on an early benchmark leak that does indeed suggest a healthy single-thread lead for Tiger Lake and a moderate multi-core deficit. It doesn't look to be a particularly unreliable leak - apparently comparing like-for-like in terms of chassis - but it's still just the one leak. There are also leaks implying a far less dramatic advantage for the Xe LP GPU, but he's not citing those.

    When it comes to Deicidium, information suggesting Intel superiority is taken as gospel and information suggesting otherwise is discarded. He spent the months leading up to Renoir's release refusing to believe any of the benchmark leaks favouring AMD and hammering on how unreleased products don't matter. Go figure.
  • Deicidium369 - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    Yeah, boy as I wrong - that Great Renoir can compete with an almost year old design! That is unbelievable. With such massive year over year IPC increases - would only be fair to compare the Great Renoir with Alder or Meteor Lake.

    Too bad AMD marketing never pans out and when the fanboys get it - and filter it through their fever dreams - it is even more disappointing when released - The Another Marketing Deception product release

    HYPE HYPE HYPE LAUNCH SIGH! NEXT (or compare to last years outgoing CPU)
  • Korguz - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    just like you do as well Deicidium369. so look who's talking, little child
  • Byte - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    I guess competitive means you are still alive in a two horse race. Doesn't matter if your horse overheated on the side of the road.
  • Santoval - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    If Tiger Lake is still capped at 4 cores (and apparently both the Y and U variants are, though the -H variant will probably have up to 6 cores) it will not be able to compete with AMD's APUs in *CPU* performance. According to some leaks though Tiger Lake's Xe iGPU outperforms the (very) old Vega based iGPU that for some inexplicable reason (to avoid internal competition with their lowest end Navi graphics cards?) AMD decided to add to their 4000 APU series.

    Well, Xe hasn't even been released yet and Vega was released 3 full years ago, so if Xe couldn't even outclass (barely apparently) a 3-year old iGPU Intel would be in deep trouble. Tiger Lake might outperform AMD's APUs in single thread performance, but that doesn't matter as much anymore. The question is how much Intel managed to raise the IPC and the clocks of Tiger Lake over Ice Lake, but it's not "doubtful" at all that AMD's APUs will be in most ultrabooks by early next year. Only people who were sleeping in a technological cave for the last 3 years would think that.
  • Deicidium369 - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    inclusion of Vega was AMD's choice.

    Ice Lake had a 30% increase in IPC (the quip about, at the expense of lower clocks is meaningless) and with improved 10nm+ and architectural advanced in Willow Cove equate to an actual IPC increase, not just one in marketing materials.

    4 cores can easily equal AMD 8 cores. These are ultralights - they are not DTR - 4 superior cores + superior graphics are the best mix - not 8 cores an ancient Vega iGPU.

    They won't be in premium devices - it is not their market - Lenovo is as close as they will come - not worth the OEMs to design around a niche APU that won't sell in profitable numbers.

    OEMs seem to not want to make the investment into AMD designs, no one is asking for them, and they have no advantage over the well established, steady (Intel never dropped out of sight for more than a decade) and reliable Intel.

  • Korguz - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    lets see you post proof of this, Deicidium369. if not, its just your usual pro intel, anti amd bs, as you always post.

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