Dell XPS 13 Plus review: extra, in a superb way

Dell XPS 13 Plus

MSRP $1,299.00

“The Dell XPS 13 Plus is the fresh tackle laptop design I have been waiting for.”


  • Irresistibly fresh design
  • Great OLED screen
  • Helpful performance modes
  • Excellent haptic touchpad
  • Webcam has been improved


  • Gets warm on the underside
  • No headphone jack

The Dell XPS 13 Plus is the sort of laptop that can cause head turns and double takes. Not since it’s gimmicky or unusual – but since it just looks that good. It’s definitely one of the eye-catching laptops I’ve ever used.

But is it the very best laptop you’ll be able to buy? That’ll be a harder case for the XPS 13 Plus to make to some people, even when it dares to feel like a peek at the long run of laptops.


The lock screen shown on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

With one look, you’ll be able to tell someone had a vision over at Dell for the XPS 13 Plus. That’s been true of the XPS line for years now, but you’ll be able to see why Dell gave this design a recent name. It’s well-deserving of 1.

Gone is the carbon-fiber weave palm rests that became synonymous with the XPS brand, trading it in for a sleeker and more conventional aluminum surface throughout. There are two color options available this time: the darker “Granite” color and the lighter Platinum option, each of which have a singular tint. Outside the Dell logo on the back, though, there’s little or no that resembles previous XPS laptops – a minimum of not from the skin.

The device is 0.6 inches thick, which makes it barely thicker than each the brand new XPS 13 at 0.55 inches (yet to launch) and last 12 months’s XPS 13 at 0.58 inches. The M2 MacBook Air, in fact, is sort of a bit thinner at just 0.44 inches. It’s an analogous case for weight, where the two.71-pound Dell XPS 13 Plus is barely heavier than other XPS models.

And yet, the XPS 13 Plus definitely feels portable within the hand. Chalk it as much as the simplification of all of the visual elements, however the XPS 13 Plus very much looks like a compact little machine.

The keyboard and touchpad have also undergone essentially the most radical redesign. I’ll touch more on how they perform later, however the look alone is definitely striking. The touchpad now uses a haptic engine, which allowed Dell to make it invisible. The sides seamlessly mix into the palm rests, making for an incredibly minimalist vibe. The entire thing uses a single panel of Gorilla Glass 3 and feels extraordinary under your hands.

It’s an analogous story with the keyboard. The “edge to edge” design means as few lines and partitions as possible. It also means extra large keycaps extend wide.

The side of the keyboard on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

And at last, one of the striking and controversial decisions, the function row of keys has been replaced by capacitive touch buttons. Lots of us have had poor experiences with these kind of buttons prior to now on tech products, but I attempted to maintain an open mind as I used the laptop as my each day driver. The touch buttons definitely have a futuristic look – and are a giant a part of what makes the device so unique.

The touch buttons have an engineering purpose, too. Removing the physical function row allowed Dell to make use of this extra space here to widen out the hinges, which the corporate says allows for higher cooling. The brightness of those keys, meanwhile, is managed by the ambient light sensor on the lid by the webcam.

Keyboard and touchpad

The capacitive touch buttons on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

After I first saw the XPS 13 Plus back at CES, I used to be unconvinced in regards to the typing and touchpad experience. Neat look, yes, but practical? I wasn’t sure. Specifically, I had reservations in regards to the haptic feedback touchpad, which felt decidedly “off” in my short time with it.

But not. After some tuning by Dell, the graceful tracking that I’ve come to like on haptic touchpads works great now. I turned down the sensitivity to 25%, as you’ll be able to do in Windows 11, and located a sweet spot that completely simulated the sort of physical click mechanism that you just get with a hardware touchpad. Gestures work great, too.

Typing on the XPS 13 Plus feels just like past models. You get 1mm of travel, delivering clicky and satisfying keystrokes that feel each firm and cozy. After all, the broader key caps are excellent, making the layout feel spacious. I did find that for me, personally, the palm rests were a tad small for my larger hands. It’s not egregious, but I used to be occasionally annoyed by the sharp edges of the chassis digging into my palms.

As for the capacitive function row buttons, additionally they feel more responsive here in the ultimate product. Despite my hesitation, they worked.


The USB-C port on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

The Dell XPS 13 Plus includes just two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, and that’s it. No headphone jack. No microSD card slot. No nothing.

You, like most individuals, probably have a visceral response to having things taken away from them, even when it’s to make for higher tech in the long term. That’s the case with the headphone jack, and I definitely had among the same feelings myself.

Dell isn’t the primary laptop manufacturer to make this break, however it is likely to be essentially the most high-profile case. In a world where even Apple has kept the headphone jack within the MacBook Air, it looks like the XPS 13 Plus is venturing out into the unknown.

I didn’t find myself wishing I had a headphone jack as much as I believed I might.

And yet, I attempted to maintain an open mind. Over the course of my time using the XPS 13 Plus as my primary computer, I only got here across one scenario once I found myself wanting to make use of a wired audio source. My wireless earbuds had died, and I desired to hearken to some music while working. Fortunately, Dell throws a USB-C to three.5mm adapter right within the box, so after I dug it out, my concerns were put to rest.

It’s a slipshod solution, sure. But in a pinch, my minor problem was solved, and I went back to completing forgetting that this laptop didn’t have a beloved headphone jack.

Now, possibly if I used to be traveling quite a bit or working in unexpected tech environments, that might change. I definitely have sympathy for many who wish to keep analog audio connections around for various reasons. That’s very true for the reason that device only comes with two USB-C ports.

As for wireless connectivity, the XPS 13 Plus comes with support for the most recent Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.

Webcam and speakers

The webcam of the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

Now that all of us use them quite a bit greater than we used to, though, a foul webcam isn’t any longer a minor issue. And everyone knows that cameras have at all times been the Achilles heel of the XPS laptops.

Unfortunately, the Dell XPS 13 Plus still uses a 720p resolution camera, though this time, Dell has separated the actual camera from the IR sensor, which is used for Windows Hello. This has allowed for some improvements in image quality, especially in each low light and high exposure situations. To my surprise, it’s a way more usable webcam for video calls than previous XPS 13 models, even when it does lack the sharpness that you just get in 1080p cameras.

It’s an analogous case with the speakers. They’re higher, just still not amazing. Dell now uses a four-speaker setup to offer the audio a bit more oomph, and I could hear the difference immediately. All the pieces is clearer, and other than the shortage of bass, these speakers create a good sound stage for the occasional movie trailer or YouTube video. So, it’s an improvement, but I’m not quite able to call these “good” speakers.


The “Plus” on this laptop’s name is presupposed to discuss with improved performance. Leaning in on how Intel has divided up its recent line of chips (with distinct U- and P-series chips), Dell is pointing to the XPS 13 Plus because the more powerful option, using a 28-watt chip as an alternative of a 15-watt chip. My review unit used the highest-end option, Intel’s Core i7-1280P, which comes with 14 cores (6 Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores) and a 4.8GHz max frequency. My review unit paired this CPU with 16GB of 6400MHz RAM.

But in terms of the laptop itself, don’t get fooled by the marketing hype, occurring from each Dell and Intel, on this case. The XPS 13 Plus is plenty powerful, however it’s not any more a performance-driven laptop than last 12 months’s XPS 13. In truth, the upcoming XPS 13 is the one which has been downgraded to a lower wattage CPU. There’s a bigger story to inform there, but suffice to say: The XPS 13 Plus isn’t dramatically more powerful than other laptops of its size.

The keyboard and touchpad on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

Within the default Optimized mode, the XPS 13 Plus actually leans toward a cooler, quieter experience. Internal temperatures never got too hot, which has sometimes been a difficulty with other XPS laptops. But remember: With many laptops transitioning toward a bigger, 14-inch screen size with a bit more room for cooling, the XPS 13 Plus (and standard XPS 13) isn’t essentially the most powerful device to make use of this chip, as tested in nearly every benchmark I threw at it.

The excellent news is the jump from Eleventh-gen to Twelfth-gen Intel chips was pretty significant in multi-core workloads, so that you’ll likely be completely satisfied with the performance here, even with some fairly heavy multitasking, and even light content creation. Not exactly a machine you’ll wish to spend all day editing 4K video on, but no laptop of this size really is.

Somewhat than bump the screen size as much as 14 inches and introduce some discrete graphics, the XPS 13 Plus is left as a capable laptop, but one which looks like it’s overselling its capabilities. Know what you’re stepping into, though, and also you’ll find loads of performance for a laptop of this size.

Sidenote: I believed it was a very odd move when it was announced earlier this 12 months. On the time, I believed a 14-inch model would make more sense, especially since you might possibly put in a 35-watt CPU and a discrete graphics card, which is what quite a lot of laptop manufacturers have been doing recently. But after seeing what Apple has done splitting its own lineup between the M1 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Air, you’ll be able to see that Dell was going after a really similar lineup. Even the costs almost line up identically. 

(single / multi)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Dell XPS 13 Plus (Core i7-1280P) 1316 / 8207 170 1311 / 6308 5470
HP Spectre x360 13.5 (Core i7-1255U) 1566 / 7314 169 1623 / 5823 4895
MSI Prestige 14
(Core i7-1260P)
1505 / 10041 114 1553 / 8734 6201
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
1650 / 8080 116 1587 / 7682 5537
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(Core i7-12700H)
1462 / 8531 104 1523 / 8358 N/A
Acer Swift 3 (Core i7-1260P) 1708 / 10442 113 1757 / 10339 5378
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420
(Core i7-1255U)
1703 / 6520 153 1729 / 6847 5138

Dell emphasizes the available Performance mode present in the My Dell utility, which has been engineered to unlock way more performance. I saw a 19% increase in multi-core benchmarking and a 6% increase in single-core. Every company (and device) handles these performance modes in another way, and it’s not unheard of to see that sort of delta in performance modes, however the XPS 13 Plus definitely takes greater advantage of this Performance mode than the common laptop.

The largest difference I saw between these modes was in Handbrake, where Performance mode resulted in a forty five% faster video encode. That’s a serious uptick, showing just how much performance is left on the table in Dell’s Optimized mode. If you happen to’re sitting right down to do some work in an application that requires some heavier lifting, switching modes is definitely well worth the time it takes to open up the app.

Since it uses a 28-watt processor, the internals of the XPS 13 Plus actually share quite a bit in common with previous entries within the lineup. It uses two fans, some heat pipes, and a few small vents in the underside lid and by the hinge. And overall, I prefer the XPS 13 Plus’ approach to balancing heat and performance, though the underside of the laptop gets very warm. It was enough for me to not wish to apply it to my lap for too long, even in Optimized mode.

Dell’s “Cool” mode helps quite a bit, and I actually found myself staying there for the vast majority of my day-to-day work. It restricts performance quite a bit, however the only time I felt the slowdown was in video calls while doing other work concurrently.

Still, the surface temperature is a frustration, especially while you compare it to Apple’s MacBooks. These laptops, either the M1 or M2 model, do such an incredible job at staying cool and quiet – it’s hard to not avoid making that comparison.

Battery life

As we’ve begun to note while doing laptop reviews in 2022, devices powered by Intel’s Twelfth-gen chips aren’t exactly battery champions. Most see a discount from previous generations, which is a shame. The XPS 13 Plus, with its 55 watt-hour battery, matches this trend.

The laptop lasted eight hours on a single charge while running web browsing macros that cycles through web sites in Google Chrome. Next, I tossed a neighborhood 1080p movie trailer on loop, and the battery died after nine hours and 20 minutes. Each of those results are average for a laptop of this kind, especially one with a 4K touchscreen.

In my very own workload, I used to be getting around 5 – 6 hours on a single charge, which meant I needed to plug back in around halfway through the work day. You’re certain to get a pair more hours from the bottom model with its lower resolution screen, but I haven’t tested it yet myself.

Interestingly, the XPS 15 lasts around an hour and a half longer. Laptops just like the Lenovo Yoga 9i fare a bit higher as well, as does the HP Spectre x360 13.5. And, in fact, the MacBook Air lasts for over twice so long as most of those Windows laptops, lasting as much as 18 hours in these same tests.


The Dell XPS 13 Plus on a table outside.

The XPS 13 Plus uses the identical 13.4-inch 16:10 panel as utilized in previous versions of the XPS 13 — and it’s incredible. Mine is the 3456 x 2160 resolution OLED panel, though you’ll be able to go for the 3840 x 2400 display for the very same price. The latter option isn’t OLED, however it’s a bit brighter and sharper.

Even if you happen to were to go for the lower resolution base model, nevertheless, you’d be getting a solid screen. The model I reviewed has excellent color saturation and color accuracy. And, in fact, since it’s OLED you get absolute blacks for contrast that standard LED panels just can’t compete with. That makes it an exquisite screen for watching TV shows or videos online.

And the bezels, in fact, are as thin as ever, including up top where the webcam is. Even in comparison with the MacBook Air, these bezels are only tiny.

Our take

It’s clear that Dell is onto something special with the XPS 13 Plus. Greater than every other laptop I’ve reviewed prior to now couple of years, that is the one people wish to stop me and see. While the usual XPS 13 will likely be the more popular option due to its price and more conventional keyboard and touchpad, the XPS 13 Plus feels less like a wild experiment and more like a delicate nudge to the remaining of the industry in a recent direction.

Are there any alternatives?

The forthcoming Dell XPS 13 is a superb alternative because it’s cheaper and has a more traditional keyboard and touchpad. It could be a bit less powerful though.

If you happen to’re in search of a rather larger, more powerful laptop, I’d recommend considering a 14-inch laptop reminiscent of the Asus Zenbook Pro 14 Duo, Lenovo Yoga 9i, Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon, and the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED.

Lastly, the M2 MacBook Air dominates the XPS 13 Plus in battery life and surface temperatures.

How long will it last?

The XPS 13 Plus should last you 4 or five years, and there’s no reason to think it won’t last just so long as every other high-end laptop. The unique design may lose its luster through the years, in fact, as an increasing number of laptops come out.

Do you have to buy it?

Yes. If you happen to need a show-stopping, cutting-edge laptop, look no further.

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