This past year, I said the XPS 13 2019 was about as near perfect as a concise laptop computer would get. Dell is back with another XPS 13 and-wait for it-it’s better still.

It’s a assortment of small things that produce this 2020 model much better than the last. It doesn’t mean you should toss the main one you just bought and only this one, but if you are searching for a robust, portable, and stylish laptop, you will be hard-pressed to find an improved buy.

Meet up with the New Boss

Photograph: Dell
I own a 2018 Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition, and establishing this latest model-which Dell has numbered the XPS 13 9300-it’s practically impossible to inform them apart when they’re sitting next to the other person with the lids closed. The surface design has remained the same for quite some time. Open them up, though, and the pair are wildly different.

The most clear improvement in the 2020 edition may be the larger screen. Dell’s InfinityEdge display has always had a few of the thinnest bezels available to buy, on three sides anyway: Underneath of previous models retained a more substantial bezel. That isn’t the case anymore. Now there’s a uniform, slim bezel completely around, which changes the screen aspect ratio to 16:10. What does which means that for you personally? It adds a noticeable little bit of extra screen property.

I really know what you’re thinking. Does half an inch really make that much difference? I wish to say no, because I don’t feel just like it should, nonetheless it totally does. It’s really nice, and I miss it each and every time I get back to the older model. That little extra headroom makes webpages more readable, looking at Slack less of a chore, and this means I could see my images just a little better when I edit them in Darktable.

The keyboard has seen a significant revamp too. The old layout used split keys for the arrow keys, with (half) buttons for page up and page down together with the left and right arrow keys. In the 2020 model, the dedicated page buttons have died. Instead, the left and right arrow keys have grown to be full-size buttons. Going to page up and page down, it is advisable to hold down the Function key and hit the along arrow keys. As somebody who never uses page keys, I much choose the new layout, nevertheless, you may hate the change.

The backlight contrast ratio with the white keyboard continues to be too lower in all however the darkest of rooms. Otherwise, the slightly larger keys are welcome, especially the Shift, Enter, and Caps Lock keys. The touchpad is somewhat bigger too and doesn’t seem to be to have problems with the stray right-click problem I had with the prior XPS.

Minor Gripes

Photograph: Dell
I am less thrilled about the brand new hinge, which Dell says is more “refined” and doesn’t draw as much attention. It generally does not are well at keeping the lid closed, something I had no trouble with on the older model. The brand new hinge tends to flop open when the XPS is sideways. It isn’t a deal breaker, nonetheless it means your keyboard and screen are certain to get more stuff on them when the notebook computer is in your bag. (And yes, I did so put the XPS 13 in a backpack and walk around my home, since I cannot go anywhere at this time.)

My only other gripe is that among the USB-C ports is fully gone. We’re now at a paltry two, but fortunately, they’re on opposite sides of the device, unlike on the MacBook Air. It enables you to fit bulkier dongles without needing to unplug something from the other port.

Plenty of Power

The Dell XPS 13 I tested is white with a 10th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM, 512 gigabytes SSD, and a 4K display ($1900 at Dell), which may be the best configuration available. It has plenty of power to handle the average day of work owning a browser, using the Windows subsystem for Linux, videoconferencing with Zoom, communicating with coworkers on Slack, and streaming music to a Bluetooth speaker.

I put it though a benchmarking suite aswell, and it returned good scores for some use cases. I also pushed it by doing some video encoding and discovered that although it does heat up, it never became uncomfortable, even though I had the XPS in my own lap.

Dell has several types of the XPS 13 9300 available. At the budget end, there’s a model with an Intel Core i3 with 4 gigabytes of RAM ($999, though not available). This model isn’t likely to have anywhere near to the performance of the i7 chip I tested, nonetheless it will be fine if your tasks involve web browsing, watching movies, and light office work. If you intend to do more, I advise upgrading to the Core i5 or Core i7 model. The center option of a Core i5, 8 gigabytes of RAM, a 512 SSD, and 1080p screen is an excellent deal at $1,350.

Much like any machine, battery life on the XPS depends greatly on what you’re doing with it. On our standard video playback test at 75 percent brightness I acquired practically 13 hours, which is one of the best of the many laptops we’ve tested. It blows away even the brand new MacBook Air, which only managed just a little under 8 hours.

Simultaneously, re-encoding some Battlestar Galactica DVDs with Handbrake shot down the battery life to barely a lot more than four hours. Somewhere in the centre may be the everyday reality, which is that I could routinely work eight hours upon this laptop computer without having to worry about charging it. In the event that you choose the model with the 1080p-resolution screen, expect your battery life to be better still.

That is a Windows machine that matches everything about Apple’s MacBook Air and even bests it in a number of ways. Suffice to state, the most recent Dell XPS 13 delivers.