Dell’s new XPS 13 adds Alder Lake CPUs, but that’s more than just a spec bump

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Dell's new XPS 13 adds Alder Lake CPUs, but that's more than just a spec bump

Today Dell is launching the 2022 revision of its XPS 13, which features Intel’s latest 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs adding more cores and a hybrid architecture, and says the new version is the thinnest and lightest 13-inch -XPS of all time is. The new laptop is 13.9 mm thick (0.55 inches) and weighs just 2.59 pounds, compared to its predecessor’s 14.80 mm (0.58 inches) and 2.64 pounds starting weight for a non-touchscreen model. The new XPS 13 is available today in the US and Canada, starting at $999 with Windows 11 or $949 for a Developer Edition equipped with Ubuntu 20.04.

The flagship XPS 13 has gone from a preview of the future of laptops when Dell introduced the thin-bezel InfinityEdge design in 2015 to something a few years later that’s sort of dated and now good enough to deserve our review, the latest iteration Dubbed the “all a Windows laptop should be” en route to rankings in several “Best PC Laptops” lists.

To avoid accusations that the line is outdated again, Dell is splitting up wilder options with the XPS 13 Plus, which kicked off the year with a touch bar, flush keyboard, and slightly more powerful P-Series CPU options, as well as a new 2022 for the XPS 13 2-in-1 announced today that it is replacing the old thin and foldable design with a tablet and folio keyboard case.

Image: Dell

On the outside, the new 9315 model looks similar to the CPU-powered 11th-gen 9310 that debuted in 2020 before an OLED display option was added last year, but the differences should be apparent as soon as you open it up.

Dell says it’s “removed redundant steps, reduced finishes and materials” on the new laptop, pulling back the contrasting interior to highlight the “curated and premium” CNC-machined aluminum that’s now the star of the show, inside and out. It’s a familiar look, but fairly clean in the sky (grey) or umber (brown) tinted aluminum finish, and hopefully it retains the sturdy design and solid keyboard and trackpad we praised in 2020. Other details like the fingerprint sensor/power button and Thunderbolt 4 ports on either side remain the same, but there’s no headphone jack on the laptop this year.

Other notable changes are on the inside, addressing some of the weaknesses we noted for the 9310 with a poor webcam, speakers lacking bass, and a keyboard that could feel hot under load. The internal layout has been redesigned to accommodate Dell’s smallest motherboard ever, which is 1.8x smaller than the previous model, making room for larger speakers and other tech. The spec sheet mentions using that space for a larger battery, but lists the new model’s unit at 51 watt-hours, compared to the 9310’s 52. It also now has a single fan design instead of two.

We’ll have to check out the new model to see what its new chipset and design make of these changes, which could be an area for the new Alder Lake CPUs inside to shine. As we’ve already explained, this generation of Intel chips is better positioned to contend with the competition from AMD, Apple, and everyone else, introducing a setup similar to many ARM-based CPUs, with more cores sandwiched between them are built for performance or energy efficiency.

At launch, Dell is listing two 10-core CPU options, either Intel’s i5-1230U or i7-1250U with Iris Xe graphics, RAM choices of 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB, and SSDs in sizes of 256GB, 512 GB or 1TB. According to Dell, the most energy-efficient i5 model could stream Netflix continuously for up to 12 hours, or 11 hours with the most efficient i7 setup, and up to 6 hours with a model equipped with the i7 chip, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD is , and 4K display.

Dell XPS 13 9315 in Umber

Dell XPS 13 9315 in Umber
Image: Dell

In terms of displays, there’s no new OLED version available right now, with choices like a 4K UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touch display or FHD+ (1920 x 1200) in either touch or non-touch configurations. This year it includes support for WiFi 6E, but integrated 5G is reserved for the upcoming 2-in-1 version. The aluminum in the frame is low-carbon to reduce its carbon footprint, while this year’s model comes in new packaging made from “100 percent recycled or renewable content”.

The webcam is also updated, separating the infrared and RGB sensors in a way that the company says looks better in low light, and while Dell finally put the camera in the right spot a few years ago, it still is limited to 720p. Whether that’s true or not, this model also adds Dell’s ExpressSign-In technology, which uses a proximity sensor combined with the Windows Hello facial recognition webcam to detect when you’re in front of the laptop, and automatically sign you in as You can also lock it when you walk away, or dim the screen to save battery while you’re watching something else.

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