Dell XPS 13 Plus review: The most fantastic 13″ laptop of 2022

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Laptops come in and out of our office like people through the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru. We could have 15 to 30 different laptops passing through our collective fingers in any given year. So it may seem bold to say that the Dell XPS 13 Plus is the most fantastic 13″ laptop we’ve seen in 2022.

Bear with me; there are excellent reasons why this is how we feel. While the competition has undoubtedly released competent and comparable machines, the 2022 Dell XPS 13 Plus brought something no one else has. Dell broke the XPS design mold this year and brought something unique and worth discussing. Let’s find out what makes the Dell XPS 13 Plus the most fantastic 13″ laptop of 2022.

Specifications

The Dell XPS 13 Plus has the following features and specifications:

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  • Processor: 12th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1280P (24 MB cache, 14 cores, 20 threads, up to 4.80 GHz Turbo)
  • Operating System: Windows 11 Home
  • GPU: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • RAM: 16 GB, LPDDR5, 5200 MHz
  • SSD: 1 TB, M.2, Gen 4 PCIe NVMe, SSD
  • Display: 13.4″, 3.5K 3456×2160, 60Hz, OLED, Touch, Anti-Reflect, 400 nit, InfinityEdge
  • Connectivity: Intel® Killer™ Wi-Fi 6 1675 (AX211) 2×2 + Bluetooth 5.2 Wireless Card
  • Audio: Dual stereo speakers (tweeter + woofer), Realtek ALC1319D, 2 W x 2 = 4 W total
  • Camera: 720p at 30 fps HD RGB camera, 400p at 30 fps IR camera, dual-array microphones
  • Battery: 3 Cell, 55 Wh, integrated
  • Power: 60W AC Adapter Type-C
  • Keyboard: Graphite Backlit English Keyboard with Fingerprint Reader
  • I/O
    • Thunderbolt™ 4 (USB Type-C™ with DisplayPort and Power Delivery) x2
    • USB-C to USB-A 3.0 adapter (included in the box)
    • USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter (included in the box)
  • Dimensions
    • Height: 0.60 in. (15.28 mm)
    • Width: 11.63 in. (295.30 mm)
    • Depth: 7.84 in. (199.04 mm)
    • Weight: 2.71 lbs. (1.23 kg) for FHD+ or 4K+, 2.77 lbs. (1.26 kg) with OLED

What’s In The Box

  • Dell XPS 13 Plus
  • USB-C to USB-A 3.0 adapter
  • USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter

Design

The Dell XPS 13 Plus is easily the most significantly re-designed laptop of 2022. The exterior of the XPS 13 Plus does not have significant changes, but the interior does. Let’s get the exterior design of the 13 Plus out of the way so we can move on to the good stuff.

The chassis of the Dell XPS 13 Plus is familiar. It has that same aluminum build with sharp angular lines throughout. The Dell logo is still on the lid and center. The bottom shows off the XPS logo, and there are long rubber feet that help keep the laptop off the surface for cooling. The only two ports you will find on this laptop are two Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C with DisplayPort and Power Delivery) ports. There, the exterior is covered, LOL.

Dell XPS 13 Plus
The back of the XPS 13 Plus

Flipping the lid open reveals the signature near-bezel-free display that XPS is famous for, more on specs and performance later. It’s not until you bring your eyes to the Dell XPS 13 Plus deck that you see this laptop’s significant change.

Looking at the space where you would traditionally find a trackpad, it appears the trackpad is missing. In its place is what looks like a long wrist rest. It’s a stunning design cue, giving the 13 Plus a distinctive look and feel. While it seems as if Dell accidentally forgot the trackpad, the trackpad is integrated into the wrist rest.

The width of the integrated trackpad is the area between the left side of the space bar to the right alt key. The height extends from the space bar down to slightly above the edge of the Dell XPS 13 Plus front lip. The design gives the 13 Plus a minimal and clean flow.

Moving up to the keyboard, you find the same design flow. The keyboard sits in the chassis from edge to edge and, to the eye, looks almost completely flat. Above the backlit keyboard is a row of backlit capacitive function keys that are responsive and easy to use. The deck on the Dell XPS 13 Plus is the showpiece of this entire laptop. It is seamless, giving the appearance of an undisturbed piece of glass. Though you can see the keyboard’s separation of keys, even that flows well with everything else.

And here’s a helpful piece of information, the power key is located next to the backspace key. It is unmarked, and it doubles as the fingerprint sensor.

Overall, Dell has kept what makes an XPS an XPS there. It has enhanced and beautified the design language by adding this fantastic-looking keyboard and deck. What stands out to me here is that Dell made significant changes but made them valuable and functional, so it wasn’t an afterthought. I appreciate the refresh, mainly because Dell did it right.

Display

I will say this because I know you’re thinking it, isn’t a 3.5K display on a 13″ laptop overkill? Our review unit is housing one of Dell’s beautiful 3.5K panels. And while I think it is fantastic, most users probably do not need this much visual power. You can configure the Dell XPS 13 Plus with a lower resolution panel, which should be great for most users. That being said, this 3.5K display is a beauty.

But given that this is a 13″ display, I did have to scale the display up to read text comfortably. Now, you might have much younger and stronger eyes than I, and you may not have to scale up. But I feel that most people will scale up to read text. Where that 3.5K resolution comes in very handy is watching movies and editing photos and other media that looks better in 3.5K.

Dell XPS 13 Plus
3.5K display outside

It was nice to have all of the resolutions when editing photos, and it was super helpful. The colors on this display are vibrant, while the black levels are deep and true to life. The white balance is excellent, and there was no yellowing that I could see. I did use my DataColor SpydeX Elite to calibrate the display after the initial setup, and the software adjusted the settings minimally, which tells me that the calibration of this display was excellent out of the box.

Our Dell XPS 13 Plus display did not show any light bleed, blooming, or anomalies. Of course, nothing is perfect, so that’s not to say someone may encounter an issue when they purchase their own XPS. In our testing, the 13 Plus display worked as it should. It looked great and functioned very well. Calibration was excellent, and color accuracy was spot on. The brightness was terrific, and I had no issues using the Dell XPS 13 Plus outdoors.

Some other reviewers took issue with the 60Hz refresh rate on this display. The argument is that most PC makers are making 90Hz and 120Hz standard fare, but given that a higher refresh rate uses more battery, I think Dell made a good choice here. Don’t get me wrong, I like higher refresh rate displays, too, but I didn’t miss it much on this laptop. I would rather have more battery, given how small this laptop already is.

Overall, Dell puts a lot of effort into the displays on the XPS line of laptops, and it continually shines through. I have not met an XPS display that I dislike.

Software/Ecosystem

We are well into the Windows 11 era, and that is what you will get on your Dell XPS 13 Plus. Microsoft has been bringing Windows 11 along nicely. I have enjoyed all of their features and improvements to their operating system, especially visually.

As for other added software, Dell has been generally good in this department on its XPS line. There are a few placeholders but no bloatware, except for McAfee. This is always a sore point for me; I’m not too fond of these anti-virus placements and feel users shouldn’t have to deal with them. I prefer all PC makers stop installing these programs on their products.

Besides McAfee, the Dell XPS 13 Plus comes with the usual Microsoft and some Dell-centric pieces of software. You can uninstall McAfee, so there is that.

Performance

As per any new year of a laptop, the Dell XPS 13 Plus does get more power than the previous version. Our review unit came outfitted with the 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1280P, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, and 16 GB LPDDR5 RAM. We must first realize that the 13″ XPS isn’t marketed toward users who require dedicated GPUs and use heavy CAD or video editing software.

Although, there is more power here than the average off-the-shelf laptop. The 13 Plus had no issues handling all the basics most people will throw at it. The basics include but are not limited to web browsing, email, Microsoft 360 apps, YouTube/streaming, and essential functions; all worked well.

Dell XPS 13 Plus
Small 65W power adapter.

I did decide to try Affinity Photo on the Dell XPS 13 Plus, and it ran fine with no slowdown or issues. I did not test to see if it could handle dozens of photo tabs open at once, but this isn’t the laptop for heavy photo editing anyway.

You can choose a pre-made configuration from Dell or configure your own. There are several ways you can configure your system; I recommend opting for more RAM and a better CPU before you go for that 3.5K display. The higher resolution display will also affect your performance, so it is something to keep in mind.

The keyboard is one of the stars of the show here. It looks almost flat, but upon closer inspection, you can see that the keys have a slight divot. It is enough to feel and make sense of the keys but barely enough to notice that they aren’t flat. This is one of the best keyboards I have ever used, and I loved the typing experience. The trackpad is also very smooth and responsive. I have no problem saying this is the best trackpad on a PC right now.

Overall, the Dell XPS 13 Plus is a solid performer. It will get you through daily and essential tasks without an issue but can also push some heavier apps. I had no problems using this as a daily driver, even for photo editing. I don’t think I would rely on it to do heavy video editing, though.

Speakers/Sound

The speaker section of this review does not have to be long. I was SHOCKINGLY surprised with these speakers. Small 13″ laptops like this rarely give you decent sound, let alone good sound. The Dell XPS 13 Plus speakers are not outstanding, but for the size laptop we’re talking about, these are some of the best speakers on a computer of this size. Don’t get me wrong; if you pit these speakers against a 17″ XPS, you will see that the 17″ laptop has better speakers. But pit the 13 Plus against a similarly sized laptop, and these will stand as the winners.

Overall, outstanding speakers for the size of this laptop. Highs are great, mids are good, and the low end is beefy enough for the size of the drivers.

Camera

Ugh, Dell! 720p camera. I scored this one low because all new laptops should come with a 1080p laptop. I might get pushback from Dell, but I stand by it. In this age of telecommuting and teleconferencing, 1080p is what it needs to be. Dell is not the only one making this poor choice.

Battery Life

The Dell XPS 13 Plus is thin and light; because you want thin and light, you’ll get less battery life than big and thick. Still, you can manage up to 7-hours of battery life if you are aggressive in using the battery saver features. I left the laptop on Balanced mode, but I did push brightness to max, which gave me an average of 4-hours of battery life. The upside is that the 65W power adapter is minuscule and easy to carry. Considering the size of this laptop, I think it performed average in battery, but that is not bad.

Price/Value

A bare-bones Dell XPS 13 Plus will set you back US$1,299. For the most basic of functions that should serve most people well. The laptop gets costlier as you upgrade, and I recommend performance upgrades over display upgrades first. Still, this is the most fantastic 13″ laptop of 2022, and the value is there.

Wrap Up

If you’re looking for the holy grail of sleek 13″ laptops, you will not go wrong with the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

Last Updated on September 2, 2022.

Dell XPS 13 Plus

Starting at US$1,299

Design

10.0/10

Display

10.0/10

Software/Ecosystem

9.5/10

Performance

9.5/10

Speakers/Sound

9.5/10

Camera

7.0/10

Battery Life

9.0/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • The XPS design is iconic and still amazing
  • The new design of the keyboard and trackpad make this laptop special
  • Another stunning XPS display
  • Great performance for such a compact laptop
  • Decent speakers for such a small laptop
  • Good battery life

Needs work

  • Not many ports, you will need dongles
  • 720p webcam
  • McAfee Bloatware
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