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Andy Zahn / Lifewire
Razor thin 2-in-1 design
Bright and beautiful display
Comfortable and clicky keyboard
Excellent battery life
Fast and responsive hardware
No dedicated GPU
Poor fingerprint reader
Limited port selection
For productivity on the go, the Dell XPS 13 7390 2-in-1 is just about as close to perfect as it’s possible to get. It’s eminently portable and packs plenty of processing power under its machined aluminum and carbon fiber exterior, though you’ll have to pay a premium price for this beauty.
We purchased the Dell XPS 13 7390 2-in-1so our reviewer could test it out to its full capabilities. Keep reading for our full product review.
Windows-based laptops have something of a stigma for uninspired design, but one look at the Dell XPS 13 7390 2-in-1 will dispel such assumptions. From its machined aluminum chassis and ultra-thin profile to its deceptively powerful components, the XPS 13 is a formidable productivity powerhouse. What I wanted to know, however, is if all that hyperbolic praise warranted this device’s high price tag.
The Dell XPS 13 is everything you’d expect from a premium ultrabook. Its exterior is crafted of machined aircraft aluminum, while its interior is carbon fiber. This makes it not only super thin and light but also grants a solidity and toughness that belies its petite profile.
The hinge that allows the XPS 13 to transform into a tablet is both smooth and firm. If used as a laptop, you might never notice the difference from a fixed hinge. There is no screen wobble, and it will stay poised exactly where you put it. Despite this sturdiness, the laptop transforms into a tablet easily, with Windows 10 automatically detecting the change and switching to tablet mode.
Navigation is a breeze, thanks to the excellent keyboard that is quite large for such a small laptop, and the keys have a satisfying clicky response. As with other Dell XPS devices, the 13 2-in-1 features a fantastic trackpad that is expansive and responsive, and easily one of the best on any Windows laptop. Of course, as a 2-in-1 the XPS 13 includes a touchscreen, which I had no issues using whatsoever.
A fingerprint reader is cleverly integrated into the power button. However, I was disappointed by its poor functionality. I couldn’t get it to recognize my fingerprint despite repeated attempts to record a print. After some research into this issue, I found a potential fix, but it involves changing settings in the BIOS, which wasn’t something I felt prepared to do. It’s also not a repair that an end-user should be expected to perform. On such an expensive device, a known issue like this should have long ago been resolved by the manufacturer.
Another sore point is the highly limited number of available ports, but fortunately, the few it does have are fast and versatile. You get two Thunderbolt 3 ports that not only offer lightning-quick data transfer speeds but also act as charging ports for the XPS 13. To connect full-size USB devices an adapter is included. Still, if you want to connect more than two devices to the laptop at the same time, you’ll need to invest in a USB hub. There is also a microSD card slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack, which can’t be taken for granted these days.
Though the 1920x1200 pixel display isn’t the highest resolution display you could ask for, I never had reason to complain. The screen is sharp and color accurate, with excellent viewing angles. Its 16:10 aspect ratio means that you will encounter black bars when playing videos, but it dramatically improves the productivity experience of the XPS 13.
Navigation is a breeze, thanks to the excellent keyboard that is quite large for such a small laptop, and the keys have a satisfying clicky response.
Setting up the XPS 13 is a similar process to getting started with any machine running Windows 10. It’s a straightforward and guided experience, though Dell does slip in a few extra steps, including one where they want you to sign up for McAfee antivirus. Once I got to the desktop, I opened Dell SupportAssist and Windows Update to download and install a number of important updates.
With a 10th generation Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, the XPS 13 packs considerable processing horsepower into a compact package. It scored 4,139 in my PCMark 10 Work 2.0 test—the lackluster number seems to be caused by poor graphical performance due to the lack of a dedicated video card.
Keep in mind, though, that for a device with only integrated graphics, the XP13 is no slouch, achieving a score of 8,878 in GFXBench. This means it’s good enough for light gaming and creative tasks, but don’t expect to edit a lot of video on this little laptop. I was able to play DOTA 2 at medium-low settings with decent frame rates. It’s not an ideal experience, but it’s perfectly adequate for less demanding titles such as this.
When it comes to day-to day-productivity and media consumption, the laptop is blindingly fast, largely thanks to its snappy SSD storage. Also, with 32GB of fast DDR4 RAM you won’t have to worry about having too many tabs open at one time.
I did notice that the XPS 13 tends to heat up quite easily, though never to an uncomfortable degree. There doesn’t seem to be a wealth of ventilation in the chassis, so it’s likely that this does inhibit the potential performance of the laptop to some extent.
The gorgeous design and ease of travel justify a big chunk of the hefty price tag.
The battery in the XPS 13 is advertised by Dell to last more than 10 hours, which was fairly accurate. This will, of course, vary with how you’re using it, but even under a heavy load, it should make it through a full workday.
The webcam on the XPS 13 isn’t anything to write home about with only HD (1280x720) resolution, but it’s good enough to use to phone home. It’s decent enough to be usable for video chat and is typical for laptops. I do wonder why expensive laptops such as this don’t include better cameras, considering the excellent quality of the rear-facing cameras found in smartphones.
Laptops have never been known for their great speakers, but the XPS 13 offers remarkably decent audio, particularly for such a thin and light device. Using the baseline song I use for audio tests (2Cellos cover of “Thunderstruck”), the XPS 13 handled mids and highs very well but stumbled a bit when it comes to bass. This result was confirmed by listening to a variety of other music such as the heavy rock tune “Protect the Land” by System of a Down. The better than average audio pairs well with the high quality of the screen for streaming content on the go.
When it comes to day-to-day productivity and media consumption, the laptop is blindingly fast, largely thanks to its snappy SSD storage.
The XPS 13 was able to make full use of my home Wi-Fi network, and its Bluetooth connection was strong and reliable. It utilizes the latest Wi-Fi 6 hardware and integrates Bluetooth 5.0.
The XPS 13 runs Windows 10, which is perhaps the most versatile operating system available for PC. In terms of bloatware, there are a few annoying pre-installed programs. There’s Dropbox and Netflix which aren’t too egregious, but unfortunately, Dell also saddles you with Mcafee Livesafe. Even if you prefer to use McAfee software, it's better to let users install such programs themselves.
There’s also a variety of maintenance programs from Dell that are actually quite useful. I have used Dell SupportAssist for years on my XPS 15, and it’s a convenient way to keep your device up to date.
At $1800, the XPS 13 configuration I tested is definitely pricey, and even if you opted for lower specs you wouldn’t be getting better value for money. It’s important to keep in mind that what you’re paying for isn’t so much the internal components as it is the whole ultra-portable package. The gorgeous design and ease of travel justify a big chunk of the hefty price tag.
If you want more bang for your buck in terms of processing and graphical horsepower, then the Asus Zephyrus G14 is an excellent alternative. It’s a bit larger, doesn’t have a webcam, and there’s no touchscreen, but it manages to pack in a Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q that allows you to play modern AAA video games and do serious creative work such as video editing. More surprising still, the Zephyrus comes in at around $400 less than the XPS. However, if portability, flexibility, and style are priorities, the XPS 13 may be a better option.
A high-end and beautifully designed ultrabook with a price tag to match.
Though it costs a pretty penny, Dell is not overcharging for the XPS 13 7390 2-in-1. It’s a blazing fast ultrabook and despite its lack of graphical prowess, you couldn’t ask for better build quality in a laptop. If you want the best for productivity on the go, and price is no object, look no further.
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