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June 27, 2012
- Good-looking display
- Extra long battery life
- Discrete Nvidia graphics
- Strong performance
- Heavier than other Ultrabooks
- Limited display viewing angles
The Dell XPS 14 is one of the newest Ultrabooks on the market today. It has a new, Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive jammed into a compact body. It has a nice-looking display and extra long battery life, but the screen's viewing angles could be better.
Ultrabooks are certainly the talk of the town so to speak. Just last week, we reviewed the Dell Inspiron 14z, which is more of an ultraportable rather than an ultrabook, but in reality, they aren't too far apart. We felt the Inspiron 14z had a flimsy chassis and below average battery life.
The Dell XPS 14 measures 13.2 x 9.2 x 0.8-inches (wdh) and weighs 4.8-pounds, which is pretty heavy compared to other Ultrabook laptops but certainly nothing considered "unportable" by any means. In comparison to the Inspiron 14z, it weighs a little more but is a tad smaller in size.
It has a brushed aluminum lid and interior that makes it look just like an Apple MacBook Pro. The keyboard deck is made of a black magnesium material that sets it apart from the MacBook Pros.
Dell included an island-style, backlit keyboard on this laptop and it has good key placement and size. The keys gave a decent amount of feedback, but we wished they pushed in further as they seemed a little shallow. The trackpad has a smooth, frictionless black surface with no buttons, so it's a clickpad just like the Apple MacBook. We found it to be both accurate and responsive.
The 14-inch WLED backlit display has a native resolution of 1600 x 900-pixels, which is a higher resolution than the Inspiron 14z's 1366 x 768-pixels. The display looks really good but only when viewed straight on. Off-angle viewing quickly resulted in diminished quality. The brightness, however, was very high and perhaps one of the brightest that we've seen.
For ports, the Dell XPS 14 offers two USB 3.0 ports, mini-DisplayPort out, HDMI-out, a fold-out Ethernet jack, a headphone jack and a 3-in-1 SD card reader. There's no optical drive and wireless connectivity includes 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The internal specifications include a third-generation Intel Core i7-3517U (1.9GHz) CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 5400RPM hard drive and discrete Nvidia GT 630M graphics. This configuration offers a good amount of performance that one would expect from a budget mid-size laptop as opposed to an Ultrabook. PCMark07 benchmark returned a score of 3,312, which is definitely higher than the Ultrabook category. We had no trouble watching streaming HD media or doing some heavy-multitasking.
The Nvidia GT 630M graphics provides enough power for some lightweight gaming but by no means any intense 3D gaming.
Battery life with the included battery returned about 8.5-hours of life, which is over an hour longer than most Ultrabook laptops and most other mid-size laptops too.