Laptops are one of those products that you can either get low-end or high-end to see a substantial difference; there is no middle ground. Small. Light. Powerful. The DELL XPS 13 9370 is the Macbook of the windows world. Excellent build quality, smooth experience, and a hefty price tag. But is the Dell XPS 13 worth it despite the hype and mystery behind the fact you can never actually find it in stores? We’ve had the Dell XPS 13 since February of 2018. We’ve traveled to over 15 countries with it, which puts us in a unique position to give an extensive review about it from a travel and work point of view. One that most reviewers don’t cover.
In 2019 is the Dell XPS 13 (2018) 9370 worth it? Let’s find out…
Coming from a 15.6 inch big and bulky Toshiba Laptop, the Dell XPS 13 is drastically lighter and smaller. The design hasn’t changed much over the years, yet it still looks modern and sleek in 2019. Size wise it’s almost the same dimensions as an A4 8×10 piece of paper. It’s housed in an anodized aluminum body with a black carbon fiber palm rest with a soft-touch coating. Size-wise, the XPS 13 9370 weighs just 2.65 pounds and is 0.46 inches thick at its thickest point (0.3 inches at its thinnest). Size alone, there’s no competition at all for it.
The bezels on the infinity edge display are incredibly thin. For a while, Dell has been doing what smartphone manufacturers are doing now with bezels. These bezels make a massive difference when it comes to travel giving an already small 13.3-inch laptop an even smaller 12-inch form factor. One thing I love about the size is that it’s perfectly sized for airplane tray tables.
Small light and thin can sometimes feel flimsy and cheap, but that’s not the case with the XPS 13. There’s no trade-off with quality due to its form factor, and it remains feeling premium unlike most laptops at a lower price range even though they are much thicker.
Working on the Go
It’s the touchpad, display, and keyboard that we care about when working; they are essential to the work experience we get from using a laptop. But before we get to that, let’s talk ports.
USB-C is the future or now, the present. When slimming the DELL XPS 13 9370 down to 0.46 inches, Dell had to ditch the standard, USB Type-A ports and full-size SD card reader that appeared on all the previous generations. As a creator that stung a bit. While I’m a big supporter of USB-C, eliminating a standard USB-A port that is still mainstream today, is inconvenient.
I get they had to ditch USB Type A port to make the laptop thinner and that they’re also trying to future proof it too, but we are still in a state where too many products have standard ports, and while USB-C is, of course, needed, keeping at least one would make all the difference. A micro-SD card slot is also a pain. I find it disappointing that I can’t pop my SD card straight into my laptop because there’s no slot for it after a photo shoot session. Instead, we get an almost useless micro-SD slot. It’s tough to find a phone that supports it, and the cameras don’t unless you use adapters.
Instead, you need to travel with a dongle and If you forget your dongle, you are in trouble.
The display on the DELL XPS 13 9370 is gorgeous. Because there’s virtually no frame around the top and sides of the screen, everything is a lot more immersive. We’ve been using the 4K with touchscreen version which once you try it’s hard to go back. The IPS 4K display offers an impressive color quality, sharpness and brightness of 400 nits making working outside in the sun a non-issue.
Some may argue that a 4k display is pointless on a 13-inch screen, but I think that it depends on you and your needs. For me, a 4k display is great to have for movies, photo editing and just pleasant on the eyes overall. And while some people say you can’t spot the difference, I beg to differ; you can tell the difference especially in sharpness. The viewing angles on the DELL XPS 13 is also something to commend with colors staying true and no muting of it at different angles.
Keyboard and TouchPad
The DELL XPS 13 9370’s keyboard offers a solid typing experience. The keys are a little on the shallow side but not as shallow as the MacBooks, and all the keys are spaced out nicely on the keyboard.
The touchpad? Not quite as good as on MacBooks which is just magical to use. But it is probably the best Windows touchpad there is. My problem is the limited gestures when it comes to software like Lightroom, and that’s a shame because the device could be so much better for productivity. The Touchpad is also responsive and accurate to multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe. One nice touch is that the right-click function is only activated by clicking the bottom right corner of the touchpad – everything else acts as a left click. This helps ensure that accidental right-clicks are minimized.
The model we have is the high-end model, sporting a Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD. The performance will differ depending on the configuration you choose. From surfing the web to video and photo editing over the 12 months, the XPS 13 9370 handled everything we threw at it, without a hiccup. With special thermal insulation, the XPS 13 9370 was able to prevent its processor from throttling as aggressively as many other laptops and getting too hot. We’ve been incredibly impressed by the performance of Intel’s 8th-gen processors so far, but the XPS 13’s performance is nothing short of astonishing.
But because of its integrated GPU do not expect editing 4K videos smoothly here. And I think that this is one of the problems with this laptop or rather people buying it. They expect it to do that, especially with the high-end version. But that’s all the XPS 15’s job. The DELL XPS 13 is just too small for that. Don’t get me wrong though. This is the perfect laptop for work and travel. But this Dell XPS 13 is just not designed for intensive work. Editing in Full HD is not a problem; editing in 4K is also not a huge problem. But if you color grade 4k footage and you’re looking for smooth playback while editing, it’s not going to happen.
Photoshop? Smooth. Premiere? Also performs smoothly and so does Lightroom. With that said, more powerful videos do take some time to edit.
The specs perform. You get what you would expect. But the lack of a proper graphics card sometimes shows which you’ll see when playing games. This laptop does not have the right cooling for games and does not have a GPU. And that, that’s not a great combination for gaming.
Over the past eight months, we determined that the battery life situation is a tough one. It just depends on what you do and how you do it. Several people using this laptop got different results while doing pretty much the same things due to the differences in workflow.
If editing, I’d be confident in 5 hours, browsing through the web or watching a movie with 50% brightness would be about 8 hours. But it all depends on how you work and what settings you use. Thermal/fan wise the DELL XPS 13 is a quiet laptop. It only really makes noise and heats up when you get into some heavy editing or run a zillion chrome tabs otherwise the thermal management and cooling work very well for such a small and thin form factor.
As you’d expect, the XPS 13 supports biometric authentication via Windows Hello and a fingerprint reader built into the power button and a facial recognition camera. This camera, unfortunately, is still located on the bottom edge of the screen – which means that finding an angle that doesn’t result in a horrendously unflattering double chin may be a struggle for video calls. The only small comfort is that it’s shifted from the bottom corner to the center of the bottom edge.
Is The DELL XPS 13 Worth It?
The 2019 DELL XPS 13 9380 that was recently released isn’t that much of a huge leap forward for us to say this 2018 DELL XPS 13 9370 isn’t worth it. It’s up to you on whether that small performance improvement and new webcam placement is a huge factor for you. Otherwise we still highly recommend the 2018 DELL XPS 13 9370 in 2019.
DELL XPS 13 9370
There’s very little to dislike about the DELL XPS 13 9370. It was €1600 for our model. We loved it, and a lot of people love it for the same reasons that we do. The design retains the classic XPS look while being even more portable and performance being excellent. The loss of some of the older ports is a shame, and the lack of a dedicated GPU can be noticeable when doing some heavy editing. But this device is without a doubt one of the best laptops that Dell has ever made and is still our favorite Windows laptop by a vast margin.