Dell's new XPS 13 is the smallest 13-inch laptop in the world and it's beautiful

Dell's new XPS 13 is the smallest 13-inch laptop in the world and it's beautiful

Dell’s XPS 13 is one of the best laptops on the market. And now the company is upping the ante with a thinner design, improved webcam placement and brilliant new color scheme.

Available Jan. 4 with a starting price of $999, the new 13-inch XPS 13 could once again claim a top spot among the best Windows 10 laptops around.

Everything’s coming up roses

The most noticeable change to the XPS 13 is the newly available rose gold and white color scheme. Unlike the traditional silver and matte black version of the XPS 13, or last year’s rose gold version, the new XPS 13 gets what Dell calls a “alpine white, woven glass fiber” palm rest.

The woven glass doesn’t just change the XPS 13’s look, it also alters the feel of the palm rest. Instead of the smooth, soft-touch material, the new rose gold XPS 13 has a harder feel. I only spent a few minutes with the notebook, so I couldn’t tell if the palm rest was as comfortable as the previous generation’s or not, but it certainly looks beautiful.

Dell also said it took steps to ensure that the white palm rest stays relatively stain free from spills by using a stain-resistant coating. I’d still like to see how it holds up in the long haul, though.

The XPS 13 also gets an improved InfinityEdge display with a higher resolution of 3840 x 2160. Of course, that’s optional. The standard display will top out at 1920 x 1080.

Another big difference? Dell finally moved the XPS 13’s webcam from below the display’s left corner, a spot where whoever you were video chatting with could see your hands as you typed. Unfortunately, it’s now it’s located dead center below the screen. In other words, instead of checking out your knuckles, your chat partner will see right up your nose.

Dell’s XPS 13 is thinner than any of Apple’s MacBooks.

One change you might not notice about the new XPS 13 is its thinner frame. Dell says it managed to shrink the XPS 13 from 0.60 inches thick to 0.46 inches. That’s thinner than Apple’s (AAPL) MacBook, which has a smaller 12-inch display. It’s also thinner than Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

It’s no wonder Dell can still call this the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop.

Power-packed performance

Despite the XPS 13’s slimmer body, Dell says it didn’t have to pair down the machine’s performance. Instead, the company says it boosted it by improving its cooling system. It sounds like a rather pedestrian thing to flaunt about your new marquee laptop, but Dell is right in doing so.

See, the company says its new cooling system allows the XPS to sustain high performance levels over a longer period of time than its competitors. That’s because as a computer crunches numbers, its processor and graphics chip generate heat. If a computer’s fans can’t keep it cool enough, the system will begin slowing down to prevent it from overheating. But with improved cooling capabilities, Dell can push the XPS 13 harder for longer without any adverse effects.

I’m going to suggest you don’t hold your laptop like this.

Powering the XPS 13 are Intel’s (INTC) latest 8th-generation Core i-series processors. The base version comes with an Intel Core i5 chip with 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage space and a 1080p display. If you go all out, you can get an XPS 13 with Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage and that slick 3840 x 2160 resolution panel.

As for battery life, Dell says the base XPS 13 will run for nearly 20 hours before giving up the ghost. The top-of-the-line model, meanwhile, will last more than 11 hours. Those are some pretty lofty numbers, and it’s likely you won’t see anything near that when using the notebook on your own. Though I’ll have to check it out on my own before I can say for sure one way or the other.

Either way, the 13 seems like it’s shaping up to easily surpass its predecessors as one of the best laptops around.

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