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Dell XPS 13 Gets a Thin Redesign With Few Ports, Tiny Motherboard

Dell XPS 13
(Image credit: Dell)

Dell has completely redesigned its flagship laptop, the XPS 13, to make it thinner, lighter and better performing. The announcement of the laptop, which is available today, comes alongside a newly designed XPS 13 2-in-1 that will be available later in the summer.

At 0.55 inches thick and 2.59 pounds, Dell clearly has Apple's MacBook Air in its sights. Unlike the XPS 13 Plus, which Dell announced earlier this year with Intel's P-series processors and a touch-sensitive function row, Dell is using Intel's 12th Gen U series chips here.

Dell is keeping the 13.4-inch touch screen from previous models with a 16:10 aspect ratio. You'll be able to get it in 3840 x 2400 or 1920 x 1200 (the lower resolution screen will be available without touch in some markets).

Dell XPS 13 (9315)Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315 2n1)
CPUUp to Intel Core i7-1250UUp to Intel Core i7-1250U
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe (integratedIntel Iris Xe (integrated
Display13.4-inch, 3840 x 2400 or 1920 x 1200, touch optional, 16:1013-inch, 2880 x 1920, touchscreen 3:2
RAMUp to 32GB LPDDR5-5200 POP Dual ChannelUp to 16GB LPDDR4x-4266
StorageUp to 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSDUp to 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
Battery51 WHr (not replaceable)49.5 WHr (not replaceable)
Ports2x Thunderbolt 42x Thunderbolt 4
Starting Price$999 To be announced
Release DateNow AvailableSummer 2022

The new laptop will come in a CNC aluminum chassis in either "sky" (a light blue) or "umber" (a subtle pinkish red) colors. And Dell has gotten rid of the carbon fiber weave that was a signature on this line for years to focus on the all-metal build. To some, what's more interesting might be what Dell had to do on the inside to get the XPS 13 this small. The laptop is using the smallest motherboard ever made for a Dell computer, and the company says its 1.8 times smaller than the board in the 2021 version of the laptop.

Much of the tech on the board is coming from cell phones. The PCB is a variety seen in smartphones, and this is the first Dell device to use LPDDR5 package-on-package (POP) memory (On some devices, this is placed on top of the CPU, though that's not the case on the XPS 13. It does, however, take up less room on the mainboard). Additionally, a new SSD design that measures 11.4 x 13mm saves space on the board and helps keep the device thinner. This laptop won't be particularly upgradeable — even the battery can't be replaced by the owner —  but it's impressive engineering on paper.  

Even the speakers come from cell phone tech. Dell claims this will allow for larger speakers with deeper bass and better sound overall.

The big question will be the CPU, a choice of 9-watt processors that can run up to 12W. Dell says this allows for its new single-fan design, with cooler skin temperatures and fans running at slower speeds. That 12W number comes in performance mode, and the company says these chips should be on par or better than the previous XPS 13 despite using U series chips. We'll have to test that ourselves. 

(Image credit: Dell)

Unlike the XPS 13 Plus, Dell is sticking with a chiclet keyboard here, which should allow for some more space for your fingers. And yes, there is a physical function row.

The biggest change here may be the ports: two Thunderbolt 4 ports. That's it. Dell has ditched the headphone jack, though you may see that in an included dongle. Even Apple hasn't ditched the 3.5mm jack yet. Sure, I love my wireless earbuds, but it's always good to have a wired option when they run out of battery.

The XPS 13 starts at $999.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is no longer a convertible, but rather a detachable. Previous laptops in this line used a 360-degree hinge, but Dell is now going the way of the Microsoft Surface Pro lineup and the iPad.

Now it's a tablet with a 3:2 aspect ratio (you love to see it). It fits into an XPS Folio that serves as a stand and a keyboard and works more like a laptop. Despite being branded as a 2-in-1, the tablet won't actually come with the keyboard; it will be sold separately. It seems Dell wasn't bold enough to rebrand this as the Dell XPS 13 Tablet.

For those who use a stylus, the XPS 13's pen (also sold separately) can attach magnetically to the top of the slab.

This device also uses Intel's 12th Gen U series processors, up to an Intel Core i7-1250U. There's an option for 5G (a first for a Dell XPS with) for staying connected on mobile networks. Like the laptop, the 2-in-1 is light on connectivity, with just two Thunderbolt 4 ports.

There's no pricing available for the XPS 13 2-in-1 yet, but it shouldn't be too long until we get it, as Dell is suggesting a summer launch. 

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE