Last year Dell was so kind to send me the Intel Skylake based 15″ XPS 9550. As expected Dell recently refreshed the XPS series with the Kaby Lake generation of Intel’s platforms, and I could take a look on the refreshed silicon in the 13″ form factor.
The 13″ edition comes with the same light and sturdy carbon fibre, with a gentle silicone surface. As mentioned in last years post I like it for the thermal and electrical isolation. The same infinity edge display still optimises the size of the case, so that the 13″ display is effectively packed into the size of a conventional 12″ laptop. A really welcome light and compact travel companion.
Compared to the XPS 15 the smaller size does not leave room for a dedicated graphic chip, so that the Intel integrated HD Graphics 620 needs to hold out. Similar the dual-core (four “hyper”-threads) “ultrabook” class 15W TDP CPU does obviously deliver less number crunching performance than the 45W quad-core in the bigger, 15″ XPS. For regular home and office use this certainly is enough, however, for gaming or other heavy GPU use –such as graphic design, CAD, GPU heavy development– users may find themselves longing for more GPU or CPU power and opt for the still quite compact XPS 15 instead.
The Develop Edition comes with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed, instead of the usual Windows license price tag. Over the last century many developers moved from Windows, but also from Linux, to macOS for their reliable Unix desktop experience. However, now that Apple’s “professional” Mac offerings become more and more compromised (notorious slow platform silicon refresh, few ports and configuration options to choose from, no user serviceable parts, e.g. no RAM, SSD, or battery replacements, … among other things) more and more developers eye towards moving on to use Linux as their new primary platform. Given that most of the internet servers run Linux anyways, and most developers run virtual machines to develop for Linux server or Windows desktop environments, running macOS is actually not really necessary. And developing on Linux for the latest and greatest web2.0 / mobile / Android or even Windows desktop applications in virtual machines is actually just –if not more– comfortable on Linux. Linux friendly vendors, such as the Dell Developer Edition, where everything just works, and you can avoid paying Microsoft, too, are a nice option for this usage scenarios.
Compared to Windows using Linux also have many advantages, such as a wide variety of integrated open source packages to choose from, timely and regularly security updates by world class security researchers, and last but not least not rebooting your computers in the middle of an important “PowerPoint” presentation to apply the latest updates, …
However, the nice Dell XPS laptops aren not only for developers. Even life-style vloggers start to become increasingly disappointed by Apple’s offerings, and start to switch to PC’s, such as the XPS 15 for the video editing performance.
This time I captured the unboxing and initial setup on video for you, too:
The XPS 13 also comes with many ports, including a headphone jack, two regular USB 3, and a new USB type C Thunderbolt port. As the USB-C port is also used as video output there is no HDMI fallback, and you definitely need a new USB-C cable or adapter dongle if you plan to use an external display from time to time. Equipped with the matching USB-C cable on Linux even 4k@60 Hz MST worked with a Dell UltraSharp UP2414Q: