The Dell XPS 13 2022 (starting at $799) could be seen as a fall from grace for one of our favorite laptops. While the XPS 13 is thinner than it’s ever been, the reduction in what was already a minimal number of ports is a huge letdown. The loss of the awesome carbon fiber palm rests is also disappointing.
So what does this new XPS 13 have to offer? Aside from its updated design and the inclusion of a 12th gen Intel Core processor, there aren’t a lot of other changes. You’ll get a 13.4-inch FHD display with an optional touchscreen, a middling 720p camera and a handful of different configurations.
Though I can’t say this latest version isn’t worthwhile, it’s also hard for me to wholeheartedly recommend it. Not only do you lose ports and other design features, but based on our tests, the laptop isn’t as performant as the competition.
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Specs
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Dell XPS 13 2022 (starting)||Dell XPS 13 2022 (tested)|
|Display||13.4-inch FHD (1920 x 1200) 60Hz (non-touchscreen)||13.4-inch FHD (1920 x 1200) 60Hz (touchscreen)|
|CPU||Intel Core i5-1230U||Intel Core i5-1230U|
|GPU||Intel Iris Xe Graphics||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|Dimensions||11.63 x 7.86 x 0.55 inches||11.63 x 7.86 x 0.55 inches|
|Weight||2.59 pounds||2.59 pounds|
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Price and configuration
- Starts at $799
- Touchscreen option available
The entry-level Dell XPS 13 configuration currently costs $799 on Dell’s website. This model packs a 13.4-inch FHD (1920 x 1200) 60Hz non-touch display, along with a 12th gen Intel Core i5-1230U processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage.
The highest-end model costs $1,449 and has a 13.4-inch FHD (1920 x 1200) 60Hz touch display, a 12th gen Intel Core i7-1250U processor, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 32GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage.
Our review unit is $999 and has a 13.4-inch FHD (1920 x 1200) 60Hz touch display, a 12th gen Intel Core i5-1230U processor, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage.
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Design
- Ultra light and portable
- Minimalist design
Dell XPS laptops are known for being elegant ultraportable machines. They’re effectively Dell’s answer to the MacBook Air. That aspect hasn’t been lost with the latest XPS 13. In fact, it’s even slimmer and lighter this time around, weighing 2.59 pounds and measuring 11.63 x 7.86 x 0.55 inches. The previous model weighed a heftier 2.9 pounds and was wider and thicker at 11.7 x 8.2 x 0.58 inches.
The machined aluminum chassis on the XPS 13 is fetching and gives the laptop an air of elegance. Not only does it look striking, but it also feels good to hold when you’re carrying it around. With the exception of a Dell logo etched on the lid, the laptop has no adornments. Our review unit has an Umber finish but you can also select Sky. Either way, you’ll have a gorgeous-looking machine.
The XPS 13 is the definition of an ultraportable. It’s not as thin as the MacBook Air M2, but it is lighter and has an overall smaller footprint. Unfortunately, the laptop’s thinness seems to come at the cost of ports, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
One of my biggest issues with the Dell XPS 13 is that it’s needlessly difficult to open the lid. Unlike the MacBook Air M2, here's no lip to grab onto. We noted this same issue in our Dell XPS 13 Plus review. With some of the design tweaks made to this XPS 13, an easier-to-open lid would have been a smart addition.
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Ports
- Only two USB-C ports
- No headphone jack
The latest XPS 13 is not only thin in design, but it’s also thin on ports. That isn’t too unusual for modern ultraportables, but the minimal port selection will irk some people.
The XPS 13 only has a pair of Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports. There’s an included USB-C to USB-A 3.0 adapter and a USB-C to 3.5mm headset adapter. That’s appreciated, but I would have liked a proper headphone jack instead. I don’t like worrying about losing these accessories.
You could argue that a laptop doesn't need a headphone jack due to the growing popularity of the best wireless earbuds and best wireless headphones. Similarly, you might believe the headphone jack had to be sacrificed in order to make the laptop this thin.
I think that last argument falls flat considering how the thinner MacBook Air M2 retains a headphone jack. The Samsung Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 is about as thin as the XPS 13 and it not only has a headphone jack, but an HDMI and USB-A port.
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Display
- 13.4-inch FHD display
- Great for web browsing
The XPS 13 has a 13.4-inch FHD (1920 x 1200) 60Hz display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. That might not sound impressive at face value, but this panel impressed, both in my testing and in our lab tests.
The Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania trailer has a slew of quick cuts and scenes featuring colorful alien landscapes. All of these elements were represented well and it was easy to discern what was happening even with so much chaos on screen. The display isn’t as crisp, nor are the colors as vibrant as on an OLED panel, but I was pleased by the overall image quality.
The 16:10 aspect ratio, which is now all but standard for modern laptops, makes it easy to see more of whatever web page or documents you're working on. Though streaming content looks good on this device, I think it's better suited for work and web browsing.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Dell XPS 13 2022||MacBook Ai M2||Acer Swift 5|
Based on our testing, which involves a Klein 10-A colorimeter (don't miss our guide to how we test laptops and other products), the display achieves an average of 460 nits of brightness and hits 467 hits around the center of the screen. This is lower than Dell’s advertised 500 nits, but it’s quite bright. In contrast, the MacBook Air M2 achieved an average of 473.6 nits of brightness, though it hit 498 nits with HDR content (the Dell XPS 13 does not support HDR). The Acer Swift 5, which we’ve previously pitted against the MacBook Air M2, averaged 457 nits of brightness.
Color reproduction and accuracy are solid. The XPS 13’s display registered 105% of the sRGB color gamut and 74.4% of the more demanding DCI-P3 color space (the closer to 100 on both, the better). The Air M2’s display registered 107% and 75.9% on those respective tests. Dell’s notebook has a Delta-E accuracy score of 0.18 compared to the Air M2’s 0.22, with 0 being a perfect score.
I found the touchscreen snappy and responsive. Windows 11 works well with touch devices so this didn’t exactly surprise me. You could argue that a laptop might not need a touchscreen, especially when it bumps up the price by $100 in this specific case. I personally don’t need a touchscreen on a notebook, but I like that Dell offers the option for those who do.
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Audio
- Loud, punchy speaker sound
- Useful built-in EQ app
Laptop speakers can be hit or miss but I’m happy to say that the XPS 13’s dual stereo speakers deliver clear and loud audio.
Content like the Waveform Podcast and the aforementioned Ant-Man trailer sounded crystal clear even at high volumes. This was especially impressive in the movie trailer since there was so much going on, sound-wise. The blaring soundtrack, booming explosions and loud dialogue all sounded great.
Music playback is somewhat of a mixed bag through the XPS 13. Iron Maiden’s “Aces High” sounded phenomenal, with the soaring vocals, blazing guitar solos, and thunderous bass lines coming through clearly — even at maximum volume. However, In Flames’ “Cloud Connected” sounded like a jumbled mess on maximum volume.
Like the Dell XPS 15 OLED (2022) I reviewed last year, the XPS 13 comes with the Waves Maxx Audio Pro technology and Waves Professional Tuning apps, along with a slew of EQ presets within the included companion app. The presets do a good job of enhancing the sound, especially within different music genres.
I was especially impressed by how awesome film trailers sounded with the Movie preset enabled. You can adjust the EQ to your heart's content if you don’t want to rely solely on the presets.
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Performance
- Midling overall performance
- Not suitable for local gaming
Our review unit’s 12th gen Intel Core i5 CPU, 16GB of RAM and 512GB SSD are relatively modest specs, but it was enough for my everyday usage. I used the XPS 13 during work and it never stuttered or slowed down, even when I had over 20 open Chrome tabs while chatting on Slack. For good measure, I also fired up a YouTube video on top of all that and the XPS 13 kept chugging along nicely.
However, the XPS 13 isn’t as powerful as other ultraportable laptops.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Single-core||Multi-core|
|Dell XPS 13 2022||1,596||6,489|
|MacBook Air M2||1,911||8,965|
|Acer Swift 5||1,724||9,859|
On Geekbench 5.4, which measures overall performance, the XPS 13 hit 1,596 on the single-core CPU test and 6,489 on multi-core. The MacBook Air M2 (from $1,199 / $1,899 as tested) scored 8,965 in the multi-core test, while the Core i7-powered Acer Swift 5 (currently $1,199) scored 9,859. The Air M2 (1,911) and Swift 5 (1,724) also did better on the single-core test.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Time (min:sec)|
|Dell XPS 13 2022||16:54|
|MacBook Air M2||9:31|
|Acer Swift 5||7:35|
On our Handbrake video editing test, which involves transcoding a 4K video clip to 1080p, the Dell XPS 13 took 16 minutes and 54 seconds to complete the task. This is much slower than the MacBook Air M2 (9:31) and Swift 5 (7:35).
Since the XPS 13 has integrated graphics, playing modern games won’t be the smoothest experience. In Sid Meier’s Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, we registered just 13 frames per second (fps) at both 1080p and 1200p resolutions — which is effectively unplayable, and worse than what the Swift 5 (25 fps @ 1080p) and MacBook Air M2 (46 fps @ 1470 x 956 resolution).
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Keyboard and touchpad
- Responsive keyboard and touchpad
- No fiber carbon layer on palm rests
Since this is a 13-inch laptop, you don’t have much room to move your hands when typing. This is especially true if you have big hands as I do. Still, I found the keyboard was just big enough for me to type comfortably for extended periods. The backlit keys have good travel distance and produce a satisfying amount of resistance when pressed.
I tend to type slower on laptop keyboards in general, but I typed at a decent clip once I adjusted to the keyboard's relatively small size.
One of my favorite XPS features is the soft textured carbon fiber covering the palm rests. Unfortunately, 2022’s XPS 13’s palm rests are plain aluminum like the rest of the laptop. That's a major disappointment considering how the soft texture makes typing on machines like the aforementioned XPS 15 OLED and Alienware x14 such a joy. The soft palm rests are definitely missed.
The touchpad isn’t exactly spacious but I didn’t have any trouble using it. It registered all my swipes and gestures and felt smooth to the touch.
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Camera
- 720p webcam
- Passable image quality
Video conferencing has become more important these days so it’s disappointing that the latest XPS 13 hasn’t received an upgraded camera. 720p webcams may have been adequate in the past, but that’s certainly not the case now.
That isn’t to say the XPS 13’s webcam will make you look horrible. If you’re anywhere with decent lighting, you should appear presentable. You can see that in the image above that I took in our office. The image is grainy and somewhat washed out, but I’ve seen worse webcams. Still, if you’re image conscious, you could always connect one of the best webcams.
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Battery life and heat
- Solid battery life
- Runs hot
One of the best things about the Dell XPS 13 is that it effectively offers all-day battery life.
On our battery test, which involves continuous web surfing with the display set to 150 nits of brightness, the Dell XPS 13 lasted for an impressive 13 hours and 11 minutes. Though the MacBook Air M2 lasted longer at 14:33, Dell’s machine wins over the Swift 5 (11:24). Suffice it to say, the XPS 13 likely won’t run out of power when you need it most.
In our standard heat test, which involves running a heat gun over the laptop after streaming 15 minutes of full HD video on it, we found the hottest point to be on the rear left underside of the XPS 13, which peaked at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Generally, we consider temperatures over 95 degrees as being uncomfortable.
Dell XPS 13 2022 review: Verdict
I was initially impressed with the latest Dell XPS 13 due to its sleek ultraportable design. However, the more time I spent with Dell's latest notebook, the more I realized the company has done a disservice to its popular XPS 13 line.
I understand the desire for ultra-thin and ultra-portable laptops, but at what point does a device become thinner and lighter than it needs to be? Again, I tend to favor smaller laptops over big ones, as I detailed in my 4 reasons why I prefer the MacBook Pro 14-inch over the MacBook Pro 16-inch piece. But if we have to sacrifice ports in order to get a slimmer device, I'd rather have something that's slightly thicker. And as the Galaxy Book 3 Pro 360 and MacBook Air M2 demonstrate, you can still have a thin laptop with the ports you need.
So where does that leave the latest Dell XPS 13? It's a good laptop for everyday computing and for consuming streaming content. I can't say it's exceptional in either of those tasks, but it gets the job done. And to its credit, the XPS 13 is very affordable and has great battery life. If you need a reliable laptop you can take anywhere, you can't go wrong with the latest XPS 13.
But if Dell's laptop isn't to your liking, the Acer Swift 5 is one of the best Windows laptops out there. It's more expensive than the XPS 13, but it's well worth it if you want more performance along with plenty of ports (including HDMI and USB-A). And if you like the Apple ecosystem, then the MacBook Air M2 is one of the best MacBooks you can buy. It's not only slim and light, but also faster and longer lasting than the XPS 13. And you can actually open the lid easily.