Dell XPS 13 (2022) review: The best Windows laptop just got better

What’s long been the best Windows laptop is hard to improve, but the latest Dell XPS 13 has found some subtle, clever ways to do just that. Dell’s new flagship slims down what is already one of the thinnest and lightest laptops around, and comes in two gorgeous new colors that will look great in the home office or on the road. Combine that with the XPS 13’s predictably great display, keyboard, and battery life, and you’ve got a great ultraportable Windows laptop that can get work done on the go.

While shedding weight, however, the new XPS 13 also sheds some useful features from last year’s model, and faces particularly tough competition from the new MacBook Air M2. So is it right for you? Here are my thoughts after a week of work and play on Dell’s latest product.

The best Windows laptop

The Dell XPS 13 is the best Windows laptop you can buy, offering a stunning display, great keyboard, and great battery life in an attractive, smart design that’s easy to take anywhere.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

Just when I thought the Dell XPS 13 couldn’t be any more appealing, Dell managed to streamline its flagship laptop even further — and give it a gorgeous new coat of paint. At just 0.55 inches thick and 2.59 pounds, it’s one of the lightest, most compact laptops I’ve ever used, and when I alternate between daytime writing and off-hours surfing the web, it’s a breeze to switch from one to the other. Room to room. It’s thinner and lighter than the already stylish 2021 model, and the extra slimness was immediately apparent when I placed the two laptops side by side.

But the real star of the show is my review unit’s stunning Umber shade, which covers the laptop in a glossy maroon finish. If light blue is your preference, there’s also an attractive Sky option. Either way, I’m excited to see Dell mixing in new colors this year – both understated enough for the office, yet distinctive enough to be a distraction from what usually crowds my desk stand out from a sea of ​​silver and gray laptops. While the recent Dell XPS 13 Plus was too minimalist, sacrificing basic comfort and usability in the process, the new Dell XPS 13 takes an already viable design and just makes it look better.

Of course, the glamorous aesthetics don’t mean much if the laptop doesn’t feel good to use, and luckily, the XPS 13 continues to offer one of the best laptop keyboards I’ve touched. The notebook’s shortcut keys offer very satisfying feedback, generous travel, and a smooth, soft-touch coating that keeps my hands comfortable during long pounding sessions on documents and emails. It goes well with the excellent Magic Keyboard on Apple’s latest MacBook, although the deeper, softer keys make the XPS the most important thing to me.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

Dell hasn’t made any changes to the XPS 13’s display this year, nor is it necessary. This machine’s 13.4-inch InfinityEdge display remains one of the best you’ll find on any laptop, with virtually no bezels and solid overall picture quality, making it easy to immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing . I tested a model with a 1920 x 1200 display, and while it wasn’t quite as sharp as the optional 4K upscaling, it still provided a gorgeous canvas for work and play.

I love the way the colors pop from the XPS 13’s vibrant screen when I binge, whether I’m admiring the bold black and yellow ring gear of a pro wrestler or the orange of a stunning 8K nature video on YouTube and green. Thanks to the display’s deep blacks and strong contrast, I was able to sift through Slack chats and write and edit in Google Docs all day without any stress. As with all XPS machines, I appreciate the optional touchscreen Dell offers, which makes it easy to scroll and zoom web pages when I don’t want to use the touchpad.

The XPS 13’s display isn’t quite as bold and rich as the OLED options available on the Dell XPS 13 Plus (more on that later), but it’s still one of the best screens I’ve used on any laptop — and Makes the perfect complement to the ultra-sleek design of the new model.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

You can safely take your Dell XPS 13 out for a full workday and leave the charger at home. Dell’s newest laptop lasted an impressive 8 hours and 31 minutes on our battery test, which includes continuous 4K video playback at 50 percent brightness. That beat the Dell XPS 13 Plus (5:33) and the MacBook Air M2 (5:21), though it didn’t quite hit the staggering 11:11 360 we squeezed out of the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 Pro. Either way , it’s all a laptop that will get you through most of your day, whether you’re bingeing on Netflix or cramming at work. It’s a great companion for long-haul flights.

I found the XPS 13’s 720p webcam to be perfect for my everyday video calls, capturing my face and clothes in warm, accurate color. The photos I took on the Dell camera looked a bit blurry – especially compared to the photos I got from the MacBook Air M2 – but unless you plan to stream to Twitch or make YouTube videos, you don’t need to make a dedicated Webcam on this laptop.

The laptop’s speakers were equally reliable at hearing colleagues’ voices during calls and watching videos, though I’d recommend pulling out your headphones for a serious listen — the system’s speakers confounded my usual rock tracks at higher volumes.

I tested a Dell XPS 13 with a 12th Gen Intel Core i5 processor and 16GB of RAM, which proved to be more than adequate for my daily habit of switching between Slack chats, video calls and numerous Chrome tabs Powerful – usually when splitting the screen between two windows at the same time. But I experienced some noticeable slowdowns when doing more demanding tasks, like streaming live TV from Sling while chatting on Discord, or simply restarting after putting the machine to sleep with many apps open Turn on the machine. These limitations didn’t affect my typical day-to-day use much, and things improved when I switched to Ultra Performance mode (increasing speed at the expense of heat and noise) in the My Dell app. But keep that in mind if you plan to do anything other than basic web surfing, streaming, and emailing.

The XPS 13’s relatively limited real-world performance is backed up by our benchmarks, where it often lags behind the competition. On Geekbench 5, which measures overall processing power, the Dell XPS 13’s multi-core score was nearly half what we got from the Dell XPS 13 Plus (powered by the Core i7 CPU) and the MacBook Air (powered by the Apple M2).

If you equip the XPS 13 with a Core i7 processor instead of the original Core i5, you’ll probably get better performance, though the upgrade will set the machine’s cost to at least $1,349. By comparison, the new MacBook Air M2 starts at $1,199 and features Apple’s excellent M2 chip, which offers the fastest performance you’ll get in a laptop in this price range.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

The latest Dell XPS 13 is the smallest in terms of ports, including only two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C connections, while ditching the headphone jack and microSD slot from previous models. To its credit, the laptop includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter for using older accessories, as well as a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter for wired headphones. However, if you rely on a lot of wired peripherals and external displays, you might want to opt for a USB-C hub.

This limited port selection is fairly common on mainstream laptops, but Dell’s are especially barren compared to the competition. The MacBook Air M2 is also limited to two Thunderbolt 4 ports, but it also has a dedicated MagSafe charging port as well as an actual headphone jack—both of which make the USB-C connection free for accessories. The new Surface Laptop 5 offers one USB-C port and one USB-A port, making it a better choice for people who rely on a lot of older devices.

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Mike Andronico/CNN

After falling in love with the Dell XPS 13 OLED last year, I’m so dismayed that this year’s model doesn’t have such a display option. The latest lineup limits OLED screens to the higher-end Dell XPS 13 Plus, which is more expensive, has shorter battery life, and has a bulkier design. The standard XPS 13’s display still looks great, but I like the option to upgrade to OLED for a more immersive movie binge.

Dell XPS 13 2022 1

Dell XPS 13 Plus Product Card

MacBook Air M2 Product Card 2


12th Gen Intel Core i5-1230U / i7-1250U

12th Gen Intel Core i5 / i7

Apple M2


8GB / 16GB / 32GB

8GB / 16GB / 32GB

8GB / 16GB / 24GB


512GB / 1TB Solid State Drive

256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB SSD

256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB SSD


13.4-inch 1200p display (touch optional)

13.4-inch 1200p/3.5K OLED/4K display (touch optional)

13.6-inch, 2560 x 1664 Liquid Retina display






stereo speakers

Four speakers

Four speakers


Includes Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (2), USB-C to USB-A adapters

Includes Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (2), USB-C to USB-A adapters

Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (2), MagSafe charging port, headphone jack

Battery Life (Rated)

up to 12 hours

up to 13 hours

up to 18 hours

Dimensions and Weight

11.63 x 7.86 x 0.55 inches, 2.59 lbs

11.63 x 7.84 x 0.6 inches, 2.71 lbs

11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches, 2.7 lbs





The Dell XPS 13 retains its title as the best laptop for Windows users with this new iteration, offering a gorgeous and immersive display, a top-notch keyboard and enough battery life for a full day’s work use. The fact that it’s somehow thinner this time around — and offers Dell’s most attractive color option to date — sweetens the deal.

That said, the new XPS 13 is hampered by its slim port selection and lack of OLED display options, and you’ll want to opt for the Core i7-equipped model for solid speeds. If you care about the best performance for your money (and a great webcam), the MacBook Air M2 is still king. If an OLED screen is a priority, you can look up the previous-generation XPS 13 or try the more polarized XPS 13 Plus. But for anyone else who just wants a great, lightweight Windows laptop, it’s hard to do better than the latest Dell XPS 13.

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