Dell XPS 14z: 14” LCD in a 13.3” Form Factor

When we reviewed the XPS 15z early last month, we found a laptop that got a lot of things right, so the hardly-secret follow-up XPS 14z certainly garnered a spot on our radar. Dell agreed to send us a pre-release unit for the official launch, and we received it last week and spent most of the interim benchmarking and testing the laptop. There are plenty of areas where the 14z continues the 15z legacy, and in some ways it’s a better laptop. There are also areas where we feel the 14z falls short of what we’d like to see from Dell’s XPS brand—areas where it’s more like Inspiron than XPS.

Dell is officially announcing the XPS 14z today, with ordering availability scheduled for November 1 in the US; worldwide availability will occur November 15. There will be four primary configurations available at that point, though we’re not sure how much customization will be available. Here’s a rundown of the four US-bound configurations with their pricing.

Dell XPS 14z US Launch Configurations
Processor i5-2430M i5-2430M i7-2640M i7-2640M
Hard drive 500GB 750GB 750GB 256GB SSD
Memory 6GB DDR3 8GB DDR3 8GB DDR3 8GB DDR3
Graphics Intel HD 3000 NVIDIA 520M 1GB NVIDIA 520M 1GB NVIDIA 520M 1GB
Panel HD HD HD HD
Optical DVDRW DVDRW DVDRW DVDRW
Wireless WLAN/BT WLAN/BT WLAN/BT WLAN/BT
Price $999 $1199 $1299 $1599

 We received an early sample of the base $999 model, though the memory configuration changed between the time the system was assembled and the above final specs. Our test unit has 4GB RAM compared to the 6GB that will be shipping; this shouldn’t make a difference for normal usage, but it’s worth noting. As far as we can tell, all models share the same WiFi, DVDRW, and LCD; the CPU, storage, GPU and amount of memory are where they differ.

The base model comes without discrete graphics, while all of the upgraded versions include NVIDIA’s GT 520M. We haven’t had a chance to look at that GPU yet, and we’re actually interested in testing it as it doesn’t seem like it will be much faster than the HD 3000. 48 CUDA cores with a 64-bit DDR3-1600 memory interface (12.8GB/s) is nothing to write home about, and DX11 support is almost meaningless on low end hardware. However, NVIDIA (and AMD) still have better graphics driver support than Intel, so it’s something to consider. We hope to get a second 14z with the upgrade GPU and CPU in for testing to see how it fares, and it looks like Dell will charge about $100 extra for the GPU upgrade.

In terms of the review system, here’s a full list of the components and specifications:

Dell XPS 14z Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-2430M (dual-core 2.40-3.00GHz, 35W)
Intel Core i7-2640M (dual-core 2.80-3.50GHz, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM67
Memory 4GB (2x2GB DDR3-1333) Pre-Release Sample
6GB (1x4GB + 1x2GB DDR3-1333)
8GB (2x4GB DDR-1333 CL9)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics (1.2GHz max clock)
NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M 1GB DDR3 (Optional)
Display 14.0” WLED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
(LG 140WH6)
Hard Drive 500GB 7200RPM HDD(Seagate ST9500423AS)
750GB 7200RPM HDD
256GB SSD
Optical Drive 8X Slot-Load DVDRW
Networking Gigabit Ethernet (Atheros AR8151)
802.11n WiFi + Bluetooth 3.0 (Intel Advanced-N 6230)
WiDi 2.0 Ready
Audio Stereo Speakers
Microphone and headphone jacks
Capable of 5.1 digital output (HDMI)
Battery 8-cell, 58Wh
Front Side N/A
Left Side Memory Card Reader
Headphone Jack
Microphone Jack
Exhaust vent
Right Side Battery Life Indicator
Slot-Load Optical Drive
Back Side Kensington Lock
AC Power Connection
Mini DisplayPort
HDMI
1 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Exhaust vent
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 13.19" x 9.21" x 0.9" (WxDxH)
(335mm x 234mm x 23mm)
Weight 4.36 lbs / 1.98kg (8-cell)
Extras 1.3MP HD Webcam w/ dual array microphones
80-Key backlit keyboard
Flash reader (SD, MS, MMC)
MS Office 2010 Starter or Home/Student
65W Power Adapter
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
2- and 3-year extended warranties available
Pricing Review Configuration MSRP: $999
Availability US: Nov. 1; Worldwide: Nov. 15

Dell packs in pretty much everything most users will need, including a single USB 3.0 Super Speed port on the back. (I’m not sure why they include only one SS port, given the second USB port is right next to it.) The inclusion of an optical drive in such a thin laptop also warrants mention. Our test unit is the base model, so we don’t have the GeForce GT 520M added to the mix, but that upgrade is available should you want it. Display connectivity is also reasonable, with a mini DisplayPort and a full size HDMI port on the back of the laptop.

Dell XPS 14z: Almost Like an Ultrabook
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  • hechacker1 - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Apple's reputation I think is exaggerated because they take the time to factory color calibrate the screens. I don't think any other PC manufacturer does the same.

    But even Apple's factory calibration lately has tended toward the cooler 6800K temperatures instead of an ideal 6500K for web browsing or watching videos. They are playing into the fact that people tend to like the ultra bright, cool balanced screens that make them seen "bright and white" when comparing them side by side.

    Looking at past Anandtech reviews, it's clear the Macbook's generally have very high quality screens brightness, color quality, and contrast wise.

    Sure they are lacking in resolution on the laptops, but OS-X isn't resolution independent yet.
    Reply
  • kishorshack - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Go for DELL XPS 15 it has an awesome screen
    I can look at it for ages :)
    Reply
  • MobiusStrip - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    "This is one area where I applaud Apple, they provide high quality, high-res (16:10 in some cases!) screens."

    Rendered garbage by Apple's insistence on shoving pathetic glossy screens down customers' throats.

    Oh, you can pay $150 extra for matte on the biggest MBPs, but you can't get it on the machines most likely to leave the house: the 13" MBP or the Airs.

    Glossy screens are the biggest regression in computers ever. Yet manufacturers just get a free pass on this fraud.
    Reply
  • Stuka87 - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    So I like the small bezel around the screen. Its about time somebody did this (if somebody else has, I apologize for not knowing). This is one of the things that I really dislike about my Precision M4600. They could have easily fit a larger 16:10 display.

    Its a shame the quality of the display in the 14z is so poor. The rest of it seems to be a fairly decent design.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    I really wish they kept that 525M in there like the 15", the 520 is about half as fast. In fact, its not far from the HD3000. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    "I’m not sure why they include only one SS port, given the second USB port is right next to it."
    Not sure if this applies here, but I couldn't install Windows 7 from my USB stick on my Llano system with an AsRock A75M-ITX and A6-3500 CPU. It just didn't recognize the stick. In the USB 2.0 ports there was no problem. I guess it's driver issues. If that is the case, I can see why they want to keep at least one USB 2.0 port available.
    If that is not the case and USB 3.0 makes no problems when installing from media attached to it, then disregard this post. :-)
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Well, Windows 7 doesn't natively have USB 3.0 drivers included on the disk, so it's going to be confused by the chipset connected to that port. Should be fixed in Windows 8 though (it has native Windows 8 support). Reply
  • dagamer34 - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Ooops, I meant native USB 3.0 support. Reply
  • hechacker1 - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Isn't it backwards compatible though? The bios might have an option to run it in HiSpeed mode or whatever if it can't be detected as USB3.0 without a driver. Reply
  • jpochedl - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    USB3.0 can run at USB2.0 speeds, but the WinPE environment still needs a driver that supports the USB3.0 chipset in order to access the USB3.0 port.... Reply

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