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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  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    The vast majority of marketing images are retouched at the very least, and I've seen plenty of pre-rendered images over the years. This is not unique to Dell in the slightest. Unless they blatantly falsify the images, I'm not too worried about it. The image on the front page may look matte, but it could be that they have a light box for images (very likely) and the reflection just happens to look more like a matte display. Reply
  • ramvalleru - Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - link

    actual screen is like this only. I bought it a day before. screen is k but for the price of 1135$, the screen is not up to the mark when compared with Sony and Dell XPS 15, 15Z. :-( Reply
  • justaviking - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    The FIRST picture IN THE ARTICLE makes it very clear that the screen is glossy. Just look at that reflection... no matte screen there! Reply
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    I'm with you on that one. I probably shouldn't have bothered reading further since that picture all in itself makes this this laptop about as desirable as a pile of dung. No wonder Dell provided a better pic. Still, that picture on the site home page shouldn't be used at all since it misrepresents the laptop.

    On an aside, something that baffles me is how the stock MBP escapes the same criticism- the use of glass as a screen surface has got to be the single stupidest idea in the (brief) history of flat-panel displays!
    Reply
  • mules - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    I don't worry too much about the screen quality. I, like many laptop users, attach a monitor (and keyboard and mouse).

    I would have liked to see a 3rd USB port. Often, when on the road, I need a keyboard, mouse and USB drive attached.

    I'd be interested if someone made a "laptop" with no keyboard or monitor, and possibly even no battery - this can be used as a portable desktop machine at a significantly lower cost than a laptop.
    Reply
  • seanleeforever - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    yes, it is called EEE pc. check it out. Reply
  • name99 - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    Yes. It's called a Mac Mini. Reply
  • Hulk - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    I skipped right to the section on the screen, saw it was garbage and stopped reading.

    I'm not buying a laptop with a bad or even average screen. Period. I don't care what other good features it has. The screen is a deal breaker.

    I want an IPS matte screen!
    Reply
  • ThomasA - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Agreed, 100%. It's insanity to praise the laptop 'looks' , innards & "performance", when the MFG flakes on the main INTERFACE (the screen). Reply
  • ananduser - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Very few laptops have that, and no the lower spec-ed and higher priced MBP does not. Reply

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