System Performance

When we reviewed the XPS 13 2-in-1 back in November, it was the first device we had tested which featured the new 10 nm Intel Ice Lake platform. At that time, Dell had also recently refreshed the XPS 13, but had outfitted it with the older 14 nm Comet Lake platform. For the all-new XPS 13, Dell has now brought parity to their lineup with Ice Lake here as well, with the improvements that platform brings, especially to the graphics side.

Dell offers three processor options. The least-expensive offering is the Core i3-1005G1, the mid-tier outfitted with the Core i5-1035G1, and the top-tier offering the Core i7-1065G7. Our review unit features the Core i7 model, as Dell wanted to put its best foot forward.

On the memory side, Dell’s spec sheet shows a 4 GB base, although thankfully that is nowhere to be found on their Dell.com site, at least for the USA. Thanks to the move to LPDDR4X with Ice Lake, Dell now offers up to 32 GB of memory on the XPS 13. Storage is all PCIe x4 NVMe, with 256 GB as the base, and a 2 TB maximum.

To see how the XPS 13 performs, we have run it through our newly updated laptop suite. Please not that if a graph does not contain a specific older device, that means that the test has not been run on it. Since the laptops are returned to the manufacturer after review, we cannot do any regression testing for the most part. If you’d like to compare the XPS 13 to any other laptop we have tested, please refer to our Online Bench.

PCMark

PCMark 10 - Essentials

PCMark 10 - Productivity

PCMark 10 - Digital Content Creation

PCMark 10 - Overall

UL’s PCMark 10 is a whole-system benchmark, testing everything from CPU performance to app loading time. The Overall score consists of three categories, each featuring their own unique sub-tests. Overall the XPS 13 scored right in the same ballpark as other Ice Lake notebooks, although was slightly down in the Productivity tests, but slightly ahead in the other two.

Cinebench

Cinebench R20 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R20 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench, based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D rendering, allows tests of both single-threaded and multi-threaded runs, making it one of the more popular tests for overall computational performance. The XPS 13 does well compared to other Ice Lake equipped notebooks, although with AMD offering up to 8 cores in the same 15-Watt TDP, Intel falls behind in the multi-threaded run.

Handbrake

Handbrake Transcoding (Software)

Handbrake Transcoding (Hardware)

In our Handbrake encoding test, we transcode a 1080p movie to 720p using both software and hardware encoders. Software encoders utilize the CPU, and are generally the preferred method for optimal quality, whereas hardware encoders leverage the media blocks, which in this case is Intel’s QuickSync, for a much faster encode. As we will see more in the thermals section, Dell limits the XPS 13 to a 15-Watt TDP even in its maximum performance mode, where some other manufacturers will allow for higher than listed TDP, up to 20 Watts or so, and as such, the XPS 13 falls a bit behind other Ice Lake notebooks in this test which is TDP limited.

7-Zip

7-Zip Compression

7-Zip Decompression

The popular file compression and decompression tool 7-Zip includes a built-in benchmark, and once again the XPS 13 slots right into where other Ice Lake notebooks fit.

Web Tests

Web performance is a function of not only the CPU performance, but also the browser’s scripting engine, and as such we have standardized on the Microsoft Edge browser. Microsoft has now transitioned their browser to the open-source Chromium project. Due to this, we have reset our web tests to use the new Chromium based Edge and taken the opportunity to decommission some of the older tests. We will now focus on Speedometer 2.0 and WebXPRT 3.

Speedometer 2.0

WebXPRT 3

The XPS 13 again slots right in where you would expect for an i7-1065G7 based system.

Storage Performance

Dell offers from 256 GB to 2 TB of PCIe storage, and the review unit was outfitted with the Intel 600p 512 GB drive. We are transitioning to the PCMark 10 storage benchmark, which uses test traces of actual common workloads, such as booting Windows, and many of the Adobe applications, and as such should be a much better indicator of drive performance than just maximum transfer rates.

PCMark 10 System Drive Benchmark Bandwidth

PCMark 10 System Drive Benchmark Average Access Time

PCMark 10 System Drive Benchmark Score

The Intel 600p performs quite well, with good access times and solid bandwidth. Surprisingly, it can’t quite match the excellent performance we saw from the SK Hynix 2230 form factor SSD in the Surface Laptop 3, but almost matches it.

Design GPU Performance
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  • edved - Saturday, July 18, 2020 - link

    I rec'd this Dell i7 with 16GB yesterday on the 16th and saw this review! Excellent write-up. Thanks for putting in the time & effort. Certainly reassures my purchase. It replaced a 5 yr old XPS 13. Reply
  • Pixelpusher6 - Sunday, July 19, 2020 - link

    I've currently started looking for a new laptop. I'm leaning towards the Ryzen mobiles. One thing I've noticed though is the disappointing RAM options. For my use I need a minimum of 16GB. Using Win10 at work I'm averaging around 12-15GBs of usage, at home it is usually less around 7-10GB unless gaming. I don't understand why OEMs feel the need to solder RAM - do SODIMM slots really take up more space? The laptop I'm replacing is an older laptop that has a 24GB cache ssd soldered on which is failing, (in addition to a 512GB 860evo) and as a result Windows install hangs up, so I can only run Ubuntu. I love this laptop but I need to run Windows. What if you have soldered RAM and it fails outside of warranty? Reply
  • ajp_anton - Sunday, July 19, 2020 - link

    I've had this laptop for 5 months and actually have lots of problems with it that Dell just refuses to fix. Their answer to all of the following is that it's "by design".

    - Custom charging. If you set the charging to stop at, say, 80% or 90% (to prolong the life of the battery), reach the desired level (so that it stops charging), and then stress the CPU, the charging will continuously start and stop at a 1-5 second interval. Because of this, the charging light at the front of the laptop will keep turning on and off, which is very annoying in a dark room.

    - Every time the battery starts charging, the screen's backlight will flicker for one second, like there's some instability with switching from battery power to AC. This combined with the issue above makes the custom charging level pretty useless.

    - When Panel Self Refresh is turn on (in Intel's settings), the screen will randomly insert black frames once or every 10mins to 10 hours. It's very random. Solution is to just turn off PSR.

    - The fans will run when nothing in the laptop is above 60 degrees C. Once they turn on, they will keep spinning for a while even if everything cools down to under 50 degrees C. My experience with the laptop is that the fans just keep running almost all the time when just browsing the web. My cooling setting is set to "quiet".

    - Mayor problems with sleep mode. The laptop occasionally wakes up and just loads up the CPU and overheats everything to 100 degrees C when inside my backpack. I've had to hack Windows to re-enable S3 sleep (instead of modern sleep). Since Dell can't handle "Modern standby" correctly, they could at least have a BIOS option to disable to altogether (in fact they have an option to disable S3), so the user wouldn't have to hack-enable it with Windows.

    - Home and End button placement is horrible. I've asked to enable Fn+left and Fn+right in a BIOS update, as they used to be in older XPS laptops, and the technician thought it was a good idea, but there's nothing he could do because people higher-up didn't want this.
    Reply
  • ajp_anton - Sunday, July 19, 2020 - link

    Though in spite of all of these problems, I still like this laptop, and I don't know of a better one. The 16:10 screen alone makes this an obvious choice, and I just have to learn to live with (and work around) all the other issues. Reply
  • nfriedly - Sunday, July 19, 2020 - link

    I love the idea controlling charging in software to extend the longevity of the battery!

    I'm not sure how you could feasibly report this, but I'd like to know how much difference it makes after a few years of use. Does Dell make any claims?
    Reply
  • ajp_anton - Sunday, July 19, 2020 - link

    There are problems with this particular laptop's custom charging. Read my comment above yours, the first two points.

    I've used this feature in an older XPS laptop (max charge at 80% except for long flights and such), the Skylake version, which is ~4 years old. It's been in pretty much constant use on-the-go, and battery wear is at 1%.
    Reply
  • vermaden - Monday, July 20, 2020 - link

    Just get Chuwi Aerobook 13 instead.

    Bigger and better keyboard (along with more keys) and also TWO USB A 3.x ports and USB C port.

    ... and it costs about $450 new.

    This Dell XPS 13 looks lame to say the least with these only two USB-C ports ...
    Reply
  • ajp_anton - Monday, July 20, 2020 - link

    Um, what?

    A Skylake-Y CPU with max turbo at 2.2GHz? That's your alternative to a 4-core Ice Lake? And possibly the slowest iGPU in existence, compared to one of the fastest. 1920x1080 screen. The speakers are "bad, even by laptop standards". And despite the extremely slow and low-power CPU, battery life is also bad.

    Yeah, totally comparable.
    Reply
  • velanapontinha - Monday, July 20, 2020 - link

    If only this was bases on a Ryzen 4700u... Reply
  • Smell This - Monday, July 20, 2020 - link


    Well ... Duh!
    ;- )

    Down With The King, Dell
    Reply

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