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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  • III-V - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    16:10? I thought those had gone extinct.

    Good to hear they haven't.
    Reply
  • nwrigley - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    I don't know how anyone who has ever used 16:10 would not prefer it. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    Did you know you can run 16:10 resolutions on any 16:9 monitor by applying pillarboxing? Reply
  • rrinker - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    Not. When your display is 1080, you aren't going to be able to display 1200 vertical. You can display a 16:20 ASPECT RATIO by pillarboxing, but the point is the extra lines without sacrificing the width. Far more practical to display 16:9 1920x1080 content on a screen with a 16:10 1920x1200 screen which, as mentioned, allows the controls to be displayed without overlaying the content. For technical work, it allows the remote desktop to display at 1920x1080 while still seeing your local task bar, not constant minimizing and maximizing to go back and forth. Reply
  • philehidiot - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    I've used 16:10 and 16:9 and I don't prefer 1080 lines over 1200 but that's a significant difference in resolution and I don't think it's a fair apples to apples comparison.

    I'm currently on 4K which handily drops nicely to 1080 for gaming when the GPU struggles. I was kind of hoping for four 1080 monitors in one but it hasn't worked out that way. I've now got a small 7" touchscreen to go below it which takes out Youtube videos or spotify controls quite nicely.
    Reply
  • lazarpandar - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    Wow what a great idea to use less of the available screen space.... *eyeroll* Reply
  • Byte - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    So you don't know anyone over 15 years old? Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, July 16, 2020 - link

    I'm still rocking HP Dreamcolor LP2480zx's just because they're decent\inexpensive 16:10 monitors. I don't get the appeal of 16:9 widescreen for a work PC, and the cake is when you have TWO 16:10 monitors side-by-side. I also feel 16:10 is more appropriate for 'some' games where the vertical height is a huge advantage.

    It's so strange this format died under non-existent consumer demand for an 'entertainment' aspect ratio, opposed to production aspect ratio.
    Reply
  • CooliPi - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    I'm still rocking on a "Big Bertha" of the time, Viewsonic VP2290b (essentially an IBM T221) via two DVI links. 3840x2400 resolution. I'm in a desperate search for a monitor with the same or higher vertical resolution.

    The vertical height REALLY matters for content creation.

    It has 135W power consumption (at 24Hz) but I love it. Mind you, for CAD work, the higher the DPI, the better - so its relatively small diagonal dimension is actually a win here.

    Have I had some spare time, I'd test it with Raspberry Pi 4 in a dual monitor setup - two stripes forming one screen. Should be possible, it has two HDMI outputs.

    If you guys had some clue where to look for a 16:10 (or even 1:1 !) 4k monitor, let me know please.
    Reply
  • puetzk - Friday, July 17, 2020 - link

    There's the Eizo FlexScan-EV2730QFX (1920x1920), that arguably taller since you'd likely run it 1:1 rather than HiDPI scaling.

    or the 4200 x 2800 (3:2) RX1270 if money is absolutely no object (it's a "medical device" line, so if you have to ask...)
    Reply

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