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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Dell XPS 14 2024 overview: higher however not wonderful

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The 2022 Dell XPS 13 Plus confirmed up with a daring new design: a trackpad that blends seamlessly into the chassis, a wonderfully flush “zero-lattice” chiclet keyboard, and a “capacitive contact perform row.” Sadly, the brand new look was overshadowed by the truth that it ran too heat and had too brief a battery life. Now, Dell has given the entire XPS lineup that very same futuristic design, from the Intel or Qualcomm-powered XPS 13 fashions to new 14- and 16-inch sizes that appear aimed immediately on the MacBook Professional. The XPS 14 ($2,500 as reviewed) doesn’t endure from the identical points because the 13 Plus and even the XPS 15 — but it’s nonetheless underwhelming.

The XPS 14 could be configured with a discrete graphics card, just like the XPS 15, however even with a smaller chassis and a extra highly effective GPU, it stays a lot cooler than the final XPS 15 we reviewed — and even the 13 Plus. The Meteor Lake Intel Core Ultra 7 155H is 21 % sooner than the Core i7-1280P within the XPS 13 Plus, and if it had been round two years in the past, it might have fastened different points we had with the 13 and 15 moreover warmth and battery life, like efficiency. Even with an OLED show, the XPS 14’s battery lasts twice as lengthy — 12 hours in comparison with the 13 Plus’ six — with a battery that’s solely 23 % bigger. That’s unbelievable.

An open and powered on laptop sitting on top of a wood table with plants and furniture in the background.

The all-new Dell XPS 14 has as much as 12 hours of battery life, a 400-nit OLED contact show, and sports activities the identical design because the 2022 Dell XPS 13 with an “invisible” trackpad and contact perform row.

The listing of enhancements continues: the 14-inch mannequin has three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports as an alternative of simply two, plus a combo audio jack and microSD slot, and it’s configurable as much as 64GB of reminiscence and 4TB of space for storing. The XPS 14 can also be 1.1 kilos heavier than the 13, although solely a tenth of an inch thicker, and the show is decrease decision however bodily bigger. It’s a extra cheap value — $1,500 for the bottom mannequin and $2,500 for the particular configuration reviewed right here — however nonetheless costly in comparison with related laptops. 

But, I’m underwhelmed by all these objectively good enhancements as a result of I don’t like the way it feels to kind on the XPS 14. The important thing journey is ok although it’s shallow, however the switches really feel too springy, just like the warped a part of a steel Slinky that pops up each time you attempt to push it again down. The plastic key caps additionally really feel too thin for a chic and durable laptop computer, and I’m not a fan of how shut collectively they’re positioned for his or her measurement.

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There’s a microSDXC and headphone / mic combo jack, too.

The shortage of a standard perform row throws off my muscle reminiscence. I preserve mistaking the tilde key for the escape key and caps lock for the tab key, and I can’t get used to hitting the esc button — or any button on the contact bar — as a result of there is no such thing as a tactile suggestions. It’s blended into the chassis similar to the trackpad, however the trackpad has haptics, so why doesn’t the perform row? Sure, I can have a look at the display screen to see if I hit the correct button, nevertheless it’s extra satisfying to see and really feel the results of a button press.

I don’t thoughts the undefined trackpad area because it spans such a large space under the keyboard. If I faucet or press far sufficient to the left or proper, it’s like utilizing an everyday trackpad. I don’t at all times get it proper, so there are occasions I take advantage of the OLED touchscreen to navigate only for the sake of effectivity, however not typically. 

The tilde key, my archnemesis.

However I spent longer than I ought to have searching for the facility button. I ultimately discovered it to the correct of the backspace key. There’s no icon to sign it’s an influence button. It’s only a darkish grey key that blends quietly into the keyboard, but I nonetheless felt obtuse for lacking it at first.

Whereas the elective RTX 4050 GPU is nice for injecting extra pace into graphics or video work, the Dell XPS 14 will not be a gaming-first laptop computer. It’s potential to run a recreation like Baldur’s Gate 3 on the XPS 14 with the correct settings, however there are gaming laptops just like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 that include extra highly effective {hardware} for much less cash and embrace gaming-specific options like adaptive sync and software program for fine-tuning issues like fan pace and GPU clock pace.

The invisible trackpad is my favourite characteristic.

From value to efficiency, the XPS 14 will not be nearly as good of an alternative choice to the MacBook Pro because the XPS 15 as soon as was. The bottom M3 chip kicks its butt in virtually all of our benchmarks, and whereas Apple removed its divisive touch bar, Dell put a much less helpful one in. The invisible haptic trackpad appears to be like higher than the MacBook Professional’s conventional one, nevertheless it’s barely tougher to make use of — and the MacBook’s keyboard is way nicer (and so was the one on the XPS 15).

The XPS 14 is extra aggressive with some Home windows laptops, just like the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED, nevertheless it’s nonetheless too costly, and in case you don’t want a brand new laptop computer for 3D modeling or video work, it makes extra sense to stay with built-in graphics and save $400. But, with the looming launch of the $1,300 Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered XPS 13, it’s a good suggestion to carry off on shopping for any Dell XPS till the critiques are in.

In her review of the XPS 13 Plus, Monica Chin, The Verge’s former laptop computer reviewer, stated the brand new design felt prefer it made the identical errors Apple did with the 2016 MacBook Professional redesign, with too many sacrifices within the identify of thinness. With the XPS 14, Dell addressed the 13 Plus’ efficiency and battery life, however the shallow, springy keyboard, ambiguously labeled energy button, and contact perform row inherited from the 13 Plus preserve the XPS 14 feeling underwhelming. It appears to be like good, nevertheless it isn’t as good to make use of.

Pictures by Joanna Nelius / The Verge



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