Dell XPS 13 (2017) 9360R - Hands-On

For a long time, dual-core CPUs with hyperthreading in Ultrabooks were the highest of feelings. With the Kaby-Lake-R processors there are now real quadcores for on the go.

Dell XPS 13 9360R
Dell XPS 13 9360R
The Dell XPS 13 9360 (2017) is such an ultrabook that I subjected to a hands-on - always with the Macbook Pro user in mind (Macbook Pro 13 with touchbar, Late 2016, Core i5-6267U).

The Ultrabook is mainly used for working with Microsoft Office and a little bit of Photoshop. In addition to this, occasional dial-in via VPN - all in all the "usual" office applications. The XPS replaces both an old Ultrabook (ASUS UX32vd R4002) as well as a stationary PC with Pentium G4560 - this also involves choosing the right docking station, which is more complicated than it should be with Thunderbolt 3 connectors.

Exterior: aluminium and carbon

Dell XPS 13: smaller than Macbook Pro 13
Dell XPS 13: smaller than Macbook Pro 13
With the dimensions of 1,5cm x 30,4cm x 20,1cm (height x width x depth), the XPS 13 is even a bit smaller than the already compact Macbook Pro 13. The weight of less than 1.3kg is also very low, mobility is definitely given. Unlike Apple, the Dell case consists of two aluminum plates (lid & base), the wrist-rest as well as the keyboard bezel is made of carbon.

Connections are only available on the sides: On the left, there is a classic round charging port, Thunderbolt 3 in the form of a USB C socket, and two regular USB A sockets for USB 3.1 Gen1 devices. On the right side there is another USB 3.1 Gen1 port and an SD card reader - unlike the successor model 9370, the variety of connections is even greater.

Display: matt Full-HD

DELL XPS 13: Display vs. Macbook Pro
DELL XPS 13: Display vs. Macbook Pro
Dell has offered the XPS 13 9360 with different displays. My "hands-on" device has a Full-HD (1,920×1,080px) built in, which is a matt surface without touch. Although it is an IPS display, the color space is only 72% RGB - here the successor of the 9370 is much better.

Advantage of the "low" resolution panel: the integrated graphics in the form of UHD Graphics 620 has little trouble with it. Games are of course not the strength of this graphics unit, but also not the focus of the application - that's why I didn't test it at all.

In comparison to the very good display of the Macbook Pro 13, a blue cast is noticeable that isn't as noticeable when you look at the Dell's display alone. A calibration of the display probably brings better results here (moreover, the successor model is already supposed to use a better display, but unfortunately with a glass panel and no longer matt).

Performance: 4C/8T, 4 GHz

Dell XPS 13: CPU-Z
Dell XPS 13: CPU-Z
The Core i7-8550U offers a lot of power in the 15-watt class: four cores, hyperthreading (SMT) and a boost up to 4 GHz ensure smooth operation. Dell lets the CPU get relatively warm, which results in a "relaxed" fan control - the fan only turns up beyond 80°C, but is then clearly audible. Apple still seems to be the reference in this point, where the cooling becomes noticeable much later.

Detailed benchmarks for the processor are available at Notebookcheck.com. Compared to the dual core of the Macbook, you don't notice any advantage in most applications at the moment, but in the long run the quad core will bring a clearer advantage. 16 GiByte RAM is still the limit for this CPU class, but it is still sufficient (as long as you don't seriously want to work with virtual machines).

The 512 GiByte large SSD is in my devices a Samsung PM981 NVMewhich is connected with PCIe-4x. This may not be the absolute top of the line, but in everyday life rapid enough.

Left: Macbook Pro SSD, right: PM981 NVMe Samsung in XPS
Left: Macbook Pro SSD, right: PM981 NVMe Samsung in XPS

Bottom line:

The Dell XPS 13 9360R is a good choice for those who need contemporary CPU power as well as traditional connections - USB-A will be around for a long time to come. Otherwise you get high mobility paired with high computing power and a good battery life - for Price of a good 1,550 Eurowhereby you have to add a Thunderbolt 3 docking station (the topic is treated separately).

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