Since Steve Jobs Pulled out the first MacBook Air from a Manila envelope At the 2008 MacWorld Expo, the laptop industry has been praised for its thinnest and lightest designs. The MacBook Air was still a beluga whale, but one Windows laptop can now recognize it in much the same way. That is Dell XPS 13.
However, the new Dell XPS 13 (9315) has changed significantly from previous versions. The XPS 13 as an ultrabook dates back to 2012, but most people remember that the XPS 13 started in 2015, when the company first added an “Infinity Edge” display to reduce the bezel. Thanks to its sturdy metal shell and almost comfortable keyboard, the laptop has become an icon. Just as other laptop makers chased the MacBook Air, so did the XPS 13. So when the XPS 13 became thin and users couldn’t repair or upgrade it almost completely, I noticed. How much does Dell give up on cutting 0.03 inches from previous models?
Dell XPS 13 (9315), Announced on ThursdayHolds a thin bezel. But it’s only 0.55 inches thick, abandoning the carbon fiber keyboard deck and most of its ports in Dell’s quest for a thinner, more portable design. Uses Intel’s 12th generation U-series processor at 9 watts (up to 12W depending on use case) for more powerful P-series parts XPS 13 Plus..
But perhaps most importantly, it has the smallest Dell ever motherboard (about 180.15 x 38.34 mm). This allows companies to pack large, thin batteries, keep laptops small, and perhaps last longer. (I haven’t tested the XPS 13 yet, but I’m looking forward to it.) It’s borrowed from the world of smartphone engineering for both the motherboard and RAM, usually soldering memory to the motherboard via a smartphone processor. I will attach it.
The SSD, a PCIe Gen 4 NVMe drive, comes in a 11.5 x 13 mm package, which Dell calls the industry’s smallest. It is on a BGA or ball grid array that uses solder to permanently mount the components. If it fails or you replace it with a bigger or faster one in the future, you will not replace it. Also, since the battery is built-in, it is troublesome to replace it if possible.
Elizabeth Chamberlain, director of sustainability at iFixit, said there are several XPS 13 laptops with soldered RAM in the organization and hoped to see changes in future revisions.
“IFixit has a significant number of XPS 13s deployed, and we’ve had reliability issues with XPS 13 machines with RAM soldered,” said Chamberlain. “In that case, instead of replacing the RAM like the XPS 15, you have to replace the entire expensive mainboard. Instead of undoing that design mistake, Dell seems to be doubling.”
In terms of thinness, this is an engineering wonder. But Dell probably chased Apple a little too much.
Well, Apple has defeated Dell here. The original MacBook Air had a replaceable hard drive, but its RAM was soldered (the MacBook Pro will continue in 2013). However, with the move to Apple Silicon, all storage was also soldered. Of course, you can replace the battery, but other repairs are almost out of the question without going to the Genius Bar. (At least Apple’s RAM situation is due to the fact that RAM is part of the SoC.)
But in some respects, Dell goes a step further. For example, there is no technical reason for Dell to solder RAM other than thinness. Unlike Apple Silicon, Intel’s Alder Lake chip has no memory integration. The same is true for that SSD.
“We strive to manufacture devices that can be disassembled, repaired, refurbished, and ultimately recycled, but this can be a daunting task due to customer demand for smaller, thinner, and more powerful devices. For the XPS 13 laptop, the size has been streamlined. It uses less material while increasing efficiency, but limits repairability, “Dell said. I am writing. Tom’s hardware.. “Each product is a set of decisions based on customer needs, desires and values. The latest XPS 13 laptops meet consumer needs for portability and functionality.”
However, some customers want it in combination with repairability. Chamberlain said iFixit would have to do its own disassembly to make the final call, but “due to the specs, it’s unlikely that we would recommend this locked-down computer to the team as before. Will be. “
Even on the PC side, Dell is not the only one here. Most recently, Microsoft has begun adding SSD doors to Surface devices, but still only a few of them. We’ve seen almost all OEM laptops move to soldering RAM to save a few millimeters of thickness, but storage drives are often accessible. And Dell used the new XPS 13 so far to remove the headphone jack.
Yes, the 3.5mm headphone jack has been removed from the Dell XPS 13. If you ask Dell, you’ve probably heard about how everyone is using wireless headphones these days. But the company spokesperson was much more straightforward than I expected:
“We couldn’t install the headphone jack inside the chassis because of the aggressive design and portability goals we chartered for the XPS 13,” Dell said. Tom’s hardware on mail.
But even Apple, which makes money with AirPods, hasn’t yet removed the 3.5mm headphone jack from its laptop. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone say that the MacBook Air isn’t portable enough. Even the 12-inch MacBook had a headphone jack. If you have USB Type-C headphones, raise your hand in case the wireless pad runs out of charge. Wow, really just a few of you.
But as companies move to new form factors and the popularity of Arm-based chips grows, this future of ultra-thin laptops that the average person can’t serve may be inevitable.
“I think this will continue, especially as more PCs adopt Arm-based technology,” Anshel Sag, chief analyst for PCs at Moor Insights & Strategy, told me in an email. “Companies like Qualcomm believe that making PCBs even smaller and integrating components deeper into SoCs will help drive this trend forward.”
I haven’t had a chance to test the latest XPS 13 yet. When I do, I’m sure I’m in awe of how thin and light it is – everything else we need to test.But there is a reason to open the laptop we are reviewing Tom’s hardware When you can. Things are broken and need to be changed, at least the ability to upgrade storage is great. Especially if most companies charge much higher for drives that are larger or faster than the actual drive cost. (Dell has an option if you need a replaceable SSD. Its maintenance manual (Opens in a new tab), XPS 13 Plus storage can continue to be upgraded. )
Not so many from the big brands, but there are options for those who crave repairability and upgrade capabilities. The Framework laptop Is designed to make almost any part repairable, such as taking out the mainboard to get a new processor or supporting faster memory. Sure, it’s 0.07 inches thicker than the XPS 13, but I think this kind of access deserves a trade-off with a slightly thicker laptop.
Many people buy the XPS 13 for what Dell built here: a sleek, lightweight laptop with a thin bezel. And I imagine that many of them are less interested in repairs than I am. They choose a configuration and keep it until the time of upgrade. And if they are happy with it, it’s a worthwhile purchase for them.
I certainly previously recommended a non-upgradable laptop. Maybe that will happen with the new XPS 13 when I start testing it. So why point out the XPS 13 in all of them? That’s arguably the most iconic Windows laptop of the last decade. For years, reviewers, including myself, have pointed out what a portable Windows laptop should be. Apple is moving in the direction of not allowing RAM and SSD upgrades, but at least the keyports are retained. On the MacBook Pro, Apple is actually gain Thickness to regain some old features.
Model ultrabooks aren’t just light and thin. In an ideal world, functionality and restorability should be top priorities as sustainability becomes more important. Dell manufactures a large number of upgradeable laptops.I have a project called Concept Luna, The focus is on easy reuse of components.
But where the leader leads, followers follow. Indeed, gaming laptops, like workstations, have the potential to remain upgradeable. But with the success of the XPS 13, we may see a world where the number of thin notebooks that can be repaired or upgraded is even smaller. For some, it’s a trade-off worth making. But I hope Dell’s research and design wizards, as well as engineers from other laptop makers, don’t think absolute thinness is the only important feature for high-end ultra-portables. The ability to repair and upgrade laptops is important to many consumers in the short term and to the planet in the long term. And while the quest for the thinnest and lightest may continue, don’t forget the port so you can add what laptop designers need to omit here.
Note: As with all editorials, the opinions expressed here belong solely to the writer, not Tom’s Hardware as a team.