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Dell XPS 14 2024 review: Improved but not amazing

by xyonent
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247129 Dell Xps 14 2024 Jnelius 0003.jpg

The 2022 Dell XPS 13 Plus arrived with a bold new design, featuring a trackpad that blends seamlessly into the chassis, a completely flat “zero lattice” chiclet keyboard, and a “capacitive touch row.” Unfortunately, the new design was overshadowed by the fact that it generated too much heat and had too short battery life. Now, Dell is applying the same futuristic design across the entire XPS lineup, from the Intel- or Qualcomm-powered XPS 13 models to the new 14- and 16-inch sizes that seem to be aimed directly at the MacBook Pro. The XPS 14 (priced at $2,500 as reviewed) doesn’t suffer from the same issues as the 13 Plus and XPS 15, but it’s still disappointing.

The XPS 14 can be configured with a discrete graphics card like the XPS 15, but despite its smaller chassis and more powerful GPU, it remains much cooler than the previous XPS 15 and 13 Plus we reviewed. The Meteor Lake Intel Core Ultra 7 155H is 21 percent faster than the Core i7-1280P in the XPS 13 Plus, and if it had existed two years ago, it would have solved the issues with the 13 and 15, such as performance, besides heat and battery life. Despite having an OLED display, the XPS 14’s battery lasts twice as long, 12 hours versus the 13 Plus’s 6 hours, and the battery is only 23 percent larger, which is great.

The all-new Dell XPS 14 has up to 12 hours of battery life, a 400-nit OLED touch display, and the same design as the 2022 Dell XPS 13, with an “invisible” trackpad and touch function row.

The list of improvements goes on. The 14-inch model has three Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports instead of two, plus a combo audio jack and a microSD slot, and memory can be configured up to 64GB and storage up to 4TB. The XPS 14 is 1.1 pounds heavier than the 13, but is only a tenth of an inch thicker. The display has a lower resolution but is physically larger. It’s more affordable, at $1,500 for the base model and $2,500 for the specific configuration reviewed here, but it’s still expensive compared to similar laptops.

But for all of the objectively positive improvements, I’m disappointed because I just don’t like the way typing on the XPS 14 feels. The keys have shallow but fine travel, but the switches are too springy, feeling like the bent parts of a metal Slinky that pop out every time you try to press back. The plastic key caps also feel too thin for what is otherwise an elegant, sturdy laptop. I also don’t like how close the key caps are to each other for their size.

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

The lack of a traditional function key row messes with your muscle memory; you mistake the tilde key for the escape key, or the caps lock for the tab key, and you never get used to pressing the Esc button (or any button on the Touch Bar) because there’s no haptic feedback. Like the trackpad, it blends into the chassis, but why does the trackpad have haptic feedback when the function key row doesn’t? Sure, you can look at the screen to see if you’ve pressed the right button, but it’s much more satisfying to see and feel the result of your button presses.

The trackpad space is spread out over a large area below the keyboard, so it doesn’t feel undefined – tap or press left or right enough and it’s the same as using a normal trackpad. It doesn’t always work that way, so I sometimes use the OLED touchscreen for efficiency, but not often.

Tilda Key, my greatest enemy.

However, it took me longer than I expected to find the power button. I eventually found it to the right of the backspace key. There’s no icon to indicate it’s the power button; it’s a dark gray key that blends in silently with the keyboard, but I still felt bad for missing it the first time.

The optional RTX 4050 GPU is great for speeding up graphics and video work, but the Dell XPS 14 is not a gaming laptop. Baldur’s Gate 3 With the right settings, you can get the same performance from the XPS 14, but gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 come with cheaper, more powerful hardware and gaming-specific features like Adaptive Sync, as well as software to tweak things like fan speeds and GPU clock speeds.

The invisible trackpad is my favorite feature.

From price to performance, the XPS 14 isn’t as good a MacBook Pro replacement as the XPS 15 was. The underlying M3 chip underwhelms in almost every benchmark, Apple removed the controversial Touch Bar while Dell added the clunky one, the invisible haptic trackpad looks better than the MacBook Pro’s old one but is a bit harder to use, and the MacBook’s keyboard is much better (as is the XPS 15’s).

The XPS 14 is more competitive than some Windows laptops, like the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED, but it’s still too expensive. If you don’t need a new laptop for 3D modeling or video work, it might make more sense to stick with the integrated graphics and save $400. But with the impending launch of the $1,300 XPS 14, it’s worth saving $400. XPS 13 with Qualcomm SnapdragonIt is better to refrain from purchasing Any It’s a Dell XPS until the review comes out.

In her review of the XPS 13 Plus, Monica Chin wrote: The VergeA former laptop reviewer at said the new design feels like it’s making the same mistake Apple made with its 2016 MacBook Pro redesign, sacrificing too much in the name of thinness. With the XPS 14, Dell addressed the performance and battery life of the 13 Plus, but the shallow, springy keyboard, vaguely labeled power button and touch row carried over from the 13 Plus make the XPS 14 feel disappointing. It looks good, but it’s not great to use.

Photo: Joanna Nelius/The Verge

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