The Best Windows Laptop You Can Buy Just Got Even Better

The Best Windows Laptop You Can Buy Just Got Even Better

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CNN —  

How do you make the best Windows laptop around even better? Slapping on an immersive OLED display isn’t a bad way to start. The Dell XPS 13 OLED (starting at $1,518; dell.com) does just that, packing a nearly borderless 13-inch screen that makes watching movies, editing photos and even catching up on Slack chats more engrossing — though it does come with some caveats.

Fancy new screen aside, this is the same XPS 13 that has long been our favorite Windows laptop, thanks to its svelte design, fast overall performance and comfortable keyboard. However, the laptop’s speakers and webcam are still lacking, and this particular model’s battery life suffers a bit due to its high-resolution OLED screen.

Is the XPS 13 OLED worth the splurge over the standard model? Here’s what we think after weeks of working and playing on Dell’s latest laptop.

Who it’s for: The Dell XPS 13 OLED is for folks looking for the best overall Windows laptop for basic work and entertainment, and who don’t mind splurging for an extra-immersive display. Those who don’t care about OLED will be fine with the standard XPS 13.

What you need to know: The Dell XPS 13 OLED delivers the same gorgeous and compact design, comfortable keyboard and speedy performance we’ve enjoyed on the most recent XPS 13, but with an OLED screen for more vivid visuals. However, this laptop’s battery life isn’t quite as good as competitors (likely due to that OLED display), and its webcam and speakers are underwhelming.

How it compares: The XPS 13 OLED outshines its close competitor in the Surface Laptop 4 (starting at $999) in terms of build quality, overall performance and display richness, though Microsoft’s laptop has a taller screen, deeper keyboard and better battery life. Dell’s laptop makes a great Windows alternative to the MacBook Air (starting at $999), though Apple’s notebook offers more overall power and endurance as well as a superior webcam.

Mike Andronico/CNN

The Dell XPS 13’s display has always been a stunner, especially ever since Dell chopped off nearly all of the bezels in the 2020 models to deliver truly immersive viewing for work and play. It was hard to imagine this notebook’s screen getting any better, but Dell managed to add OLED to the mix — and the results are awesome.

OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays are known for delivering especially deep blacks and high contrast, two perks that immediately became apparent as soon as we laid eyes on the 13.3-inch InfinityEdge screen on the XPS. The black backgrounds of Slack and Twitter looked incredibly bold and rich in dark mode, allowing messages and tweets to come through with a satisfying and legible white pop without any of the fuzzy “blooming” effect that can sometimes happen when these colors clash. The reverse also looked great — black text popped nicely on top of white backgrounds in Google Docs — but if you’re someone who finds dark mode more pleasing and easy on the eye, you’ll especially love this display.

Of course, the XPS 13’s OLED screen is good for more than just reading text. An 8K nature video exploded with vivid color and true-to-life detail on Dell’s display — the orange-brown fur on a pack of deer and the bright greens of a forest were especially striking, and we could make out every strand of fur on a lion’s mane during a close-up. When watching the same video on a Surface Laptop 4, there was a stark difference in saturation and vibrancy that made Microsoft’s still-impressive display look dull by comparison.

While the XPS 13 OLED makes a great display even better, the laptop’s audio output is still just OK. Energetic rock tracks like Real Friends’ “Nervous Wreck” got plenty loud but also became muddy once the crunchy guitars kicked in, while the quieter indie melodies of Julien Baker’s “Relative Fiction” fared much better. The XPS 13’s speakers made it easy to hear colleagues during work calls, but you should probably reach for a dedicated pair of headphones or speakers if you plan on bingeing lots of music or movies on this laptop.

Mike Andronico/CNN

OLED screen aside, the latest XPS 13 is more of the same — and that’s largely a great thing. Dell’s flagship laptop remains one of the most attractive PCs you can buy, with razor-thin edges and a comfortable interior that looks especially stunning in Arctic White (there’s also a more subdued black option). And if you find yourself on the go more these days, the XPS 13 is very travel-friendly at 2.8 pounds and just over half an inch thin.

Just as the XPS 13’s beautiful design remains untouched, so does its relatively slim port selection. You get two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, which can be used for everything from charging the laptop up to connecting multiple 4K monitors, as well as a microSD card slot and a headphone jack. While that’s not a lot of connectivity, we do appreciate that Dell includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter in the box for using older accessories.

Mike Andronico/CNN

We’ve enjoyed typing on various versions of the XPS 13 for years now, thanks to keys that are especially soft to the touch and have a nice amount of bo

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