Dell's latest XPS 13 refresh offers a more than just a familiar face. Here's how it stacks up to its predecessor.
If you're at all familiar with Dell's popular XPS line, then the latest entry in the series, the XPS 13 9360, probably looks pretty familiar. However, this latest refresh carries a couple of key improvements over the previous XPS 13 9350 that are worth considering if you find yourself choosing between models at retailers like Amazon.
While individual configurations can vary quite a bit, here's a breakdown of how the XPS 13 9360 and 9350 compare to one another purely on the base specs:
|Category||Dell XPS 13 9350||Dell XPS 13 9360|
|Processor||Up to 6th-generation Core i7 (Skylake)||Up to 7th-generation Core i7 (Kaby Lake)|
|Internal Storage||Up to 1TB SSD||Up to 1TB SSD|
|RAM||4GB, 8GB or 16GB||4GB, 8GB or 16GB|
|Display||1080p non-touch or QHD+ full touch||1080p non-touch or QHD+ full touch|
|Graphics||Intel HD 520 or Intel Iris 540||Intel HD 620|
|Ports||USB 3.0, 3.5mm jack, SD Card, USB-C Thunderbolt 3||USB 3.0, 3.5mm jack, SD Card, USB-C Thunderbolt 3|
|Colors||Silver, Gold||Silver, Rose Gold|
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the XPS 13 9360 is its upgrade to Intel's 7th-generation Kaby Lake processors. Though mostly seen as a relatively minor refinement of the 6th-generation Skylake processors that inhabited the XPS 13 9350, the move to Kaby Lake does bring its advantages.
As you'd expect, Kaby Lake should brings modest bump in general performance across the board. Where that should be particularly noticeable is with graphics-intensive tasks thanks to the improved integrated Intel HD Graphics 620. In other words, if you like to do a bit of light gaming on the go, the XPS 13 9360 should provide a decent bump in performance over XPS 13 9350 models equipped with Intel HD Graphics 520. In fact, Intel made quite a show of the fact that its latest integrated graphics can even handle a bout of Overwatch.
Intel's Kaby Lake chips are also billed as being much more efficient at decoding and handling 4K video. While that won't necessarily matter much for powering the HD or QHD+ displays offered with the XPS 13 9360 itself, it's good news for those with a 4K external display.
None of this is to say that the XPS 13 9350 is totally outclassed by its newer sibling. The 9350's Skylake processors should continue humming along quite nicely for some time still. And if you happen to find a substantial discount on the high-end Skylake model equipped with Intel's Iris 540 graphics, it's worth at least considering since they should rival the newer model's graphical power.
On the more minor side of things, the refreshed XPS 13 includes a slightly bigger battery — coming in at 60WHr of capacity. That's compared to the 56WHr battery packed inside of its predecessor, the XPS 13 9350. While it's a pretty small bump, any increase at all is welcome, especially when combined with the greater power efficiency that Kaby Lake should bring. In all, Dell claims that the XPS 13 9360 should net up to 22 hours of battery life when equipped with an FHD screen, while QHD+ models should see around 13 hours.
Wi-Fi performance, which was a sore point for some on the Skylake-powered XPS 13, should also see a nice improvement on the XPS 13 9360. That's thanks to the inclusion of the new Killer Wireless-AC 1535 that should help both speed and connectivity.
Lastly, those looking to add a little more style to their selection will be happy to know the Kaby Lake refresh includes a Rose Gold color option for that familiar exterior. Yes, the XPS 13 9350 included its own Gold color option, but come on: this is Rose Gold. If keeping up with the latest trends in tech aesthetics aren't your thing, however, the standard Silver is available across all configurations.
Which should I buy
As with previous refreshes in the XPS 13 line, it makes the most sense to go with the newest option on the block — in this case, the XPS 13 9360. Not only is it currently your only option if you're ordering direct from Dell's main store, but it just makes more sense to go with newer, faster hardware no matter how small the gains. Factor in the fact that prices remain the same across configurations, and it's hard to argue against going with the XPS 13 9360 over its predecessor.
There are always exceptions, however, and things are no different in this case. Since both models feature the same spectacular Infinity Edge display and exterior design, you won't be missing out on anything from a visual standpoint. Yes, general performance will take a hit, but it should remain adequate for most uses. If you can find an XPS 13 9350 at a significant discount, it's worth considering. However, in most cases, you'll want to go with the newer XPS 13 9360 unless you're able to save a significant sum.