Hands on: Dell XPS 14: a well-balanced thin and light Ultrabook

The Dell XPS 14 could be the next great ultraportable laptop

What is a hands on review?
white laptops
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

Dell's XPS 14 is the superior and more mature sibling to the XPS 13, with a better screen, better specs, better port selection, a revamped webcam and ventilation system, and more. However, there is one aspect it hasn't improved on and that's the inaccessible taskbar and touchpad.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent 3.2K OLED display

  • +

    Great keyboard and speakers

  • +

    Full HD webcam

  • +

    Well-built and light frame

  • +

    Port selection is better than XPS 13

Cons

  • -

    Port selection isn't great

  • -

    Taskbar and touchpad are an accessibility nightmare

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Dell showcased the upcoming releases of its popular XPS line of laptops, including a refresh of the Dell XPS 13 and two new sizes, the 14 and 16-inch. The designs are mainly based on what Dell offered last year, specifically the clean and sleek ultra-modern look that the Dell XPS 13 Plus from 2022 made into the series standard.

As its display is only an inch larger than the 13-inch, it's impressive how much has been improved between the two models from the specs to the display resolution to the port selection and more.

While the 13-inch has an advantage in pure portability, if you want a more well-rounded laptop then the 14-inch is the much better choice due to the superior specs, port selection, and display.

Dell XPS 14: Price and availability

Though the pricing is currently unknown for the Dell XPS 14, we can assume that it would be a bit more expensive than last year's Dell XPS 13 Plus, which went for $1,249.00 / £1,198.99 / AU$2,398. It's Dell's ultrabook line, which means it will command a price point matching that designation.

Availability has also not been confirmed as of now but, with Dell's track record, the XPS 14 will almost assuredly be released in the US, UK, and Australia markets, as well as plenty of other regions and countries.

Dell XPS 14: Design

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Dell XPS 14 specs
ComponentSpec
DisplayUp to 14.5-inch 3.2K+ OLED
CPUUp to Intel Core Ultra 7
GraphicsUp to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
RAMUp to 64GB
StorageUp to 4TB PCIe 4 SSD
Port selection3x Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C), 1x DisplayPort 2.1 Power Delivery, 1x microSD card reader v6.0, 1x 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack, 1x USB-C to USB Type-A v3.0, 1x HDMI v2.0 adapter
Weight1.68kg (3.7lbs.) for FHD+; 1.74kg (3.8lbs) for OLED
Dimensions12.6 x 8.5 x 0.71 inches; 320 x 216 x 18 mm (WxDxH)

The design is a slightly updated version of the Dell XPS 13 Plus from 2022, which cemented what the ultrabook line would look like since then. The Dell XPS 14's chassis is made from machined aluminum with Gorilla Glass 3 for the touchpad. It comes in two colors, Platinum or Graphite, which are normally standard palettes that have been heightened by the lovely finishes enhancing the aesthetic.

It weighs less than four pounds and feels even lighter, close to how little the XPS 13 feels. This could easily be one of the best thin and light laptops, made to be carried around freely and fit into most bags.

Opening the laptop, the 3.2K resolution OLED display is what pops out first with crisp and bright visuals. This is one of the top features of the XPS series and the XPS 14 doesn't disappoint in the slightest. Its distinctive keyboard is stunning, a sleek marvel that wastes nearly zero space, and feels so satisfying to type on to boot. Port selection is still a bit lacking but at least you have access to three Thunderbolt 4 plots and one Type-A USB via an included adapter.

It features speakers on either side of the keyboard, allowing for crisper audio. Thankfully the webcam has been upgraded to 1080p, a glaring omission from past models, and it's a pretty solid quality one. It's been redesigned to fit the thin bezels (complete with a slight notch) while retaining the higher resolution. The ventilation system has also been redesigned to be more efficient, so hopefully it will go the distance once properly tested out.

Unfortunately, the biggest offense design-wise has yet to be addressed: the non-tactile function key touch bar and the invisible touchpad. Both are similar to past models which means they're incredibly stylish to look at but an accessibility nightmare for those with low to no vision. It's a shame since the touchpad is well-made and responsive but a slight ridge to establish boundaries would have been perfect.

Dell XPS 14: Performance

While I wasn't able to test out performance directly through benchmarks, the specs are quite impressive, easily allowing gamers to run some of the best PC games around. Its CPU is the newly announced Intel Core Ultra 7, which is the mainstream model of the AI-enhanced processor line. If the CPU's dedicated neural processing unit is as strong as Intel makes it out to be, then it'll be able to handle a host of new workloads including content creation and editing.

The XPS 14 can also be equipped with up to a Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, an excellent GPU that can handle any of the top AAA titles at high settings without overtaxing your laptop. Only future benchmarking can determine exactly how far this laptop can go, but fingers crossed that it lives up to its impressive specs.

Dell XPS 14: Early verdict

white laptop

(Image credit: Future)

Overall I'm impressed with what Dell is offering this year, as it seems that its refresh has addressed most of the issues we've found in previous iterations of the Dell XPS line. The only exceptions are the touchpad and function taskbar, which are both invisible with no buttons or ridges.

The aesthetics are gorgeous and distinctive as befitting the series, with a great keyboard and incredibly vibrant display. Coupled with a revamped webcam and ventilation system, it finally feels every bit one of the best ultrabooks that it was meant to be.

There are also the upgraded specs, including a CPU from the Meteor Lake line, that should guarantee some excellent performance once it can be properly benchmarked. Hopefully, the Dell XPS 14 will finally surpass the previous models with these enhancements. And maybe someday the non-tactile function key touch bar will be permanently retired.

Allisa James
Computing Staff Writer

Named by the CTA as a CES 2023 Media Trailblazer, Allisa is a Computing Staff Writer who covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, as well as reviews, hands-on previews, featured articles, and the latest deals and trends. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.