The best laptop for us remains the Dell XPS 13 – in the latest version 9370. With its 13 inches and a surprisingly narrow screen frame, it is not only pleasantly small, light and thin, thanks to fast SSD and Intel i7 processor of the current series offers It also has a lot of performance and a great battery life.
Current notebooks are just the universal mobile devices that every notebook owner dreamed of years ago. Thanks to high performance, high-resolution displays and at the same time ever-increasing battery life with low weight, there are finally really mobile devices that can cope with almost any requirement.
This has its price, but for those who use a laptop for work, it is worth the purchase. We took a closer look at four current models.
Short overview: Our recommendations for 2019
Here are the 4 best laptops for 2019
Dell XPS 13 9370
The overall package brings once again the test victory to the Dell XPS 13 in the new version number 9370. In comparison to its predecessor, not much has changed, which means nothing negative. The manufacturer has updated the processor to the latest Intel Core generation, which works a little faster and thus provides more than enough power for productive everyday life.
There are new color variations such as rose gold and alpine white. The battery life remains high despite a smaller battery and is enough for a complete working day. In short: The Dell XPS 13 is and remains an all-round successful notebook.
Asus Zenbook UX330UA
With comparable equipment a good deal cheaper than our favorite is the Asus Zenbook UX330UA . It also has a QHD display and a generously sized SSD. The processor is the same as the Dell XPS 13 , which is why it has enough computing power. In fact, the memory of the Zenbook is twice as large as the test winner. But the battery is weaker and the integrated HDMI port is not available in the version 2.0. This means that 4K movies only flicker over external monitors at stuttering 30 hertz.
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon is designed more for the business sector, but the comprehensive revision of the case, the device can visually unlock its competitors. The lush equipment even includes twice Thunderbolt 3 in addition to HDMI and regular USB ports. Even a WWAN module is integrated to insert a SIM card and connect to the Internet via a mobile data plan. The built-in hardware is similar to the alternatives listed above, which is why the Thinkpad does not lose its way even in productive everyday life.
Apple MacBook Pro 13
The MacBook Pro without Touchbar also receives a current processor from Intel. For everyday life, the chic, high-quality processed MacBook Pro may be quite suitable, but the tasks are a bit more demanding, then the device runs out of breath quite quickly, while the single (!) Fan starts annoying loud noise. There are no innovations in the connections, because Apple continues to rely exclusively on two times Thunderbolt 3 – an adapter for other devices is almost mandatory. After all, the battery life has improved compared to the previous models and can catch up to the competition listed here.
Not only faster but more economical too
The update of the Intel processors with the code name Kaby Lakedoes not provide for massive performance boosts, but they work more efficient efficiently. They still support UHD video formats without generating much load and consuming power. A maximum of 15 watts take the common chips with the U-appendage in the name – under full load. If, for example, only a high-resolution video is watched, it is even significantly less.
Such economical chips require neither costly cooling nor oversized batteries, which causes the housing sizes to shrink. Quite silent, this does not work in contrast to the weaker Core-m processors, but in most usage situations, nothing is heard even in the chic, flat current notebooks.
Display is more important than processor
SSD storage is part of every new notebook, but if the operating system is started from a hard disk instead, it feels as good as any work on the notebook – anyone who has ever experienced the difference will never want to do without an SSD ,
Great leaps in computing power are not expected in the processors in the coming years. Therefore, the quality of the display is the most important criterion for a new acquisition at the moment if you want to have fun with the device in the long term. Handy ultrabooks with 13-inch diagonal display should resolve at least with 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, even more brilliant image appears on notebooks with ultra-high-resolution QHD displays with 3200 x 1800 pixels. Thanks to the display scaling of Windows 10, even tiny icons and fonts are no longer to be feared.
For this reason, the MacBook Air , which we have long favored as the best laptop for most, is no longer recommended. With the MacBook Air, Apple had founded the division of small, lightweight laptops and breathed new life into the weakening notebook market. The Windows world had nothing to oppose for a long time. Neither in terms of price or performance nor build quality was the MacBook Air for years, no one enough water. This has changed fundamentally in recent years.
Apple has finally improved
While the Windows counterparts have continued to catch up technically, Apple has neglected its laptops the last few years criminally. Not only the MacBook Air, but also the MacBook Pro was hardly or not updated for years. Fortunately, that has changed again, especially in the battery life of the new Macbook Pro Apple has improved a lot. Nice and bitterly needed was the update to the current Intel CPU architecture. But you have to get used to the still very high prices.
That Apple on the MacBook Pro fully relies on USB-C and has deleted all other ports, however, has for the Californian tradition: Apple has always been very brave in cutting off old technology braids. Many are likely to have fewer problems than the loud outcry of the technology press would suggest, because in times of wireless communication, most use the connections only rarely or not at all.
Apple had to plug in the Macbook much criticism
The biggest criticism of the first MacBook Pro came from Apple’s regular customers. Because the MacBook Pro may be a worthy successor to the MacBook Air or the MacBook, but for professional users it was simply not “pro” enough: they not only lack other ports, they would also like to have more power and, above all, more RAM under the hood – no matter what the price.
For less demanding users, the MacBook Pro is rather expensive for what it offers. Since you get now in the Windows world more power at a lower price.
Dell offers the XPS 13, an adequate and much cheaper Windows counterpart to the MacBook, which is getting better every year. But Asus also has a great ultrabook in its range with the Zenbook, and Lenovo continues to serve the business market very successfully with the Thinkpad X1.
Our current test winner is the Dell XPS 13 9370 with Intel Core i7-8550U with 16 gigabytes of RAM, an SSD with 512 gigabytes of memory and a Full HD display.
Dell XPS 13 9370
Even if you have to take a closer look to see the differences to the predecessor Dell XPS 13 9360, the manufacturer has changed some things. Sometimes for the better, but sometimes also for the negative.
Nevertheless, the new Dell XPS 13 9370 also remains among the test winners, because there are hardly any comparable notebooks that offer this build quality, battery life and performance in such a compact format.
Connections and screen
In terms of interfaces, Dell has taken a drastic step. Like Apple’s MacBook Pro, Dell only uses USB Type-C on the 9370 model , the much smaller connector that is about to replace the traditional Type A port.
Three sockets are available, two of which are equipped with the Thunderbolt 3 standard: These interfaces not only charge the notebook battery, but also enable the image output to two 4K monitors via a single connection. In addition, rapid transfer rates of up to 40 gigabits per second are possible. Even USB 3.1 Gen 2 comes “only” to a maximum of 10 gigabits per second.
Dell uses only USB Type-C
But the news also fall victim to the conventional, widespread USB Type A ports. If you want to connect a USB flash drive or an external hard drive, you will need an adapter – which is always supplied as standard by Dell. Storage media with Type C plugs are not yet widespread, even though the trend towards the newer standard is becoming ever clearer.
Also with the memory card reader there are innovations. That is the Dell XPS 13 9370 namely also shrunk and can only record micro SD memory cards. The predecessor made it possible to insert normal sized memory cards.
This change leaves us rather zwiegespalten back, because who wants to move his pictures from the camera on the notebook, must now fall back on an adapter card. However, a 3.5-millimeter jack connection is still on board.
In order for devices in this device class to stay as slim as they are known, the Gigabit Ethernet port usually has to give way – as with the Dell. But thanks to fast Wi-Fi technologies, this is no longer absolutely necessary, which is why we do not think it’s a bad thing about the Dell XPS 13.
If you need even more connections, you should take a look at our business alternative, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon . In addition to regular USB Type-A sockets, it also offers Thunderbolt 3, HDMI and a full-fledged network connection.
A trend is gaining ground: even small notebooks are getting higher and higher resolutions. The Asus Zenbook UX330UAdissolves, for example, with 3,200 x 1,800 pixels with a screen diagonal of 13 inches. The new Dell XPS 13 9370 is even available with an Ultra HD display (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) at extra cost. This results in a fantastic pixel density and extremely sharp images. The UHD model we did not have in the test.
Dell manages to make the screen frame even narrower than its predecessor, making the XPS 13 much more portable than other 13-inch notebooks – without sacrificing comfort. The display edge now measures only four millimeters, which is 23 percent thinner than the previous model.
In order to give the screen the necessary stability, Dell now generally uses a glass pane – regardless of which display variant. This provides unsightly reflections that can interfere with work. Although the high brightness of the screen still makes up for this, it is of course also draining the battery life.
Nevertheless, we can certainly praise the screen. Touch capabilities are available at an additional cost, so that the notebook can not only be operated classically via trackpad, but also directly on the screen. While this is not absolutely necessary with a notebook, many still find a touchscreen more practical than, say, the MacBook Pro’s TouchBar – but that’s a matter of taste.
Touch screen is available at an additional cost, but also without convinced the screen
Otherwise, the display impresses: The narrow bezel gives the impression of looking at an almost borderless screen. This has the consequence that the image area acts larger. Thanks to the IPS panel, the colors are very intense and the contrasts are above average, and the viewing angle stability is consistently high.
Intel is equipping the new Dell XPS 13 9370 with a current and redesigned Core i-Generation Kaby Lake processor. Our test device is equipped with the Intel Core i7-8550U. The choice is also the cheaper, but somewhat power-reduced Core i5-8250U. The new i7 is the direct successor to the Intel Core i7-7500U from its predecessor, however, the new version is equipped with four instead of two cores. Thanks to further improvements under the hood, the chip makes up to four gigahertz.
Otherwise, everything is as usual when you compare the CPU with the predecessor. He masters modern video skills and the liquid 4K output via Thunderbolt. This allows you to play H.265 high resolution video with minimal processor load. Advantage: The battery is much less stressed, the laptop gets less hot and the fan has to work less.
Compared to the previous Dell XPS 13 9360, the manufacturer has reworked the cooling system: Inside, two instead of one fan are performing their services and additional insulation called “Gore Thermal Insulation” has been withdrawn. This leads the waste heat of the hardware better and is to avoid single, hot spots (hotspots).
New processor with even more power
The result of the extended benchmark of PC Mark 10 shows us with a result of 2.779 points that even more demanding home work such as the editing of photo collections the processor just as little overwhelming as extensive tables. Only in terms of rendering and visualization, the CPU reaches its limits, even worse values, there are only in the gaming category. The integrated graphics solution in the form of the Intel Graphics UHD 620 is simply too weak for serious gambling. However, Dell does not target gamers with the XPS 13, so these results are negligible.
If the CPU and graphics unit are heavily stressed at the same time, the Dell XPS 13 9370, despite the revised cooling, will be noticeably warm, if not annoying. In view of the slim design, but that is definitely to get over. However, we have to mention that during our test runs the CPU temperature climbed several times to 98 degrees Celsius and in some cases a thermal throttling occurred: Here the processor shuts down the clock to avoid damage from overheating. That’s why the performance drops too. Too often this does not happen in everyday life – our test scenarios are above average demanding.
And what about the fan noise? The fans hold back so well at low load that they are not audible. Under load, they turn up, but manage to not quite as loud as its predecessor. However, the best CPU is useless if the mass storage is the bottleneck and a slow hard drive fights with the flood of data of the operating system. As a result, Dell, like Asus, Apple and Lenovo, is counting on a fast SSD.
The model version available to us had 512 gigabytes of SSD memory available. This was the space-saving M.2 model Toshiba, which is not limited by the SATA interface, but is connected via PCIe. The drive achieves read speeds of more than 1,600 megabytes per second.
Mobility and feel
The Dell XPS 13 in the current version 9370 is one of the smallest 13-inch notebooks, which is mainly due to the very narrow display frame. And in fact, the manufacturer has managed to make the notebook even thinner with regard to the last model: At the thickest point we measure only 1.16 centimeters, previously it was 1.5 centimeters.
No one has to do without key comfort, the keys have a noticeable lift and are not too small, even for prolific typists. Practical is the backlight of the keyboard, which we think could be a bit more intense. The large touchpad also works reliably and provides good feedback.
At only 1.2 kilograms, the notebook has become even lighter and therefore hardly noticeable on the go. Nevertheless, the Dell XPS 13 9370 is sufficiently sturdily built to be used on the legs instead of on a table – this is where combo devices, such as the Microsoft Surface with its display dock as a lab-worn keyboard, reach their limits. The device has a robust feel thanks to the manufacturer’s choice of materials. The case was milled from an aluminum block, which adds elegance and robustness to the notebook’s outsides. On the other hand, the edging and the palm rest are made of braided carbon fibers, which, despite their low weight, are very hard-wearing.
Thinner, lighter and more mobile
The new model is now also available in two new color versions: one in rose gold like our test device, or in alpine white. The classic platinum gray is also still to choose from.
Like the predecessor, the new XPS 13 also has the webcam placed at the bottom of the screen. This has the advantage that the upper edge of the screen can be built as narrow as the sides, but the disadvantage that one is rather unfavorably photographed from below in video chat.
The webcam supports Windows Hello and so the notebook can only be unlocked via face recognition. In addition, there is a fingerprint sensor, which the manufacturer has placed in the power button of the device. By the way, it shows high detection rates and fast reaction times, so a certain protection of the data is guaranteed.
Dell set new records for battery life with the predecessor of the current XPS 13. For simple text work and Internet browsing with a screen brightness of 40 percent, the device lasted a whopping 15 hours – despite the high-resolution screen!
With the new model 9370, the battery capacity drops from 60 to 52 watt-hours. Do users now have to accept a shorter stamina? No, because in the same test scenario, the laptop still has a proud 14 hours. So compromises do not have to be made here.
The battery life is still hard to beat and even if the tasks are demanding, the battery does not have to hide despite reduced capacity. If many actions are combined, the XPS 13 9370 still lasts just under six hours – the screenshot from the battery test of PC Mark 8 proves that. The reasons for this are the revised power management of the processor and the lower resolution screen.
To survive an entire working day without recharging the battery is also possible with the new version of the Dell XPS 13.
Compared to its predecessor, unfortunately, there are some more things that we noticed negatively. Apart from the glossy display, which is difficult to work in a very bright environment, we do not quite agree with the complete abandonment of conventional USB Type-A sockets. It’s just annoying to have to plug in an adapter for a simple USB stick. Also, the switch from a regular memory card reader to a micro-SD variant annoys the user more than he benefits him.
Dell XPS 13 9370 in the eyes of experts
Computerbase highlights the processing and runtime of the Full HD model:
The new Dell XPS 13 (9370) is an excellent notebook, as long as it is purchased in the right configuration, depending on the application. Whoever has the longest possible runtime should, as far as possible, use the Full HD version, which is a nearly perfect mobile companion. […] Regardless of the hardware configuration and the display, the very good input devices and the excellent workmanship are to be considered.
Although the keyboard and touchpad have not been changed in comparison to the 9360, this is precisely what makes it possible to say how well the input devices beat over a long period of time – and that is excellent.
Expert Nicolas La Rocco is like us also not too big a fan of the changed interfaces:
USB Type C is undoubtedly the future, but in the everyday life of ComputerBase, USB Type A and SD cards still play a significant role, be it the fast transfer of photos or the transfer of data from a USB stick. However, these application examples are decreasing and they certainly do not play any role with a customer base that is certainly not small.
In the extensive testing by Notebookcheck, performance and cooling are valued among other things. Interested buyers, however, are advised to buy the cheaper model with Full HD screen:
The system performance and power delivery of the quad-core ULV processor is very good. The new cooling works well, and the fans are not too loud. In everyday life, one often has to do with a silent or very quiet device. […] Which model should one take, if one is interested in the XPS 13? We were already able to test both display variants, and if you do not need the touch screen or the 4K resolution, you can relax and enjoy the normal Full HD model.
The brightness is a bit lower (but still very good), but the other readings are comparable. However, there is a massive difference, because the 4K model requires significantly more power and does not nearly reach the lifetime of our Full HD device in the practical battery tests.
The test report from Techradar (03/2018) stated:
Moving the webcam, adding facial recognition, a 4-microphone array, giving the Intel CPU even more room to grow, and integrating a 4K display make the XPS an even more impressive notebook flagship. By tailoring the Dell XPS 13 to customer needs, Dell has improved the device even more than ever before.
Other Good Options
Even though we came to the conclusion that the Dell XPS 13 9370 is currently the best notebook for most, there are competing products that are also highly recommended. Sometimes there are differences in detail, but not everyone must bother.
Asus Zenbook UX330UA
If the Dell notebook is too expensive, but you do not want to do without a QHD display, then the Asus Zenbook UX330UA-FB162T is a good alternative.
Asus equips the Zenbook with an outstanding QHD display and installs a fast 256-gigabyte SSD. In addition, a slightly older, but still fast i7 processor is used, which is why the device does not run out of steam too quickly in demanding applications. In fact, the system with 16 GB of DDR3 has the same amount of RAM as the Dell XPS 13 9370. The display is also dull and less sensitive to bright environments, but has no touch functionality.
However, the Asus Zenbook is a bit heavier and larger than the Dell laptop. It is also striking that the integrated battery with 57 watt hours is slightly smaller than the test winner and thus less enduring away from sockets.
But those who do not mind these criticisms will get a good alternative to the test winner and can save even a few dollars.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon
For business travelers who also need to be productive on the go, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon is ideal . Thanks to many, integrated connections you hardly have to resort to adapters. Worth mentioning is also the full network connection!
Above all, the notebooks of the Thinkpad X series want to be robust and reliable workhorses. Unlike the other in-house business models, Lenovo has also worked hard on the look and materials for the laptop case. Because, as the name suggests, a carbon fiber reinforced chassis is used, which proves to be extremely resistant, yet lightweight. In terms of design, the manufacturer relies on a simple appearance – the two laptops mentioned above come here, therefore, much nobler.
Due to the carbon fiber case, the Lenovo X1 Carbon is even lighter than our 1.3 kilogram test winner from Dell despite a slightly larger screen size of 14 inches: It weighs just 1.2 kilograms! In terms of dimensions, it ranks between the Dell XPS 13 9370 and the Asus Zenbook . Anyone who works mainly with their notebook will also appreciate the high quality of the input devices: the keyboard, glass touchpad and trackpoint are first-class and also outdo the input devices of our test winner. The lush equipment is rounded off by a so-called WWAN module, which receives SIM cards to use the Internet via a mobile data plan on the go.
In the X-Series, the battery capacity compared to other models even grown and is now 57 watt-hours, just like the Asus Zenbook. Thus, the running time is pretty respectable and you have a full eight hours with activated Wi-Fi and adjusted screen brightness. However, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon can not match the endurance of the test winner.
Apple MacBook Pro 13
Also, Apple updates the CPU in the MacBook Pro on the Kaby Lake generation. This is also suitable for demanding tasks, however, the chip heats up quite quickly and the performance drops. In addition, the SSD offers only 128 gigabytes of space – the three competitors in this test offer twice the capacity with 256 gigabytes. For everyday use, the laptop is quite suitable.
With the abandonment of all ports except USB-C Apple once again takes a bold step forward. Most of them will not bother you, but those who often connect other devices need adapters. The most painful is certainly the renunciation of the great MagSafe power connection, which many have loved.
It is also pleasing that Apple has improved the battery life of the current MacBook Pro. With a 54.5 watt-hour battery is the smallest capacity in this comparison, but it depends on the interaction with the operating system (here MacOS). Because the runtime can finally connect back to old successes, since it is over 11 hours (with activated Wi-Fi and adjusted display brightness). In the older versions of the device made much faster limp.
On the smart Touchbar you have to do without this model. But unfortunately, the second fan is missing: Only one provides for the necessary cooling of the processor, and also turns on clearly audible. This is also accompanied by a certain loss of performance, because the chip throttles its performance for self-protection. For less complex applications like surfing the Internet or word processing, the fan is quiet.
Who wants to call the version with a touchbar its own, must in comparison with this MacBook version about $500 more on the table. At the same time, the buyer also gets a faster processor, an improved graphics unit, a larger SSD and two additional Thunderbolt ports.
Surprising is the fact that the MacBook Pro without a touchbar iscomparatively cheap and does not fall out of the ordinary . Apple fans may therefore confidently access, provided the criticisms are to get over.