While not a Mac killer, the Dell XPS 14 is nonetheless a stylish refreshment in its own right.

XPS 14 Dell (2024)

The year 2024 A 14.5-inch work laptop with a redesigned lattice-free keyboard—that is, without spaces between each key—the Dell XPS 14 is a fresh addition to the XPS range.

Along with a revised screen bezel and a shrunk-down webcam, the XPS series now has a solid unibody aluminum chassis, a Piezo haptic touchpad integrated into the palm rest and finished with a soft-touch texture.

Beginning at $1,699, the XPS 14 comes with 512GB of storage, 16GB of LPDDR5x RAM running at 6400 MHz, and a 14.5-inch, 1920 x 1200, 60Hz IPS display. An integrated Arc graphics and an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPU are standard features on all version.

The variant we tested features 1TB of storage, 32GB of LPDDR5x RAM clocked at 7467 MHz, an optional 120Hz OLED screen, and a separate mobile Nvidia RTX 4050 graphics card—albeit it’s limited to a maximum power of just 30 watts. Buyers can have up to 64GB of RAM overall and storage capacities of up to 4TB for $400 extra. Dell sells the XPS 14 and 16 in graphite or platinum; we looked at the latter.

Dell XPS 14 (2024) specs

The Dell XPS 14 base configuration starts at $1,699 and includes 16GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage, and an IPS display.

 

  • Price as configured: $2,699
  • Processor: Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, 16 cores, 22 threads, boost clock up to 4.8GHz
  • Graphics: Nvidia RTX 4050 6GB mobile (discrete, 30-watt maximum), Intel Arc integrated graphics
  • RAM: 32GB LPDDR5x at 7467 MHz (soldered)
  • Storage: 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 solid state drive
  • Display: 14.5-inch 3200 x 2000 OLED 120Hz, capacitive touchscreen
  • Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.4
  • Ports: 3 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) with power delivery and DisplayPort out, 1 x microSDXC card reader (v6.0), 1 x 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
  • Battery: 6-Cell, 69.5Whr
  • Camera: 1080p at 30 fps FHD RGB-IR camera, Windows Hello compatible
  • Weight: 3.9 pounds (1.77 kilograms)
  • Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.5 x .71 inches
  • Special features: Borderless Piezo haptic touchpad with Gorilla Glass surface, integrated fingerprint reader, included USB-C to USB-A and HDMI adapter, VESA DisplayHDR 500-rated display
  • Warranty: 1-year hardware and software support with onsite diagnosis

What we like

The Dell XPS 14 laptop opened to display a web browser on screen on a table outdoors next to a cup of iced coffee.
Gorilla Glass covers above and below the keyboard, including the excellent touchpad, and contributes to the laptop’s sturdy feel.

 

It is superbly engineered and incredibly robust

With regard to XPS line build quality, Dell has always gone above and beyond, and the XPS 14 is no exception. Gorilla Glass covers the palm rest, touchpad region, and touch bar below the screen both above and below the keyboard on the aluminum chassis. Since all of this glass weighs the XPS 14 more than rivals at over 4 pounds, there is therefore almost no flex anywhere on the laptop, even when attempting to wriggle the screen.

The new trackpad is amazing; it simulates a click with Piezo motors rather than actual buttons. Six inches wide makes it big, easy for fingers to move around, and it has what looks to be flawless palm rejection. Because the bezels surrounding the screen are so thin, Dell has managed to squeeze a 14.5-inch screen into a 13-inch laptop.

Thank goodness, webcam quality hasn’t suffered as a result. I got test video that looks decent for a laptop webcam and keeps my face properly exposed even with a bright window and lamp right behind me. Though I did notice some chromatic aberration, or vivid fringing, around the margins of some items, including my hair, the colors also appear to be fairly realistic. There are functional onboard microphones, so I wouldn’t feel bad taking a Zoom call for work from this laptop.

My spudger tools nearly broke trying to remove the bottom cover (after loosening eight T5 torque screws) because of how tightly everything fit and finished. Should it come to it, replacing a dead fan should be simple because every other component is similarly fastened in with T5 torque screws once inside. Unfortunately, the RAM and Wi-Fi card are soldered down, even though the storage is upgradeable.

Elegant even are the new color choices. Richness and depth as well as a hint of reflection are features of the graphite colorway that are sadly absent from the M3 Apple MacBook Pro’s basic aluminum surface. Still, it draws fingerprints like crazy. Fingerprints immediately covered the rear of our test unit, and a microfiber wipe could not get them off.

The new keyboard is really rather nice

I was first dubious of the new keyboard, which jams every key into a single, unbroken block, having previously owned a Dell XPS 13 without the Plus. That all vanished the moment I actually began typing on the XPS 14.

I found the layout immediately familiar, and on the Monkeytype typing test, I averaged 92 words per minute and 97% accuracy, which is comparable to my daily 8Bitdo Retro Mechanical Keyboard. Every key depresses with a gratifying tactile sensation, and it depresses the same wherever you press on the keycap. The keys are gently curved—Dell claims a.3 mm indent—so much so that they are almost undetectable to the unaided eye yet nonetheless direct your fingertips into the center of each keycap.

It’s cool and quiet

One thing never changed, no matter how rigorously we stress tested the XPS 14: this is a quiet, cool laptop that you can use in bed or on your bare legs without worrying about overheating. Dell moved most of the cooling to the space beneath the touchbar and eliminated all of the air vents from the bottom of the device. In this way, the palmrest, keyboard, and underside stay cool to the touch.

Under typical use, the XPS 14 operates remarkably quietly as well. Even with the MyDell software’s Performance mode profile turned on, which unlocked maximum performance, the noise level was about that of a desktop air cooler. Neither did the fans ever take off without warning.

The insides of the XPS 14 can get hot even though it does a fantastic job of keeping its outside cool. Though it didn’t greatly affect our results, we did observe that the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H CPU frequently soared up to 105 degrees Celsius and heat throttled. Only the different versions of M1/M2/M3-powered MacBook Pros and the XPS 16 topped the XPS 14, which, at least in terms of processor, placed close to the top of our productivity laptop rankings overall.

Respectable scores were achieved by the XPS 14 on the single-core and multicore Cinebench R23 tests, which artificially strains the CPU to create a picture. The XPS 16, which has the same Core 7 155H processor, scored 1703 and 17873 on the same tests, respectively, probably because of the stronger cooling system.

Similar results were obtained on our Geekbench 6 single and multicore tests, where the XPS 14 placed in the top 10 for the former with scores of 1671 and 12191, respectively. The XPS 14 will not let you down whether you need strong multicore performance for data processing, database management, or extensive video editing. Just not the quickest gadget available at the moment.

Good speakers and screen

Dell keeps going above and beyond with the panels and audio on its laptops. Despite not quite reaching the brightness ratings of the 120Hz OLED panel on our review unit (we measured a maximum brightness of 384 nits in SDR versus the 400 nits the panel is rated for and 413 nits with HDR enabled, falling short of the 500 nits promised), it has good contrast, color accuracy, and motion clarity. With 260 pixels per inch of pixel density, the 3200 x 2000 resolution allows you to hide individual pixels even when your face is pressed up to the screen.

Even though the OLED screen doesn't quite hit its brightness claim, the display delivers stunning visuals.
Even though the OLED screen doesn’t quite hit its brightness claim, the display delivers stunning visuals.

 

TV series and movies look great, and games seem swift and responsive because to the almost instantaneous pixel reaction times (how fast a pixel changes from one color to another). Given that other rivals use the same Samsung Display panel, this is all to be anticipated. Dell includes a touch digitizer within their OLED panel, but it’s not that helpful if you don’t use touch input all that much. Conversely, the digitizer layer provides a little obnoxious moire appearance over everything and is evident from around 8 inches distant. Still, most people are probably not going to ever see this.

Supporting Dolby Atmos and 3D stereo sound, the XPS 14 has four speakers that put out a total of 8 watts. To be really honest, these are probably the nicest speakers I’ve ever heard on a Windows laptop, although Apple still has superior laptop audio quality than Dell.

I put my M2 MacBook Pro 14 to the test side by side with the XPS 14. For its size, the XPS 14 produces remarkably good sound, has a lovely, expansive soundstage, and can reach maximum volume without distorting. Still, the discrepancies are evident even at respectable volume levels. On the XPS 14, Janelle Monáe’s voice on The Age of Pleasure sounds a little thin and tinny, and the Afrobeats with a nod to the 1970s are anemic and occasionally difficult to hear because of the lack of bass.

The vocals in Mitski’s Laurel Hell sound compressed and the resonant twang of the guitar in songs like “Working for the Knife” blends in with the background noise. While the MacBook does not have any of these flaws, that does not mean the XPS produces poor audio. Just outclassed, but most people will find it to be more than adequate for gaming or movie watching.

What we don’t like

Many of the optional upgrades don't justify the price increases.
Many of the optional upgrades don’t justify the price increases.

 

It’s not worth the money to upgrade

The XPS 14 laptop costs a lot, even with the most basic setup ($1,699), and the many upgrades don’t always make the high prices worth it.

Our test unit is pretty much the best Dell has to give, but it doesn’t perform as well as the 2024 XPS 16. The $450 choice to add a dedicated graphics card, the mobile Nvidia RTX 4050, is the worst part. At first glance, this might seem like a nice bonus. After all, an expensive laptop should be able to do everything, even play games when you want to. If I spent more than $2,000 on a laptop, I wouldn’t want to have to buy a different computer just to play games.

The XPS 14 isn’t advertised as a gaming machine, but the results we got are still not good. Even though the RTX 4050 is already a weak GPU, it can only handle 30 watts of power. Its game performance was about the same as the entry-level 2024 Lenovo LOQ with an Intel Arc A530m graphics card. The extra cost isn’t worth it, but we’ve seen it on sale for as little as $100 more, so it might be.

Even though it wasn’t in our test suite for gaming computers, Baldur’s Gate 3 was just plain impossible to play. The game would go back and forth between 25 and 60 frames per second (fps), even with the power profile set to performance mode, medium settings, and DLSS upscaling turned on and set to performance. There were times when the frame rate dropped to single digits, and the sound would stutter and blur. This didn’t get better when the size was changed to 1920 x 1200 or when the shaders were cached.

On the high-resolution OLED screen, the settings looked dark, moody, and colorful enough, but you can’t play this. The test spot for the game was in Act 1’s Underdark, near the Myconid colony. Later acts are only harder.

The price of the excellent jack-of-all-trades XPS 14 will keep it out of most people’s budget

Better still, Cyberpunk 2077 scored 36 frames per second at 1080p with ultra settings enabled and 58 frames per second at the native 3200 x 2000 resolution with DLSS enabled in performance mode. That is playable and the game looks rather nice even though it doesn’t take use of the 120Hz panel on the XPS 14. A similar tale was told for Horizon Zero Dawn, which averaged 32 frames per second at ultra settings on 1080p and 57 frames per second at ultra settings when DLSS was turned on at the laptop’s native resolution.

Get a gaming laptop if you want to play games at their best. With its $1,600 Nvidia RTX 4060 GPU and same 120Hz OLED panel, the 2024 Asus ROG Zephyrus G16 outperforms the XPS in every game we tested. The XPS 14 is an expensive option if you require a dedicated GPU in your productivity laptop or are an architect or designer and want an all-in-one that can game occasionally.

Worse, Dell hides quicker RAM choices beneath the RTX 4050 option. Your choices, without it, are 64GB of 7467MHz RAM for $1,000 extra, or 16 or 32GB of 6400MHz DDR5 RAM. Options for 7467MHz 16GB and 32GB RAM are available when the dedicated GPU is chosen. Although in actual use this would only result in a minor performance increase, it’s disheartening because Dell solders the RAM onto the motherboard in an effort to maximize speed and forbids upgrades after purchase.

The touch bar is gimmicky, even destructive

I can’t stand the way the Dell touch bar is implemented on the XPS 14 and 16, even though I’m a fervent supporter of the MacBook Pro touch bar (RIP). Dell has pushed the function keys, Esc, home, end, insert, and delete up to a digital touch bar below the screen, rather than using that area for a row of secondary actions that alter based on the circumstance. It just feels horrible to try to press the escape key by touch and then miss, and you can’t remap or rearrange the touchbar’s key placements.

Eliminating a dedicated delete key will probably make your workflow worse if you write and edit on your laptop on a daily basis. When you would normally use the function row, such as to refresh a webpage or use the shortcuts for fast saving and loading in games like the Fallout series or Baldur’s Gate 3, using the fn key seems strange.

Without sacrificing key size, several laptops such as the Lenovo ThinkPad P14s Gen 4 and the 2024 Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 maintain a physical row of secondary and media control keys at the top of the keyboard. Just seems gimmicky, the touch bar.

There must be contour of the seamless trackpad

The touchpad of the XPS 14 is snappy, feels fantastic to glide across, and has almost flawless palm rejection, but I wish Dell had highlighted its edges.

About six inches across, the trackpad is broader than you would think and fits into the chassis so well that it even feels the same. That makes scrolling at the edges and crossing over without meaning to simple. Even if it marred the tidy finish, some form of marker—even a simple graphic—would have been welcome.

Mediocre battery life

With the proviso that they tested the XPS 14 at 150 nits with the 1080p IPS panel, Dell claims over 21 hours of battery life on the product page. The XPS 14 lasted for eight hours and forty-one minutes in our own battery test, which rotates between a number of Google Chrome tabs with the display set to 200 nits of brightness. While not really remarkable, that is quite acceptable.

Had the laptop been lighter and thinner than rivals, that “just okay” battery life might be simpler to accept. Compared to a MacBook Pro or an Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, which both last significantly longer on a charge, it is almost a tenth of an inch thicker and almost half pound heavier.

Should you buy the Dell XPS 14 (2024)?

The Dell XPS 14 is a welcome reinvention of the product line, but at MSRP is outclassed by competitors. Snag it when it's on sale.
The Dell XPS 14 is a welcome reinvention of the product line, but at MSRP is outclassed by competitors. Snag it when it’s on sale.

 

Yes, but wait until there’s a deal

There are better laptops available right now than the 2024 XPS 14. It lacks class-leading battery life, isn’t the quickest, smallest, or lightest device available. For a price, this excellent jack-of-all-trades can usually accomplish anything you need it to.

However, if you want improvements like an OLED screen, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage, that particular cost is frequently close to over $2,000. The M3 MacBook Pro, which is lighter, smaller, and has almost double the battery life of the XPS 14, really beats it even at its lowest configuration of $1,799. Power-wise, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 will cost you $1,600, or about $1,400 on sale, and have the same OLED panel, longer battery life, and a real graphics card you can game on.

Though Framework doesn’t yet offer an OLED panel option, even speccing out a Framework Laptop 13 or Laptop 16 with all of the best upgrade options—both of which are intrinsically more expensive due to their modular systems and smaller manufacturer size—will cost you less than a maxed out XPS 14.

That puts the XPS 14 in a dangerous situation. It’s not a terrific deal at MSRP, which is unfortunate because, while it’s not a MacBook killer, Dell has created a pretty good all-around laptop for most people. As of right now, the setup we tested has fluctuated in price and is currently available for $2,199 ($500 reduction) or, if you just want 16GB of RAM, $1,999. Consider the XPS 14 if Dell keeps cutting costs and you can get a configuration you like at a reasonable price.

 

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