Dell XPS 14z: 14” LCD in a 13.3” Form Factor

When we reviewed the XPS 15z early last month, we found a laptop that got a lot of things right, so the hardly-secret follow-up XPS 14z certainly garnered a spot on our radar. Dell agreed to send us a pre-release unit for the official launch, and we received it last week and spent most of the interim benchmarking and testing the laptop. There are plenty of areas where the 14z continues the 15z legacy, and in some ways it’s a better laptop. There are also areas where we feel the 14z falls short of what we’d like to see from Dell’s XPS brand—areas where it’s more like Inspiron than XPS.

Dell is officially announcing the XPS 14z today, with ordering availability scheduled for November 1 in the US; worldwide availability will occur November 15. There will be four primary configurations available at that point, though we’re not sure how much customization will be available. Here’s a rundown of the four US-bound configurations with their pricing.

Dell XPS 14z US Launch Configurations
Processor i5-2430M i5-2430M i7-2640M i7-2640M
Hard drive 500GB 750GB 750GB 256GB SSD
Memory 6GB DDR3 8GB DDR3 8GB DDR3 8GB DDR3
Graphics Intel HD 3000 NVIDIA 520M 1GB NVIDIA 520M 1GB NVIDIA 520M 1GB
Price $999 $1199 $1299 $1599

 We received an early sample of the base $999 model, though the memory configuration changed between the time the system was assembled and the above final specs. Our test unit has 4GB RAM compared to the 6GB that will be shipping; this shouldn’t make a difference for normal usage, but it’s worth noting. As far as we can tell, all models share the same WiFi, DVDRW, and LCD; the CPU, storage, GPU and amount of memory are where they differ.

The base model comes without discrete graphics, while all of the upgraded versions include NVIDIA’s GT 520M. We haven’t had a chance to look at that GPU yet, and we’re actually interested in testing it as it doesn’t seem like it will be much faster than the HD 3000. 48 CUDA cores with a 64-bit DDR3-1600 memory interface (12.8GB/s) is nothing to write home about, and DX11 support is almost meaningless on low end hardware. However, NVIDIA (and AMD) still have better graphics driver support than Intel, so it’s something to consider. We hope to get a second 14z with the upgrade GPU and CPU in for testing to see how it fares, and it looks like Dell will charge about $100 extra for the GPU upgrade.

In terms of the review system, here’s a full list of the components and specifications:

Dell XPS 14z Specifications
Processor Intel Core i5-2430M (dual-core 2.40-3.00GHz, 35W)
Intel Core i7-2640M (dual-core 2.80-3.50GHz, 35W)
Chipset Intel HM67
Memory 4GB (2x2GB DDR3-1333) Pre-Release Sample
6GB (1x4GB + 1x2GB DDR3-1333)
8GB (2x4GB DDR-1333 CL9)
Graphics Intel HD 3000 Graphics (1.2GHz max clock)
NVIDIA GeForce GT 520M 1GB DDR3 (Optional)
Display 14.0” WLED Glossy 16:9 768p (1366x768)
(LG 140WH6)
Hard Drive 500GB 7200RPM HDD(Seagate ST9500423AS)
750GB 7200RPM HDD
Optical Drive 8X Slot-Load DVDRW
Networking Gigabit Ethernet (Atheros AR8151)
802.11n WiFi + Bluetooth 3.0 (Intel Advanced-N 6230)
WiDi 2.0 Ready
Audio Stereo Speakers
Microphone and headphone jacks
Capable of 5.1 digital output (HDMI)
Battery 8-cell, 58Wh
Front Side N/A
Left Side Memory Card Reader
Headphone Jack
Microphone Jack
Exhaust vent
Right Side Battery Life Indicator
Slot-Load Optical Drive
Back Side Kensington Lock
AC Power Connection
Mini DisplayPort
1 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.0
Gigabit Ethernet
Exhaust vent
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 13.19" x 9.21" x 0.9" (WxDxH)
(335mm x 234mm x 23mm)
Weight 4.36 lbs / 1.98kg (8-cell)
Extras 1.3MP HD Webcam w/ dual array microphones
80-Key backlit keyboard
Flash reader (SD, MS, MMC)
MS Office 2010 Starter or Home/Student
65W Power Adapter
Warranty 1-year standard warranty
2- and 3-year extended warranties available
Pricing Review Configuration MSRP: $999
Availability US: Nov. 1; Worldwide: Nov. 15

Dell packs in pretty much everything most users will need, including a single USB 3.0 Super Speed port on the back. (I’m not sure why they include only one SS port, given the second USB port is right next to it.) The inclusion of an optical drive in such a thin laptop also warrants mention. Our test unit is the base model, so we don’t have the GeForce GT 520M added to the mix, but that upgrade is available should you want it. Display connectivity is also reasonable, with a mini DisplayPort and a full size HDMI port on the back of the laptop.

Dell XPS 14z: Almost Like an Ultrabook
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  • ggathagan - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Thank you!
    People seem to forget that one of the leverage points users have is staying away in droves if the product stinks.
    The same goes for 16:9 resolution screens.
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    Same here. I've become bored with laptop reviews where I feel it's been a waste of my time reading about a "great" system that has a junk screen. So like you I go to the screen review portion, and if that's good head over to the thermal/power/noise part. If both of those are acceptable then I read the entire article.

    Sorry Jarred, I just can't get excited after reading very similar review systems anymore!
  • somedude1234 - Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - link

    ^^^^^ T H I S ^^^^^

    I did the exact same thing, skipped to the best screen offering and didn't bother reading the rest of the article.

    My employer provided me with a Dell E6400, everything maxed out but with the default 1280x800 screen. I would have gladly traded down to a lower spec CPU or less RAM in order to get the upgraded screen, but I didn't have a say as this is a 'standard' build for us.

    Fast CPU, plenty of RAM, great backlit keyboard... and a terrible screen.

    I have to use this system every single day and I'm constantly cursing the short-sighted individual in our IT department that decided a slightly faster CPU was worth more than a vastly better screen.
  • C300fans - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    999$? I would rather grab a Thinkpad T or X with IPS.
  • Dug - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    I'm suprised they didn't just use the 3000 for graphics. 520 doesn't do much.

    I like the 6770 in the Macbook Pro's, so I would think they could at least do a 525.

    Almost everyone has a 540 in a similar laptop.

    Lenovo has a 550m in their's and under $700
  • grkhetan - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Sorry for off-topic post -- but when will the iPhone 4S review come out? Would like to see how its performance, graphics, battery life, and reception changed... Thanks!
  • mschira - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Yea looks like a nice machine, but I just don't like the quality of Dell notebooks.
    They are cheap. Fair enough, because the price is low, too, but not for me.
    Now if one could take the Asus Zenbook give it a few more mm in thickness and slot in a decent CPU but keep every quality aspect - I would be very interested.
  • agent2099 - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Seems Dell pulled the 14z from their website. This morning you could full on order it and now you can only "take a peek at what's to come." Appears like a drastic move but they may be revising it.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    Actually, the product probably just went up early on accident. The 14z is officially announced today, but it goes on sale on Nov. 1st.
  • jigglywiggly - Monday, October 24, 2011 - link

    what a pos
    not 1600x900 display or 1920x1080
    Weak gpus

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