Dell XPS 14 Review: Optimal Upgrade

(Image: © Future)

With its stunning 14.5-inch OLED display update, understated design, and ample power for both mid-range gaming and daily work, the Dell XPS 14 is a powerful laptop. If you can get beyond its divisive design, this Windows laptop is still excellent overall even without actual function buttons or a visible touchpad.


  • + Svelte design
  • + Vivid OLED display
  • + Enjoyable typing
  • + Powerful performance


  • - Capacitive function row is frustrating
  • - Invisible touchpad is hard to use
  • - Less-than-stellar battery life

The new Dell XPS 14 ($1,699 starting price) has much of the same design language as the Dell XPS 13 Plus, for better or worse. It's a small, stylish laptop without a touchpad that has a functional row of capacitive LED-lit keys. The XPS 13 Plus became a contentious device when such design aspects were introduced. This may also apply to the revised XPS 14.

Aside from sharing similarities with the XPS 13 Plus, the XPS 14 is notable for its Meteor Lake CPU, which is the first Intel CPU with an AI-optimized Neural Processing Unit (NPU). Although "AI laptops" haven't yet shown to be more useful than the greatest computers on the market, the XPS 14's AI features may become valuable if more apps start to take full advantage of them.

The Dell XPS 14 still has a lot going for it, even if you don't care about doing AI chores.

The 14.5-inch 3.2K+ OLED InfiniteEdge display (an additional $300) is a brilliant and vivid display that is ideal for both work and pleasure, yet it is tiny and light enough to carry along. Though it took me some time to get used to it, I also enjoy the keyboard's big keycaps, precise spacing, and decent travel distance. Additionally, the greatest PC games may also be played on low settings in configurations with an RTX 4050 GPU.

I'm sure there will be conflicting opinions regarding the Dell XPS 14 and 2024 computers. I don't resent Dell's choice to revamp the XPS notebook lineup, even if I don't understand it either. The XPS 14 and its siblings are different from other laptops on the market, at the very least. And this computer is just as dependable and capable as its outstanding predecessors, if you can look beyond its appearance.

Does the Dell XPS 14 fit your needs? To learn more, read my whole review.


What is it? A 14-inch Dell XPS laptop that packs the latest 14th gen Intel Core processor and Nvidia RTX 4050 graphics.

Who is it for? Users who want a powerful laptop for work, watching videos, and playing games.

What does it cost? Starts at $1,699 on Dell's website.

How is its gaming performance? The RTX 4050 GPU allows you to get excellent performance when playing games at medium settings (especially with DLSS 3.0).

How is the typing and touchpad? The thick keycaps are ideal for touch typists, though it takes time to acclimate to the invisible touchpad.

XPS 14 Specs Review

Header Cell - Column 0 Dell XPS 14 (starting) Dell XPS 14 (tested)
Price $1,699 $2,449
Display 14.5-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge non-touch (30-120Hz) 14.5-inch FHD+ (3200 x 2000) OLED InfinityEdge touch
CPU Intel Core Ultra 7 155H Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
GPU Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 32GB
Storage 512GB 1TB
Ports 3x USB-C, 1x headphone jack, 1x microSD 3x USB-C, 1x headphone jack, 1x microSD
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
Dimensions 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.71 inches 12.6 x 8.5 x 0.71 inches
Battery life N/A 8 hours 56 minutes
Weight 3.7 pounds 3.7 pounds

XPS 14 Review: The Upsides

A feature that makes the Dell XPS 14 unique is its sophisticated, semi-futuristic design. Our evaluation device has a bright 3.5K+ OLED display with a steady refresh rate of 120Hz, along with a small keyboard. If you want additional power, an RTX 4050 laptop GPU option is also available. This notebook is really commendable.

Minimalist design
(Image credit: Future)

I never detested the Dell XPS 13 Plus's look, although I am aware that several others did. Ultimately, it's great to see a laptop that differs from other clamshells available. When the XPS 14 is closed, it does indeed like a typical laptop, but when you open it, you will notice something different.

Let's talk about the "elephant in the room," which is the invisible touchpad and LED-lit capacitive key function row. The capacitive function row fits in nicely with the overall design, even if I would prefer having traditional function row keys (more on that below). The touchpad functions in the same way. It's not visible to you, yet it's still there.

The XPS 14 feels extremely premium because to its Gorilla Glass 3 keyboard deck and machined aluminum chassis, which also happen to look fantastic. With an OLED variant weighing 3.8 pounds, it is marginally more substantial than the 3.5-pound MacBook Pro 14-inch M3. Nevertheless, the XPS 14 feels solid and light, and I had no issue carrying it to my home rooftop terrace or taking it to the workplace. It's the ideal notepad for travel.

Beautiful display
(Image credit: Future)

Our evaluation unit's updated 14.5-inch OLED InfiniteEdge display is impressive because to its deep blacks, vivid color, and remarkable brightness. Plus, you can notice even the smallest details thanks to the crisp 3.5K+ resolution. Everything seems stunning on the screen, even text on online pages and quickly paced films.

Seeing the most recent Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire teaser, with its vibrant colors and quick action, highlights this panel's amazing quality. The vibrant, bizarre, and colorful environments of Doom Eternal are similar. Even though I utilized the XPS 14 primarily for business, it's an excellent gadget for a variety of leisure activities.

Display Benchmark Results

Header Cell - Column 0 Dell XPS 14 MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3)
Nits (brightness) 377 (SDR) | 585 (HDR) 558 (SDR) | 1,125 (HDR)
sRGB 112.8% 114.8%
DCI-P3 79.9% 81.3%
Delta-E 0.2 0.1

The table above illustrates the Dell XPS 14's respectable color accuracy (Delta-E) and acceptable color reproduction (sRGB and DCI-P3). While HDR brightness is just shy of 600 nits, non-HDR brightness is little under 400 nits, both of which are respectable results.

Outstanding keyboard
(Image credit: Future)

Excellent keyboards are a feature of Dell's XPS notebooks, and the new XPS 14 is no exception. This keyboard's 1mm travel distance, thick keycaps, and very minimal key spacing make typing on it efficient and enjoyable. However, because the keyboard feels so different from standard laptop keyboards, it could take some getting used to.

The keyboards on the newest XPS laptops, however, can be a major turnoff if you're anything like Alex Wawro, who evaluated the Dell XPS 16 and its comparable (although larger) keyboard.

This is because the edges of the glass touchpad are not marked with lines. You can mistakenly believe there isn't a touchpad since the area where it should be is perfectly flat. The touchpad lacks an edge and real bounds, so at first I kept swiping in the wrong place. Using the silky-smooth touchpad became second nature as I got used to it. An additional pleasant feature is the piezoelectric technology that produces a clicking feeling.

I am aware that some people may find an invisible touchpad annoying. However, from my experience, it's not really that significant.

Excellent performance

Performance on Dell XPS laptops is often quite good, especially when they are equipped with top-tier specifications. The XPS 14 that we evaluated is the same. During my testing, this computer ran YouTube videos and handled many open tabs without any issues. It's also a surprisingly decent gaming laptop when equipped with an RTX 4050.

Benchmark Results

Header Cell - Column 0 Dell XPS 14 MacBook Pro 14-inch M3
Geekbench 6 (single/multi-core) 2,330 / 12,719 3,138 / 12,018
Handbrake (video transcode) 5:49 (mins:secs) 5:38 (mins:secs)

In our comparison with the MacBook Pro 14-inch M3, which we also tested, the XPS 14 performed admirably. There isn't a significant difference in CPU performance, according to the Geekbench 6 findings, and SSD speeds were similarly within the same range.

Although it may not be among the finest laptops for gaming, the XPS 14 can run games well at medium settings and at 1080p resolution. The frame rate of Doom Eternal varied from 90 to 105 frames per second during my testing. When I turned on Nvidia's frame-boosting DLSS, Cyberpunk 2077 ran at 33 to 45 frames per second. Performance remained in the low 30s in the absence of DLSS.

XPS 14 Review: The Downsides

There are several advantages to the Dell XPS 14. Still, a few design decisions keep it from being the ideal laptop.

Capacitive function row
(Image credit: Future)

I don't mind the capacitive function row, but it can be annoying that there aren't any actual function keys. Since LED buttons are uncommon on computers, I enjoy how they appear above the keys. But to be honest, there are times when they aren't all that helpful.

Being a touch typist, I find it difficult to use a row with no physical function. Before you ask, I have experience similar problems with the touch bar on previous MacBook Pro models. I can't help but slow down when I have to glance down at the keyboard to identify the button I want to push because the LED function row looks great and complements the rest of the laptop. Even after using this notebook for testing for several days, I still haven't adjusted to it.

The buttons on the capacitive function row constantly remained lighted, which caused some users to have additional issues. They now switch off after ten seconds of inactivity. That is advantageous since you may not want the bright function row to stare at you nonstop.

No lip on lid
(Image credit: Future)

When it comes to attractive and useful designs, XPS laptops are comparable to the greatest MacBooks. But even with the new XPS collection, Dell's laptops still have a serious drawback. It's more difficult than it should be to open the laptop because there isn't a lip on the lid to grip onto.

Possibly I shouldn't have anticipated a lip on the lid, as the new XPS laptops are designed in the same way as the XPS 13 Plus. But given that new laptops are simply redesigned versions of the earlier XPS models, it's a squandered opportunity. Although it's not an impossible operation, opening the lid with one hand might be challenging.

Putting that aside, the laptop lid is solid and stable when you carry it about open. The hinge of the gadget is smooth and robust, allowing for easy opening and closing. Its thickness guarantees that no matter how much you bend it, the lid will not flex.

Potentially poor battery life

These days, 10 hours of battery life is considered very decent for a Windows laptop by the folks at Tom's Guide. Although it falls short of that basic goal, the XPS 14 is still fairly close. However, I see this as a disadvantage.

Battery Life Test

Header Cell - Column 0 Time (min:sec)
Dell XPS 14 8:56
MacBook Pro 14-inch (M3) 17:25

The XPS 14 lasted for 8 hours and 56 minutes on the Tom's Guide battery test, which entails browsing the web at a brightness of 150 nits on the screen. The MacBook Pro M3, in contrast, has an amazing 17 hours and 25 minutes of battery life. Comparing the battery life of Windows and Apple laptops is almost unfair, but the M-series MacBooks have truly raised the bar in this area.

XPS 14 Verdict

The unusual (and divisive) appearance of the Dell XPS 14 and the other XPS laptops from 2024 may not sit well with everyone. Since I'm not a fan of the capacitive function row and invisible touchpad, I can understand. But I believe that this laptop's advantages outweigh its disadvantages.

Despite its controversial look, the XPS 14's performance makes it a fantastic Windows laptop for regular work and, with the appropriate setup, even contemporary gaming. Upgrading to the bright and colorful 14.5-inch OLED InfinityEdge is well worth the money since it makes everything seem fantastic and the little keyboard was enjoyable to use. Even while I find the absence of real function buttons and a touchpad concerning, I still adore the profile's overall sleek appearance.

One of the greatest Windows laptops available is the Dell XPS 14, if you don't mind its unconventional style.

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