What’s the Chromebook version of the MacBook Air?
Hint: It’s made by Dell. And it’s not the Chromebook Pixel (That’d be the Macbook Pro).
It’s the Dell Chromebook 13.
In this brief review, I’ll go over some pros and cons about the Dell Chromebook 13 when I had some hands-on interactivity and play time with the laptop. Personally, I think the Chromebook 13 by Dell is quickly overshadowed by other Chromebook models that have received more press, such as the HP G5 11 and Acer Chromebook 14. For some reason, the Dell Chromebook 13 is a silent player in the high-end Chromebook market- although I’m not sure why. I’d speculate it’s because of the higher price, but then again, the Google Pixel is even more expensive.
Anyway, let’s get on with the Chromebook 13 review.
Chromebook 13 price and intro
First, the price. The Dell Chromebook 13 will run you $799.99. It’s considered a high-end business class Chromebook with a quality build and more hardcore hardware under the Chromebook’s hood. It’s built to be a fast and speedier system and appeals to the business demographic, or for the regular consumer who wants a higher-end Chromebook that’s considered expensive in the world of Chromebooks. Keep in mind that most Chromebook average around $200-300. The Dell Chromebook 13 is up to four times as expensive.
Dell Chromebook 13 design
The first thing I noticed is the aluminium frame. This is similar to the Acer Chromebook 14 in that it has a full-aluminium body. It measures 12.93’’ x 9’’ x 0.51’’. That’s about half an inch in height. One thing that caught my eye which I didn’t notice at first is the lid itself. The Chromebook 13’s lid is made out of carbon fiber, which is something that I haven’t’ seen before in any Chromebook model by any manufacturer. Carbon fiber is known to be durable and super lightweight. High-end performance cars, bicycles, and even hunting gear all use carbon fiber into their build.
The Dell Chromebook 13 feels sturdy and lightweight, as it only weighs about 2-3 pounds like your typical Chromebook. It’s not something you’d want to carry around constantly, but it’s easily mobile in a laptop bag. The screen is 13’’, and it’s plenty enough for getting things done. I’m used to an 11’’ screen on my Chromebook, so the 13’’ feels much larger. Although I’ve always preferred desktops with full monitors and I’ve grown used to them, the Chromebook 13 is easy to adjust to and works well.
Chromebook 13 screen resolution and size
To be exact, the screen size is 13.3’’. It features a full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution), which is considerably higher than most Chromebooks at lower price points. At the same price point, it’s standard. The Chromebook 13’s screen was a comfortable size for multitasking, which I tend to do when I’m working. Switching between tabs and having a split-window on Chrome OS was easy and allowed plenty for screen space and real estate for all my apps and windows.
The keyboard is backlit and feels nice and quick to type on. The keys are spaced a little wider than what I’m used to, and travel farther as well. If you like the feeling of feedback when you’re typing on a laptop (or any computer for that matter), the Chromebook 13’s keyboard will have you happy. The keys travel a decent amount and are quiet to the touch. Responsiveness is perfect. As for the backlit keyboard, that’s new to me. The Chromebook I currently use doesn’t have any lighting, and since I rarely use my laptop in the dark, the backlit keyboard is a nice feature to have, but it doesn’t prove useful for me other than draining the battery.
The trackpad is large and feels responsive to even the slightest touches, which was annoying here and there when I just wanted to move my hand back after fullscreening a YouTube video, but rather I trigger the trackpad and it pauses the video instead. It’s something to get used to since it’s a big pad that tracks your every gesture. It’s easy to use and has an even responsiveness. Many Acer Chromebooks have an issue where only the bottom half of the trackpad has any sensitivity, but the Dell Chromebook 13 seems to be evenly spread out amongst the entire trackpad, so it doesn’t matter where you press or swipe on the pad, it works.
The speaker volume is loud, but not as loud as I’d expected. Most budget and cheaper Chromebooks have loud speakers, and it’s a known fact. The Dell Chromebook speakers don’t get nearly as loud, but the sound quality is more crisp and clean. I listened to some tracks that I’ve heard through speakers and earbuds, and the sound quality is significantly clearer compared to my current Chromebook. I can hear lower notes and higher ones as well that are muffled and muted on my current Chromebook. I prefer the Chromebook 13’s speakers.
When paired with the high-res screen, it’s perfect for watching YouTube videos and streaming media.
As you probably know, all Chromebooks run Chrome OS, which is Google’s open-source operating system. This copy of Chrome isn’t anything special, and has all the same functions you’d have with any Chromebook. Dell doesn’t have any proprietary software or bloatware preloaded onto the Chromebook.
If you’re not familiar with Chromebooks, you may want to check out this guide I wrote on the benefits of Chromebooks over Windows.
In brief, you get the basic web apps like Docs, Sheets, Maps, and other essentials preloaded by Chrome OS. You can freely remove and add as many web apps as you’d like by searching for them within the Chrome web store. Chrome OS is built for speed, simplicity, and security. In case you didn’t’ know, Chromebooks are super fast and secure laptops. Most Chromebooks don’t have high-end hardware because they don’t’ need it. Chrome OS doesn’t really require anything too extreme to run quickly and efficiently. It also keeps Chromebooks cheap and affordable, which is a strong point against Windows laptops- although they have their competitor machines, such as the HP Stream.
Chromebooks also have support for web apps to run offline, so the common myth that Chromebooks are useless when offline is false. There are plenty of things you can do an offline Chromebook.
Chromebook 13 specs
The Dell Chromebook 13 comes with an 2.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor, which is already many times more powerful and faster than lower-end Chromebooks. The majority of Chromebooks have Intel Pentium processors, which keeps the price lower but performance also suffers. However, the Chromebook 13 is loaded with the processor built for multitasking and gettings things done. No matter what you’re doing, the i5 wins over Pentium- in nearly all cases. If you’re not a computer geek, the takeaway is that the i5 is superior to Pentium. You want it.
Next up is RAM. The Chromebook 13 comes with a whole 8GB of RAM, compared to the standard 4GB on the majority of Chromebook models. That’s double the multitasking power, and it shows. I can usually have about 5 apps open, a few tabs, and some music playing on YouTube before my Chromebook starts to stutter. However, on the Chromebook 13, I had about 9 apps open, 5 tabs in 2 windows, and 3 YouTube videos playing without a hiccup. It goes to show how much of a difference a high-end processor with double RAM makes. I had to open extra apps and tabs way beyond my usual workflow just to test out the Chromebook 13’s performance and speed.
The Chromebook comes with 32GB of SSD storage, which again, is double the standard 16GB you find on most Chromebooks. This is nice if you plan on storing a lot of files locally. Personally, I don’t use that much storage anyway, so it’s not a perk for me. I prefer to store stuff in a backup drive.
The Chromebook doesn’t have any special dedicated graphics card for all the gamers who want to play some games on a Chromebook. It uses the Intel HD graphics coprocessor, which is more than enough to run any game on the Chrome web store and other games that aren’t officially supported by Chrome OS yet, such as Minecraft, but with some hacking it’s possible to play it. The graphics card on the Chromebook 13 is perfect for moderate gaming and watching videos.
Chromebook 13 ports
The Dell Chromebook 13 comes with a standard selection of connectivity input/output ports. You get an HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, an SD card slot, and an audio port on the left. On the right, you get a 2.0 USB port and a Noble Lock input. As for WiFi connectivity, it uses a dual-band 802.11AC WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 for connectivity without wires.
Performance and speed
I couldn’t really make the Chromebook 13 lag unless I tried. But the stress tests I ran were way over what I’d normally use it for. Yes, it does lag after you hit an unreasonable amount of apps, tabs, and media, but it shouldn’t be an issue under normal use. If you’re looking for a Chromebook that’s one of the fastest Chromebooks out there, consider the Chromebook 13. I think it’s built and suited for more of a power user type rather than a casual user. If you watch a lot of movies, play games, stream media, or multi task, it’s an excellent choice as it’s a super fast Chromebook with a lot of multitasking power and efficiency. The Chromebook 13 outperforms every other Chromebook I’ve tried and reviewed.
Chromebook 13 Battery
The run time of the Chromebook 13 is excellent. It lasted over 12 hours with moderate use on a bright screen. When I was doing the stress test, I made that a portion of the battery test, so if you don’t stress the Chromebook, the battery should run even longer under a full charge. A Chromebook Pixel, which is considered the gold standard in the Chromebook world, lasts about the same. So, the battery in the Chromebook 13 meets the standard. It’s probably the best battery run time you can get in a Chromebook on the current market. It’s more than enough for you to do your work before you get to a charger to recharge.
Build and quality
The carbon fiber lid is probably the best part about the Chromebook 13. The bezels around the screen aren’t too big, so you feel like you’re getting a big screen. The screen itself is dull matte in color when viewed under a dim light, and has nearly no reflection. When viewed under bright light, it’s invisible. The material body feels plasticy, but durable. Overall, it somewhat looks expensive, but doesn’t really match up to the price. It’s really the hardware that makes the Chromebook 13 what it is. The performance of the Chromebook makes it worth the price
Chromebook 13 warranty
Dell offers a full year of hardware service, with onsite repair following a diagnosis over the phone or email, I believe.
Conclusion and overall thoughts
Overall, if you’re looking for a higher-end Chromebook, the Chromebook 13 is an excellent choice. If you have more money to spend, check out the Chromebook Pixel. The Chromebook 13 is about half the price of the Pixel, but the performance of the Chromebook 13 is worth every dollar. If you’re not a hardcore Chromebook fan, or have no need for super performance, yet you still want a Chromebook that’s fast and can handle almost anything you throw at it, the Chromebook 13 by Dell will be your best shot. It’s a superior machine with nearly everything perfect. The only complaints I had were minor quirks that were mainly based on preferences rather than the Chromebook itself. For example, the speaker loudness or keyboard key travel. Other than those minor bits, the Chromebook 13 is a winning laptop and worth the money for the performance and quality.