Dell XPS XPS14-3636sLV 14-Inch Ultrabook Review

Dell XPS XPS14-3636sLV 14-Inch Ultrabook

The Dell XPS XPS14-3636sLV 14-Inch Ultrabook is very much a premium device, built to deliver powerful computing facilities in a stylish, ultra-portable form.

That computing power comes from an Intel Core i7-3517U CPU running at 1.90GHz, with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.0GHz. Combining processing muscle with low power consumption, this CPU is an excellent choice for high-end computing on the move.

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It is supported by a healthy 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, a 500GB hard drive and 32GB of mSATA storage – a solid state drive intended to house the Operating System (Windows 8, in this case). The idea is that the SSD will help the system start up and run substantially faster than a convention hard drive, while the slower (but much cheaper) hard drive will house your data. It’s an elegant compromise that balances the high speed and cost of mSATA with the low speed and cost of a hard drive, and results in impressively good performance.

The 14.0-inch, widescreen, HD+ LED (900p) display is driven by NVIDIA GeForce GT 630M 1GB DDR5 VRAM graphics hardware. This is above average equipment compared to the graphics capabilities of many other ultrabooks, and while it still isn’t in the same league as a dedicated gaming laptop, it should make a good attempt at running the more demanding games of, say, 2010.

Pros :

  • Fast, powerful CPU
  • Plenty of RAM
  • Large Hard Disk
  • Better than average graphics capability
  • Windows 8

Cons :

  • No optical drive
  • Graphics still inadequate for serious gaming

However, the likes of Skyrim will probably need to be played with reduced detail settings to get smooth gameplay, and the outlook isn’t good at all for anything even more demanding. Good as this machine is, it is important to keep in mind that it isn’t – and isn’t intended to be – a gaming laptop, so if heavy duty gaming is on your agenda this may not be the machine for you.

For everyone else, especially those who need to do real work on the move, there is very little to dislike about this machine. The usual array of 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth, Skype-Certified HD Webcam, 3-in-1 card reader and USB ports (two high-speed USB 3.0 and one legacy USB 2.0) are all present and correct, as you would expect in a premium device. As is often the case with ultrabooks, there is no built-in optical drive. This has been sacrificed in order to keep the machine’s size and weight down to a minimum, so if you think you’re likely to need a CD / DVD drive, you’re going to have to purchase and external USB model.

The result is an impressively powerful machine packed into a Silver Anodized Aluminum case that is less than 1 inch thick. It weighs 7.1 pounds, including the bonded Gorilla Glass display and the battery, which is capable of offering a battery life of up to 11 hours between charges.

For mobile professionals and power users who value performance, portability, build quality and style over a raft of “features” that they will never use, the Dell XPS XPS14-3636sLV 14-Inch Ultrabook is well worth considering.

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