With a huge display packed into a very sleek package, we didn't have high hopes heading into this assessment, but we were pleased to discover an overall lack of adhesive, standard screws, and publically-available repair documentation—all of which contributed to the XPS 13's 7 out of 10.

Packaging and open reference shots.
  • Packaging and open reference shots.

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Front and back reference shots.
  • Front and back reference shots.

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  • Removing the back cover is straightforward—remove the eight T6 screws and the single Phillips, then pry the back cover off.

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  • Internal reference shot.

  • Looks like battery, speakers, CMOS battery, SSD, wi-fi card, DC socket, and daughterboard are easily accessible.

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  • There's some tape over the battery so we peel it off before removing the four screws securing it to the lower case.

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  • Next out is the SSD and and the wireless card.

    • All the cables we've encountered thus far have some tape on them. Not a ton, but some will need to be replaced unless you're very careful during disassembly.

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  • The display connector is a little tricky. It's secured by a bracket and five pieces of tape, but at least had a handy pull-tab to assuage worries about breaking the connector.

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  • We go to pull the fan out before the motherboard but its foot is caught in the way.

  • So we remove six motherboard screws and the the thermal management comes right afterwards.

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  • Motherboard reference.

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  • The trackpad comes out fairly easily—remove four screws and, unfortunately, a bit of tape.

  • Then parts just start flying. After loosening a handful of Phillips screws we can remove the daughterboard (home to a USB port and SD card reader), speakers, RTC battery (which is just glued in place), and the DC-in socket.

  • And after removing a couple dozen more screws, the keyboard comes out with no drama (and no tape!).

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  • The display assembly is held in with four Phillips screws and is easy to remove.

  • Before discarding the palmrest, we pull out this small breakout board that drives the keyboard.

    • This particular board is very heavily glued in place, but it's unlikely you'll ever need to remove it.

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  • The Dell XPS 13 earns a 7 out of 10 on our repairability scale (10 is the easiest to repair):

    • Manufacturer provides free manuals online.

    • Once you manage to take off the bottom cover, all the parts are pretty easily replaceable.

    • Screws and connectors are labeled, aiding reassembly.

    • Moderate adhesive—except for the display assembly, no heat is required to disassemble.

    • The layering could be improved to make certain components easier to remove, but overall the modular design makes repairs cheaper.

    • Soldered RAM means you'll never be able to upgrade when things get slow.

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Finish Line

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Evan Noronha

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