Introduction

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.

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

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  2. 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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