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.

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

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

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

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Deck the Halls
With tools and Fix Kits
There's some tape over the battery so we peel it off before removing the four screws securing it to the lower case. There's some tape over the battery so we peel it off before removing the four screws securing it to the lower case. There's some tape over the battery so we peel it off before removing the four screws securing it to the lower case.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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. 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. 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.
  • 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. So we remove six motherboard screws and the the thermal management comes right afterwards.
  • 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. Motherboard reference.
  • 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!).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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