Since it's introduction in early 2015, the modern iteration of the Dell XPS 13 has been one of the most influential computers in recent history. An example of the rise of desirable Windows-based notebooks back into the premium market, the XPS 13 has done what only a few OEMs have been able to—inspire knockoffs. Now, the market is filled with similar designs including ultrathin bezels (and some even copying the compromises of webcam placement), at similar price points.
Even though it's been regarded as one of the best PC notebooks for its entire tenure, it was clear for a while that Dell must move the brand of their flagship notebook forward, and here it is, the redesigned XPS 13 9370 for 2018.
From a quick glance, the 2018 XPS 13 is quite similar to the outgoing 9360 model from last year. Apart from this new, radical Alpine White and Rose Gold color scheme of our particular review unit, you would be hard-pressed to spot it as unique in public. However, once you start to dig in, the changes become quite evident.
While the new XPS 13 maintains the same physical footprint as the previous iterations, it loses a significant amount of thickness. Still retaining the wedge shape, although much less exaggerated now, the XPS 13 9370 measures only 0.46" at its thickest point, compared to 0.6" on the previous design. While tenths of inches may not seem like a huge difference, this amounts to a 23% reduction in thickness, which is noticeable for a highly portable item like a notebook.
One of the promises of moving to interfaces like USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3 on notebooks is the idea of the "one cable future." For the most part, I think we are starting to see some of those benefits. It's nice that with USB Power Delivery, users aren't tied into buying chargers directly from their notebook manufacturer or turning to trying to find oddball third-party chargers with their exact barrel connector. Additionally, I also find it to be a great feature when laptops have USB-c charging ports on opposing sides of the notebooks, allowing me greater flexibility to plug in a charger without putting additional strain on the cable.
For years, the end-game for mobile versatility has been a powerful thin-and-light notebook which you can connect to a dock at home, and use a desktop PC. With more powerful notebook processor's like Intel's quad-core 8th generation parts coming out, we are beginning to reach a point where we have the processing power; the next step is having a quality dock with which to plug these notebooks.
While USB-C can support DisplayPort, Power Delivery, and 10 Gbit/s transfer speeds in its highest-end configuration, this would still be a bit lacking for power users. Thunderbolt 3 offering the same display and power delivery capabilities, but with its 40 Gbit/s data transfer capabilities is a more suitable option.
Today, we are taking a look at the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus, a Thunderbolt 3-enabled device that provides a plethora of connectivity options for your notebook.
Compared to manufacturers like Dell, HP, and ASUS, Razer is a relative newcomer to the notebook market having only shipped their first notebook models in 2013. Starting first with gaming-focused designs like the Razer Blade and Blade Pro, Razer branched out to a more general notebook audience in 2016 with the launch of the Razer Blade Stealth.
Even though Razer is a primarily gamer-centric brand, the Razer Blade Stealth does not feature a discrete GPU for gaming. Instead, Razer advertises using their Razer Core V2 external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure to add your own full-size GPU, giving users the flexibility of a thin-and-light ultrabook, but with the ability to play games when docked.
Compared to my previous daily driver notebook, the "Space Gray" MacBook Pro, the Razer Blade Stealth shares a lot of industrial design similarities, even down to the "Gunmetal" colorway featured on our review unit. The aluminum unibody construction, large touchpad, hinge design, and more all clearly take inspiration from Apple's notebooks over the years. In fact, I've actually mistaken this notebook for a MacBook Pro in a few quick glances around the office in recent weeks.
As someone who is a fan of the industrial design of the MacBook Pro lineup, but not necessarily Apple's recent hardware choices, these design cues are a good thing. In some ways, the Razer Blade Stealth feels like Apple had continued with their previous Retina MacBook Pro designs instead of moving into the current Touch Bar-sporting iteration.
|Razer Blade Stealth (Early 2018)|
|Screen||13.3" QHD+ (3200x1800) IGZO Touch Screen|
|GPU||Intel UHD Graphics 620|
|RAM||16GB LPDDR3-2133MHz (non-upgradeable)|
|Storage||256 GB PCIe||512 GB PCIe||1 TB PCIe|
|Network||Killer™ 1535 Wireless-AC (802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth® 4.1)|
1 x Thunderbolt 3
|Connectivity||1 x Thunderbolt 3
2 x USB 3.0 (Type-A)
|Audio||Stereo Speakers, Array Microphone|
|Weight||2.98 lbs. / 1.35 kg|
|Dimensions||0.54” / 13.8 mm (Height) x 12.6” / 321 mm (Width) x 8.1” / 206 mm (Depth)|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
One of the things that surprised me most when researching the Razer Blade Stealth was just how equipped the base model was. All models include 16 GB of RAM, a QHD+ touch screen, and at least 256 GB of PCIe NVMe flash storage. However, I would have actually liked to see a 1080p screen option, be it with or without touch. For such a small display size, I would rather gain the battery life advantages of the lower resolution.
Subject: General Tech | March 1, 2018 - 12:54 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: western digital, video, TS-PC, thunderbolt 3, Thrustmaster, tekq, snapdragon 700, SN720, SN520, Samsung, Ryzen 5 2400G, qualcomm, podcast, logitech, Huawei, galaxy s9, g613, g603, bitmain
PC Perspective Podcast #489 - 03/01/18
Join us this week for Ryzen 5 2400G Compute, Thrustmaster TS-PC Wheel, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison
Program length: 1:29:41
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Picks of the Week:
Delivering on the Promise of Thunderbolt 3
Despite the greatly increased adoption of Thunderbolt 3 over the previous 2 Thunderbolt standards, the market is still lacking actual devices that take advantage of the full 40Gbps bandwidth that Thunderbolt 3 offers.
External storage seems like a natural use of this PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface available with the Thunderbolt 3 standard, but storage devices that take advantage of this are few and far between. Most of the devices in the market currently are merely bridges for SATA M.2 drives to Thunderbolt 3, which would be limited by the SATA 6Gb/s interface.
However, this market gap seems poised to change. Today, we are taking a look at the TEKQ Rapide Thunderbolt 3 Portable SSD, which advertises sequential transfer speeds up to 2.3 GB/s Read and 1.3 GB/s Write.
Subject: Storage | February 2, 2018 - 03:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: owc, Mercury Helios, thunderbolt 3, PCIe SSD, external ssd
External storage does not have to be slow, as the OWC Mercury Helios 3 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 external drive demonstrates. The TB3 connection is capable of up to 40Gbps, assuming you have the proper connection, which will keep a drive such as the the Kingston DC1000 NVMe SSD very busy. In The SSD Reviews testing, they saw the data transfer cap out at 2.8GB/s read and between 2.5-2.7GB/s write, which makes this perfect for HD video or for manipulating large media files. The enclosure will set you back about $200, the cost of the PCIe SSD you put inside it is a choice for you to make.
"The trick…is Thunderbolt 3 and the external devices companies envision to solve this speed and data storage problem. This is where the OWC Mercury helios 3 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 Expansion Chassis comes in."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Team Group Cardea Zero 240 GB @ TechPowerUp
- ASRock Ultra Quad M.2 Card @ The SSD Review
- ADATA XPG SX8000 512 GB @ TechPowerUp
- Tekq Rapide TB3 Portable SSD @ The SSD Review
- Seagate Skyhawk 10TB SATA III HDD Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Storage | January 9, 2018 - 01:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: thunderbolt 3, ssd, external ssd
Dell has just announced a pair of external SSDs. The Dell SDI T0500 will have a 500 GB capacity. The Dell SDI T1000 will, as the name suggests, doubles that to 1 TB. Both external SSDs connect via Thunderbolt 3. Because it’s using this connector, we can expect it to be fast but not mass-market. I am guessing that Dell intends this product to be purchased with one of their Thunderbolt 3 laptops, and probably with a specific type of user in mind. That is just my speculation, though.
Unfortunately, we don’t have much else to go on. No price, availability, read or write speeds, IO throughput, or anything else has been published.
Subject: Storage | January 8, 2018 - 09:15 PM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: thunderbolt 3, ssd, patriot, external ssd, CES 2018, CES
Memory firm Patriot announced a new Thunderbolt 3 portable SSD at CES this week. The Patriot EVLVR ("evolver") is based on Phison E8 PCIe controller and advertises speeds of up to 1500MB/s in sequential reads and 1000MB/s in sequential writes.
The drive connects to PCs and Macs via a single detachable Thunderbolt 3 cable and is bus-powered, although there is no second Thunderbolt port for passthrough capability.
The Patriot EVLVR launches in March and will be available in 256GB ($199.99), 512GB ($289.99), and 1TB ($489.99) capacities.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Storage, Mobile | January 8, 2018 - 03:53 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, CES 2018, Elgato, dock, thunderbolt 3, adapter
Elgato is launching a smaller Thunderbolt 3 dock aptly named the Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock to its family of docks (how many times can I use dock in one sentence?). The portable dock comes with a tail Thunderbolt 3 cable that is permanently attached and stows away into a groove on the bottom of the dock when not in use.
Using the single 40 Gbps connection provided by Thunderbolt 3, the Mini Dock offers up display outputs, USB 3.1, and network ports including:
- DisplayPort 1.2 (4k60)
- HDMI 2.0 (4k60 and HDCP 2.2)
- RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps UASP and 0.9A of power).
Users will need a newer laptop or desktop with Thunderbolt running Mac OS Sierra 10.12 or Window 10 operating systems or newer. The compact dock will be available in the sping with as yet unanounced pricing. It should be cheaper than Elgatos larger docks (currently their Thunderbolt 3 Dock is $291) though since it is not powered and offers fewer ports.
As notebooks continue to get thinner, these docks (along with ones based on USB Type-C) are going to become more useful in getting the most out of our faster mobile hardware.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more CES news as it develops!
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 28, 2017 - 03:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: external gpu, gigabyte, aorus, gtx 1070, thunderbolt 3, nvidia, gaming box
Have a laptop with Thunderbolt 3 and a mobile GPU that just doesn't cut it anymore? Gigabyte now offers an incredibly easy way to upgrade your laptop, with no screwdriver required! The Aorus GTX 1070 Gaming Box contains an external desktop class GTX 1070 and separate PSU, giving you a dock with some serious gaming prowess. The Tech Report's benchmarks compare this external GPU against the GTX 1060 installed in their Alienware gaming laptop and Alienware's own external GPU enclosure, on both the internal display and an external monitor. The results are somewhat mixed and worth reading through fully, however if you are on an integrated GPU then this solution is an incredible upgrade.
"Gigabyte's Aorus GTX 1070 Gaming Box offers us a look into a future where a big shot of graphics performance is just a single cable away for ultraportable notebook PCs. We plugged the Gaming Box into a test notebook and gave it a spin to see just how bright that future looks."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Zotac GeForce GTX 1080 Ti ArcticStorm Mini @ Guru of 3D
- Zotac GT 1030 2 GB @ Modders-Inc
- The PowerColor Red Devil Vega 56 benchmarked vs. the GTX 1070 Ti at BabelTechReviews
- 13-Way Radeon AMDGPU-PRO 17.50 vs. NVIDIA Linux OpenCL Compute Comparison @ Phoronix
- Sapphire RX Vega 64 Nitro+ Limited Edition @ Kitguru
- PowerColor Red Devil Vega 56 8GB @ Guru of 3D
- The AMD Linux Drivers Do *Not* Yet Support Radeon "Navi" @ Phoronix
- AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition Performance @ [H]ard|OCP