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Dell Chromebook 13 review – a Chromebook Pixel rival?

Dell Chromebook 13 lead
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1095
inc VAT

The Chromebook 13 is a welcome premium Chromebook option, but the top-end model is very expensive


Processor: Dual-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-5300U, RAM: 8GB, Dimensions: 323.4×225.8×18.4mm, Weight: 1.62kg, Screen size: 13.3in, Screen resolution: 1,920×1,080, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics 5500, Total storage: 32GB SSD



Compared to the Pixel, you miss out on the versatile USB Type-C connections, but it does mean you do away with the need for any adaptors to output to an external display. Instead, the Chromebook 13 has an HDMI output, two full-size USB ports and a microSD card reader which you can use to expand the storage. For networking, you have 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in.


The Chromebook 13 has a 1,920×1,080 resolution IPS panel, which is a welcome upgrade over the 1,366×768 panels often seen on budget Chromebooks. Of course, its pixel density is nowhere near as high as the Google Chromebook Pixel’s display, but it’s still plenty sharp enough for everyday internet browsing. 

I was also fond of the Pixel’s 3:2 aspect ratio, as it made web browsing a pleasant experience, but some will prefer the more conventional 16:9 ratio of the Chromebook 13. The touchscreen panel has beautifully deep blacks at 0.25cd/m2, but its peak brightness was a little more mediocre at 227.3cd/m2. Likewise, it’s contrast ratio of 857:1 was good, but not spectacular, but its 90% sRGB colour gamut coverage was great, as it delivered bright, vibrant colours in all of our subjective image tests. 


With a Core i5 processor behind it, performance naturally feels very slick and responsive, and Chrome OS’s visual flourishes are all seamless thanks to the Chromebook 13’s abundance of raw processing power. If anything, an Intel Core i5 processor feels like distinct overkill for Chrome OS, which is significantly less taxing than other operating systems by design.

Still, Chrome apps, such as the image editing software Polarr, ran without a hitch, and opening numerous media-heavy tabs in Chrome didn’t cause any slowdown. A SunSpider browser test score of 248.9ms is great, although not quite as slick as the Chromebook Pixel. A score of 160.1 in the more challenging JetStream browser test is also excellent, and the Chromebook 13 even managed to produce 44fps in WebGL 3D cubes benchmark, which, as a point of reference, is double what we saw from the budget Acer Chromebook R11.

Dell Chromebook 13 closed

Of course, this being a Chromebook, you’ll still need an internet connection to really do anything productive with it, and even then you’re still limited. You still don’t have the full range of applications you’d expect in Chrome OS, so don’t expect to get anywhere near the same functionality you’ll get from a Windows or OS X-based laptop, but that’s in part what you sign up for with Chrome OS.

Battery life was excellent, managing 10 hours 32 minutes of video playback with the screen set to 170cd/m2 brightness. If you’re just using the Chromebook 13 for everyday browsing you’ll get even more longevity, so it’s certainly a device you can comfortably use the entire day away from the mains.


The Dell Chromebook 13 is undoubtedly a premium Chromebook, but Chrome OS still doesn’t really justify the need for such wanton specifications. In all fairness, this is a complaint which can also be levelled at the Chromebook Pixel as well, but when Google’s Chromebook offers so much more for less once you add in VAT, the top-end Chromebook 13 is difficult to recommend. 

As a result, opting for one of the more entry-level versions is better value for money. The entry-level Celeron model will still bring performance benefits over its cheaper Chromebook rivals, and when it’s paired with Dell’s much improved build quality as well, this particular model of Chromebook 13 starts  to becomes a much more attractive option than its overpriced siblings. In that regard, there’s a lot to like about the Chromebook 13 provided you’re happy to work around the limitations of Chrome OS, but the top-end model isn’t necessary.

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Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-5300U
Memory slots (free)1 (0)
Max memory8GB
Sound3.5mm headset port
Pointing deviceTouchpad, touchscreen
Screen size13.3in
Screen resolution1,920×1,080
Graphics adaptorIntel HD Graphics 5500
Graphics outputsHDMI
Graphics memoryIntegrated
Total storage32GB SSD
Optical drive typeNone
Ports and expansion
USB ports2x USB2
Networking802.11ac Wi-Fi
Memory card readerMicroSD
Other portsNone
Operating systemChrome OS
Operating system restore optionRestore partition
Buying information
Parts and labour warrantyOne year collect and return
Price inc VAT£1,095
Part numberCA007CHB7310UK

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