Intel continues to adhere to its "Tick-To" strategy, according to which the release of new processors is divided into two stages. The "Teak" stage involves the reduction of the process and minor improvements in the microarchitecture, and the "So" stage is the release of processors with a new architecture, without changing the technical process. The processor Intel Core i7-5500U, installed in the Dell XPS 13 laptop we are considering, belongs to the "Tick" stage. This processor is made on a 14-nm process technology, while its predecessors, Intel Core 4-generation processors, were executed on a 22-nm process technology. Thanks to the new technical process, the crystal size was reduced by 37%, and the number of transistors was increased by 35%.
While developing the Broadwell architecture, Intel engineers did not focus on increasing processor performance. Even the emerging support for DDR3L-1866 standard memory will increase the performance of the computer in graphics tasks, rather than dependent exclusively on the processor's performance. When developing a new family of processors, the main emphasis was on reducing the power consumption of the processor and improving processor graphics.
In the new graphics cores of Intel HD Graphics 5300 and 5500, the number of executive units increased to 24 pieces, the maximum frequency of these graphics cores is 950 MHz, but will vary depending on the processor and video core. The previous video cores of Intel HD Graphics 4200, 4400, 4600 had only 20 execution units, and the maximum frequency of these video processors was 1,200 MHz.
Other graphics cores, Intel Iris 5000, 5100 and 5200, which had 40 execution units, also found a replacement. In the new graphics cores of Intel HD Graphics 6000, 6100, 6200, as well as in Intel Iris Pro Graphics 6200 and P6300, 48 execution units are installed. The new processor graphics Iris Pro will take up most of the crystal, and a simpler Intel HD 5500 occupies about half its area. As for the clock frequencies, the maximum frequency of the video core of the old Intel Iris and Iris Pro, belonging to the Haswell generation, was 1100-1300 MHz, and for the new integrated video adapters it will decrease to 1000-1100 MHz.
The new graphics core Intel HD Graphics 5500, HD 6000, Iris 6100 and 6200 will support DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3 and OpenCL 2.0. 4K resolution is also supported, and it can be obtained not only via cable, but also with the help of Intel WiDi 5.1 technology. DirectX 12 support was promised separately, although in fact it's too early to talk about it, because DirectX 12 itself will appear only in Windows 10.
Some changes have occurred in the chipset (PCH), which is on the substrate of the processor, and these changes rather narrow the chip's capabilities. The new PCH supports only 4 USB 3.0 ports instead of 6 ports in the HasH PCH, although this is a very small loss, because a rare ultrabook requires more than three USB 3.0. The number of SATA III ports has decreased from 6 to 4 – in general, there is nothing to be sad about: rarely more than two or three were used, even with the presence of the M.2 port. The number of supported USB 2.0 connectors has not changed, there are still eight.
Also in PCH appeared a new digital signal processor (DSP) Intel Smart Sound. This DSP, in contrast to its predecessor, has support for postprocessing and Wake on Voice technology, which allows the owner to wake the sleeping ultrabook with the help of voice commands.
So, the new Intel Broadwell processors look pretty interesting. However, until there are no tests conducted, it's better not to talk about their power. We will return to them in the section "Performance testing", but for now let's talk about what the laptop Dell XPS 13.
Beautiful appearance – a special feature of the XPS line. As before, the lid and bottom of the laptop are made of aluminum, the frame is made of magnesium alloy, and the working area is made of carbon fiber with a "soft-touch" coating. The maximum thickness of the ultrabook is 21 mm.
Separately, it's worth telling about the screen of the new XPS 13. The manufacturer calls it "frameless" – and it's very similar to the truth. The left, right and top frames on the screen of the new XPS 13 really turned out to be very thin. As a result, the place for the webcam was found only in the lower left part of the screen. It looks like this move is beautiful only until you need to use the camera. The fact is that the angle "from somewhere to the left from below" will not go to everyone – even a thin face at such a view angle will look full. Therefore, the camera XPS 13 is best used only as a last resort: when there is nothing else left.
Dell XPS 13 almost does not get dirty. Dirt, which falls on its silvery cover, will be unobtrusive, and fingerprints cover practically does not collect. The working area, too, can not be used for fingerprinting – it saves the three-dimensional texture of its surface. As a result, cleaning the laptop will not be a difficult task – the usual cloth from microfiber is enough for this.
The laptop turned out not only beautiful, but also convenient. The progress of the keys on its keyboard is quite acceptable for island type keyboards, and pressing is perfectly felt: it's a pleasure to type on this laptop.