Dell readies a Tiger Lake refresh on XPS 13 Ubuntu Linux Developer Edition

Arguably the best Linux laptop ever is getting a major speed boost.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

It used to be really hard to find a Linux-powered laptop. You had to turn to small, specialty Linux-friendly PC vendors such as Purism, System76, or ZaReason. Now, Lenovo is releasing almost 30 Ubuntu Linux PCs and laptops. And, in days, Dell will release a new XPS 13 Developer Edition pre-loaded with Ubuntu 20.04 Long Term Support (LTS) Linux and a faster-than-ever 11th Gen Intel Core Tiger Lake processor. 

Tiger Lake is Intel's new system-on-chip. It takes over from the previous Lake Field chip. It's based on Intel's Willow Cove Core microarchitecture. On the new Developer Edition of the Dell XPS 13, you can get up to a 4.8GHz Core i7 Tiger Lake quad-core processor. 

These higher-end CPUs also come with Iris Xe, Intel's new and much faster, integrated graphics. How much faster? Intel claims Iris Xe is twice as fast as Intel UHD Graphics.  

Making things even faster, the Developer Edition XPS 13 comes with 4,267MHz LPDDR4 RAM. The previous generation came with 3733MHz memory. You can also get up to 32GB of this rocket-fast memory. 

For ports, the new Dell Linux developer machines come with a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports. With these ports, you can power external devices, transfer data at 40Gb/s throughput, and run a pair of 4K external DisplayPort monitors. 

If you elect to use the 13.4-inch display, you can get in either 1920x1200 FHD+ or 4K resolutions. In my experience with the last XPS 13 Developer Edition, I'd opt for the FHD+ model. Even with a somewhat bigger display, thanks to Dell shrinking the bezel so that the screen-to-body ratio is 91.5%, 4K resolution is too much for this size display. 

For networking, the XPS 13 uses Killer Wi-Fi 6. This is built on Intel's W-iFi 6 chipset. It's a 2×2, module, which supports 160MHz channels and Bluetooth 5.1. In theory, it can deliver up to 2.4Gbps of throughput.

For storage, it's all about PCIe solid-state drives. You can get this starting at 256GB to 1TB. 

Dell claims nearly 19 hours of battery life from the XPS 13 Developer Edition. In my tests of the last version, which Dell made similar claims for, I didn't see that much battery life. Still, I'm able to get a solid day's work out of my older, maxed out model. 

Let's say though that you got a Windows Dell XPS 13 box. No worries. Dell can help remedy this problem for you. Dell stated you can easily switch your system from Windows to Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. This is done by simply downloading and installing Ubuntu Linux -- even if you did not originally purchase the Developer Edition. Any XPS-13 can run both operating systems side-by-side, or you can let Ubuntu take over.

Dell has yet to release pricing on the latest Developer Edition XPS 13. I expect it to be in line with the last release. Previously, pricing began at $1,199.99 for an i5-based Developer Edition with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, an FHD display, and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS preloaded. 

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