The text below comes from a shooting script for the video above; it may not perfectly reflect the dialogue of that video.
Way back in 2020 we fell in love with the Dell XPS 15. The XPS 15 was a sleek and incredibly modular machine that scored a 9 out of 10 on our repairability scale.
We liked it so much that it became the go-to machine for everyone here at iFixit who desperately needed an upgrade to the 2012 MacBook Pros that were our previous standard issue work machines.
But not all of us wanted a 15-inch machine. Some preferred the smaller form factor XPS 13. Now, the 13” inch model didn’t have all of the repair benefits the 15-inch model had, but with its easily removable battery and removable SSD, it did have enough going for it to earn our seal of approval.
Our experience with these 13” models has been…mixed. Several of the devices we received had issues with the soldered-on RAM so naturally, we took an interest in the refreshed XPS 13 and wondered if Dell has taken a more repair-friendly approach with this new model.
This new version of the XPS is slightly thinner and lacks many of the ports we loved in the previous version, and most of the time when we see manufacturers making the move to fewer ports and thinner devices, it means the device is going to be way less repairable. But we won’t know for sure until we tear it down.
The bottom cover is removed by extracting 8 Torx screws and gently prying with a pick to release some clips.
On removing the bottom cover we get our first hopeful sign. It appears that repairability has actually been considered in the design of this machine, at least for the battery. The 51 Wh battery is immediately accessible and is only held in place by standard Phillips screws—no glue.
With the battery removed, it’s already looking a little empty in here so we head right for the good stuff. The fan comes out after removing a couple of Phillips screws and disconnecting it, and the heatsink is only secured to the motherboard by four Phillips screws.
As soon as we remove it, our worst suspicions are confirmed. This new XPS no longer has removable storage. Both the memory and the storage have been integrated into the main board.
To get the main board out we need to disconnect several cables, including a display and an IO connector that are held in place by Phillips screws.
Speaking of screws, the final steps to getting the motherboard out of this machine involves removing five Phillips screws and then, oddly enough, removing all the screws securing the right side display hinge—and then lifting it up to finally free the motherboard.
Now back to that bad news. This base model main board is home to the 12th Gen Intel i5 Processor, 8GB of LPDDR5 integrated, dual channel memory, and 512 GB of NVMe x2 storage, which as we mentioned earlier is integrated into the motherboard.
We’re guessing this was likely done to reduce the device’s size and achieve some power savings. But the downside to this decision is that if either the RAM or SSD fails, it’ll brick the board.
With the main board removed, there’s not much left in the case. There’s a daughterboard that hosts the second USB-C port—which by the way is also blocked off by the left display hinge.
The only thing left is the display, which, after freeing a couple of display cables, separates easily enough.
And that’s it! There’s not an awful lot more left in this device.
We recently saw the same types of repair unfriendly decisions in Apple’s M2 MacBook Air, and we were really hoping some manufacturer would step up and produce a sleek 13” laptop with repairability in mind.
In the past, Dell has been one of the computer manufacturers that have been easy for us to recommend to people. They have free and open access to service manuals, and their devices have been very modular. They also proved with the previous versions of the XPS that you don’t have to sacrifice sustainability to have a machine look sleek and modern.
While we are happy that Dell continues to make battery removal and replacement easy as ever, the soldered RAM and storage are major steps in the wrong direction, and we’re sad to say the 13-inch XPS will no longer be one of iFixit’s recommended laptops.
Have you had RAM issues with an XPS 13? What laptop do you recommend we check out next? Drop a comment below, or find us on social media! Until next time, happy fixing!