The XPS 13 2-in-1 – an Engineering Feat

In April 2016, the XPS design team was in an impossible situation.

We were in the early stages of designing a new flagship 2-in-1 laptop. We envisioned a laptop that had would spark envy at the airport. It needed to be small, beautiful, powerful and have good battery life.

Unfortunately, it was impossible to meet all of these goals with the technology that was available to us in January 2016. With the existing technology it could be mobile or powerful or battery efficient but not all three.

We didn’t give up. If we couldn’t do it with existing technology, we’d have to create something new.

We started by putting a Core I Y based processor in the laptop. The Y series is designed for maximum mobility. It uses less power which means it runs cool and maximizes battery life. The Y series also enables small, quiet, beautiful design by eliminating the need for fans.

However, the typical implementation is only powerful enough for light work like web surfing, doing email or writing novels. To meet our goals, we needed to push more power through the Y series processor than we ever had before. This creates a problem: the processor could get too hot to handle.

To solve the problem, we turned to our performance engineering team. They regularly have to meet heat management challenges in our super high performance Alienware and Precision designs.

They developed a new grounds-up power management technology called Dynamic Power Mode. Every laptop has power management technology built in but Dynamic Power Mode is uniquely efficient.

All power management technology keeps the laptop at a usable temperature by throttling the processor when it gets too hot. The typical technology makes an assumption about how hot a processor can get before the laptop is unusable based on prototype testing. Then it uses that assumption to set a fixed upper limit on how hot the processor can get. The problem with this approach is that it isn’t smart enough to adapt to real world scenarios.

Dynamic Power Mode does something different; it uses seven thermal monitors spread throughout the computer to measure ambient computer temperature. It doesn’t have to use broad assumptions because it uses more relevant measurements. Dynamic Power Mode can find more opportunities to comfortably increase performance than the typical power management technology. Alex Shows, our performance engineering lead, wrote a white paper which provides more technical details.

The combination of a Y series processor with Dynamic Power Mode allowed us to meet all our design goals. The XPS 13 2-in-1 is the smallest 13 inch 2-in-1 with a sleek fanless design and just the right amount of power. It has won 20+ awards including Most Outstanding of CES 2017 and multiple Best of CES awards. The reviews have been great. For example, HotHardware says “There’s plenty of horsepower available here to meet all but the most demanding power user’s workloads.” Laptop Mag,, and Notebookcheck agree.

I’ve been using an XPS 13 2-in-1 as my primary laptop since January 2017 and it’s been an awesome experience.

The small size and convertible functionality have proven invaluable to me as I spend far too much time flying in tiny airplane seats every month. E-mail and spreadsheets have run seamlessly and I’ve been able to create and edit even the largest of presentations with ease.  I’ve even been playing some old-school games like Age of Empires and Defense Grid on it; they run great.

If you’re happy with your XPS 13 2-in-1, please let our engineers (Gary Lusk, Alex Shows and others) know with a thank you in the comments as they made the impossible possible for us all to enjoy!

About the Author: Frank Azor

Frank Azor, an Alienware co-founder, now oversees XPS, Dell’s premium consumer brand and Dell gaming, which includes Alienware and Inspiron Gaming. Celebrating 20 years as the leader in PC gaming systems, Alienware sets the standard for premium gaming PCs and innovation, and Inspiron Gaming provides high performance gaming systems at an affordable cost that give gamers a competitive advantage at every level of play. Under his leadership, Dell’s XPS brand has risen to the top in innovation, design and performance, while becoming the most-award winning product-line in Dell history. Frank joined Alienware as a quality engineer and later held executive roles in sales and marketing before creating the Alienware Product Group organization in 2003-after helping to pioneer the industry’s first high-performance gaming notebook, the Area-51M. Later that year, he was credited with the successful launch of Alienware’s first self-designed desktop case (Predator) which immediately made industry headlines and has defined the look of Alienware’s products ever since. Prior to Dell’s acquisition of Alienware in 2006, Frank held the positions of Senior Vice-President of Product Group and Marketing and Executive Vice-President managing the global executive leadership team and reporting directly to the President and CEO. Shortly after helping lead Alienware’s successful integration into Dell, Frank assumed the role of worldwide general manager for the Alienware business unit. Under Frank’s leadership, Alienware’s brand has become the worldwide leader in its industry and has earned hundreds of awards for its products including multiple best of CES product awards. As of 2017, Frank holds 16 patents granted under his name and has been named a milestone inventor by Dell. In 2014, Frank’s role was expanded to include global responsibility for Dell’s XPS business unit, one of the company’s most innovative and valued brands. Since assuming responsibility for the XPS business unit for Dell, Frank instituted a new product and business strategy that led to the successful introduction of the highly acclaimed XPS 13 notebook which has won more than 300 awards since its introduction at CES 2015 and has been deemed the best notebook on the market from numerous outlets including Forbes, Wall Street Journal and CNET. On top of the product accomplishments, Frank’s leadership has reinstated rapid growth for Dell’s XPS business. In 2017, Frank assumed responsibility for launching and managing Dell’s Inspiron Gaming line of powerful yet budget friendly gaming PCs. Inspiron Gaming systems have quickly become a favorite among players and reviewers desiring top graphics performance under $1000 USD. The systems have received many awards including a Computex d&i Gold winner and several Best Gaming PCs of CES awards. Frank sits on the advisory board for Miami Dade College’s MAGIC program where he has led the creation of a Dell-backed scholarship fund to help both high school and college students learn skills and earn degrees in computer graphics design, animation and game development. Frank has also served as a volunteer judge for the FIRST robotics south Florida regional competition since 2013 ( an organization founded by Dean Kamen that has provided students with more than $50 million in college scholarships in 2017 alone. Frank lives in Palmetto Bay, FL USA near Alienware’s headquarters with his wife, their 2 sons and their pet dachshund. Frank is currently playing Overwatch with his oldest son who is also an avid Minecraft player. Frank’s most anticipated games for 2017 exist in Virtual Reality where Frank has been immersed for years – and of course – powered by award-winning VR-ready PCs from Alienware and XPS.