Update: Our XPS 14 review is live, but Dell hasn't fixed the issue yet. The company believes a new BIOS will take care of it.
You might have noticed that The Verge doesn't have a review of Dell's XPS 14 ultrabook. There's a good reason for that. We had a major issue with our review unit, and it might be a fluke.
After spending several days testing the Nvidia GeForce GT 630M-equipped laptop, we discovered the video game framerates on our particular notebook were extremely erratic, regardless of the game or configuration.
When we hooked up some monitoring software, we noticed an interesting correlation: whenever the framerate began to stutter, the Intel Core i7-3517U processor was running at a power-sipping 800MHz, rather than the 1.9GHz to 3.0GHz clockspeed range it typically occupies during intensive tasks. Particularly interesting was the fact that our standard benchmark scores were just where we expected them to be: it was only during actual gameplay that the processing power of the laptop failed to kick in. We tried a whole variety of power management tweaks, but nothing would get the CPU to budge. Occasionally it would jump up to 2.7GHz or 3.0GHz and our game would run perfectly, but most of the time we had to deal with stuttering.
It's every technology reviewer's nightmare to discover a problem like this while trying to rapidly publish a review, and so we did the only thing we could do after hours of intensive testing: call Dell and hope their engineers could confirm or deny the issue. Since we honestly don't know whether we simply got a bad unit or if more systems could be affected, there weren't many options.
Right now, Dell is testing our machine and promises that it will thoroughly attempt to replicate the issue across other laptops too. We'll also be getting a replacement unit to test soon... but for now, not knowing whether our results were accurate or not (and suspecting they're not) it wouldn't really help you if we published a tentative review.
Here's a little something while you wait, though: a full gallery of our XPS 14 review photos.