Dell has three XPS laptops that look a lot alike. But which one is right for you?
Updated February 1, 2017: We've refreshed this article to reflect recent changes made by Dell to its XPS line, including new hardware and a 2-in-1 model.
Both are extremely enticing, especially now that the XPS 13 is available in a 2-in-1 design. So if you're set on a Dell XPS and you don't know which one to choose, we can help.
Let's start at the very top and break down the specs you can get in each XPS model.
|Category||XPS 13||XPS 13 2-in-1||XPS 15|
|Processor||Seventh-gen Intel Core i3, i5, i7||Seventh-gen Intel Core i5, i7||Seventh-gen Intel Core i3, i5, i7|
|Display size||13.3 inches||13.3 inches||15.6 inches|
|Display resolution||1080p non-touch
|Graphics||Intel HD 620||Intel HD 615||Intel HD 630 (Core i3)
NVIDIA GTX 1050
|Storage||128/256/512GB, 1TB SSD||128/256/512GB SSD||500GB HDD + 32GB SSD
1TB HDD + 32GB SSD
256/512GB, 1TB SSD
|Dimensions||11.98 x 7.8 x 0.33-0.60in
304 x 235 x 9 to 15mm
|11.98 x 7.8 x 0.32-0.54in
304 x 199 x 8 to 13.7mm
|14.06 x 9.27 x 0.45-0.66in
357 x 235 x 11 to 17mm
|Weight||2.7lbs (1.2kg) non-touch
2.9lbs (1.29kg) touch
|2.7lbs (1.24kg)||4lbs (1.8kg) non-touch
4.4lbs (2kg) touch
|Ports||2x USB 3.0
USB-C Thunderbolt 3
USB-C Thunderbolt 3
|2x USB 3.0
USB-C Thunderbolt 3
|Price||from $799||from $999||from $999|
Besides the obvious things, such as size and the new 2-in-1 design available for the XPS 13, one of the most important hardware differences to point out is the dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM available in the XPS 15. If you enjoy gaming and would like more power than Intel HD Graphics 620, you'll have to go with the XPS 15 with a Core i5 or Core i7 configuration.
One of the other major hardware differences is the processor. The XPS 15's Core i5 and Core i7 processors are quad-core pieces that sport much more power than the dual-core processors in both XPS 13 models. The difference between dual- and quad-core power matters most for heavy-load processing, making the XPS 15 a much better choice for developers, graphic artists and anyone else who does a lot of data crunching.
If more power is something you need, you can stop right here and order a higher-end XPS 15 configuration. It's great for gaming thanks to the NVIDIA GTX 1050, the 4K display is clear and large enough for easy multimedia editing, and developers will love the quad-core processor. Don't forget you also have the option for more RAM and a larger battery.
Anyone who needs the extra functionality of a laptop that can fold around and be used as a tablet no doubt loves that Dell released an XPS 13 2-in-1. Its hardware is almost the same as the standard XPS 13, except all configurations understandably have a touch-enabled display, there is no Core i3 processor available, and the battery is down to 46WHr from 60WHr.
These things don't make a huge difference, especially if you really want a 2-in-1 laptop, but they should be noted. If you absolutely need the longest battery life possible or don't think you want a touchscreen, go with the standard XPS 13 or the XPS 15. If you desire a touch display and you want to use your XPS 13 as a tablet a lot of the time, the XPS 13 2-in-1 should be your first choice.
The standard XPS 13 starts at $799, the XPS 13 2-in-1 starts at $999, and the XPS 15 starts at $999. If you're looking for the absolute cheapest Dell XPS laptop out there and don't mind what hardware it has within, grab the standard XPS 13 with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB solid-state drive.
If you jump up to the next XPS 13 configuration, you're looking at paying about $200 more for quite a bit more hardware. You can get a speed boost with an Intel Core i5 processor and double your memory with 8GB of RAM. Prices and hardware scale up together, with the top-end configuration sitting at about $2250.
The XPS 13 2-in-1 tops out at about $1800, but you can only get up to a 512GB solid-state drive. This is where most of the price difference lies — the processors are also slightly different between the standard and 2-in-1 models, but the specs are nearly the same except for the energy efficiency. The Core i7-7Y75 processor in the XPS 13 2-in-1 uses less power, which partially makes up for the smaller battery.
As expected with its 15.6-inch, 4K display, quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GTX 1050, and 32GB of DDR4 RAM, the top XPS 15 configuration is pricay at about $2500. If you don't care for a 4K display and don't need the dedicated graphics card, you'd be better suited sticking with the XPS 13. If money is no option and you want the best possible hardware and a 4K display, the XPS 15 should be your choice.
Size for these notebooks is simply not as big a deal as with other laptop makers, but it is still worth consideration. The XPS 13 is incredibly small for a 13-inch notebook, with Dell having squeezed it into the form factor of something closer to Apple's 11-inch MacBook Air.
The XPS 15 is also smaller, lighter, and slimmer than the average 15-incher, with a form factor more akin to that of a 14-inch notebook. So you've still got a few inches between them, it's just that both are smaller than their display sizes would indicate.
Both XPS 13 models in particular are great to throw in a bag if you're a frequent traveller. They're so compact that they'll take up very little room, will fit it any laptop bag, and are light enough you'll barely know they're there.
The bottom line
You won't really make a wrong decision if you go with an XPS laptop. All of them have the latest Kaby Lake processors, beautiful displays, and chassis that are as functional as they are attractive. The final decision is always yours, but based on what we know of these great laptops, we feel comfortable making a couple of recommendations.
If you're not interested in the high-resolution displays, and dedicated graphics aren't on the agenda, go for the XPS 13 or the XPS 13 2-in-1. Unless screen real estate is of the utmost importance, you'll have a better all-round experience with the smaller model.
When you step up the hardware, the decision comes down to what you actually do want. If graphics are important, go for the NVIDIA GTX 1050 in the XPS 15. Likewise, if you need more RAM and a larger, higher-resolution display, you should go with the XPS 15.
If you love the idea of being able to use your laptop as a standard notebook when you have a lot on your plate, but also want to sit back and enjoy a game or a movie in tablet mode, the XPS 13 2-in-1 is really your only choice.