Dell has two XPS laptops that look a lot like each other. But which one to go for?
We're talking about the XPS 13 and XPS-15 of course. Both share the same design language, with almost borderless InfinityEdge displays and bodies constructed of aluminum and carbon fiber. And both stuff their respective sizes into the footprint of a smaller laptop.
Both are extremely enticing. So if you're set on a Dell XPS and you don't know which to stump for, maybe we can help.
Let's start at the very top and break down the specs you can get in each of them.
|Category||XPS 13||XPS 15|
|OS||Windows 10||Windows 10|
|Display size||13.3 inches||15.6 inches|
|Display resolution||1920 x 1080 or 3200 x1800||1920 x 1080 or 3840 x 2160|
|Processor||Intel Core i3/i5/i7 (Skylake)||Intel Core i3/i5/i7 (Skylake)|
|Graphics||Intel HD/Iris||Nvidia 960M (2GB)|
|Storage||128GB SSD, 256/512GB PCIe SSD||500GB/1TB HDD, 256/512GB or 1TB PCIe SSD|
|Battery||56 Wh||84 Wh|
|Dimensions||11.98 x 7.88 x 0.6 in
(304 x 200 x 15 mm)
|14.06 x 9.27 x 0.66 in
(357 x 235 x 17 mm)
|Weight||2.9 lbs (1.29kg)||3.9(non-touch)/4.4 lbs (1.78/2 kg)|
|Ports||Full size USB 3.0 x 2, USB-C Thunderbolt 3, SD card 3.5mm headset||2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, USB-C Thunderbolt 3, SD Card, 3.5mm headset|
|Price||from $799||from $999|
Besides the obvious things, like size, one of the most important hardware differences to point out is the dedicated NVIDIA 960m (2GB) graphics available in the XPS 15. There is no option to have this on the XPS 13, while you'll find it on all current configurations of the XPS 15. Instead, you get the regular Intel HD hardware.
However, there is one other difference. The new 'gold' XPS 13 comes with Intel Iris graphics, which brings a significant performance boost over Intel HD. Intel Iris won't match an Nvidia 960m, but it does deliver some extra kick.
The other difference is the processor as the XPS 15 sports a much more powerful quad-core Intel processor over the dual-core in the XPS 13. That difference matters for heavy-load processing making the XPS 15 a much better choice for developers, graphic artists, and anyone who does a lot of data crunching.
So if this is something you need to have, you can stop right here and order the XPS 15. The XPS 15 is by no means a gaming laptop, but you should be able to play at least something on it, and it's also going to be a better bet for content creators.
Otherwise you get options for just, well, more on the XPS 15. A 4K display over a QHD+ one, up to 32GB of RAM and 1TB of PCIe SSD storage. It's bigger, so there's more room for hardware. Pretty straight forward. What's great to see, though, is USB-C Thunderbolt 3 on both, coming to the XPS 13 with the most recent refresh.
The XPS 13 starts at $799, the XPS 15 at $999 based on current prices and configurations on the Dell U.S. store. The difference here is $200 to the base XPS 13 with not a massive jump in hardware. And while you get more storage, you get a significantly slower HDD over the all SSD storage on even the cheapest XPS 13.
At the higher end the prices get really high for the XPS 15. The XPS 13 isn't exactly cheap at its most equipped, but it tops out at $1,999. The XPS 15 goes all the way up to $2,849. The specs are pretty insane at this point, but it's still very expensive.
A better point to consider is at what price the XPS 15 steps away from the 1080p models. Since these are closest to their smaller siblings, it's when you make the jump to 4K that's perhaps more important.
The cheapest model with a 4K display is $1,899. The cheapest touch-enabled, QHD+ XPS 13 is $500 less. And the display will arguably look just as good. Just smaller. You do, however, get much more than just the display for that extra $500, with more RAM and dedicated NVIDIA graphics.
Size for these notebooks is simply not as big a deal as with other laptop makers, but 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, just that both are smaller than their display sizes would indicate.
The XPS 13 in particular is great to throw in a bag if you're a heavy traveller. It's so compact that it'll take up very little room, will fit it any laptop bag and is light enough you'll barely know it's there.
The bottom line
The final decision is always yours, but based on what we know of these two great laptops, we feel comfortable in 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. 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 any model of the XPS 15 because you can't have a dedicated GPU on the XPS 13. Likewise if you need the larger amounts of RAM for your personal use case.
You won't really make a wrong decision in going for either. You get most of the experience of the XPS 15 on the XPS 13 for a lower price. But you also can't argue with how much sheer power Dell has crammed into the XPS 15.