The 4K-off: Dell XPS 15 vs ASUS Zenbook Pro UX501 quick comparison

One of the other well-known PC makers with a 4K powerhouse laptop is Dell, which updated its XPS 15 back at CES. So let's see how the newcomer stacks up against the old guard.

The Dell XPS 15 is available in a number of configurations, but for comparison's sakes we've gone for the closest match to the higher-end of the new Zenbook's. Check out a quick comparison chart below:

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CategoryXPS 15Zenbook Pro UX501
Operating SystemWindows 8.1Windows 8.1
CPUIntel Core i7-4712HQ (4th Gen)Intel Core i7-4720HQ (4th Gen)
Internal Storage512GB mSATA SSD512GB PCIe SSD
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GT 750M 2GBNVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB
Display15.6-inch 4K touch (3840 x 2160)15.6-inch 4K touch (3840 x 2160)
Wifi802.11 ac802.11 ac
Battery91Whr (Claimed up to 11 hours)96 Whr (Claimed 6 hours)
Dimensions372mm (14.6") x 254mm (10") x 18mm (0.7")383mm (15.07") x 255mm (10") x 21.3mm (0.84")
Weight2.01kg (4.44lbs)2.08kg (4.6lbs)
Ports3 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, miniDP, HDMI, SD card, 3.5mm headphone3 x USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, miniDP (optional Thunderbolt), SD card, 3.5mm headphone

The most startling difference is the price. The XPS 15 can be had in a cheaper 4K configuration, but even that will run you for $2149. This one replaces the 512GB SSD for a 1TB hard drive and a 32GB SSD, and it has a much smaller, 61Whr battery it seems. The XPS 15 is really a 2013 release still at this point, as the only thing Dell updated at CES was the addition of the 4K display.

ASUS is also listing a cheaper version of the UX501, but it's the 4K model that's being shouted about, and with a price like this it's easy to see why. Hardware wise it's arguably got a leg up on the XPS 15 in areas. Both are big, both are beautiful and both are made from premium materials with lashings of metal all round.

If you already own the XPS 15, there's nothing super compelling that would necessarily get you to switch, not unless you're stepping up to a 4K display. But unless you're into Dell, the UX501 has to be worth some attention. What Dell does next with the XPS 15 is going to be interesting, but the competition is already heating up.

Dell or Asus? Or something else entirely? Sound off in the comments below!

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

  • What is causing the disparity in battery life estimates given the similar capacities? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Dell severely over-estimated, IMO. Even the non-4K struggles for 8 hours, so I cannot see how the 4K version hits 10. I think Asus is being more accurate in their battery times given the crazy horsepower this thing packs.
  • I own the Dell XPS 15 QHD, that dell is going to exchange it for me with a New 4K Model soon. I can say it is in noway will last 11 hrs on a constant use. Maybe in standby mode and or off and on use(XPS has a battery saving mode that if its not used in few secs, it goes in kinda sleep mode to save power. Even if you dim the display very very low, you may get, 8 hrs out of it, on a constant use. However, i have to say, this ASUS is freaking AWESOME for only $1499. Man, i wish it was available when i bought my XPS. Oh well. Still preaty happy with mine.  
  • Dell has a habit of being a little 'generous' IMO. Hence saying claimed.
  • No brainer. Buy the Asus and throw a $1k party.
  • Exactly!
  • Not a no brainer when you consider the problems recent Zenbooks have (everything from display to hinges to trackpads).  The XPS line also had issues (coil whine, wifi card).  I would be very cautious with both of them, maybe even avoid both because of recent quality issues.
  • I believe you going to avoid everything in this world. Even your.....mmmm
  • I cannot speak of the Asus, having never owned one, but Dell tracked the coil whine to a faulty component and replaced the batch of XPS15 and XPS13 that suffered from the problem. It hasn't been an issue since late 2013. But you have to be cautious with any big ticket purchase.
  • Actually, just googled the price for dell it came out to be $1400, so price is wrong for dell...
  • That's the cheaper version. This one is the high end model.
  • Exactly the same PC, 4k screen, same CPU, RAM, etc. Just go to ebay, and you will see.
  • For the price discrepancy alone the Asus gets my vote. At $1500 I'm tempted to buy that computer.
  • So you can get the Asus and get a Surface 4 for the price of the Dell....sorry Dell. Signature Asus would be the way to go for me.
  • They both fail to meet my minimum specs. As a developer I am often running multiple emulators and VMs. I need 32GB RAM!
  • Honest question: What percentage of the market do you think you represent? I only ask because 32GB of RAM is a nearly unheard of amount for a laptop PC and I do not see why a manufacturer would even bother making it for such a small audience.
  • Daniel, the honest answer is the percentage is very small, maybe 10%.  Even for most power users, (non-developers) 16GB is enough (for now).  I do realize there's 32GB laptops out there like MSI, Alienware, etc., but those are physical monstrosities with power bricks that rival the XBox power brick.  I'm looking for the sveltness of these Asus or Apple, but with 32GB RAM.  My current Laptop is an MSI GS60 4K, which has been great for a year now.  I have a Samsung 1TB SSD and I have it driving 2 4K monitors @ 30Mhz.  I want something like that with touch-screen and 32GB RAM.  I would buy it today.
  • doesn't the "newest" Dell Alienware offers 4K and touchscreen laptop with 32GB optional RAM? You can customize few things, as an optional. Take a look, i could be wrong, but their newest stuff is AWESOME. Also, I don't see why you couldn't buy a 32GB RAM, on your own, and replace the 16GB that comes in ASUS and XPS laptops. They are expensive, but available online. Just a thought.   
  • You represent maybe 1% of the market.  In which case you should probably look to full out professional ranged companies such as Eurocom. 
  • Have you experienced high heat issues with the MSI GS60? That and the poor battery life are the only factors making me wary of buying one.
  • Yes, it can get hot, and the fan runs constantly.  But it's > 1 year now and it's still working well.
  • Well, I think that you can add ram to these laptops. Or not?
  • Worth noting that the Dell came out in 2013.
  • Not the 4K one. I know what you're saying but the 4K upgrade released in Feb. I did however make that clearer.
  • 4K-off?? Fourkoff..Oh wait...DAT WORD PLAY DHO! XD
  • I am in the market for a high-end 15" notebook and both these are very close, but fall short in the battery department.  It seems the best one is still the Macbook Pro, but if you run windows, which I probably would, you're back to having poor battery life again.  I am really hoping dell comes out with an XPS 15 revamp similar to the 13, and they cram a 15" screen in a smaller body.  Can anyone figure out why there is a $1000 price difference between these two?  I mean they pretty much match each other spec for spec, but the Asus has even higher end parts in some cases, I wonder where they are cutting corners?
  • I ran Windows on an MBP using BootCamp for about a year.  It does drain the battery faster than OS X, and the other big drawback was the thunderbolt / display ports would not work at all if you put the laptop to sleep.  When it would wake up, the ports were inactive, only a reboot would bring them back.
  • ASUS one is a no-brainer! 
    But their must be some kind of tradeoff because of that pricepoint, but then again, Dell and their prices have not always been very reasonable. :)
  • Actually EVERYONE with their AWESOME technology has been reasonable. EXCEPT for CrApple, with their Overrated, 4 YEARS BEHIND others trash, with a ridiculous price tag. Just look at the MacCrap Book, that is a is an 8 inch tablet WITHOUT a touchscrren, motherboard inside a laptop with 1 port(just like a cheap 8 inch tablet), with LOW ram """starting""" at $1500 with only 2K screen. Talk about rip off. How people don't see what CrApple has done here is Beyond me. 8inch cheap tablet motherboard inside a laptop, without a touchscreen. WOW sooooooo revolutionary, NOOOOT
  • The Asus would've been the perfect upgrade for me from my U500VZ, except it lacks a numberpad. Very sad, given how great they are, and how hard they are to find on decent 15" laptops these days.
  • This ASUS X501 Pro, in this article does has a number pad on the side. take a close look at the keyboard. 
  • That's the Dell that appears (at least in the pictures) to be missing the numeric keypad. It looks like the Asus has one. Not sure I would have been paying attention to this additional difference if you hadn't commented on it though, so thanks! Another pro to the Asus over the Dell.
  • Presumably, the next XPS15 will emulate the new XPS13. A 15" laptop in a 13" form factor would be lovely.
  • Price is a big difference.
  • Why's this have a Haswell proc instead of Broadwell? Seems almost perfect otherwise. I love my N550JV.
  • I'm no processor buff but IIRC there isn't a quad-core Broadwell yet for machines such as these.
  • i7 Haswell CPU, is still one of the BEST CPU you can buy. 
  • If you see the clearly the asus zenbook is the winner because the output display nvidia 960 is a newer graphic card which will support the best display frame rates and the battery life consumption is proper as consumed by the graphic card on the system, Dell is no matter a good brand but lacks behind
  • I don't understand why people think they need such powerful laptops. I thought desktops were where you get the serious work done and laptops were for lighter use on the go. Maybe I'm not with the times but I don't see the need for 16GB of RAM and half a terabyte of storage on a laptop. Even running two virtual machines and multiple IE tabs open, my desktop with only a 'miniscule' 8GB of RAM does just fine. I think its more about bragging rights than having a need for all that hardware.
  • My laptop is my only computer. I don't even go home every night, so I have to do serious work on the move. Sloths fight leopards. You can't open a bag of chips. Clearly humans are the weaker species.
  • When you're a developer, you do.  I'm not running any VMs right now and I'm at 11GB used with < 15 browser tabs open. It has nothing to do with bragging rights. I like having ONE machine - not managing a desktop at home, office, and then a laptop for travel.  If I can get a high powered enough laptop I can just close it and pick up right where I left off at any time. I also am a heavy Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop user.  Having the extra RAM makes a huge difference.
  • New Intel Processors coming out will have the ability to be fanless which will allow a lot more room to add components such as additional ram, such as the Surface Pro 4.  But these processors are still mobile versions of their desktop versions...
  • @morrisonbrett, I have that capability thanks to the built-in Offline Files capability. When I leave the house I grab my convertible laptop (happens to be a Fujitssu T904 which is feature-similar to the Surface Pro 3, but came out a little earlier). That also lets me work in bed or other parts of the house. But when I'm at my desk I get the full power of my workstation with dedicated graphics and dual 30" screens. Any work I do on one is almost instantly available on the other (brief sync delay of a few seconds, but it's all automatic in the background). This has a few added benefits -- automatic data protection and superior shared file access for other systems. Specifically, while I do run RAID1 on my workstation, this also means that my data is always on both systems, so barring all hard drives failing at once (possible, I suppose with a lightning strike or EMP), my data is incredibly safe from loss due to hardware failure (not claiming this is any better against hackers). This also means that my wife's machine has access to shared or public folders, so things like pictures or music and selected other documents are available not just on my 2 main computers but on hers and any others we give access. From a cost, portability, and data integrity perspective, I think this is hard to beat. It's much less expensive to build a powerhouse of a desktop. No laptop can really touch them in terms of total performance due to backplane speeds and high powered graphics cards that are always significantly weakend in even the most powerful laptop. And, this means that the laptop can have the power it needs, but focus on portability, battery life, and/or whatever issues you most care about in your portable system (I really wanted the super-high-res screen, long battery life, active stylus, and ability to use it as a tablet). Also, from a data backup perspective, nothing is easier than automatic cross-computer file syncing and by having a laptop as one of the sync systems, it's highly unlikely to fail at the same time as the desktops (excellent surge protection by its AC->DC power brick). And just like the 'I' in RAID stands for inexpensive, a multi-computer system is actually cheaper than a single highly reliable fault tolerant computer, and in most cases provides superior up-time and protection. Lastly, I also run my own Windows Server 2012 cluster at home on pretty wimpy hardware (Celeron CPU, but RAID1 in each for HD failure tolerance), but that provides another pair of cheap redundant systems that also acts as the chief store for all the data/document directories with which the workstation and laptop sync. If either fails, it's almost trivial to spin up a replacement server. This also lets me bring a new client/workstation system online with the proper settings via Group Policy in no time. These use Microsoft's Redirected Folders and Disributed File system to further enhance the Offline Files experience. But this whole last step could be left out for the typical user who just wants a superpowerful system and a highly portable system and incredible data integrity protection with minimal risk of downtime in the event of the inevitable hardware failures.
  • @WebColin70 - Thanks for your thoughtful response.  You seem to have a nice setup where you get the benefits of having multiple machines, with minimal downside.  I haven't used offline files in a while.  We were heavy DFS users at my last company.  Haven't tried either with systems outside AD domains (workgroups).  Ideally, I wouldn't want to have to manage an AD for my home network.  I've done that before and I kind of like not having to do that anymore.  Less is more sometimes. I agree with you that laptops are always going to lag behind desktops specwise.   I think I'm close to finding my ultimate setup.  I'm pretty much there with my MSI setup.  I simply want more than 16GB RAM so I'm not hitting memory pressure and swapping when I run VMs. I'm using OneDrive > 200GB for most backups including many years of photos.  It works for now - should something catatrophic happen to my laptop.  And I use BitLocker on my laptop HD.
  • That sounds good too! One general note for anyone considering this: you can use Offline Files just fine without an AD or any Windows Server. At least Windows Pro does it just fine, not sure about Windows Home. You would need Server for the Redirected Files feature (where it automatiaclly maps My Documents, My Pictures, etc. to a server based share and makes them available offline), but you can achieve basically the same thing by just setting the location of "My Documents" to be any share on your network, which could include a shared My Documents on another Windows computer. These will still do all of the auto-syncing same as it would with a server.
  • When you're a developer, you do.  I'm not running any VMs right now and I'm at 11GB used with < 15 browser tabs open. It has nothing to do with bragging rights. I like having ONE machine - not managing a desktop at home, office, and then a laptop for travel.  If I can get a high powered enough laptop I can just close it and pick up right where I left off at any time. I also am a heavy Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop user.  Having the extra RAM makes a huge difference.
  • great FIGHT!
  • Price aside, the Asus model's PCIe storage is going to give it a real performance advantage. Hopefully Dell are working on a new XPS15/M3800 model with the same style of infinity display as the new XPS13 and uprated specs.
  • Both laptops are AWESOME and 100000000x more advanced than the Overrated, Hyped-Up 4 Years Behind others,...........CrApple MacJunk toy, WITH a TOUCHSCREEN, that No MacJunk has yet, till they COPY it AGAIN, and say we invented 1st. And iSHEEP will say""""""wow, we never seen a touchscreen laptop before, apple is so advance and so great, we should be 10 of them, so we can say we got 10 or more, we are so special now, its sad, that everyone has to copy apple. we wonder when other companies will have 4K and touchscreen laptops? Just like our Apple watch that just now came out and no one has it yet. apple is always the 1st to make anything. we think apple even invented the universe 1st too""""". 
  • Seriously man, grow up.  We get it, you don't like Apple. We also get that you don't understand how Apple work and that this is a mainly Windows and Microsoft website.