Dell XPS 13 touchscreen vs. non-touchscreen

Dell XPS 13
(Image credit: Future)

Dell XPS 13 touchscreen vs. non-touchscreen

Best answer: If you're looking to get a 4K display, then you'll want a touch-enabled Dell XPS 13, but without official pen support, the regular non-touch will be better value for most people. People who want to use touch or a pen should get the XPS 13 2-in-1 instead.

Touch adds more to the price

It shouldn't be any surprise, but having the Dell XPS 13 with a touchscreen will cost you more than if you go for one without it. The standard choice is the 1080p non-touch display, but this can be configured to a 1080p touch version for an additional $100. The 4K display with touch is also an option now, as is a 3.5K OLED touch panel, but these come standard on higher-end models in the range, though you can opt to spec it down to a 1080p on some models.

The quality of Dell's displays is excellent, whichever you go for, with exceptional brightness and color reproduction across the board. However, even the touch models don't officially support a digital pen, so you're not gaining a whole lot of functionality by being able to jab at your laptop screen with your fingers. After all, Windows 10 isn't the most touch-optimized operating system, with both Store and traditional desktop apps, for the most part, better used with a keyboard and mouse pointer.

Most people who buy a Dell XPS 13 will spend more time using the trackpad or an external mouse, which means there's an excellent opportunity to save some money and ditch the touchscreen. The savings outweigh the small use the touchscreen will likely have for most on one of the best Windows laptops.

4K only comes with touch

If you're in the market for a 4K display, however, perhaps for creative work or professional applications such as CAD, you'll need a touchscreen. You don't have to use it, but there's no option for a 4K non-touch.

That's a little disappointing since plenty of people won't want both, and Dell could have offered a lower-cost 4K option this way. But whether you buy the top-of-the-line configuration or add it as an option yourself, the 4K display only comes with touch.

The same can now be said of the 3.5K OLED display, too. A beautiful-looking panel, but only available with touch.

A better choice for inking

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Future)

If you have a desire to use inking with a digital pen, perhaps the best reason to have a touch-enabled Windows device at all right now, there is a better option. The XPS 13 2-in-1 is a convertible version of the XPS 13 with a display that folds right round. It can be used either as a traditional laptop, a tablet, or somewhere in between.

The hardware inside is now a little more impressive, too, with 11th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and the possibility of having Intel's new Xe graphics. It even starts at around the same price as the regular XPS 13, making it an exceptional value laptop.

The beauty of the XPS 13 2-in-1 is that it supports Dell's Active Pen, so you can write and draw away to your heart's content. It's an extra spend, but well worth it, and the 2-in-1 variant is the better touchscreen choice for anyone who really, truly wants to have touch on their laptop.

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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.