Dell XPS 13 vs. ASUS ZenBook 13: Which is best for you?

Dell and ASUS have revealed updates to their 13-inch laptop lines, bringing two mobile devices with the latest hardware inside. The XPS 13 (9370) is available now, but there's still no official release or price for the ZenBook 13. While at first glance they might seem quite similar, there are some important differences that are laid out here to help you decide exactly which is best suited to your needs.

Dell XPS 13 vs. ASUS ZenBook 13: Tech specs

ZenBook 13

Category XPS 13 (9370) ZenBook 13 (UX331UAL)
Processor Eighth-gen Intel Core i5-8250U
Eighth-gen Intel Core i7-8550U
Eighth-gen Intel Core i5-8250U
Eighth-gen Intel Core i7-8550U
RAM 4GB/8GB/16GB DDR3 8GB/16GB DDR3
Storage 128GB SATA SSD
256GB/512GB/1TB SSD
128GB/256GB/512GB SATA SSD
512GB/1TB PCIe SSD
Display size 13.3 inches 13.3 inches
Display resolution 1,920 x 1,080 (FHD)
3,840 x 2,160 (4K UHD)
1,920 x 1,080 (FHD)
Graphics Intel UHD 620 Intel UHD 620
Ports Two Thunderbolt 3
USB-C 3.1
microSD card reader
3.5mm audio jack
Two USB-A 3.0
USB-C 3.1
HDMI 1.4
microSD card reader
3.5mm audio jack
Wireless Killer 1435
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.1
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.2
Camera Front-facing 720p
IR camera for Windows Hello
Front-facing 720p
Biometrics Fingerprint reader (optional) Fingerprint reader
Battery 52WHr 50WHr
Dimensions 11.9 in x 7.8 in x 0.3 to 0.46 in
(302 mm x 199 mm x 7.8 to 11.6 mm)
12.2 in x 8.5 in x 0.55 in
(310 mm x 216 mm x 13.99 mm)
Weight 2.67 pounds (1.2 kg) non-touch
2.68 pounds (1.2kg) touch
2.17 pounds (0.98kg)

Dell XPS 13 vs. ASUS ZenBook 13: Design and features

XPS 13 9370Love a white laptop? Check out the XPS 13!

Both of these laptops seem almost ridiculously thin, but it's actually the XPS 13 that is smaller overall, no doubt helped by the near complete lack of bezel around the display. The ZenBook 13 weighs less at 2.17 pounds (0.98kg) compared to the 2.67 pounds (1.2kg) of the non-touch XPS 13. This has to do with the chassis material; the Zenbook 13 is made from a magnesium-aluminum alloy, whereas the XPS 13 is primarily made from a single piece of aluminum.

The thinness affects the port selection on the XPS 13. There you have two Thunderbolt 3, one USB-C 3.1, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm jack. The Zenbook's slightly larger size allows for two USB-A 3.0, one USB-C 3.0, one HDMI 1.4, a microSD card reader, and a 3.5mm jack. If you have a lot of older peripherals and you like to hook up a display without dongles or adapters, the Zenbook 13 will be a better choice. If, however, you're interested in hooking up an eGPU, the XPS 13's Thunderbolt 3 ports will be better suited.

XPS 13 camera

Signing in with Windows Hello is possible on both laptops, but only the XPS 13 lets you use your face. The ZenBook 13 has only a fingerprint reader. Its camera, however, is located above the display, whereas the XPS 13's cam is below the display, something a lot of people hate because of the nose-view it gives.

Finally, the keyboard and touchpad are mostly up to personal preference, and if possible, you'll want to test out each in person before making a final decision. Still, know that both have comfortable, backlit keys and a sizeable Precision touchpad.

Dell XPS 13 vs. ASUS ZenBook 13: Display

Zenbook 13

The ZenBook 13 doesn't have a touch option, so if you want to use your fingers with your laptop, you should go with the XPS 13. Both of these laptops are strictly notebooks, so a lot of people will seek out the non-touch option anyway for increased battery life. For the least bezel around the display, the XPS 13 still wins, although ASUS has come a long way.

As for resolution, the ZenBook 13 is capped at 1080p, whereas you can get an XPS 13 with a 4K display. Looking for something that you can use to edit multimedia, or do you just love a high-res screen? You'll want to check out the XPS 13.

Dell XPS 13 vs. ASUS ZenBook 13: Performance

ZenBook 13

These two laptop are closely matched in physical hardware, both using eighth-generation U-series Intel Core processors (CPU), both available with up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and both using a combination of SATA and PCIe solid-state drives (SSD).

Real-world performance is going to partly come down to how well the laptops keeps itself cool. Dell uses a dual-fan solution and GORE thermal insulation that should keep things from overheating when under heavy load, and it will be interesting to see how the ZenBook 13 competes.

As for choosing a configuration, both laptops are again closely matched, although you can snag an XPS 13 with 4GB of RAM, whereas the ZenBook 13 only goes as low as 8GB. If all you need is a laptop for web browsing and word processing, the lower amount of RAM should mean a lower amount of money spent.

Dell XPS 13 vs. ASUS ZenBook 13: Price

XPS 13 9370

The Dell XPS 13 is available now and starts at about $1,000 for a baseline model that's suited for light tasks because of the 4GB of RAM and 128GB SATA SSD. Prices rise accordingly, and you can get a top-end model with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, and a 4K touch display for about $2,050.

ASUS hasn't yet announced a concrete price for the ZenBook 13, saying the information will come along with the official release date. That date is expected to be somewhere in the first half of 2018. Want a prediction on price? You're probably looking at somewhere between $1,000 and $1,150 for a model with a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SATA SSD.

Dell XPS 13 vs. ASUS ZenBook 13: Conclusion

XPS 13

After comparing these two laptops, a few things are clear. They're both not going to take up much room in a bag and they certainly aren't a pain to carry around, and both have similar hardware ranging from light duty to high performance.

If you need a device with a touch display or 4K resolution, the XPS 13 is your only real choice here. If you need USB-A ports for your legacy peripherals, the ZenBook 13 makes a better choice, but the two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the XPS 13 are versatile if you don't mind dongles or docks.

Choosing between these two will partly come down to price and availability. If you can wait, you'll no doubt want to have a look at the ZenBook 13 when it's officially released, but if you need something today, the XPS 13 is ready to ship.

Related resources

Be sure to check out the Windows Central Laptop Buyer's Guide for far more information about our favorite devices.

See the Windows Central Laptop Buyer's Guide