New Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15: Which should you buy?
Bigger may not always be better.
The XPS 13 is one of the very best all-rounders and became a class leader for a reason. The newest version is even more sensational than the last and is pretty much the perfect Ultrabook.
- 12th Gen processors
- Great battery life
- Thunderbolt 4 USB-C
- Wi-Fi 6E
- Optional UHD+ display
- More portable
- No digital pen support
- No microSD card reader
- Smaller physical display
- No dedicated GPU
- Fewer ports
The newest XPS 15 from Dell packs everything you need for a powerful 15-inch laptop, including new options for an RTX 3050 Ti and an Intel Core i9 12th Gen processor. If you want the most power, this is the laptop for you.
- Dedicated graphics options
- 12th Gen Intel H-Series processors
- Optional UHD+ display
- Great battery life
- Thunderbolt 4 USB-C
- Wi-Fi 6E
- More ports
- More expensive
- Larger and heavier
The XPS 13 and XPS 15 are both class-leading products, both on our list of the best Windows laptops available, with obvious similarities but also plenty of differences. By simply being more substantial, the XPS 15 can offer more powerful hardware overall, but the XPS 13 is by far the most portable. Both are excellent, but the choice will ultimately come down to what you want to do with it.
Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15: Specifications
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|Category||Dell XPS 13 (9315)||Dell XPS 15 (9520)|
|OS||Windows 11||Windows 11|
|Row 1 - Cell 0||Windows 11 Pro||Windows 11 Pro|
|Processor||12th Gen Intel Core i5-1230U||12th Gen Intel Core i5-12500H|
|Row 3 - Cell 0||12th Gen Intel Core i7-1250U||12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700H|
|Row 4 - Cell 0||Row 4 - Cell 1||12th Gen Intel Core i9-12900HK|
|Display size||13.4 inches||15.6 inches|
|Display resolution||FHD+ (1920x1200) touch||FHD+ (1920x1200) touch/non-touch|
|Row 7 - Cell 0||UHD+ (3840x2400) touch||UHD+ (3840x2400) touch|
|RAM||8GB, 16GB, or 32GB LPDDR5-5200||8GB, 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB DDR5-4800|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe||Intel UHD|
|Row 10 - Cell 0||Row 10 - Cell 1||Intel Iris Xe|
|Row 11 - Cell 0||Row 11 - Cell 1||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050|
|Row 12 - Cell 0||Row 12 - Cell 1||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD||512GB, 1TB, 2TB, or 4TB PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Ports||2x Thunderbolt 4||2x Thunderbolt 4|
|Row 15 - Cell 0||Row 15 - Cell 1||1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2|
|Row 16 - Cell 0||Row 16 - Cell 1||Full size SD card reader|
|Row 17 - Cell 0||Row 17 - Cell 1||3.5mm combo jack|
Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15: Pricing and availability
Pricing for the Dell XPS 13 (9315) and Dell XPS 15 (9520) start at $980 and $1,420 at the time of updating this guide. The XPS 15 is almost 50% higher than that of the 13-inch Windows laptop, but one does get to enjoy better processors and the option of dedicated graphics.
Both models are the latest available from Dell and can be bought directly from the manufacturer (recommended) or through partner retailers like Amazon.
Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15: Performance
One of the major hardware differences is the processor. The XPS 15's processors are 12th Gen H-Series that sport more raw power than the chips in the XPS 13. The difference 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.
The XPS 13 is much more proficient than it once was, though, with hyperthreading giving 8 hardware threads to the Core i5 and Core i7 versions. If more power is something you need, you can stop right here and order a higher-end XPS 15 configuration. It's also pretty decent for gaming, thanks to the NVIDIA RTX 3050 or 3050 Ti graphics.
The 4K display is clear and large enough for easy multimedia editing, and developers will love the processor power. It's important to point out that you don't even get the newer Intel Iris Plus graphics on the entry-level model, just the lesser UHD spec. The H-Series chips, in general, aren't going to find themselves in many situations where there isn't a dedicated GPU paired to the processor.
Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15: Portability
Size for these notebooks is simply not as big a deal as with other laptop makers, but it's still worth considering. The XPS 13 is incredibly small for a 13-inch notebook, with Dell squeezing it into the form factor of something closer to Apple's old 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 a 14-inch notebook. So you've still got a few inches between them, but both are smaller than their display sizes would indicate.
The XPS 13, in particular, is excellent to throw in a bag if you're a frequent traveler. It's so compact that it takes up very little room, will fit in any laptop bag, and is light enough you'll barely know it's there.
But both are among the most portable laptops of their class, and Dell was one of the first manufacturers to pioneer such a space-saving form factor.
Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15: Portability or performance
You won't make a wrong decision if you go with an XPS laptop. They have powerful 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 dedicated graphics or gaming isn't on the agenda, go for the XPS 13, which is our pick for the very best Dell laptop available today. Unless screen real estate is of the utmost importance, you'll have a better all-around experience with the smaller model. It's powerful, has excellent battery life, and is something you can toss into any bag. But if you can, avoid the entry model as it comes standard because the higher-spec versions represent better overall value.
When you step up the hardware, the decision comes down to what you actually do want. If graphics and computing power are essential, grab the XPS 15. It has some genuinely mindblowing specs for a laptop of this size, including an H-Series 12th Gen processor and RTX 3050 Ti.
It's great for everyday computing, more serious creative or programming work; you can even do some decent gaming on it. It comes at a price, but it's worth paying if you need the power. And as with the XPS 13, avoid the entry model if you can, as it doesn't represent the best value you'll get overall from an XPS 15, and it has a much smaller battery.
More impressive than ever
The latest Dell XPS 13 has been revamped for 2020, adding Intel's powerful new 12th Gen processors, Wi-Fi 6, a 4K 16:10 display, and much more.
Latest and greatest 15-inch laptop
Dell's iconic XPS 15 received a spec bump for 2020 with a new option for NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti graphics and a new 12th Gen Intel H-Series processor paired with a pretty sizeable battery.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.
- Richard DevineManaging Editor - Tech, Reviews