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New Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15: Which should you buy?

Dell XPS 13 9300
Dell XPS 13 9300 (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

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 tech specs

CategoryDell XPS 13Dell XPS 15
OSWindows 10Windows 10
Processor11th Gen Intel Core
10th Gen Intel Core i5-10300H
10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H
10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H
Display size13.4 inches15.6 inches
Display resolutionFHD+ (1920 x 1200) touch and non-touch
UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touch
FHD+ (1920 x 1200)
4K UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touch
Dolby Vision
RAM4, 8, 16, or 32GB LPDDR4X (3733MHz)8, 16, 32 or 64GB DDR4 2933MHz
GraphicsIntel UHD
Intel Iris Xe
Intel UHD
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB PCIe NVMe SSD256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Ports2x Thunderbolt 4
1x 3.5mm headphone
2x Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery & DisplayPort
1x USB-C 3.1 with power delivery & DisplayPort
1 Full size SD card reader v6.0
3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack
Wedge-shaped lock slot

XPS 15 has the raw power

Dell XPS 15 9500

Source: Dell (Image credit: Source: Dell)

One of the major hardware differences is the processor. The XPS 15's processors are 10th 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 eight 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 GTX 1650 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. So the higher-tier XPS 13 has better-integrated graphics than the entry-level XPS 15.

Portable or more portable?

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.

Making the right choice

Dell XPS 13 black and white

Source: Dell (Image credit: Source: Dell)

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 in any bag. But if you can, avoid the entry model as it comes standard because the higher-spec versions represent better overall value.

If you want a little more

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 10th Gen processor and GTX 1650 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.

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.