Dell XPS 13 vs. MacBook Pro 13: Which should you buy?
Latest and greatest
Dell has achieved the perfect Ultrabook with the latest XPS 13, no small feat, and as far as Windows laptops in this class go, it's still the benchmark.
- 11th Gen Intel
- Exceptional 16:10 anti-reflective display w/ optional OLED
- Stunning design
- Excellent keyboard and audio
- Intel Xe graphics
- Can get pricey
- OLED version loses out on battery life
The MacBook Pro is packed with hardware to excite, but all that comes at a high price. It does have some tricks up its sleeve though, not least the introduction of the M1 processor.
- Stunning Retina Display
- Fantastic performance from the M1
- Superb battery life
- Unmatched software such as Final Cut
- Issues with dual-booting Windows
- Intel version still sold to add needless confusion
Dell XPS 13 vs. MacBook Pro tech specs
|Category||Dell XPS 13||MacBook Pro|
|Processor||11th Gen Intel Core|
i3-1115G4 (4.10 GHz)
i5-1135G7 (4.20 GHz)
i7-1165G7 (4.70 GHz)
4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores
16-core Neural Engine
|Display resolution||13.4 inches (16:10)|
Full HD, non-touch, anti-glare (matte)
Full HD, touch, anti-reflective
4K, touch, anti-reflective
4K OLED, touch, anti-reflective
Dolby Vision, 500 nits
|Retina 2560x1600 non-touch|
Wide color (P3)
|RAM||8GB, 16GB, or 32GB LPDDR4X (4267MHz)||8GB or 16GB|
|Graphics||Intel UHD (i3)|
Intel Iris Xe (i5, i7)
|Storage||56GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB PCIe NVMe SSD||Up to 2TB SSD|
|Ports||2x Thunderbolt 4|
1x 3.5mm headphone
Type-C to Type-A converter included
|2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C|
The case for the MacBook Pro
The case for buying a MacBook Pro essentially hinges around Apple's software and ecosystem. If it's something you're already invested in, then switching away might not be for you.
Apple also now has its custom M1 processor available inside the MacBook Pro, an ARM chip that by all accounts is excellent. Apple's total control over the hardware and software results in performance and battery life and without any price premium over previous Intel versions.
But while the hardware is good (truly it is), you're buying a MacBook Pro less for this and more for what Apple gives you on top. Something like Final Cut Pro, for example, if you're into video editing, may well be reason enough to get a Mac. If you're into coding iOS apps, a Mac is absolutely essential. Apple's ecosystem lock-in is much discussed, but hey, it works. If you're in it, it's almost impossible to leave, and in most cases, it wouldn't be worth your while to switch, anyway.
It's disappointing that in a "pro" laptop, you're limited to integrated graphics, though obviously with the M1, it's still clearly a work in progress for Apple. Still, despite moving away from Intel you do at least still get Thunderbolt ports on the MacBook Pro. That not only allows for connecting docks, high-resolution displays, and such, but also eGPUs which can at least give you the additional graphics horsepower should you need it. But only when you're at home or in the office.
It's worth pointing out as well that Apple still sells the old model MacBook Pro powered by 10th Gen Intel. These are more expensive than the M1 versions, despite being older, and unless you have a really, truly committed reason as to needing Intel over the M1, avoid buying these ones.
The best Ultrabook in town
The Dell XPS 13 has been a tough act to beat for several years now, but with the latest revision, the 9300, Dell nailed it. The 16:10 aspect ratio display now has super skinny bezels around all sizes, the keyboard is the best it's ever been, and you still have a powerful, stylish, highly compact Ultrabook.
There's plenty of choice in the range for different spec requirements and budgets, but at the higher end, you'll be spending similar money to a tricked-out MacBook Pro. On the latest refresh, Dell has brought OLED into the mix, and while this does have an effect on battery life, it looks sensational.
The entry-level model is best left alone if you can avoid it. While it's attractive in price, it's a little underwhelming in hardware. But you get 10th Gen processors from Intel at every tier, at least, and Dell does have a good list of options including 1080p and 4K displays, touch and non-touch options, more RAM, and more storage.
It'd be possible to talk about how good the XPS 13 is for hours and hours; it really is that good. There's absolutely no reason not to consider it if you're looking for an Ultrabook.
The Mac is still good for Apple fans
When looking at the MacBook Pro, the biggest reason to get one over the XPS 13 is that you're already a Mac fan, and you've invested in Apple's ecosystem.
There's nothing wrong with that, apps like Final Cut Pro are tremendous, and the MacBook Pro continues to be a good laptop. But take the Apple software experience out of the equation, and you're not necessarily getting more for your money. Generally speaking, Windows laptops like the XPS 13 will win out on overall value.
A potentially unbeatable platform for many
If you're invested in the Apple ecosystem, the XPS 13 probably won't convince you to switch, with apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut Pro alone reason to buy a Mac.
The king of the Ultrabooks
The new XPS 13 is a near-perfect Ultrabook. The hardware, the design, the build quality, and the overall value are all excellent.
The XPS 13 is the best Ultrabook on the market today, and platform differences aside, it goes toe-to-toe with the MacBook Pro at a similar cost. Unless you need macOS or anything offered through it in your life, give the XPS 13 a try, you won't regret it.
Latest and greatest
The latest XPS 13 features a taller 16:10 display, 10th Gen Intel processor with solid battery life, and a design unmatched by any other PC on the market. It's flawless in features and functionality.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. 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 steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine