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Dell XPS 13 vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 7: Which should you buy?

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

There's no better time to shop and save money on a new laptop. Be sure to check out our continuously updated article on the best Dell XPS 13 Black Friday deals.

Microsoft's Surface Pro 7 is essentially an Ultrabook like the XPS 13 but without a fixed keyboard. It's much more versatile than Dell's flagship notebook and can be used as a tablet or laptop, but if you're after a notebook experience alone, you may want the XPS 13 instead. It's about as good a laptop you can buy right now and is included in our best Windows laptop collection.

The Dell XPS 13 was refreshed recently, and so we don't expect it to go on sale, but you will be able to find deals on plenty of Windows PCs for Black Friday. Be sure to keep an eye out for discounts on both of these notebooks, though even at full price, the XPS 13 really is class-leading.

Dell XPS 13 (9310) vs Surface Pro 7 tech specs

CategoryDell XPS 13 (9310)Surface Pro 7
OSWindows 10 HomeWindows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
Processor11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4
11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7
11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7
10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1
10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G4
10th Gen Intel Core i7-1065G7
Display size13.3 inches12.3 inches
Display resolutionUltraSharp 4K (3840x2400)
FHD+ (1920 x 1200) non-touch display
2736 x 1824 touch (3:2 aspect ratio)
RAM8GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x
16GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x
4GB DDR4
8GB DDR4
16GB DDR4
GraphicsIntel UHD 620Intel Iris Xe
Intel Iris Plus
Storage256GB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
128GB PCIe SSD
256GB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
Ports2x Thunderbolt 4 with PowerShare
Headset jack
1x USB-C 3.1
1x USB-A
Headphone jack
1x Surface Connect
Surface Type Cover
MicroSDXC card reader

Impressive portable performance

Surface Pro 7

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

There aren't many differences between the Surface Pro 7 and Dell XPS 13, especially when comparing specifications. Both options come with the possibility of choosing an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor, but Microsoft can undercut Dell by around $200, which is a considerable sum of change.

This is largely due to Dell using Intel's more recent 11th Gen processors. But the company also achieves this is by offering less RAM on the base model (4GB vs. 8GB in the XPS 13) and less storage (128GB vs. 256GB in the XPS 13). These won't matter too much in the great scheme of things, but if you plan on doing anything other than checking email, browsing websites, and chatting to friends and family on instant messengers, you'll want to consider at least 8GB of RAM.

The Surface Pro 7 and XPS 13 have plenty of options to choose from, including Intel CPU SKUs, up to 16GB of RAM, and 512GB storage for the XPS 13 or 1TB storage for the Surface Pro 7. There is a slight downside to the Surface Pro 7 in that it doesn't technically come with a keyboard ... at least not a physical one. You'll need to shell out some more for the fancy Type Cover, but it's well worth it.

Dell has Thunderbolt 4 only, while Microsoft has more ports (and Thunderbolt 3) in the Surface Pro.

Laptop or tablet?

There's no real wrong answer here. Specifications are close, as is pricing when you consider optional accessories you really cannot live without on the Surface Pro 7. However, it comes down to whether you need a laptop or tablet. If you want something more like a tablet experience that you can use without a keyboard with your feet up on the sofa or relax reading a book on, the Surface Pro 7 is the winner.

The XPS 13 is about the best Ultrabook money can buy, and it's perfect for anyone who wants a great laptop. You can't ink on it, and the keyboard is always attached, but it's a machine. Whether you need to hit the road for the day, treat it like your desktop workstation, or unwind with some top-notch PC gaming, the XPS 13 has the ability to handle everything you throw at it. It's just a shame about the lack of any 4G option.

Dell XPS 13 for laptop lovers

If you want the best Ultrabook, look no further than the XPS 13. It houses the latest Intel processors and can be kitted out with plenty of RAM and storage to let you get on with the day.

Go with the Surface Pro 7 for something a little different

There are plenty of laptops out there to choose from, and the XPS 13 really is the best of the best. However, if you fancy trying something new, the Surface Pro 7 gives you both a notebook and tablet experience wrapped up in a gorgeous form factor.

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.