Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 vs. Lenovo Yoga 720 15: Hard to choose a winner

XPS 15 2-in-1
XPS 15 2-in-1 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Revealed at CES 2018, Dell's new XPS 15 2-in-1 is one of the thinnest, smallest 15-inch convertible laptops on the market. Among other things, it has pen support, a dedicated graphics card (GPU), and a whole lot of power. Lenovo has a similar device — which I favorably reviewed — in the 15-inch Lenovo Yoga 720. How do these two convertible laptops compare? Let's see which one is best suited for you.

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Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 vs. Lenovo Yoga 720: Specifications

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CategoryXPS 15 2-in-1Yoga 720 15
ProcessorEighth-gen Intel Core i5-8305G
Eighth-gen Intel Core i7-8705G
Seventh-gen Intel Core i5- 7300HQ
Seventh-gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ
RAM8GB/16GB DDR4-2400MHz8GB/16GB DDR4-2133MHz
Storage128GB SSD (SATA)
256GB/512GB/1TB SSD (PCIe)
256GB/512GB/1TB SSD (PCIe)
Display15.6-inch IPS FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
15.6-inch IPS 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
15.6-inch IPS FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
15.6-inch IPS 4K (3,840 x 2,160)
GraphicsRadeon RX Vega M GL
PortsTwo Thunderbolt 3
Two USB-C 3.1
microSD card reader
3.5mm audio jack
Thunderbolt 3
Two USB-A 3.0
3.5mm audio jack
Pen supportDell Active Pen (PN579X)
4,096 pressure levels
Tilt support
Lenovo Active Pen 2
4,096 pressure levels
WirelessKiller 1435 802.11ac (2 x 2)
Intel 8265 802.11ac (2 x 2) vPro
Bluetooth 4.1
Intel 8265 802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.1
CameraFront-facing 720pFront-facing 720p
BiometricsIR camera for Windows Hello
Fingerprint reader (optional)
Fingerprint reader for Windows Hello
Weight4.3 pounds (1.97 kg)4.4 pounds (2 kg)
Dimensions13.9 in x 9.3 in x 0.35-0.63 in
(354mm x 235mm x 9-16mm)
14.3 in x 9.5 in x 0.75 in
(364mm x 242mm x 19mm)
PriceStarting at about $1,300Starting at about $1,100

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 vs. Lenovo Yoga 720: Design and features

Visually, both of these laptops are quite similar. They're both sporting dual 360-degree hinges that allow for converted modes, they both have large displays with a slim bezel, and they both have a dark color on the inside palm rest, though the XPS 15 2-in-1 has the usual signature Dell carbon-fiber finish.

The XPS 15 2-in-1 is only slightly smaller and lighter than the Yoga 720. Both weigh just over four pounds, making for a relatively heavy tablet, but the performance from both no doubt makes up for it. As for the bezel, the slightly smaller size of the XPS 15 2-in-1 means they've been shaved down to accommodate the display. Those on the Yoga 720 aren't what you'd call thick, but they're still larger than on Dell's laptop.

Whereas the camera on the Yoga 720 is located above the display in a standard position, the XPS 15 2-in-1 keeps its camera below the display, no doubt due to the slim bezel along the top. Dell's is both a 720p webcam and an IR camera for Windows Hello, but either way, it offers up a bit of a nose view when conferencing. The Yoga 720 doesn't offer facial recognition, but it does have a fingerprint reader. Likewise, the XPS 15 2-in-1 has an optional fingerprint reader.

Dell is certainly looking to the future with its port selection, bringing two Thunderbolt 3, two USB-C 3.1, a microSD card reader, and a standard 3.5mm jack. Those Thunderbolt 3 ports are using four PCIe lanes, making them perfect for use with an external GPU (eGPU). The Yoga 720 has one Thunderbolt 3 port (two PCIe lanes) and two USB-A 3.0 ports, making it a bit more friendly for your older accessories. There is also a 3.5mm audio jack.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 vs. Lenovo Yoga 720: Display

XPS 15 2-in-1

A major difference between displays is in their pen support. The XPS 15 2-in-1's Active Pen (PN579X) will be sold separately for about $100 and will come with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and full tilt support. Lenovo's Active Pen 2 (about $60) is also sold separately and has the same pressure sensitivity, but lack of tilt support with the Yoga 720 is really what sets these two apart.

While Lenovo's display game isn't weak, at least when it comes to the Yoga 720, Dell's IGZO screens are downright gorgeous. Dell promises 100 percent AdobeRGB for both displays, whereas the FHD display in the Yoga 720 I tested only managed to hit 78 percent.

The XPS 15 2-in-1 is also touting 400 nits of brightness, something the Yoga 720 won't touch. If you're often working in direct sunlight or you just prefer a display with outstanding contrast, the XPS 15 2-in-1 will likely be your first choice.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 vs. Lenovo Yoga 720: Performance

The original XPS 15 is the powerhouse of the line, and Dell has done a good job of translating that power over to a convertible. Eighth-generation G-series Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors (CPU) deliver quad-core power and a hefty clock speed (the i7 can hit up to 4.10GHz), and the discrete Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU will fall somewhere between an NVIDIA GTX 1050 and GTX 1060 when it comes to performance.

The Yoga 720 puts up a fight with its seventh-generation HQ-series Intel Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. You're still getting four cores of power with a similar thermal design point (TDP), albeit with a lower top clock speed (the i7 can hit about 3.80GHz). The discrete GPU here is an NVIDIA GTX 1050 with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM, which in my testing was enough for some satisfying gaming. Still, the XPS 15 2-in-1 should edge out the Yoga 720 when you need all the power you can get.

The XPS 15 2-in-1 has a slightly larger battery at 75WHr, and Dell claims about 15 hours of life in optimal settings. Realistically, you should be looking at a machine that can get you through a workday. The Yoga 720 could likewise last about eight hours, but that was with the FHD version. Having a 4K display on either laptop will no doubt drain the battery faster.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 vs. Lenovo Yoga 720: Price

For about $1,100, you can get your hands on a Yoga 720 with an Intel Core i7 CPU, FHD display, 8GB of RAM, a GTX 1050 GPU, and a 256GB PCIe SSD. While I don't yet have concrete prices for different configurations, the XPS 15 2-in-1 is expected to start at about $1,300 for a Core i5 model. That configuration will likely include 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SATA SSD if I follow Dell's other XPS pricing trends.

Need the newest, most powerful convertible laptop out there? The XPS 15 2-in-1 will no doubt be worth the extra hundreds, if you can wait for the expected release date sometime in spring 2018. Need a solid 15-inch convertible and want some great value for performance? The Yoga 720 is still one of my favorite convertible laptops out there, and it's available now.

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Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond.