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Dell XPS 15 vs. HP Spectre x360 15t: How to tell which PC is right for you

When it comes to 15-inch laptops, the Dell XPS 15 and the HP Spectre x360 15t are at the top of the game. Both offer stunning 4K displays and dedicated GPUs, and both have plenty of configuration options. Since they both seem so great at first glance, we wanted to go deeper to discover the differences that will make or break them as your choice of a new laptop.

Comparing specifications

The best way to look at the differences and similarities between these two laptops is to break them down by specifications.

CategoryDell XPS 15HP Spectre x360
Processor7th-Generation
Intel Core i3, i5, i7
Quad-core (Core i5, i7)
7th-Generation
Intel Core i7-7500U
Dual-Core
Display size15.6 in.15.6 in.
Display resolution1080p non-touch (anti-glare)
4K touch (glossy)
4K touch (glossy, non-PenTile)
RAM8/16/32GB DDR4
2,400MHz
8/12/16GB DDR4
2,133MHz
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 630
NVIDIA GTX 1050 (4GB)
Intel HD Graphics 620
NVIDIA 940MX (2GB)
Storage500GB HDD + 32GB SSD
1TB HDD + 32GB SSD
256/512GB SSD
1TB SSD
256/512GB SSD
1TB SSD
Battery56/97WHr79WHr
WirelessKiller 1535
802.11ac
Bluetooth 4.1
Intel AC-8265
802.11ac
Bluetooth 4.2
Dimensions14.06 x 9.27 x 0.45 to 0.66 in
357 x 235 x 11 to 17 mm
14 x 9.88 x 0.7 in
356 x 251 x 17.7 mm
Weight4.5 lbs (2 kg)4.42 lbs (2 kg)
PortsSD card
2x USB 3.0
1x USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3
HDMI 1.4
3.5mm jack
SD Card
2x USB Type-C 3.1(1x Thunderbolt 3)
1x USB Type-A 3.0
HDMI 2.0
3.5mm jack
ConvertibleNoYes
Windows InkNoYes
Windows HelloFingerprint (optional)IR camera
PriceStarts at $1,000 (opens in new tab)Starts at $1,280 (opens in new tab)

Display

Dell XPS 15

While both laptops have incredible 4K displays, there are a few things to know. First, the XPS 15's InfinityEdge IGZO display has almost no bezel around it, making it seem like it stretches right to the edges. It's stunning to look at, but it also requires the webcam to be moved below the display, just above the keyboard. If you don't think you'll need a touch display, your only option is the 1080p version of the XPS 15 (which is also non-glare).

See at Dell (opens in new tab)

If that's not really your thing, you can check out the Spectre x360, which also has a thin bezel along the edges but still has a decent bezel along the top to fit the webcam. Because of its convertible design, you have no option other than a touch-enabled display, and there is no lesser-resolution option for those looking to save some dollars. Keep in mind also that if you want to use Windows Ink, you have to go with the Spectre x360. Luckily, that display is also non-PenTile, which means it's a "true" 4K panel that looks fantastic.

Nonetheless, for color accuracy, vibrancy, and brightness the XPS 15's 4K IGZO is the clear winner. Additionally, Dell gets a nod for the matte Full HD non-glare option, which not only saves you some money but extends the battery life by two to three hours and is easier on your eyes (it's my personal choice).

Does that make the HP Spectre's display bad? Absolutely not. In fact, it does give you active pen support. Plus, it's one of the most natural looking displays I have seen recently.

See at HP (opens in new tab)

Performance

Both laptops have 7th-Generation Kaby Lake processors, but configuration options are a bit different. You can grab an Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor in the XPS 15, while your only option in the Spectre x360 is an Intel Core i7 processor (unless you go with an older model) (opens in new tab).

The i7 processors differ a bit — the XPS 15 has a Core i7-7700HQ with four cores and a clock speed up to 3.8GHz, while the x360 has a Core i7-7500U with two cores and a clock speed up to 3.5GHz. To better compare the two processors, benchmarks are needed.

Geekbench 4.0 benchmarks (higher is better)

LaptopSingle CoreMulti Core
XPS 15 Core i74,36313,895
Spectre x360 Core i74,1837,528

PCMark (Home Conventional 3.0)

DeviceScoreComparison
XPS 15 (9560)3,534Better than 71 percent of all results
Spectre x360 152,472Better than 41 percent of all results

Single-core performance from both processors is pretty much the same, but because the processor in the XPS 15 has four cores, you're getting almost twice as much performance. For this reason, if you need the most processing power or you want less processing power — a Core i3 or Core i5 — you have to go with the XPS 15.

For RAM, the Spectre x360 tops out at 16GB. This is probably enough for most people shopping for a laptop, but anyone who is involved in multimedia editing or other RAM-intensive activities will love that the XPS 15 goes up to 32GB.

Then there is the GPU. The Spectre x360 uses a dated NVIDIA GT 940MX and 2GB of video memory whereas the XPS 15 opts for the brand-new NVIDIA GTX 1050 with 4GB of video memory. These two cards are not even close.

Geekbench 4.0 CUDA (higher is better)

DeviceScore
XPS 15 GTX 960m54,992
Spectre x360 15 GT 940m28,868

3DMark (Time Spy)

DeviceScoreComparison
Dell XPS 15 GTX 10501,789Better than 7 percent of all results
Spectre x360 GT 940m613Better than 1 percent of all results

The XPS 15 is a much beefier machine with its combo of a quad-core CPU and performant GPU. While both laptops will let you game it is only the XPS 15 that will let you play things like Rise of the Tomb Raider, DOOM (2016), Gears of War 4, and other modern first-person shooters. While neither one of these is classified as a gaming laptop, the XPS 15 is certainly a lot closer than the Spectre x360.

See at Dell (opens in new tab)

When it comes to power, the 4K configuration of the XPS 15 comes with a 97WHr battery, while the Spectre x360 comes with a 79WHr battery. Both 4K laptops will technically last through a workday (at least six hours), but if you're in the field or travel a lot, the XPS 15 with the Full HD option will last longer (around ten hours).

Function

As Windows Hello grows in popularity, pressure is put on manufacturers to make their devices compatible. Between these two laptops, the Spectre x360 is the clear winner thanks to an IR camera that allows you to sign in with your face. Sure, the XPS 15 has an optional fingerprint reader, but it costs a bit extra ($25) and isn't quite as satisfying.

See at HP (opens in new tab)

Like the dual-core versus quad-core distinction, this ability for the HP Spectre x360 to lay flat, or fit on an airplane table to watch a movie is a crucial differentiator. Make no mistake that the Spectre x360 will gain more from the Windows 10 Creator's Update due in April than the XPS 15. Pen and inking are the future of Microsoft's OS and HP's laptop is front and center.

See at HP (opens in new tab)

Ports

For USB ports Dell and HP do things a bit differently. Dell has two "legacy" USB 3.0 Type-A ports for standard USB peripherals with only one USB 3.1 Type-C. HP does the opposite with two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and just one USB Type-A. The one that is better is the one that you can live with in 2017.

Speaking of USB Type-C both Dell and HP use "full" Thunderbolt 3 specifications on at least one USB Type-C port. The key difference is Dell only has two PCIe lanes for its port where HP reportedly uses the full four PCIe lanes giving greater bandwidth. That's necessary for external monitors. HP also uses that other USB Type-C to charge the Spectre x360 with Fast Charge to boot. Certainly, the Spectre x360 is more future-proofed.

While both laptops have a full HDMI port, HP uses HDMI 2.0 versus Dell's HDMI 1.4 specification. HP gets the nod because HDMI 2.0 lets you get the bandwidth up to 18Gbps and 4K at 60fps.

A full SD card slot is available on both laptops, which is perfect for photographers and video geeks, but only HP lets you insert the card fully into the chassis. Dell's SD slot allows the card sit halfway in meaning you don't want to leave it in the laptop when transporting it or to extend internal storage.

HP seems to be the overall winner here with a more robust, future-looking port selection. But hey, Dell does have a nifty LED battery meter and Kensington security lock slot, which HP lacks.

Keyboard and trackpad no clear winner

For typing, the HP Spectre x360 has the better keyboard with its 1.5mm of travel, spacious layout, and excellent backlighting. It's not even close. The XPS 15's keyboard is good enough to use and has no fatal flaws it's just not that laptop's strength.

The opposite is the case for the trackpad, however. Dell uses Precision drivers for its giant trackpad, and while HP uses some stellar hardware, those Synaptic drivers have some quirks in certain apps e.g. GroupMe where scrolling becomes weird, suddenly.

Because of that mismatch, the trackpad and keyboard are a wash between these two devices. Luckily, neither experience is terrible. You just have to choose between "excellent" and "good" for each category.

Design and mobility

Both of these laptops were designed from the ground up to look like luxury items. The Spectre x360 is built entirely from aluminum and is finished in dark ash silver, making it quite fetching. The XPS 15 is quite similar, but it has a soft-touch, carbon-fiber interior that contrasts nicely with the outside and provides a great place for your palms to rest. As far as looks go, it's up to your eye to make the final decision.

The dimensions of both laptops are pretty much the same, but the XPS 15 is a tad bit slimmer, especially on the front where it tapers. It is also a bit less deep thanks to the lack of bezel at the top of the display. Weight is pretty much a tie for both of these 15-inch laptops although the non-touch XPS 15 with Full HD does come in slightly lighter at 4.3lbs (1.95kg).

Pricing

If you want one of these laptops and want to spend the least amount possible, the XPS 15 is the clear winner — configurations start at about $1,000. These base configurations come with Core i3 processors, 8GB of RAM, a 1080p non-touch display, and a hybrid 500GB HDD, so you're clearly not getting the best on offer.

When we compare a Spectre x360 with a Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD to an XPS 15 with the same specs, the Spectre x360 is the winner when it comes to price: it costs about $1,700 (opens in new tab) while the XPS 15 costs about $2250 (opens in new tab). Remember, you're still getting a better GPU, a quad-core processor, and a larger battery in the XPS 15.

If you don't need quite as much power as the XPS 15 delivers, the Spectre x360 is a fantastic 4K option that is about $500 less (opens in new tab).

See at HP (opens in new tab)

XPS 15 vs. Spectre x360 15t: Conclusion

Because of the range and price of configuration options, quad-core processor, and extra RAM, the XPS 15 seems to be the better laptop on paper. However, if you need a convertible device or one that has an IR camera and is Windows-Ink compatible, you have to go with the Spectre x360.

To be clear, both of these 15-inch laptops are a great investments, and you'll have a hard time being unhappy with either option. For more information, check out our reviews of both the XPS 15 and the Spectre x360 15t.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

13 Comments
  • I just got the Spectre x360 15t last weekend!  I have been saving for a new laptop for quite a while and was ready to pull the trigger.  I considered the Dell because of the available quad-core and better graphics, but it was a lot more expensive and I am not much of a high-end gamer.  I also considered a new MSI Stealth.  The HP was what I needed and met my price point and it is nice looking machine.  The Window Hello facial recognition is great.  Such a cool feature.  I also like the 360 degreen screen as I use it on the couch some times for just looking stuff up on the web.  Setting up Windows is so awesome these days.  It even had my desktop background image there after I got it set-up. I type a lot, and the keyboard feels great; I have already done lots of error-free typing on it.  I am also a touchpad user (I haven't even connected a mouse to it yet) and the touchpad is very nice and easy to use; a huge improvement compared to my 3 year old Dell Precision. I have installed Lightroom and Photoshop as I am an amature photographer.  I have run Lightroom and it runs much more smoothly that it did on my old computer.  I was worried about this as quad cores perform better according to what I have read.  I don't have enough experience with this machine yet to make a definitive conclusion, though.  I will try to do some HDR merges soon and see how that performs. One of the reasons that I had to have a 15" is my eyes.  I just don't want to squint at a 13" or smaller screen or zoom everything.  So, far I have done a lot of email, note taking, web surfing and have had no problem with the screen.  It is beautiful.  I haven't used the pen much, but I will try it at some point.  If you are big into heavy-duty gaming, the Dell or MSI might be better for you, but the Spectre x360 was the right choice for me.
  • Nice, glad to hear. I use the 360 thing on the couch too. Pretty fun to watch 4K videos with it that much closer; makes a difference.
  • I really appreciated all of the reviews on this site.  I come here everyday and read about this stuff.  That and the podcasts helped me consider various features and specs to make my decision.
  • Just did an HDR merge in Lightroom.  Not as fast as my quad-core work computer with the same amount of memory, but acceptable to me.  But my work computer would be a pain in the neck to travel around with in a camera backpack.
  • HP All the way - the 2-in-1 form factor is great as is the pen/Windows Ink support.  It's also got quality something Dell has never mastered.
  • Everything in this comparo depends upon the users spec requirements, people who need that 45 Watt HQ CPU+ Beefy GPU will go with the XPS 15 and those who don't need much power can also go for Spectre 15t, though the Dell XPS 15 with 35 Watt i3 option along with a matte 1080p display makes an interesting case for itself as you get a nice laptop for low price and good quality matte display which will not have high resolution screen scaling problems.   Even mobiletechreview, Lisa's comparo/smackdown was posted on youtube today, must watch for intrested folks, loads of interest in these two premium 15 inch laptops. Now, only Samsung has to deliver on the Notebook 9 15 inch, though the early amazon customer reviews point out the iffy build quality of the new samsung laptops, all due to extreme weight savings and thinness.
  • Using the Samsung right now. It's redonk. Build quality is fine, but it's stupid light. Review will come likely next week. It's like a cross between the XPS 15 and Spectre just half the weight (This is the EXT version with 940MX). Re: the CPU requirements, sure, but that's the point...most don't know the difference or why it does/does not matter. We have a vide coming too, shot on Monday.
  • Awesome, waiting for the review.
  • Laptop = Dell if that's not what you want 100% of the time then get the HP  
  • Both machines target users looking for a latest gen, high-end, highly-portable, 15-inch, 4k laptop. From this starting point, based on this review, and Lisa's at Mobile Tech, it seems that users who need the beef of a quad-core CPU for monster spreadsheets, and faster GPU for gaming and 4k video editing, and who need the wider Adobe color gamut for print photo editing, should select the Dell. User's who do mostly office stuff (OneNote, Word, PP, etc.), web development, light coding, and most importantly, who need digital pen support and ability to use their PC in tent, display, and tablet configurations, should select the HP. The HP will also have a little better battery life, run a little cooler/quieter, and can be had for several $100 dollars less than the Dell in the i7/16G/512G/4k configuration. Users who want a 15-inch laptop with quad-core i7, 1050 GPU, AND digital pen support will need to look elsewhere. Lenovo maybe?
  • Wonderful, practical review. Please compare the XPS to Lenovo P51 when it becomes available. This will figure in my decision.
  • Thanks for the matchup!  Definitely 2 systems that really shine in the 15 inch category!  One note is that it might be benificial to compare each at similar specs and THEN note the options beyond the compared specs.  I say this because the displays are compared at the 4k option (which is the only option for the HP) with the 4k Dell and Dell was the winner.  But then you compare battery life and Dell was the winner again because you were comparing the HP to the 1080 screen equipped Dell...yet it would have completely lost with the 4k screen and discrete graphics card that would truely compare the HP setup.  At least the price comparison was using similar specced systems.    Again, thanks!
  • I wish HP had an option for Nvidia GTX 1050ti also.. and they should provide different color option.. silver color looked beautifull, they (HP) rather than changing backlight of the keyboard to something like blue or red they changed the color of whole laptop to ash silver... Now waiting for Lenovo yoga 720 which has 1050 to c how it performs.