Dell XPS 15 (9500) vs. MacBook Pro: Which should you buy?

Dell XPS 15
Dell XPS 15 (Image credit: Windows Central)

If you prefer Windows and getting more for your money, go with the Dell XPS 15. If you're locked into Apple's ecosystem, then the MacBook Pro will be the better choice. Whichever you decide to go for, try and keep an eye out this Black Friday for deals on the Dell XPS 15 and MacBook Pro. You can often find these notebooks discounted, saving you money for accessories.

Similar specs

When looking at the two different prices, you'd assume the MacBook Pro packs more of a punch, but throwing these two notebooks into the ring would result in a draw. The numbers don't lie.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Dell XPS 15 (9500)MacBook Pro
ProcessorUp to 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H
2.3GHz (5.10GHz boost)
Up to 9th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H
2.4GHz (5.0GHz boost)
RAMUp to 32GB
Up to 64GB
Up to AMD Radeon Pro 5500M
Display15.6-inch IPS
3840 x 2160
Touch support
16-inch IPS
StorageUp to 1TB M.2 PCIeUp to 8TB SSD
Ports2x Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery & DisplayPort
1x USB-C 3.1 with power delivery & DisplayPort
1x Full size SD card reader v6.0
1x 3.5mm combo jack
1x Wedge-shaped lock slot
4x Thunderbolt (USB 3.1 Gen 2)
1x 3.5mm jack
WirelessWi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2x2)
Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth 5.0
BatteryUp to 86Whr100Whr
Dimensions0.71 x 13.57 x 9.06 inches (18 x 344.72 x 230.14 mm)9.68 x 14.09 x 0.64 inches
(246 x 358 x 16 mm)
WeightUp to 4.55 lbs (2.05kg)4.3lbs (2kg)

The two notebooks are very similar, though the MacBook Pro can be equipped with a full 8TB worth of storage and an additional 32GB of RAM. That may not sound like much in the long run, but when you're doing intensive tasks like video editing, that extra RAM may come into play.

The Dell XPS 15 (9500) isn't slow, however. It too can hold up to 1TB of data and come with 32GB of RAM, but Dell uses faster RAM at 2933MHz vs. Apple's 2666MHz. It also uses a touch-enabled 4K display, whereas Apple uses a screen that has a lower resolution but is still decent in color testing. Still, working on both displays is a dream, so it's a tie with the screens. Dimensions and weight really don't mean much, nor does the battery since both notebooks should provide similar results. The differences between the GTX 1650 Ti and Radeon 5550M are also minimal.

Where this does matter is when you consider the price. The XPS 15 starts from around $1,300, while Apple charges $2,400 for the base model MacBook Pro. This is a solid deal for those who need capable portable PCs that can handle powerful software, but Dell simply provides more for your buck on paper.

Gorgeous aluminum design

The Dell XPS 15 sports Dell's current aluminum and carbon fiber design and Infinite display, both of which result in a gorgeous laptop. We're big fans of the XPS 13 design, and the XPS 15 is essentially the same notebook but with a larger chassis and display. At just 18 mm thick and weighing in at a whopping 2.0 kg, it's also great for taking on a work trip.

Apple's MacBook Pro looks similar, thanks to the familiar aluminum construction, but even the main plate around the keyboard and touchpad is aluminum, whereas the Dell XPS 15 is carbon fiber. This isn't a negative nor a positive of either laptop. It's a difference in design that lead you to prefer one or the other. The Pro also comes in space grey or silver.

Both are solid looking notebooks.

Windows vs. macOS

Comparing the operating system on desktops and laptops of today between the Windows and macOS camps isn't such a significant factor anymore simply because you should go with the OS you prefer using. You could create a list of all the features one does that the other doesn't, but there's no point in buying a laptop with an OS that you won't be able to get along with.

Both macOS and Windows 10 will be able to handle all your design print works, video editing, and other productivity tasks while on the go without issue, so long as you have the necessary tools and software installed. Where they differ is in the UI, how you install software, as well as other functions. For example, macOS is a little more secure and robust, while Windows 10 has way better software and gaming support.

If you like Microsoft's OS, go with Windows. Prefer Apple? Go macOS.

Dell XPS 15 for value and power

If you want to be smarter with your wallet and seek only the performance you require, the Dell XPS 15 line of notebooks is where you should look, especially if you have software that only runs on Windows. This notebook can be configured to handle everything from programming and design work to video editing. Just avoid using the oddly placed webcam.

There's only one Apple MacBook Pro

Those who simply enjoy using macOS and could see themselves taking advantage of the Touch Bar and other included features should consider the MacBook. You won't be getting the best internals for the price, but you will be getting a more feature-rich package as a result.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.