Dell XPS 15 vs. XPS 15 2-in-1: Which laptop is best for you?

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

Dell XPS 15 vs. XPS 15 2-in-1 tech specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Dell XPS 15 (9500)Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 (9575)
Processor10th Gen IntelCore i5-10300HCore i7-10750HCore i7-10875H8th Gen IntelCore i5-8305GCore i7-8705G
RAM8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GBDDR4-2933MHz8GB DDR4-2400MHz
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TBM.2 PCIe SSD256GB, 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
Display size15.6 inches15.6 inches
Display resolution1920x1200 (FHD+)3840x2400 (UHD+)1920x1080 (FHD)3840x2160 (UHD)
Aspect ratio16:1016:9
GraphicsIntel UHD GraphicsNVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti Max-QRadeon RX Vega M GL
PortsTwo Thunderbolt 3USB-C 3.1SD card reader3.5mm audioTwo Thunderbolt 3Two USB-C 3.13.5mm audiomicroSD card reader
WirelessKiller Wi-Fi 6 AX1650Bluetooth 5.0Killer 1435 Wi-Fi 5Bluetooth 4.1
AudioDual 2.5W woofersDual 1.5W tweetersMaxxAudio ProDual 1W speakersMaxxAudio Pro
CameraFront-facing 720pFront-facing 720p
BiometricsFingerprint readerIR camera (optional)Fingerprint reader (optional)IR camera
Battery56Wh (No dedicated GPU)86Wh75Wh
Dimensions13.57 x 9.06 x 0.71 inches(344.72mm x 230.14mm x 18mm)13.9 x 9.2 x 0.36 - 0.63 inches(354mm x 235mm x 9 - 16mm)
WeightFrom 4.0 pounds (1.83kg)From 4.36 pounds (2kg)

Features and design

As you'd expect from even the best Dell laptop, the standard XPS 15 and the XPS 15 2-in-1 share similar design cues, with a CNC-machined aluminum chassis and black carbon fiber palm rest. Both are undeniably built to a high standard, and both can fit in easily in a casual setting like a cafe or a professional milieu like a boardroom.

The refreshed XPS 15 (9500) has a slightly smaller footprint and weighs less than the XPS 15 2-in-1, though it is a bit thicker to better fit robust cooling and more powerful hardware. The XPS 15 is a clamshell notebook, meaning the lid and display do not rotate all the way around. The XPS 15 2-in-1 is a bit of a misnomer, as it doesn't actually separate into two pieces. Instead, the convertible hinges allow the display to rotate around 360 degrees for tent, stand, and tablet modes. If you'd like a laptop that can be used at least part of the time like a tablet (albeit a rather large one), the XPS 15 2-in-1 should be your first choice.

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

Both laptops have a comfortable keyboard and sizable Precision touchpad to make for easy productivity, and both have a decent number of ports. You get two Thunderbolt 3 in each laptop, but the XPS 15 2-in-1 has just one USB-C port, while the 2-in-1 model has two USB-C. The standard XPS 15 has a full-size SD card reader and 3.5mm audio jack, with the 2-in-1 not far behind with a microSD card reader and 3.5mm audio jack.

Built into the power button is a fingerprint reader, standard in the XPS 15, and optional in the 2-in-1. Conversely, the XPS 15 2-in-1 comes standard with an IR camera for Windows Hello, while it's an optional addition on the XPS 15. In any case, you're getting a substantial boost to security with either biometric format.

The recent refresh to the XPS 15 (9500) gives it Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity for improved networking. The XPS 15 2-in-1 is stuck at Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1. Audio has also been enhanced on the XPS 15, with four total speakers totaling up to 8W of sound. The XPS 15 2-in-1 doesn't compare with two 1W speakers.

Display and inking

The XPS 15's display has been reworked for the 9500 refresh. It now has a boxier 16:10 aspect ratio with almost no chin at all. It's available in FHD+ or UHD+ resolutions, and it's still the brilliant IGZO display from Sharp. The FHD+ option offers Dolby Vision HDR support, up to 500 nits brightness, and 100% sRGB color reproduction, which are high-end specs that most people will appreciate.

However, for specialized work (or for those who just want the absolute best), the UHD+ model is more impressive. It has VESA certified DisplayHDR 400, it hits 500 nits brightness, and it offers 100% AdobeRGB and 94% DCI-P3 color reproduction. The UHD+ model also offers touch, while the FHD+ model is non-touch.

The XPS 15 2-in-1 is still using the usual 16:9 aspect ratio, though it is available in FHD or UHD resolutions. Both displays are touch due to the laptop's convertible nature, and both support inking with something like Dell's Premium Active Pen. With the FHD panel you get 98% sRGB color, while the 4K display is more tuned for AdobeRGB, hitting 97%. They both get up to about 400 nits brightness.

Performance and price

Source: Dell (Image credit: Source: Dell)

The XPS 15 9500 is built to be a powerhouse PC. 10th Gen Intel Core H-series i5 or i7 CPUs deliver up to eight cores of performance, which, coupled with an NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU, equals up to a lot of juice. You can add up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM (upgradeable) and a 2TB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) to round things out.

The XPS 15 2-in-1 is still using 8th Gen Intel Core G-series CPUs, available in i5 or i7 configs, with up to four cores. The GPU is a Radeon RX Vega M GL with 4GB of HMB2 VRAM, which delivers performance at a level just below the NVIDIA GTX 1050. Altogether the XPS 15 2-in-1 isn't going to match up to the standard XPS 15, though it's certainly going to stand up to heavy multitasking and productivity work.

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

The XPS 15 with a Core i5-10300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, FHD+ display, and integrated Intel graphics starts at about $1,274. Moving up to a Core i7-10750H CPU, 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, FHD+ display,and dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti GPU boosts the price to about $1,715. From there, the price continues to climb with UHD+ display (an additional $294), RAM, SSD, and Core i7-10875H CPU with eight cores.

The XPS 15 2-in-1 with Core i5-8305G CPU, Radeon RX Vega graphics, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and FHD touch display costs about $1,372. Upgrading to a Core i7-8705G CPU, 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and 4K touch display raises the price to about $1,862. You're going to be able to get your hands on a high-end XPS 15 2-in-1 for less than the standard XPS 15, though it's not going to be as powerful or have as many modern features.

The XPS 15 (9500) is a better buy for power users

With more powerful hardware options, a boxier 16:10 display in FHD+ or UHD+ resolutions, and plenty of premium features, the XPS 15 (9500) is an excellent choice for power users or for anyone who doesn't want to deal with a convertible format.

The XPS 15 2-in-1 (9575) is a more versatile option

If you prefer a laptop that can be used as a tablet, complete with inking, the XPS 15 2-in-1 is no doubt a better choice. Its performance won't match up to the standard XPS 15, but it will still easily handle general productivity work.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.