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Dell XPS 13 vs. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13.5

Dell XPS 13 9300
Dell XPS 13 9300 (Image credit: Windows Central)

While both of these devices are some of the best Windows laptops available, the Dell XPS 13 is ultimately the stronger option if you want top-notch quality since it has better features, a killer display, and more modern hardware. However, the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13.5 is an excellent alternative choice if you want to save money, as it has a lower overall price while still offering reliable and robust performance.

XPS 13 vs. Surface Laptop 3: Comparison and specs

Dell XPS 13

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

In many respects, both of these devices are similar. Both laptops have very capable Intel processors (the Dell XPS 13 pulls ahead slightly with newer 11th Gen chips) and Wi-Fi 6 compatibility for top internet speeds, and they both also use similar graphics power (again, the Dell XPS 13 has a notable advantage with Intel Xe) and have up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Also, both of them are compatible with Windows Hello biometric security. The Dell XPS 13 has the edge over the Surface Laptop 3 when it comes to storage, as it can be configured with a 2TB SSD while the Surface Laptop 3's SSD options max out at 1TB. However, it's worth noting that you can upgrade the SSD on both devices to whichever amount you want yourself. Overall, these two devices perform similarly when it comes to web browsing, work tasks, and media consumption, though the Dell XPS 13 has a clear edge.

Dell XPS 13 (9310)Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13.5
CPUIntel i3-1115G4
Intel i5-1135G7
Intel i7-1185G7
Intel i5-1035G7
Intel i7-1065G7
GPUIntel UHD Graphics
Intel Xe Graphics
Intel Iris Plus
Memory8GB or 16GB of DDR48GB or 16GB of DDR4
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB SSD128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD (replaceable)
Display13.4-inch HD anti-reflective, 500 nits (touch or non-touch)
13.4-inch 3.5K anti-reflective, 500 nits (touch)
13.4-inch 4K anti-reflective, 500 nits (touch)
13.5-inch PixelSense 2256x1504, 400 nits (touch and inking)
SpeakersWaves MaxxAudio stereo speakersOmnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio
Aspect ratio16:103:2
Ports2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4
1x microSD card slot
3.5mm audio
1x USB-C
1x USB-A
3.5mm audio
BiometricsWindows Hello-enabled 720p camera
Fingerprint reader
Windows Hello-enabled 720p camera
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.0
Battery12-19 hours10-12 hours

Where the Dell XPS 13 truly starts to take the lead is in the display and features department. Unlike the Surface Laptop 3's display, the Dell XPS 13's is anti-reflective, brighter, sports a higher resolution, and has better color accuracy. All of these advantages make it the definitively better screen in this matchup. On top of the killer display, the Dell XPS 13 also has dual USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports (a USB-A to USB-C adapter is included in the box) and a microSD card slot, which trump the Surface Laptop 3's offerings of a single USB-C and USB-A port. The Thunderbolt 4 ports are a big deal, as they allow the user to do things like hook up an external GPU for improved gaming performance or transfer data to and from external drives much faster. The Dell XPS 13 also comes with a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello and a camera, while the Surface Laptop 3 has only a camera. Finally, the battery performance of the Dell XPS 13 is better, too, offering up to seven more hours of life on a full charge than the Surface Laptop 3.

The Surface Laptop 3 isn't without some small advantages of its own, though. It has better speakers and also compatibility for inking with digital pens that use the Microsoft Pen Protocol. The Dell XPS 13 displays can't be used with pens, although it still supports your finger's basic touch.

XPS 13 vs. Surface Laptop 3: Which should you buy?

The Surface Laptop 3.

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

Both of these laptops are great, and they both offer reliable performance and have a fantastic premium design. With that said, the Dell XPS 13 will be the better choice for most people, as it provides better overall quality compared to the Surface Laptop 3 13.5. If you want something more affordable, though, don't count out the Surface Laptop 3 13.5. While it lacks several of the things that make the Dell XPS 13 incredible, it's still a great device in its own right, and the lower-end versions of it are more affordable than their Dell XPS 13 equivalents.

Keep in mind that the Surface Laptop 4 is available, too, and due to its newer hardware it's a more modern competitor to the Dell XPS 13 that you should strongly consider. You can sometimes even find low-end configurations of the Surface Laptop 4 that are less expensive than the cheapest models of the Surface Laptop 3, so keep an eye out for those deals.

If neither one appeals to you, check out our best Windows laptop picks.

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.