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 and a killer display. 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
In many respects, both of these devices share very similar hardware. Both laptops have great 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 bit of an 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 nearly the same when it comes to web browsing, work tasks, and media consumption.
|Dell XPS 13 (9310)||Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13.5|
|GPU||Intel UHD Graphics
Intel Xe Graphics
|Intel Iris Plus|
|Memory||8GB or 16GB of DDR4||8GB or 16GB of DDR4|
|Storage||256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB SSD||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD (replaceable)|
|Display||13.4-inch HD anti-reflective 500 nits (touch or non-touch)
13.4-inch 4K anti-reflective 500 nits (touch)
|13.5-inch PixelSense 2256x1504, 400 nits (touch and inking)|
|Speakers||Waves MaxxAudio stereo speakers||Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio|
|Ports||2x USB-C Thunderbolt 3
1x microSD card slot
|Biometrics||Windows Hello-enabled 720p camera
|Windows Hello-enabled 720p camera|
|Battery||12-19 hours||10-12 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 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?
Both of these laptops are great, and they both offer excellent performance. With that being said, I think 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 fantastic 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 now out in the wild, too, and due to its newer hardware it's a more modern competitor to the Dell XPS 13 that you should consider.
If neither one appeals to you, head over to check out our best Windows laptop picks.
New Dell XPS 13 (9310)
The Dell XPS 13 offers the best user experience overall thanks to its better display, Thunderbolt 4 ports, and stronger battery life. However, for people looking to save, the Surface Laptop 3 13.5 will be the better choice.
Best budget pick
Microsoft Surface laptop 3 13.5-inch
The Surface Laptop 3 13.5 has a better low-end price than the Dell XPS 13 despite packing similar hardware, making it the best choice for people prioritizing saving money. However, it's more expensive on the high-end side of things, making it a worse option in that context.
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