Dell XPS 13 vs. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 13.5

If you're looking for a laptop that offers quick and snappy performance in a premium, sleek, and portable form factor, an Ultrabook will be right up your alley. Ultrabooks are amongst the best laptops on the market since they offer an excellent balance of horsepower and battery life longevity, and two of our favorites are the Dell XPS 13 and the Surface Laptop 4. Both offer top performance and have exceptional battery life, though there are some key differences between the laptops that we'll go over below.

It's a tough choice, but overall, the Dell XPS 13 will be the better option for most folks due to the more impressive specs, better port selection, and more available storage. With that said, the Surface Laptop 4 is an awesome laptop, and we highly recommend it if you need something with the best possible battery life or if you just want something that's a bit less expensive. 

XPS 13 vs. Surface Laptop 4: Comparison and specs

The Surface Laptop 4. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Both the Dell XPS 13 and the Surface Laptop 4 have excellent performance, though the latest models of the Dell XPS 13 pull ahead thanks to the availability of 12th Gen Intel CPUs that outperform the 11th Gen and AMD Ryzen chips you can get with the Surface Laptop 4. The fact that you can get an AMD Ryzen 5 4680U in the Surface is a nice-to-have option for fans of Intel's main competitor, though. 

Both devices can also be configured with plenty of RAM — up to 32GB of RAM is available for both. Notably, though, the Dell XPS 13 comes with cutting-edge DDR5 memory while the Surface Laptop 4 is limited to DDR4. In terms of storage, the Dell XPS 13 pulls ahead yet again, as it can be configured with an SSD of up to 1TB, which trumps the Surface Laptop 4's maximum SSD size of 512GB. Both laptops are Windows Hello compatible and work with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth, so regardless of which you choose, you won't have to worry about security or connectivity.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Dell XPS 13 (9315)Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 13.5
CPUIntel Core i5-1230U, Intel Core i7-1250UIntel i5-1135G7, Intel i5-1145G7, Intel i7-1185G7, AMD Ryzen 5 4680U
GPUIntel Iris XeIntel Iris Xe, Radeon RX Graphics
Memory8GB DDR5, 16GB DDR5, 32GB DDR58GB DDR4, 16GB DDR4, 32GB DDR4
Storage256GB SSD, 512GB SSD, 1TB SSD128GB SSD, 256GB SSD, 512GB SSD
Display13.4-inch FHD+ 1920x1200 non-touch with anti-glare (500 nits)13.5-inch PixelSense 2256x1504 touch (349 nits)
Row 5 - Cell 0 13.4-inch FHD+ 1920x1200 touch with anti-glare (500 nits)Row 5 - Cell 2
Row 6 - Cell 0 13.4-inch 3.5K OLED 3456x2160 touch with anti-glare (400 nits)Row 6 - Cell 2
Row 7 - Cell 0 13.4-inch UHD+ 4K 3840x2400 touch with anti-glare (500 nits)Row 7 - Cell 2
Aspect ratio16:103:2
Ports2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 1x microSD card slot, 1x 3.5mm audio1x USB-C, 1x USB-A, 1x Surface Connect, 1x 3.5mm audio
BiometricsWindows Hello-enabled 720p camera, Fingerprint readerWindows Hello-enabled 720p camera
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
Battery10-14 hours17-19 hours
Weight2.59-2.80 pounds2.79-2.84 pounds
PriceStarts at $999Starts at $789

Another area where the Dell XPS 13 has an edge is with its displays. Both laptops have screens with excellent colors and contrast, but the Dell XPS 13's has an anti-glare coating and is much brighter at 500 nits compared to the 349 nits of the Surface Laptop 4's panel. Additionally, the Dell XPS 13 also has options for higher resolution displays like a 3.5K OLED or 4K panel, while the Surface Laptop 4 is limited to its standard 2256x1504 resolution (at the time of writing, the Dell XPS 13's higher res options appear to be temporarily unavailable).

The Dell XPS 13 also has better ports than the Surface Laptop 4 — dual Thunderbolt 4 compared to a single USB-C and USB-A slot —but the Surface Laptop 4 does boast a better battery life of 17-19 hours. This beats out the 10-14-hour battery life of the Dell XPS 13, making the Surface the ideal pick for folks who don't spend much time near outlets. Most configurations of the Surface are also more affordable, making it the better choice for folks who want to save as much money as possible.

XPS 13 vs. Surface Laptop 4: Which should you buy?

Dell XPS 13.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Ultimately, we think that the Dell XPS 13 is the better option between these two devices because it offers greater performance while also coming with advantages like 4K availability, better ports, and more storage. It's a close call, but we feel that these benefits give the Dell XPS 13 the edge at the end of the day.

With that said, the Surface Laptop 4 is still an awesome device, and it will serve you well if you opt for it. The improved battery life and the availability of AMD Ryzen will both benefit the people who want or need these benefits immensely. And while the Dell XPS 13 does have better specs, the hardware in the Surface is far from weak or lacking. The fact that the device is more affordable also makes it a more appealing choice for folks on a budget.

If neither of these laptops appeals to you, make sure you check out our list of the best Windows laptops for more options. It's also worth keeping the Dell XPS 13 Plus in mind, as this experimental version of Dell's flagship 13-inch device features cutting-edge 12th Gen Intel P-Series CPUs and a gorgeous new design with an edge-to-edge keyboard and a significantly larger trackpad for hassle-free mousing. It's pricier than both of the laptops discussed in this matchup and the lack of a 3.5mm audio port is disappointing, but it's nevertheless worth considering as an alternative to the Dell XPS 13 and Surface Laptop 4 if you want some of the best possible Ultrabook performance money can buy.

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.