Microsoft Surface Pro 7 vs. Dell XPS 13: Which should you buy?

The Surface Pro 7
The Surface Pro 7 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Choosing between the best 2-in-1 on the market and one of the best Ultrabooks ever made is a tough decision to make. Both have similar class hardware, support Wi-Fi 6, and have plenty of storage and RAM options depending on your budget. But there are some key areas that one or the other could make more sense. With Black Friday approaching, there will likely also be good chances to save money on both.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 vs. Dell XPS 13: tech specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Pro 7Dell XPS 13
OSWindows 10Windows 10
Processor10th Gen Intel
Core i3-1005G1
Core i5-1035G4
Core i7-1065G7
11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4
11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7
11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7
RAM4GB, 8GB, 16GB LPDDR4x8GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x
16GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD256GB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
Display resolution12.3 inches
Touch2736x1824
267 PPI
13.3 inches UltraSharp 4K (3840x2400)
FHD+ (1920x1200) non-touch display
Aspect ratio3:216:10
GraphicsIntel UHD
Intel Iris Plus
Intel UHD
Intel Xe
PortsUSB-C 3.1
USB-A
3.5mm audio
Surface Connect
microSD card reader
2x Thunderbolt 4 with PowerShare
Headset jack
SecurityWindows HelloWindows Hello
BatteryUp to 10.5 hoursUp to 19 hours
Dimensions11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches
(292mm x 201mm x 8.5mm)
4.8mm (0.58") x 295.7mm (11.64") x 198.7mm (7.82")
WeightFrom 1.7lbs (775g)2.64lbs (1.2kg) for non-touch
2.8 lbs (1.27 kg) for touch

Surface Pro 7 is cheaper and has pen support

Not all Surface Pro 7 spec levels are cheaper — indeed, at the highest end, you can spend more than on an XPS 13. More importantly, the cost of entry into a Surface Pro 7 is much lower than the XPS 13 at just $749 compared to $999 (initial price). Both entry models are comparable, too, albeit with a newer CPU now in the XPS 13.

Even considering the extra cost of buying a Type Cover if you want to go full laptop, the cheapest Surface Pro 7 is still cheaper than the cheapest XPS 13. Best of all, you don't need a Type Cover. Thanks to the wonderful standards of USB and Bluetooth, you could always grab something cheaper to type with. There's also the fact that every Surface Pro 7 has a touchscreen, while the cheaper XPS 13 does not.

Performance between the two machines will be largely similar — they're even about the same size — but there's one area the Surface Pro 7 has a clear advantage. Officially Dell doesn't support pen input on the touch-enabled XPS 13, while the Surface Pro 7 is an absolute beast for inking. Whether drawing or writing, the Surface Pro 7 is one of the absolute best devices for digital pen users that money can buy.

Pair it up with an optional Surface Dial, too, and you get even more flexibility. The Surface Pro 7's form factor also lends itself perfectly to using a pen since it's a tablet first.

Dell XPS 13 has 4K, Thunderbolt 3, and better battery life

Dell XPS 13 9300

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The Dell XPS 13, by contrast, is a traditional Ultrabook with comparable internal specs to the Surface Pro 7. However, it does have some tricks up its sleeve that might make more sense to you when making a purchase choice.

For one, the XPS 13 boasts a better battery life. One drawback to the Surface Pro 7 is just limited space inside for all the tech since there's no keyboard portion. The XPS 13 has more space for more battery.

The XPS 13 also has two things that the Surface Pro does not. The first is Thunderbolt 4, which Microsoft still doesn't support, though at least USB-C made it onto the Surface Pro 7. This means you're free to use any Thunderbolt docks or accessories instead of having to get locked behind Microsoft's Surface Connect port.

A 4K display may also be important to you, and you're able to get one on the XPS 13. For most people, the 1080p display will still represent the best overall value, but for some, such as video editors, having 4K is important, and you can't get it on the Surface Pro 7.

Get a Surface Pro 7 if you want a 2-in-1

One of the easiest ways to decide is to figure out if the flexibility you get from the Surface Pro 7 is important to you. If you just want a laptop, then it's probably not the best choice, but if the idea of having both a tablet and a laptop, something you can use for entertainment, drawing, or handwriting, as well as crunching out some work, sounds good, then it's still the one to get. It's also the most affordable at the entry level.

XPS 13 is still a top Ultrabook

The XPS 13 is everything that we love about Ultrabooks. It's compact yet powerful, stunningly designed, and executed, and the latest model is even more amazing than its predecessors. It doesn't have the flexibility the Surface Pro 7 does (but it does come with a keyboard!), but if you're looking for the best laptop, then this is what you should buy.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.