Top 2-in-1

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Top Ultrabook

Dell XPS 13

The Surface Pro 7 brings 10th Gen Intel "Ice Lake" processor options for excellent performance and Wi-Fi 6 compatibility. It now has a USB-C port, too, albeit without Thunderbolt 3. However, you'll still have to pay extra for a Type Cover if you want this to be your laptop.

From $749 at Microsoft

Pros

  • 10th Gen Intel CPUs
  • USB-C port
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Supports inking
  • Lower starting price

Cons

  • Pay extra for a keyboard
  • Smaller battery
  • No Thunderbolt 3

The XPS 13 is one of the very best all-rounders and became a class leader for a reason. The newest version is even more sensational than the last, but if you need a laptop now the disappointment is that it's not set to be available until February.

From $999 at Dell

Pros

  • 10th Gen processors
  • Optional 4K display
  • Great battery life
  • Thunderbolt 3 USB-C
  • Wi-Fi 6

Cons

  • No digital pen support
  • Not all models have touch
  • Not available until Feb. 2020

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 hardware, using the latest and greatest from Intel, support Wi-Fi 6 and have plenty of options for storage and RAM depending on your budget. But there are some key areas that one or the other could make more sense.

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

Surface Pro 7 Dell XPS 13
OS Windows 10 Windows 10
Processor 10th Gen Intel
Core i3-1005G1
Core i5-1035G4
Core i7-1065G7
10th Gen Intel Core
i3-1005G1
i5-1035G1
i7-1065G7
RAM 4GB, 8GB, 16GB LPDDR4x 4, 8, 16, or 32GB LPDDR4X (3733MHz)
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB SSD 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Display size 12.3 inches
Touch
13.4-inches (16:10)
Display resolution 2736x1824
267 PPI
Full HD, 4K
Dolby Vision
Aspect ratio 3:2 16:10
Graphics Intel UHD
Intel Iris Plus
Intel UHD
Intel Iris Plus
Ports USB-C 3.1
USB-A
3.5mm audio
Surface Connect
microSD card reader
2x Thunderbolt 3
1x 3.5mm headphone
Type-C to Type-A converter included
Camera Front-facing 5MP (1080p)
Rear-facing 8MP (1080p)
HD 720P (top bezel)
Biometrics Windows Hello IR camera Windows Hello IR camera (face)
Windows Hello fingerprint (power button)
Battery Up to 10.5 hours Up to 19 hours
Dimensions 11.5 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")
Weight From 1.7 pounds (775g) 1.2kg (2.64lbs.) for non-touch
1.27 kg (2.8 lbs.) 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 important is that 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, with the same Intel Core i3 and 4GB of RAM, though the XPS 13 base model does have more storage.

Even taking into account 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 black and whiteSource: Dell

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 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 3, 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 3 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.

Top 2-in-1

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

10th Gen Intel CPUs and Wi-Fi 6

The Surface Pro 7 has been refreshed with new CPUs and a USB-C port. It's an ideal device if you want to stay mobile yet have the performance to crush a day's work.

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!) though if you're just looking for the best laptop, then this is what you should buy.

Top Ultrabook

Dell XPS 13

More awesome than ever

The latest Dell XPS 13 has been revamped for 2019, adding Intel's powerful new 10th Gen processors, Wi-Fi 6, a 4K 16:10 display, and much more.

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