Best pick

Surface Laptop Studio

Surface Laptop Studio

Custom pick

Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 13

The Surface Laptop Studio is a solid contender in the Ultrabook category. Its beautiful 120Hz display, battery life, and design make it a great choice. For some though, the lack of options could be a problem.

$1,600 at Amazon

Pros

  • Slim and strong physical design
  • 120Hz display
  • 2-in-1 design
  • Haptic touchpad

Cons

  • Low-powered CPU
  • Zero resolution options
  • Solid battery life

The Dell XPS 15 is a robust laptop with a lot of neat features like a super high-resolution screen, solid CPU performance, and lots of customization. But all the options rocket the price up and might not be what you're looking for.

$1,274 at Dell

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • High-resolution screen options
  • Solid CPU performance
  • SD card reader

Cons

  • On the heavy side
  • Average GPU performance
  • Sub-par battery life
  • Pricey

The Surface Laptop Studio and the Dell XPS 15 aim for a similar type of person. Both laptops come with a lot of features that people who want to do more than web browsing on their devices will appreciate. That said, the differences matter. The Surface Laptop Studio is a strong option for people who don't want to fuss with options and want something that is largely low key in terms of workloads but can pick up the slack should you do something intensive here and there. The Dell XPS 15, with its many options, fits closer to the person that has regular CPU-intensive work they need done, doesn't mind staying close to a wall outlet, and can deal without a touch screen (depending on what screen you choose).

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Surface Laptop Studio vs. Dell XPS 15: Design

Dell XPS 15 9500Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Both the Surface Laptop Studio and the Dell XPS 15 are incredibly well designed for what they are. If you want to take a magnifying glass to them, the Surface Laptop Studio's lighter weight and slightly more usable keyboard and trackpad win out, but if you land on the Dell XPS 15 as your choice, you won't necessarily miss out.

Both laptops pack a lot into a slim package. The Surface Laptop Studio has the unique ability out of the two to fold out its 14.4-inch screen to function closer to a tablet. The Dell XPS 15 remains a laptop in look and feel. For some people the latter might be more familiar and, potentially, less likely to break depending on their tendencies. And its slightly bigger 15-inch screen could be a plus for people who can't bear to look at a bezel.

Surface Laptop Studio vs. Dell XPS 15: Performance

Surface Laptop Studio (base model) Dell XPS 15 (base model)
CPU Intel Core i5-11300H Intel Core i5-11400H
RAM 16GB 8GB
GPU Intel Iris Xe Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 630
Display 2400x1600 (touch) 1920x1200 (non-touch)
Storage 256GB SSD 256GB SSD
Weight 3.83 pounds 3.99 pounds

Performance is where the two laptops start to throw punches. It's also where you have to make the most decisions on what you want in a laptop and how you intend to use it. The Surface Laptop Studio is a laptop made to suit a variety of needs in a competent way. You'll be able to do a lot of basic photo and video editing without worrying about your laptop chugging. Gaming is more than fine too. A lot of close-to-modern games that aren't made to push the latest graphics cards are going to run fine on it with some setting tweaks. But that also means it doesn't necessarily excel at anything. The XPS 15 pushes in this direction a little further with its stronger CPU performance overall. This puts the latter laptop closer to what you'd want if you know you'll need to push its limits.

For an average user, both laptops perform similarly. The real question is what kinds of things you'll need them to do. Someone who wants to dabble in more games and doesn't care about how battery life will suffer for it, should keep their eye on the XPS 15. Someone who just wants a solid laptop that will adapt to whatever stuff you throw at it with some extra care on how much you pile onto it, should look to the Surface Laptop Studio.

Surface Laptop Studio vs. Dell XPS 15: Price

Surface Laptop Studio HeroSource: Windows Central

Price is the other close race. The Surface Laptop Studio starts at $1,600 with an Intel Core i5, 16GB of RAM, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, and a 256GB SSD. That's fine for someone who has no intention to do anything super involved on the laptop like heavy photo editing and light gaming. But if you need it to do more, you'll need to pay up to $2,700 for an i7, 32GB of RAM, NVIDIA RTX 3050, and 1TB of storage.

On the other hand, the XPS 15 can have a stronger processor, the same GPU, and 512GB of storage for $300 more. Upgrading the laptop from there will get you an Intel i9, double the RAM, a 3050 Ti, and 1TB of storage for $2,300. It's definitely a pricier option to start, but it's what you'd want to pay for if you need the laptop to handle a lot more. The Surface Laptop Studio maxed out ends up being more expensive overall.

Surface Laptop Studio vs. Dell XPS 15: Which should you buy?

It's hard to pin one laptop down as the better option. When it comes down to it, the XPS 15's increased customization options make it a suitable laptop for someone who has a lot of fairly powerful needs out of their tech. But the Surface Laptop Studio is a fantastic choice for someone who needs one of the best Windows laptops for a variety of things, or someone who isn't even fully sure of what they'll do on it.

For most people that answer here is the Surface Laptop Studio. It's more suited to how people use laptops now and can flex to what you want within reason. The 120Hz screen and solid performance make it perfect for a lot of people. For everyone else, do your research, look into what you need, and pick the right XPS 15 for you.

Best pick

Surface Laptop Studio

Surface Laptop Studio

A fantastic laptop for most people

The Surface Laptop Studio's 2-in-1 design, 120Hz display, battery life, and strong performance put it at the top.

Custom pick

Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 15

Not for everyone, but still a powerful laptop

The Dell XPS 15 is one of the best laptops out there. Although it has a potentially high-resolution screen, good battery life, and solid performance, it might be more than most people need.

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