The Dell XPS 13 has been a great laptop since it relaunched in 2015, but every design becomes outdated after a few years. In 2019, Dell unveiled a new form of laptop with WebCam back on top, which now makes it even more comparable Macbook Pro.
Now, Dell is back in 2020 with the improved XPS 13, improving its performance and portability. Can Apple’s long acclaimed MacBook Pro still compete? In this guide, we amaze you against design, performance, and each other to help you determine which one is best for you
Design will always be subjective, but both of these laptops top their respective games. In particular, the design of the MacBook Pro is only iconic. It has been aired over the years, but the aluminum unibody look is largely the same – and it is nothing that people complain about.
One of the great things about the Dell XPS 13 is that the MacBook Pro never attempted to clone anything. It had its own sense of style, which improved in 2019 with new frost color options and a luxurious, white interior. Despite moving the webcam up, the XPS 13’s ultra-thin bezels remain thin, resulting in a small footprint on the laptop table.
For 2020, Dell thinned the bezels on all four sides of the screen on the display and especially on the bottom. Now this is what Dell calls the 13.4-inch, four-way InfinityEdge display. In layman terms, this allows Dell to squeeze a larger display panel the size of an 11-inch laptop. This means that it sports a 91.5% screen-to-body ratio.
The MacBook Pro isn’t bad in this respect, but the XPS is definitely a trimmer machine. What really distinguishes Dell’s laptop are the two color schemes: Platinum Silver with a black interior or Frost with an Arctic White interior. Meanwhile, the weight comes in at 2.8 pounds and 0.58 inches. It’s closer to the MacBook’s 0.61-inch thickness, but it’s certainly easier to carry, given the 3.1-pound weight of the MacBook.
Apple’s improvements in keyboard and input methods on the MacBook Pro are a welcome change. The company swapped its annoying Butterfly Key Switch for scissor switches, providing a better experience than in previous years. They are topped with rubber domes and provide a full millimeter of travel. Meanwhile, the MacBook Pro’s big Force Touch trackpad is truly awesome – we rate it as the best in the industry, bar none.
The XPS 13’s keyboard and touchpad are comfortable, with smooth key travel and less slippery keys. In fact, Dell opted to redesign the keyboard on the XPS 13 in 2020, so that it is more of an edge-to-edge design, and its keycaps are 9% larger. Even the trackpad became larger, now 19% larger than the previous generation.
At the other end of the range, the MacBook Pro traded the XPS 13’s large keyboard and trackpad for the touchbar. It is a multitouch OLED display that replaces the top row of the MacBook’s function keys and adapts based on the software you are using. The technology looked promising at first, but it became completely forgettable and really needed further development to reach its potential. You can love it or find it meaningless.
As expected, the latest MacBook Pro features two or four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports (depending on the model) and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. While USB-C support is steadily increasing, many users may still be off due to lack of a standard USB-A port. The new 2020 XPS 13 is similar, offering just two Vajra 3 ports, though it ships with a USB dongle. It also includes a microSD slot.
Dell hit a good middle ground with their new XPS 13, and we think it has a high power, future-proof port, and a good balance of access with old stuff.
Both laptops have options for Intel’s Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs. However, Dell has a slight edge, as it offers a third budget-friendly Core i3 option. In addition, its current CPU lineup includes both 10th-generation Ice Lake and 11th-generation Tiger Lake processors.
Apple takes a different approach. At lower price levels the two models rely on 8th generation Core i5 and i7 processors, while the two models on the higher end use 10th generation Core i5 and i7 chips. One of our issues with the MacBook Pro 13 in 2020 is that Apple is selling older hardware at a premium price.
The most affordable model of the Dell XPS 13 starts at $ 800. It is 2-in-1 with a 10th-generation dual-core Intel Core i3-10110U processor, 8GB of memory, and a super-fast 256GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive. The new configuration features a Core i7-1165G7 processor with 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. The Core i5 and Core i7 options offer more core counts than the base model and provide better integrated graphics support for gaming than in previous years.
Apple’s base model MacBook Pro 13 comes with Intel’s eighth-generation Core i5-8257U quad-core processor (1.4GHz base, 3.9GHz maximum turbo), 8GB memory, and a fast 256GB PCIe SSD. That configuration will set you back $ 1,300. If you need more, you can go all the way up to an Intel Core i7-1068NG7 processor, 32GB memory, and a 4TB SSD.
Neither comes with a discrete graphics chip, so don’t expect to play AAA games on these laptops, unless you’re ready to shell out an extra for an external graphics card (eGPU). With both laptops supporting Thunderbolt 3, this is an option if you don’t mind the extra cost.
This is an easy answer. Although both will serve you well for multitasking, the XPS 13 wins because it has modern 10- and 11th-generation Intel processors.
The XPS 13 comes with three display options: Ultra HD + with Touch, FHD + with Touch, and FHD + without Touch. With Ultra HD +, you’re essentially getting 3,840 x 2,400 resolution, while the FHD + panel is 1,920 x 1,200. This terminology sounds strange, but is due to the new aspect ratio.
Thanks to the slimmer four-way Infinity Edge display, the XPS 13 sports a 16:10 aspect ratio to help maximize screen space. Similar to the MacBook lineup, this aspect ratio means that you should feel that there is more screen space for your content during web browsing. You are also getting a screen-to-body ratio in the XPS 13, as it is rated at 91.5%.
The Ultra HD + model also boasts HDR 400 certification, with 500 nits brightness, 1,500: 1 contrast ratio and 100% SRGB color space. However, this model results in a noticeable drop in battery life, making FHD + a better choice. This means that if you do not want to compromise on battery performance, you will have to compromise for a resolution of less than 2,560 x 1,600 given by the MacBook Pro. Still, the XPS 13’s screen remains one of the best displays you can buy on a laptop, though there’s still no way behind the MacBook Pro.
Performance quality has long been one of the MacBook Pro’s strong points. Its Retina display is not 4K, but it is faster than 1080p. The MacBook is known for its great color accuracy, color gamut and especially superior brightness. Its color error rate is 0.72 the lowest we’ve ever seen, while its stunning 1,200: 1 contrast ratio provides deep black and brilliant color.
Meanwhile, Dell XPS 13 uses the same display installed in the 2-in-1 version released in 2019. As we explained in our review of the new XPS 13, it is one of the best contrasts to date, with great color accuracy. . The lack of side bezels seems to present a wider feel.
Both the MacBook Pro and XPS 13 are slimline laptops that offer considerable portability, but the XPS definitely has an edge here. It’s both lighter And Thinner than the MacBook Pro, it’s super easy to throw in your bag or hold in your hand. For battery life, this is a different story.
Our test in 2019 showed some worrying behavior from the XPS 13 in terms of its battery life. While testing the 4K model, we saw a 25% to 30% drop in light web browsing and local video loop playback on the 2018 4K model, despite having the same display and battery.
In our tests with the early 2020 model, the FHD + configuration saw 11.5 hours of light web browsing and 14.5 hours of local video playback. However, heavy tasks drained the battery in five or so hours. Expect those battery bars to fall with screens configured on Ultra HD +.
The MacBook Pro also took a step back in terms of battery performance. The 58.2-watt-hour battery of the 2020 model is significantly less than the 74.9-watt-hour battery of the 2018 version. Our video loop test ran out of battery in 10 hours and 24 minutes. The MacBook Pro will last you through a day of normal usage, but if you want better battery performance, the 1080p XPS 13 should last longer.
Dale sits on the throne
All of that said, we still think the XPS 13 tops this comparison. It offers better portability, more immersive screens, newer and better processors and better value for money. You also get an attractive laptop that creates its own style, neither the metallic finish of Apple nor the sea of all-black laptops in the world of Windows. This is a laptop that can be seen for good reasons.
Ultimately, we think you’ll be happy with either laptop, but a lot of your choice will depend on the operating system you prefer the most. However, if you’re open to both Apple and Windows worlds, the Dell XPS 13 is a great option.