Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro: A Premium Ultraportable Face-Off


The XPS 13 or Macbook Pro? If you want to find out which one is right for you, then take a look at this Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro comparison.

In this comparison, we will take a look at every aspect that contributes to the looks, functionality, and overall performance of both laptops. To this means, I will review both laptops’ design, build and then go over how well they both perform.

My performance test will cover all the essential aspects that primarily influence the overall performance of a laptop or tablet. Hence, I will review both laptops’ CPU, RAM, and battery performances through a series of tests.

These tests will take two forms which will be: real-world performance and synthetic benchmark tests. Through this entire process, I will compare both laptops’ test results to help you identify which laptop has superior performance in each aspect.

With this, you will be able to decide for yourself which of the laptops is capable of tending to your needs more. Based on their performance capabilities which I will make clearer, you will be able to easily make your decision.

Besides, I will also ensure to give you our expert recommendation, which is based on the performance and design of the two laptops. So if you want to know which one is better between the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro, you should stick around till the end of this article.

Based on our comparison of Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro, we recommend:

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro: My Initial Thoughts

In recent months, the ongoing battle of the XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro has been shaping up to be something that goes beyond Windows vs Mac OS. When you consider the improvements that both laptops bring to the table, you will discover just how much the battle is heating up.

While the Macbook Pro is beefing up in terms of its hardware components – its processor to be specific, the XPS 13 continues to improve its design. Besides, Apple has changed the keyboard which was one of the Macbook Pro’s most controversial features.

That is not the only trick Apple has under its sleeve. They have also doubled the Macbook Pro’s storage, provide more room for users to save files.

Meanwhile, Dell has gone back to the drafting table to keep the XPS 13 in shape for comparisons such as this. They’ve also made sure to implement the latest technological trends in the XPS 13.

In a bid to keep heads turning, Dell has employed the magical hands of its designers to further fine-tune the appearance of the laptop. Looking at the XPS 13, you would think Dell has done this in anticipation of crushing any future comparisons with its competitors.

For example, Dell has trimmed down the size of the XPS 13 to make it more portable. Aside from that, its improved display is also a feature to love.

With the first impression I got from these two laptops, I can assure you that this face-off will be an interesting one. Without further hesitation, let’s find out which of these premium ultraportables will come out victorious in what is shaping up to be the ultimate comparison.

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro Design, Dimension & Weight Comparison

By all standards, the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro are extremely gorgeous laptops. Both laptops boast top-notch designs that keep them at the top of their games.

Though the Macbook Pro’s design is still pretty much the same, we can hardly complain about Apple’s already iconic appearance. Some may find it boring to be stuck with the same design in several versions but there’s still nothing much to dislike.

The Macbook Pro’s aluminum unibody is like a treasure to behold. It still gives off that premium vibe you would hardly find on most laptops. 

Till now, I still get shivers down my spine whenever I run my fingers along its neatly cut aluminum body. Call it an exaggeration, but that’s just how excited I get about the laptop’s design.

Moreover, design is always a subjective attribute. As a matter of fact, I have colleagues who are tired of seeing the same old Apple design on every MacBook Pro laptop. 

Their desire for something that looks different served as the determining factor for the low design rating they gave the Macbook Pro. Aside from the design repetition, there’s barely any other way in which you can fault the laptop’s design.

The XPS 13 on the other hand, comes with a design that gives Apple a run for its money. It has come as a formidable competition threatening to overthrow the Macbook Pro from its position at the top of its category.

If not for any other thing, I admire Dell’s tenacity. Rather than being intimidated by Apple’s successful formula, they’ve stuck to their own style which only got closer to perfection in early 2019.

The XPS 13 has a smooth finish that makes it look and feel classy. In addition to that, it comes with a newly introduced Frost color option with a bright white interior. 

In every sense, the Frost Silver and Arctic White color scheme are as exquisite as anyone could ever demand or wish for. However, the Platinum Silver and Black color scheme remain my favorite.

One of my reasons for this is the tendency of the Frost Silver and White version to attract stains more easily. Aside from that, the Platinum Silver just looks more fitting for professional gatherings.

The lid of the laptop is built with anodized aluminum chassis that has a distinctive gleam that keeps your attention. This attribute impressively complements the shiny silver Dell logo at the center of the lid.

For the most part, the color scheme is one of the biggest differences between the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro. The Macbook Pro has a more simple color scheme.

Its elegant chassis is either shipped with Space Gray or Silver color. Like the XPS 13, the Macbook Pro’s lid is built with an aluminum chassis.

It features Apple’s logo at the center of its lid. The familiar half-eaten shiny apple fruit graces the center of the Macbook Pro’s lid.

Open the lids of the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro and you will notice another huge difference between both laptops. The XPS 13 features a black woven carbon-fiber keyboard deck that is familiar to Dell laptops.

This carbon fiber covers the entire palm rest area of the laptop’s base. As you would expect, the remaining area of the XPS 13’s base accommodates the full-sized keyboard.

Dell has redesigned the keyboard on the XPS 13. Hence, we now have something that’s more like an edge-to-edge design. 

The Island-styled keys are also 9% bigger than they were before. Even with the increased size of the keys, they are still adequately spaced, thereby offering a very comfortable typing experience.

With a 1mm key travel and an excellent tactile feel, you can carry on your typing sessions for as long as possible without realizing how much time has gone by.

In addition to that, the backlighting feature on the keyboard is a motivator for midnight work sessions. The XPS 13’s backlit keyboard will make it possible for you to burn the midnight oil with ease.

Like the XPS 13, the Macbook Pro also boasts of new improvements on its keyboard. Apple has replaced the controversial Butterfly keyboard with what they call a “Magic keyboard”.

Considering the number of complaints, I believe I would be speaking for many if I say that the Butterfly keyboard won’t be missed. By all standards, the “Magic keyboard” keyboard is definitely an upgrade.

Instead of the Butterfly switches used on the Butterfly keyboard, the Magic keyboard uses a more common scissor-switch. This scissor-switch helps the keyboard achieve a 1mm key travel like that of the XPS 13.

The improved overall typing experience on the Macbook Pro is glaring thanks to the changes Apple has made. Typing on the laptop is more quiet and comfortable than before.

If we were to compare the XPS 13 with a Macbook Pro that is equipped with the Butterfly keyboard, I would have gone for the XPS 13 in a heartbeat.

That being said, I compared how well I was able to pass the 10fastfingers typing test on both laptops. When I took the test on the Macbook Pro, I averaged 73 words per minute.

Meanwhile, I averaged 68 words per minute on the XPS 13. 

Both the XPS 13 and the Macbook Pro had large trackpads below their keyboards. The XPS 13’s touchpad measures 4.4 x 2.6 inches, while the Macbook Pro measures 4.7 x 3.2 inches.

Performing Windows 10 gestures like a two-finger scroll and pinch to zoom, were smooth on both laptops. Overall, both laptops’ touchpads were smooth and responsive.

If you can remember, I stated earlier that the XPS 13 has come to pose a serious challenge to the Macbook Pro in terms of design. One of the features that make the XPS 13’s design impressive is its size.

A factor that played a big part in the XPS 13’s more compact form is the Dell InfinityEdge display design. This design helped Dell trim off nearly all of the laptop’s bezels.

The trimming resulted in a laptop with a 91.5% screen-to-body ratio. In comparison, the Macbook Pro’s bezels are slightly chunkier. 

Overall, the XPS 13 is lighter and more compact than the Macbook Pro. The XPS 13 measures 295.7 x 198.7 x 14.8 mm and weighs 1200 g.

Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro measures 304.1 x 212.4 x 15.6 mm and weighs 1400 g.

Whichever one you buy between these two laptops, you will still end up being in need of more ports. It is very likely that you end up purchasing a USB hub.

The XPS 13 features one Thunderbolt 4 port located on each of its sides – one on the left and one on the right. These Thunderbolt 4 ports come along with a headphone jack and a microSD card slot.

Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro offers four Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports and four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Overall, both the XPS 13 and the Macbook Pro are laptops with excellent designs that are well befitting of the premium class. Choosing between both laptops eventually comes down to personal preference.

They are both quite compact and considerably light. In addition to that, they both also offer different color options.

Both Dell and Apple have done a good job at dealing with their previous shortcomings. Corrections and improvements made on both laptops make them appear to be almost flawless.

Based on our review, we’ve decided to rate both the XPS 13 and the Macbook Pro with a score of 8 in this Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro design comparison. 

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro Processor (CPU) Performance Comparison

When you consider both laptops’ in terms of their processors, you’ll discover a big difference between the two. They come with entirely different processor configurations. 

While the XPS 13 features just one processor configuration option, the Macbook Pro offers quite a number of configurations. When you buy the XPS 13, you get a quad-core Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor. 

This processor has a base frequency of 2.80 GHz and it is capable of achieving a boost frequency of 4.70 GHz.

On the other end of the comparison, the Macbook Pro’s processor configuration options look really nice. Apple allows you to buy the Macbook Pro with either a quad-core Intel Core i5-8257U processor or a quad-core Intel Core i7-8557U processor. 

In addition to these options, you can also buy the Macbook Pro with a quad-core Intel Core i5-1038NG7 processor. Finally, there’s also a quad-core Intel Core i7-1068NG7 processor configuration option.

Before I proceed with both laptops’ processor review, let me quickly give you the details of the Macbook Pro’s processor configurations. Firstly, the Intel Core i5-8257U processor has a base frequency of 1.40 GHz and a boost frequency of 3.90 GHz.

Secondly, the Intel Core i7-1068NG7 processor has a base frequency of 1.70 GHz and a boost of 4.50 GHz. Next on the list is the Intel Core i5-1038NG7 processor which has a base frequency of 2.0 GHz and a boost frequency of 3.80 GHz.

Lastly, the Intel Core i7-1068NG7 processor has a base frequency of 2.30 GHz and a boost frequency of 4.10 GHz.

With that being said, we move to the main subject of this section. For clarifications, our Macbook Pro review model came equipped with the Intel Core i5-1038NG7 processor.

As usual, the review of both laptops’ processor performance will be based on two forms of tests. I will compare both laptops’ processor performance in terms of their real-world performance and benchmark performance.

In my real-world performance test, I found both laptops to be impressive. They both put up excellent levels of performance.

The XPS 13 was able to handle the regular web browsing sessions and other day-to-day computing operations. Operations like sending emails, document editing, and word processing all ran smoothly on the XPS 13.

On the Macbook Pro, I was able to equally get an excellent performance. Its performance was as impressive as the XPS 13’s.

However, moving on to the benchmark performance aspect switched things up a bit. The XPS 13 and Macbook Pro performed differently on the benchmark tests I ran on them.

I started the benchmark test with the Cinebench R20 test. The Cinebench R20 test gives a realistic view of how processors perform when under multi-threaded workloads. 

Furthermore, this test is divided into two performance values. The multi-core score shows how fast the processor is when it comes to multi-processing tasks that make use of all available cores.

Meanwhile, the single-core evaluates how fast the processor is when only a single-core is put to use. Without wasting any more time, I will highlight how both laptops perform in these tests.

In the multi-core aspect, the XPS 13 scored 1873 points while it scored 426 points in the single-core aspect. Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro scored 1768 in the multi-core aspect and 438 points in the single-core aspect.

From these results, we can see that the battle is shaping up to be fierce considering the fact that the results do not clearly distinguish the better performer.

The other benchmark test I conducted on both laptops is the HandBrake performance test. It is a video conversion benchmark test. 

It tests how fast a laptop’s processor can convert videos from one version to another.

The Macbook Pro brought its A game in this benchmark test. It performed well enough to show a clear gap between itself and the XPS 13.

There was no room for debate since the Macbook Pro needed only 12 minutes and 54 seconds to convert a 4k video to 1080p. Meanwhile, the XPS 13 took 15 minutes and 38 seconds to convert the same video.

In conclusion, the Macbook Pro has just a slight edge over the XPS 13 in terms of its processors. The Macbook Pro has a wider range of configuration options and it is slightly faster in terms of processing speed.

For these reasons, the Macbook Pro achieves a slightly higher score compared to the XPS 13. The Macbook Pro scores a nine in this Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro processor performance comparison.

On the other hand, the Dell XPS 13 scores an eight.

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro Memory (RAM) Performance Comparison

In terms of their RAM configurations, both the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro are mostly different. You can buy the XPS 13 with either 16 GB or 32 GB LPDDR RAM.

Meanwhile, Apple offers the MacBook Pro with either an 8 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3 RAM or an 8 GB 3733 MHz LPDDR4X RAM. The Macbook Pro has two RAM slots which enable you to increase the RAM size on the laptop. 

However, the maximum size Apple supports for the Macbook Pro is 32 GB. Hence, you cannot upgrade the laptop’s RAM beyond 32 GB.

Once again, our review and comparison of both laptops will take two forms which are real-world and benchmark performance tests. Our real-world performance test involves multitasking tests.

Both the XPS 13 and the Macbook Pro had no problems while operating with 42 Google Chrome tabs. They both ran smoothly even while I was tweeting on Twitter, sending messages on Slack, and listening to music on Spotify all at the same time.

The results of this test showed how capable both laptops are when it comes to multitasking.

Aside from the multitasking test, I carried out a benchmark performance test. I ran the PCMark 10 synthetic benchmark test on both laptops.

The PCMark 10 benchmark test checks how well the laptop’s system performs in office-related tasks like web browsing and word processing. 

In the essential aspect of this benchmark test, the XPS 13 scored 9749 points. It surpassed the Macbook Pro’s 9682 scores.

The results I got in the productivity aspect showed that the XPS 13 was still the more powerful laptop. While it scored 6838 points, the Macbook Pro scored 6652 points.

Finally, the XPS 13 also surpassed the Macbook Pro when I ran an overall PCMark 10 benchmark test on both laptops. The XPS 13 was able to score a total of 5226 points.

Going by the results of the benchmark tests I carried out, it is clear that the XPS 13 beats the Macbook Pro in terms of memory performance. Not that the Macbook Pro performs poorly, it is only slightly behind the XPS 13 in terms of their performance.

As a result, the XPS 13 scores a nine in this Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro memory performance comparison. On the other hand, the Macbook Pro scores a seven.

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro Storage Options & Performance Comparison

Just like in the previous sections, the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro do not share many things in common in terms of storage. The XPS 13 features a 1 TB PCIe NVMe SSD storage.

It also comes with a microSD card reader for external storage expansion.

The Macbook Pro, on the other hand, comes with a 4 TB SSD storage. Unlike the XPS 13, the Macbook Pro doesn’t come with a microSD card reader.

You can’t just deny how nice the storage capacity of both laptops is. With either of the two laptops – especially the Macbook Pro – you will be able to store numerous files without problems.

For a fact, both laptops’ storage capacities are impressive, but is their performance equally impressive? Let’s find out.

To find out well both laptops perform in terms of their storage, I ran a few tests. The first test I conducted on both laptops is the CrystralDiskMark benchmark test.

This test checks how fast the storage drive is in terms of read and write speeds.

To clarify, a computer performs a “read” when you open a file for example. On the contrary, a “write” operation occurs when you save a file.

When I ran this test on the XPS 13, the laptop achieved a sequential read speed of 2167 MBps and a sequential write speed of 853.8 MBps. Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro achieved much better read and write speeds.

It was able to offer sequential read and write speeds of 2060 MBps and 2315.9 MBps respectively. From this, we can conclude that the Macbook Pro performs better in this aspect.

Before we do that, let’s quickly take a look at how both laptops performed in the file transfer test. 

On our file transfer test that requires the laptop to copy a 4.97 GB file, the XPS 13 copied the file at a rate of 806.5 MBps. This equated to a copy time of 7 seconds. 

Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro offered a copy rate of 1246 MBps. With this transfer rate, it took the Macbook Pro just 5 seconds to copy the same file.

The results of all the tests I carried out in this section all point to the Macbook Pro as the superior laptop. Its storage is faster than the XPS 13’s and it has a larger capacity.

Hence, the Macbook Pro scores a nine in this Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro storage performance comparison. The XPS 13, on the other hand, scores an eight.

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro Graphics Card Performance Comparison

The graphics card aspect is the closest the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro have come in terms of similarities. Though their graphics card configurations options are different, both laptops make use of Intel Iris graphics cards.

Dell ships the XPS 13 with an integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics card. This graphics card has a base frequency of 300 MHz and a boost frequency of 1300 MHz.

Meanwhile, Apple offers two configurations for the Macbook Pro. You can configure your Macbook Pro with an integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 GPU or an integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics card.

If you decide to buy the Macbook Pro with the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 GPU, you will be getting a base GPU frequency of 300 MHz. Also, the laptop will be able to attain a maximum GPU boost frequency of 1150 MHz.

The other option which is the Intel Iris Plus Graphics card is capable of offering a similar base frequency of 300 MHz and a slightly lesser boost frequency of 1100 MHz.

Whichever one of these configurations you choose to go for, note that you won’t be getting a dedicated VRAM on either of them.

For this review and comparison, we configured our Macbook Pro review unit with the Intel Iris Plus Graphics card. I will base the assessment of both laptops’ graphics on real-world gaming performance and benchmark tests.

Hence, we will take a look at how the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro performed on our 3DMark 11 GPU performance test. Basically, the 3DMark 11 is a benchmark test that measures the gaming performance of a laptop.

In this test, the XPS 13 outperformed the Macbook Pro by a significant amount. While the XPS 13 scored 6398 points, the Macbook Pro scored 4630 points.

I took the tests to the real-world gaming aspect and things became a bit more interesting. Unlike the benchmark test where their performance was clearly distinct, both laptops battled it out intensely in the real world gaming aspect.

When I ran the X-Plane 11.11 game on the XPS 13, I got an average frame rate of 25.1 frames per second. Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro was able to offer me a slightly better frame rate of 30 frames per second. 

I also played Dota 2 Reborn on both laptops. The Macbook Pro was able to run the game at 81 frames per second, outperforming the XPS 13 that was able to offer 76.1 frame rates per second. 

Lastly, I tested both laptops to see how smoothly they can run The Witcher 3. When I played the game on the XPS 13, I enjoyed a smooth frame rate of 98.6 frames per second.

In comparison with the XPS 13, the Macbook Pro’s performance wasn’t really good. The Macbook Pro offered frame rates of 48 frames per second.

I can say for a fact that both laptops offer awesome graphics performance. Though the results of the tests I carried out on both laptops varied across different aspects, we can deduce that they are both equally impressive in terms of their GPU performance.

Hence, both the XPS 13 and the Macbook Pro score an eight in this Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro graphics card performance comparison.

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro Battery Life & Performance Comparison

In terms of their battery capacity, the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro are a bit close. While the XPS 13 comes with a 52 Whr battery, the Macbook Pro is usually sold with a 58.2 Whr battery.

Quite contrary to what the battery capacities may suggest, the XPS 13 has a longer battery life compared to that of the Macbook Pro.

Moreover, the XPS 13 is regarded as an Intel Evo laptop thanks to its processor and graphics card type. Hence, the XPS 13 is expected to be able to offer at least 9 hours of battery life. 

Dell even promised battery life of 18 hours and 49 minutes. However, the XPS 13 wasn’t able to last as long as Dell promised when we ran our battery life test on the laptop.

On our battery test which involves continuous web browsing with medium screen brightness, the XPS 13 lasted for 12 hours 35 minutes. Meanwhile, the Macbook Pro lasted for 10 hours 20 minutes before it ran out of power.

Just like in the previous aspects, both the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro offer remarkably long battery lives. Their battery lives are sufficient enough to last you through almost a day of your regular computing activities.

Though they are both excellent in terms of their battery life, the XPS 13 has the edge over the Macbook Pro since it lasts longer. As a result, the XPS 13 scores a nine in this Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro battery performance comparison.

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro: Our Rating Summary

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have the extra money to spend, the XPS 13 is absolutely worth it. It has a good battery life, a compact and light form factor, and awesome performance capabilities. It is one of the high-end laptops that you won’t regret spending money on.

The Macbook Pro is an awesome power-intensive laptop that is capable of handling almost any computing task you throw at it. Add its excellent performance to its incredible build quality and design, and you will be impressed by how good the laptop is.

The Dell XPS 13 is a perfect representation of an ideal premium laptop. It is a fantastic laptop that offers remarkable performance in everyday computing operations. It also handles the more intensive task with efficiency. To top it all, the laptop has a gorgeous design.

The version of the Macbook Pro that was reviewed for this comparison was released in 2019.

On our battery test which involves continuous web browsing with medium screen brightness, the XPS 13 lasted for 12 hours 35 minutes. Hence, you should expect the XPS 13 to last you at least 12 hours after it has been fully charged.

The Dell XPS 13 is very light. It weighs just 1200 g.

Yes, it does. The Macbook Pro features a 720p FaceTime HD camera.

Yes, it does. The Dell XPS 13 is equipped with version 5.0 Bluetooth.

No, the Macbook Pro is not equipped with an optical drive.

Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro: My Final Thoughts

The XPS 13 and Macbook Pro are excellent laptops that perfectly embody the features and properties of an ideal premium laptop. They are both elegant and powerful enough to be the benchmark for premium laptops.

Use either of these two laptops in public gatherings and you will definitely notice people admiring your laptop. Besides, they are both incredibly compact and light enough to be used on the go.

Performance-wise, the XPS 13 and Macbook Pro can get the job done. You won’t have difficulties carrying out your regular computing tasks and even the more intensive ones.

If you are on a budget the Macbook Pro is the ideal choice between the two laptops. Since the performance and design of both laptops are a bit closely tied in terms of which is the better laptop, you won’t be losing much if you choose the Macbook Pro.

However, the Dell XPS 13 seems to be the better overall package even though it is more expensive. It has a better battery life, a more compact and lighter form factor, and awesome performance capabilities.

If you have the extra money to spend, the XPS 13 is absolutely worth it. I would recommend the XPS 13 over the Macbook Pro if you are searching for something that can offer you an overall package.

Hence, based on our comprehensive review and comparison of Dell XPS 13 vs Macbook Pro, we recommend:

Although we recommend the Dell XPS 13, if you want to spend less, you should consider the Macbook Pro.

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References And Further Reading