HP Spectre x360 vs. Dell XPS 15: Which Laptop Wins?

Thanks to its slick design and powerhouse specs, the

Dell XPS 15

($1,049; $2,438 as tested) has been the king of premium 15-inch laptops. However, the 2019 15-inch

HP Spectre x360

($1,599; $2,049 as tested) has come to challenge the XPS 15 for the throne.

We’ve tested these two beasts with similar configurations and compared them across multiple categories, including design, performance, display, battery life and value in order to name a winner. Here’s how the two 15-inch premium titans stack up.

It’s hard to choose between the Spectre x360 and the XPS 15 because both are irresistibly sexy machines.

The Spectre x360’s Poseidon Blue hue looks stunning on its

aluminum

hood. And while the XPS 15’s silver aluminum shell isn’t nearly as dramatic, there’s something to be said about how posh and bold it looks, as if its existence is fundamental.

Although the XPS 15 has a neatly compact carbon fiber interior, the Spectre x360 dazzles with its blue finish and pale brass accents. The HP also finds room for top-firing speakers and a full-size number pad.

There’s some give and take with the bezel situation. The bezels are super thin on the XPS 15, but the

webcam

is on the bottom. The Spectre x360’s bezels are noticeably thicker so that it can fit the webcam on the top bezel. You have to sacrifice something for each one, but personally, I’d go with the thinner bezels.

Looks aside, the Spectre x360’s standout feature is that it’s a

2-in-1

, which makes the design that much more versatile. Despite that, the XPS 15 has a smaller footprint, sitting at 4.2 pounds and 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.7~0.5 inches, while the Spectre x360 weighs in at 4.6 pounds and measures 14.22 x 9.84 x 0.76 inches.

Overall, the Spectre x360 beats the XPS 15 – if only by a hair – due to its versatile design.

The XPS 15 offers two

USB 3.1 ports

, one

Thunderbolt 3

port, an HDMI 2.0

port

, an SD card slot, a

Noble lock slot

and a headphone jack, while the Spectre x360 features two Thunderbolt 3 ports, one USB 3.0 port, one

USB Type-C port

, an HDMI port, a microSD card slot and a headphone jack.

For this round, it all comes down to port preference. With the Spectre x360, you get more USB ports, but the XPS 13 offers two legacy USB Type-As. I’m still partial to Type-A ports, but can see why someone would choose the Spectre x360 as Thunderbolt 3 and Type-C ports become more of a standard in the next few years.

The XPS 15 and Spectre x360’s 15.6-inch, 4K glossy

panels

blew me away with their color, but in terms of

brightness

, the winner is clear. The XPS 15’s panel emitted 447 nits of brightness; the Spectre x360 averaged only 247 nits. According to our colorimeter, the XPS 15 covered 164 percent of the sRGB spectrum, while the Spectre x360 hit 157 percent, which isn’t far off the mark.

When Jean Grey walks out into the streets of suburbia in the Dark Phoenix trailer, I saw more detail in the clouds and on the houses with the XPS 15’s panel simply because of how much brighter it is. Mystique’s red hair and blue skin were equally bold on both screens. The color was slightly more vivid on the XPS 15, but that was due to the higher brightness reducing the amount of glare on the display.

I love the Spectre x360’s punchy, deep-travel keyboard, but, despite the XPS 15’s shallow keyboard, its keys are still pleasantly clicky and more suitably spaced for typing.

On the XPS 15’s keyboard, I nailed 81 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test; with the Spectre x360, I averaged 72 wpm, which is somewhat ironic, considering that the XPS 15’s keys have 0.7 millimeters of travel and the Spectre x360’s measured 1.5 mm. We typically prefer a key travel of between 1.5 and 2.0 mm, but because the XPS 15 cuts out the numpad, it’s better spaced and centered within the deck.

However, the Spectre offers more versatility with its included

HP Active Pen

, which features 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and two shortcut buttons. The ink transferred fluidly on the display as I drew a wonky maze.

The Spectre x360 4.7 x 2.3-inch touchpad and the XPS 15’s 4 x 3.1-inch touchpad are equally smooth and responsive, but the XPS 15’s dips slightly further into the deck, which makes it a little more comfortable to use.

These speed demons are powered by an

Intel Core i7-8750H processor

with 16GB of

RAM

, which puts them at nearly even odds, but their

1TB SSDs

are far from similar.

On the Geekbench 4.3

overall performance

test, the Spectre x360 scored 21,889 and the XPS 15 hit a comparable 21,201.

Despite that, the XPS 15 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p slightly faster on the HandBrake benchmark, completing it in 10 minutes and 12 seconds, compared with the Spectre x360’s speed of 10 minutes and 45 seconds.

The XPS 15’s 1TB SSD copied 4.97GB of data at a rate of 1,272 megabytes per second, double the rate of the Spectre x360’s 1TB SSD transfer rate (566 MBps).

Armed with an

Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU

with 4GB of VRAM, the Spectre x360 and XPS 15 were at each other’s throats to reach playable frames during graphically-taxing games.

On the

Rise of the Tomb Raider

benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the XPS 15 averaged 22 frames per second, which is below the minimum playability threshold (30 fps), but it does beat the Spectre x360’s 19 fps.

The XPS 15 nailed 60 fps on the

Hitman

benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), which gave the Dell a solid lead over the Spectre x360 (46 fps)

On the

Grand Theft Auto V

benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Spectre x360 scored 32 fps, surpassing the XPS 15, which reached an unplayable 27 fps.

Virtual reality on a GTX 1050 Ti isn’t ideal, but the Spectre x360 can handle it slightly better than the HP, which scored a 3.3 out of 11 on the SteamVR Performance Test, while the XPS 15 scored a flat 3.

For laptops with

4K displays

, the Spectre x360 and XPS 15 are champions among the 15-inch premium laptop space. After continuously surfing the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the XPS 15 survived 8 hours and 28 minutes on a charge. The Spectre x360 wasn’t too far behind, at 8 hours and 9 minutes.

If you’re not feeling the 4K display, you can get the 1080p version of the XPS 15, which lasts a much longer at 11 hours and 53 minutes.

As configured, the Spectre x360 has a pretty crazy value compared with the XPS 15, but the XPS 15 offers more configurations at lower starting prices.

The Spectre x360 I tested costs $2,049 and comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, a GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and a 4K display. Meanwhile, the XPS 15 we compared it with runs for $2,438 and comes with the same components, but 32GB of RAM instead of 16GB. An additional 16GB of RAM should not cost an extra $400.

As for the base models, the XPS 15 starts at $1,049 and includes a Core i5-8300H processor with 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive,

Intel UHD 630 GPU

and a 1080p display. Meanwhile, the Spectre x360 starts at $1,599 and is outfitted with a Core i7-8565U CPU, an MX150 GPU with 2GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and 4K display. So, if you’re interested in the Spectre x360 but don’t need all that power, there’s not a good way to get it at an affordable price.

The Spectre x360 that I tested was already maxed out, but the XPS 15’s top-of-the-line configuration costs $3,069 and adds a Core i9-8950HK processor and a 2TB SSD.

This really depends on what kind of configuration you need most. If you’re looking for a similarly-specced Spectre x360, get it for the value, but if you need something cheaper or more powerful, get the XPS 15.


After trading blows and even coming to a straight draw in some rounds, the Dell XPS 15 defeated the Spectre x360 due to its much brighter display, faster SSD and longer battery life.

Still, the Spectre x360 is a great 2-in-1. In fact, you’ll get a better design, a great keyboard and solid graphics at a very reasonable price, plus the versatility of a convertible with a pen.

But overall, the XPS 15 still reigns as the king of the 15-inch premium laptops.

Rami Tabari is a Senior Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder’s dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.