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Dell XPS 13 vs MacBook Pro 13″ – Which is Better?

Welcome to the ultimate showdown between the best 13″ laptops: The MacBook Pro 13″ vs the Dell XPS 13.

Both of these models I have were released in 2016 and both of them have the 6th generation Intel Skylake processors in them. Having said that, the XPS 13 and the MacBook Pro that I have are not 100% the same when it comes to the rest of the specs, but this video will focus on the bigger picture, and at the end of this video I’ll share my verdict so you can figure out which one is best for you.

Price

The Dell XPS 13 is obviously cheaper. It’s cheaper overall, they offer more affordable options for under $1000 while the MacBook Pro starts at $1499 in the US. For the models I have here, it’s currently $1699 for the Dell XPS 13 and $1999 for the MacBook Pro. Now to make pricing more fair when you’re shopping, you can compare the non-touch screen of the Dell XPS 13 to the non touch bar model of the MacBook Pro along with other different hardware configurations. But overall, Dell is obviously cheaper so Dell does win the pricing battle.

Ports

Dell has a much wider variety of ports on the XPS 13 featuring one USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, and an always convenient SD card slot. The MacBook Pro, on the other hand, only has a headphone jack and either two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on the non-touch bar model or four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports on the touch bar model. So that’s a pretty no-brainer; Dell obviously wins the ports battle because they offer more ports than the new MacBook Pro, which Apple went ahead and took away all the ports that you’re used to and replaced them with USB C ports, so nobody has all of those ports for their devices yet, so it’s kind of an inconvenience right now. It will probably be beneficial in the future sometime, but not right now. For right now, Dell does win the ports battle.

Performance

Both the Dell and the MacBook Pro come in configurations of i5 or i7 processors with turbo boost, 8 or 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and SSDs from 128GB to 1TB, and Intel Iris graphics. So the performance really just depends on the configuration you choose. However, I will point out that my XPS 13 has a Core i7 with 16GB of RAM while my MacBook Pro has a Core i5 with just 8GB RAM, and I did a video editing export test and the MacBook Pro handled it way better, 4x better to be exact. Now that test was obviously dependent on the software, and Final Cut Pro X on a Mac is known to usually have faster export times because it’s optimized specifically for the Mac hardware. But since these laptops have so many similar specs, I’m calling this one a tie.

Display

Both of these displays are very beautiful. The Dell XPS 13 comes in at 3200×1800 on that Quad HD InfinityEdge IPS touch display, with super thin bezels, so right off the bat Dell is hard to beat. The MacBook Pro screen still looks great with a resolution of 2560×1600 plus the new P3 color space and at 500 nits, it gets a little brighter than the XPS 13, and in my opinion it does have the advantage of having a 16:10 aspect ratio, but when the display is compared side by side to the Dell XPS 13 you can tell that the XPS display is just better. So Dell does win the display battle. Up next is the battery life. Dell has a slightly bigger battery at 56 wH compared to the 49 wH on the MacBook Pro. However, the non touch bar MacBook Pro has a 55 wH battery, which should be right around the same battery life as the Dell XPS 13. In my test, the XPS 13 went from full charge to 0% in about 8 hours, and the MacBook Pro went from 100%-0% in about 7 hours so you’re getting about an hour longer battery life with the XPS 13; however, the MacBook Pro did charge faster than the Dell XPS 13, actually by 50 minutes faster. It went from 0-100% charge in 90 minutes, while the Dell XPS 13 went from 0-100% in about 140 mins, so the MacBook Pro does charge faster,  but the Dell has a bigger battery and a better battery life, thus winning the battery battle.

Portability

Starting off with the weight, the MacBook Pro 13″ weighs right at three pounds. The Dell XPS 13 weighs right under three pounds at two pounds and fourteen ounces to be exact. The XPS 13 is squeezed into a typical 11″ laptop shell which makes it one of the most portable 13″ laptops out right now. They’re both almost the same exact length, but the MacBook Pro is about a half inch longer in depth. However the MacBook Pro appears to be thinner than the XPS 13. It’s so close, and even though Dell wins the weight battle by two ounces, the MacBook Pro wins the thinness battle by a hair, so that makes it a tie for me. You really can’t go wrong with either of these laptops if you’re planning on being portable and mobile.

Design

Starting off with audio, the speakers on the MacBook Pro just sounded better to me; they have the faux grills on top, so the speakers aren’t really directly under the grills on the MacBook Pro but they do sound better. They’re coming up through the top while the Dell XPS speakers are really small and they’re on the side. So the MacBook Pro just sounded cleaner to me when I was listening to music and vocals and things like that. The MacBook Pro build is very solid, it’s attractive and symmetrical, the space grey looks very sleek, and I can open the lid without the laptop moving. The XPS 13 looks very good with the silver on the outside and the inside has a nice black carbon fiber finish. And I love the battery gauge button that used to be an advantage that MacBooks had until they stopped doing it, but the XPS 13 does have a common issue with coil whine and some trackpad issues with certain software. It’s not symmetrical, and you cannot open the lid without the laptop moving, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it does make a difference. Both keyboards have backlights; the MacBook Pro’s keys are a little bigger than the Dell’s keys but the biggest difference is the key travel. The MacBook Pro has Apple’s new 2nd generation butterfly mechanism keyboard which is totally subjective to the user but I like the MacBook Pro keyboard a little better than the traditional keyboard on the Dell XPS 13. It feels nicer when typing on it. Some people hate the butterfly mechanism but I’m a fan, especially with the 2nd generation. The MacBook Pro trackpad is king compared to the XPS 13. It’s bigger and works like Apple has always made them even with the Force touch. The Dell trackpad still physically clicks down but I still have issues with the Dell trackpad in Google Chrome. Having said that, the Dell XPS 13 still does have the best trackpad on a Windows machine that I’ve ever used, but just not as good as Apple’s yet. So MacBook Pro wins the overall design category.

OS

Which has the best operating system? This is going to cause a lot of ruckus in the comment section! Windows 10 is fantastic and is the Windows version ever, but MacOS is still superior. You will most likely run into fewer problems in a five year span with a Mac than you would with Windows. Plus, the MacBook Pro can run Windows 10 virtually if you need it while Windows still cannot run MacOS which isn’t Windows fault but it’s still an advantage. Lastly, it is entirely possible and becoming more prevalent for Macs to get viruses but it’s still nowhere near the virus problem that Windows machines face. So as you can tell I think the OS battle goes to the MacBook Pro.

Verdict

Based on those categories that we just went over, if you add them up the Dell XPS 13 does win. Does that mean the MacBook Pro is a bad buy or it’s a bad laptop? No, it’s a good laptop, very expensive, but it’s a good laptop. And it all depends on what you do specifically as a user, depends on what kind of equipment you own, maybe you own an iPhone, maybe you’re invested in the Mac environment. Just like I am, I’m a Final Cut Pro user. It makes more sense for me to own a MacBook Pro because I can edit videos faster than on the Dell XPS 13. But if you are looking at them side by side, the comparison tests we did, I tried to be objective as possible with these tests and the categories. And just prioritize the categories based on your use and then you can find out which one is best for you. But if we’re going side by side with the tests we just did the Dell XPS 13 does seem to be a better laptop and the best 13 inch laptop that you can get right now. Both links to these laptops will be in the description below. Let me know in the comment section below what you think of these laptops, if you own one, if you’re wanting to buy one. Thank you so much for watching. My name is Andy. Make sure you hit that subscribe button and give this video a thumbs up if it helped you out. I will see you guys in the next video.

Dell XPS 13 Review: Better than a MacBook?

Best price of Dell XPS 13 on Amazon

So you’re wondering about the new Skylake Dell XPS 13 ultrabook? As a primary Mac user I replaced my MacBook Pro with the Dell XPS 13 for the past month, and I’m here to share my experience and full review with you right now. Full Disclaimer: Dell did send this to me at no cost, but these are all my honest opinions. The Dell XPS 13 9350 was released in late 2015 and starts at $799. The model I have comes with Windows 10, Intel’s 6th generation Core i7 6500U 2.5Ghz processor, 16GB RAM, 1TB PCIe solid state drive, Intel HD 520 Graphics, and a 13.3″ Quad HD InfinityEdge touch display.

The Dell XPS 13 is currently the world’s smallest 13″ laptop, fitting a 13.3″ display into a typical 11″ laptop frame thanks to the nearly bezel-less display. The outside is made of silver aluminum that definitely shows off its simple yet durable design. The inside of the laptop has a smooth carbon fiber finish which looks nice but feels even nicer. The left side has the charging port, a new USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3.0 port, a headphone jack, a battery guage button, and the left speaker grill. The right side has a lock slot, a USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader, and the right speaker grill.

When I first saw this laptop I immediately thought “Yep this is definitely Dell’s attempt at a MacBook killer.” But it’s hard to determine exactly which MacBook is closest in similarity to the Dell XPS 13. It has a stunning screen like the 12″ Retina MacBook. It has the portability and slimness of the MacBook Air, and it has the power and ports comparable to the 13″ MacBook Pro. Obviously my 2009 15″ MacBook Pro is slower and bulkier than the Dell XPS 13, but I did install an SSD and more RAM in my MacBook Pro a few years ago so that’s why it has lasted me this long and still works perfectly. So let’s see how well the Dell XPS 13 performed for me during the past month.

Let’s start with the InfinityEdge touch display because it’s one of my favorite features. The 3200×1800 QHD screen is absolutely gorgeous. It’s boasting 5.7 million pixels. That’s 276 ppi compared to the 2015 Retina MacBook’s 226 ppi. The colors are rich with just the right amount of contrast, and since it is an IPS panel it has good viewing angles. It can get really bright too. As a YouTuber I love watching HD videos on full screen mode, and I’m sure photographers and graphic designers would love this display. The only downsides are that some apps haven’t updated to accommodate such a high resolution screen so those apps can appear as lower quality, and since the display has such a thin border Dell had to put the webcam in the bottom left which is kind of awkward. But hey, at least it’s an HD webcam unlike some other laptops. The touch screen is a glossy finish with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, but they do have a matte finish option for their non-QHD model if that’s what you prefer. Speaking of the touch screen capability, it’s definitely not necessary but it is fun to use and actually convenient to have. It’s very responsive. You’re probably saying “Andy, no way I would ever need a touch screen on my laptop.” But hear me out.

Let’s talk about one of the best yet most frustrating features of the Dell XPS 13: the touchpad. I’ll start by saying this is the best touchpad I’ve ever used on a Windows laptop. One of the reasons I immediately fell in love with my MacBook Pro when I first got it was the trackpad and mainly the 2-finger scrolling. Apple really mastered their trackpad, not just with the physical smoothness of touching it but with the smooth buttery 2 finger scrolling and multi-gestures. I’ve never had any problems with the Apple trackpad. For the most part, the Dell XPS 13 touchpad does a good job at implementing these features (I’ve especially enjoyed the three finger tap and swipe gestures) and the touchpad is comfortable to use.

However, the touchpad has big problems with certain apps, most importantly Google Chrome. This may be a Chrome issue or a Windows 10 driver issue because the touchpad works great in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. In those apps the 2-finger scrolling is almost always smooth. But in Google Chrome the touchpad constantly causes the page to jump up and down when trying to 2-finger scroll. I tried changing any relevant touchpad setting in Windows and nothing seemed to fix this problem. It’s extremely frustrating because I need precise smooth scrolling when responding to my YouTube comments one by one. I thought it was just me but it seems others are experiencing the same problem. So hopefully this gets fixed soon with an update. But that’s why the touch screen is convenient to have because I can scroll with the display instead of with the touchpad if needed. On the other hand, I love the keyboard. It has backlit chiclet style keys which I got accustomed to on my Mac and I seem to be able to type super fast like Bruce Almighty on this thing.

Now let’s talk about where the Dell XPS 13 really shines: mobility and performance. It weighs less than 3lbs and is super thin, making it one of the most portable laptops out right now. It’s much easier to carry around compared to my 15″ MacBook Pro. It has a 56 watt hour battery that lasts a decent amount of time. I’m getting around 6-12 hours of battery life on a single charge, closer to 6 hours when I’m streaming Spotify and watching YouTube videos the whole time and closer to 12 hours when I have the brightness down and I’m just browsing the web or typing notes. It takes about 2 and a half hours to fully charge the battery while using the laptop. In addition, you can purchase the separate Dell Power Companion which is a portable battery that can charge your XPS 13 and other devices in case you need some extra power for a special trip.

On the performance side of things, with Intel’s 6th generation Core i7 Skylake processor and 16GB of DDR3 RAM, the XPS 13 is a speedy machine and can handle nearly any day-to-day task. The 1TB PCIe solid state drive has considerably fast read and write speeds which you will notice when the laptop starts up from a cold boot in about 10 seconds flat. I was able to copy 16.5 GB of video files from my SD card onto the Dell’s SSD in 3 minutes 31 seconds compared to a copy time of 3 minutes 14 seconds on my 2012 Mac Mini’s Fusion Drive. Like with any solid state drive, apps load very quickly and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten stuck with the spinning circle of death. I tend to have a ton of browser tabs open at the same time and the XPS 13 was able to handle it just fine, no stuttering or freezing up. It scored a 3279 for single-core and 6868 for multi-core on the GeekBench benchmark tests. So even though this ultrabook was primarily designed with mobility in mind, it is still fast and powerful. Don’t expect to edit 4K videos or render 3D graphics without struggling, but it can definitely handle casual HD video editing and other multimedia work like Photoshop. Another exciting feature is the new USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, which has transfer speeds up to 8x faster than USB 3.0 and is twice as fast as Thunderbolt 2. The USB-C port has the ability to charge the XPS 13 and power up to two 4K displays. If you need more ports, you can purchase the Dell Adapter which can turn the USB 3.0 port into a single hub for Ethernet, USB, HDMI, and VGA ports.

As you can see I really do enjoy this new Dell XPS 13. Even with its minor flaws like having to uninstall bloatware and McAfee right out of the box, or having to manually update the drivers and BIOS to solve screen flickering and battery problems, or the speakers making a slight popping sound every now and then. Those types of inconveniences usually don’t happen with Macs since the software and hardware are from the same company. Not saying they never happen, but it is just a different experience. So is the Dell XPS 13 better than the MacBook or MacBook Air? That totally depends on what you’re specifically looking for out of a laptop. For me personally, I own an iPhone and as a video producer I use Apple’s Final Cut Pro X to edit all my videos so it just makes sense for me to use a Mac unless I want to start using a completely different video editing app. So a Mac would be best for you if you’re like me and you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem, maybe you own an iPhone or iPad and you want the additional benefits of owning a Mac because of the tight integration between iOS and OS X. One of the features I really missed when I was using the XPS 13 was the ability to respond to texts from my laptop. You can do that with a Mac if you use an iPhone. So that’s just one example. The biggest thing holding me back is Final Cut Pro. As long as I’m using that exclusively I can’t permanently move to a Windows laptop.

However if you’re not already invested in the Apple ecosystem and you’re looking for a small, compact, yet fast laptop that looks good and feels solid then you should definitely consider the Dell XPS 13 9350. Other than it being the best Windows ultrabook of 2016, if I had to pick one word to describe the XPS 13 it would be: Productivity. This is perfect for people who are always on the go but still need a strong machine to help them get things done quickly. That’s why I’m keeping mine and will continue to use it as my go-to travel laptop when I don’t need to do any video editing.

The Dell XPS 13 gets a thumbs-up from me. What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!

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