2018 Dell XPS 13 vs 2017 Edition: Which Laptop is Right for You?

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In most cases, when a company releases a new version of a laptop, the prior model quickly disappears from the marketplace and nobody misses it. However, with the XPS 13, Dell will continue to sell model 9360, which came out in 2017, alongside the new, 9370 unit that launched in January.

dell-new-old-leadIf you're in the market for a laptop, there are good reasons you might want to go with the older model, but there are also many advantages to the new one. For example, the XPS 13 9360 has full-size, USB Type-A ports, while the 9370 has only Thunderbolt/Type-C connectors — but those ports can work with an eGPU.

To help you decide which one is right for you, we've compared the Dell XPS 13 9360 to the Dell XPS 13 9370 in seven categories.

Design

While the XPS 13 9360 has the same, tried-and-true silver-and-black aesthetic that Dell has used for several years, the 9370 model goes in a new direction. The XPS 13 9370 is available in a stunning rose-gold-and-white color scheme with an attractive woven glass-fiber deck. It also comes in the same silver-and-black aesthetic as its predecessor, sporting a luxurious soft-touch carbon-fiber deck.

dell-new-design No matter which color scheme you choose, the XPS 13 9370 is 4.7 percent lighter (2.65 pounds versus 2.78 pounds) and 23.3 percent thinner (0.46 inches versus 0.6 inches) than its predecessor. However, the 9360 is still one of the thinnest and lightest 13-inch laptops you can buy.

Winner: Dell XPS 13 9370. It's thinner and lighter, and comes in an attractive new color scheme.

Performance

Both models are available with the same Intel Core i7-8550U CPU and up to 16GB of RAM. However, the XPS 13 9370 uses a new dual-fan, dual-heat-pipe cooling system that allows it to have better sustained performance.

When most laptops, including the 9360, perform a heavy workload, their CPUs throttle down to a lower clock speed to avoid overheating. Because of the enhanced thermal system, the 9370 doesn't have to throttle as much. When we ran our Handbrake video compression test, which transcodes a 4K video to 1080p, on both models with the same Core i7 CPU, the XPS 13 9370 finished in just 16 minutes, while the 9360 took 19:35, or 22 percent longer.

If you're configuring your laptop with a Core i5 CPU, the 9360 is only available with an Intel 7th Generation Core i5-7200U CPU while the 9370 comes with an 8th Gen, Core i5-8250U. If performance matters at all, you want an 8th Gen Core processor, because it has four cores instead of two and allows for much better multitasking.

Winner: Dell XPS 13 9370 has better performance, even with the same Core i7 CPU.

Battery Life

In making the XPS thinner, Dell used a lower-capacity battery, going from a 60-watt-hour unit on the 9360 to a 52-watt-hour unit on the 9370. When we ran the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi, we definitely noticed the difference. The XPS 13 9360 with a 1080p nontouch screen lasted 16 hours and 5 minutes, while the XPS 13 9370 with the same kind of screen lasted 3 and a half hours less. However, 12 hours and 37 minutes of endurance is nothing to sneeze at.

dell-old-batteryThe Dell XPS 13 9370 with a 4K touch display endured for a reasonable time of 8 hours and 53 minutes. We did not run our battery test on the XPS 13 9360 that doesn't have a 4K screen option, so we can't compare this panel across generations.

Winner: Dell XPS 13 9360 offers significantly longer battery life.

Ports

By slimming down the XPS to just 0.14 inches, Dell lost the space it needed to include full-size, USB Type-A ports on the XPS 13 9370. On this new model, you get two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a USB Type-C connector and a microSD card slot. The system comes with a USB Type-C-to-Type-A connector in the box, and you're going to need it if you want to connect most peripherals.

dell-old-portsBy contrast, the XPS 13 9360 has two USB Type-A ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port and a full-size SD card slot. So, if someone hands you a thumb drive or you need to attach a mouse, you can leave the dongles at home.

The XPS 13 9370 does have one port advantage over its predecessor: Its Thunderbolt 3 ports are compatible with eGPUs. The 9360's aren't fast enough to work properly with graphics docks. So, if you were thinking of turning your XPS 13 into a gaming rig, you'll need the 9370.

Winner: Dell XPS 13 9360. It has a better port selection, unless you plan to use an eGPU.

Display

Perhaps the biggest improvement on the XPS 13 9370 is its upgraded display technology. First, the InfinityEdge bezel, which was already paper-thin, is now 23 percent thinner than on the 9360, making the whole viewing experience more exciting.

dell-new-performanceSecond, Dell uses a technology it calls "CinemaColor" to improve the color saturation and offer deeper blacks. So, even though both 1080p panels had similar brightness and color gamut scores of 368/372 nits and 112 percent / 117 percent sRGB, the 9370's screen just seemed to pop a bit more.

More importantly, the XPS 13 9370 comes with an optional 4K display that's a thing of beauty. Whether we were watching movie trailers or just staring at the desktop wallpaper, the 3840 x 2160 touch screen was extremely sharp, vibrant and bright, reproducing 130 percent of the sRGB gamut and registering an impressive 415 nits on our light meter (292 nits is average).

The XPS 13 9360's top screen option can do only 3200 x 1800 pixels, which is not a resolution that anyone uses for professional movies or TV shows.

Winner: Dell XPS 13 9370. It has better color and higher resolution.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Both XPS 13 models have the same keyboard, which offers a solid typing experience, despite having a shallow 1.2 millimeters of travel (1.5 to 2 mm is preferable).

dell-new-keyboardBoth touchpads provide accurate navigation, great gesture support and just the right amount of feedback.

dell-old-keyboardThere's no difference between generations, but there is a slight difference between color schemes. The soft-touch, carbon-fiber palm rest on the black-and-silver color scheme is a little more comfortable on the wrists than the hard material on the white-and-rose-gold model.

Winner: Draw.

Value

Dell.com always has a lot of sales and coupons, so the prices are subject to frequent change. However, as of this writing, the XPS 13 9360 costs a lot less than a 9370 with similar specs.

The XPS 13 9360 starts at $799 with a Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 1080p screen, but we wouldn't recommend that most people buy the laptop with such low-end components. For $999 (currently $849 on sale), you can get a 9360 model with a Core i5-7200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. The $999 entry-level XPS 13 9370 has a Core i5-8250U and a 128GB SSD, but just 4GB of RAM.

To get an XPS 13 9370 with a Core i7-8550U CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p nontouch screen costs $1,449, and you can add an extra $50 to get it in the white-and-gold color scheme. The XPS 9360 with the same specs costs $1,299 (currently on sale for $1,124).

If you want to step up to a high-res screen, you'll have to spend $2,049 to get the XPS 13 9370 with a 4K panel, a Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. An XPS 13 9360 with the same CPU, RAM and storage but a 3200 x 1800 display costs $1,799 (currently on sale for $1,619).

Winner: Dell XPS 13 9360. It gives you more for the money.

Bottom Line

If you're keeping score, you'll notice that the two laptops are in a dead heat, with each taking three rounds and tying in another. If you want to save money, get the longest possible battery life and have all the ports you need, the older, XPS 13 9360 is your best choice.

  Dell XPS 13 9370 (2018) Dell XPS 13 9360 (2017)
Design x  
Performance x  
Battery Life   x
Ports   x
Display x  
Keyboard and Touchpad x x
Value   x
  4 4

However, if you can afford to pay the premium and deal with dongles, the XPS 13 9370's attractive design, eye-popping screen and stronger performance make it an ideal choice.

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
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