Apple MacBook Pro 15 vs. Dell XPS 15: Which Is Right for You?

  • MORE

Apple and Dell recently refreshed their 15-inch laptops, the MacBook Pro 15-inch and the XPS 15, with tremendous results. Both laptops earned Editors' Choice awards for their seamless combinations of style, performance and endurance. But which one of these notebooks is right for you?

MacBook_Pro_15_vs_XPS_15

Pursuing the workstation crowd, the MacBook Pro offers mighty impressive specs, including the fastest SSD we've ever tested. For its part, the Dell XPS 15 can handle just about everything you can throw at it, including multitasking and mid-level gaming.

We pitted these two laptops against each other, comparing performance, keyboard, display and battery life to see which 15-inch system truly rules the roost. Here's how the Dell XPS 15 and Apple MacBook Pro 15 stack up.

  Apple MacBook Pro 15 Dell XPS 15
Design X  
Display   X
Ports   X
Keyboard   X
Performance X  
Graphics   X
Battery Life X X
Value   X
Total 3 6
 
 

Design

It's a battle of the silver foxes. On one hand, you have the MacBook Pro and its iconic look that has launched a score of competing clones. The design is understated, elegant and looks good in any setting. The glowing white half-eaten fruit has become ubiquitous in coffee shops, work spaces and classrooms.

macbookpro15inch2018

Just like its Apple counterpart, the XPS 15 is swathed in light-gray aluminum. However, Dell breaks up all that silver with a black soft-touch carbon-fiber interior. It's got a minimalist, industrial chic that we love. However, similar to its competitor, the XPS 15's design is getting rather long in the tooth, even with the near-bezel-less InfinityEdge display.

MORE: Laptops with the Best Display Brightness

Both laptops are surprisingly thin for 15-inchers. The XPS 15 measures 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.5~0.7 inches, while the MacBook Pro enjoys a slightly smaller profile at 13.8 x 9.5 x 0.6 inches. At 4 pounds even, the MacBook Pro is just a tad lighter than the 4.2-pound Dell XPS.

Winner: Apple MacBook Pro

Ports

The XPS 15 offers a fair amount of ports, including a pair of USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a Thunderbolt 3 port, a full-HDMI 2.0 port, an SD card reader, a headset jack and a Noble lock slot.

dell_xps_left_side

It's slim pickings for ports on the MacBook Pro, as it offers four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headset jack.  

dell_xps_right_side

So if you were planning on using a mouse, an external hard drive or a USB stick, you'll have to get yourself acclimated to keeping a dongle or two.

Winner: Dell XPS 15

Display

Both the MacBook Pro and the XPS 15 are known for their captivating screens. The MacBook Pro's glossy 15.4-inch, 2880 x 1800 panel is one of the first to feature Apple's new TrueTone technology. TrueTone uses sensors to adjust color and intensity depending on the lighting in the environment. That means that when we watched movie trailers under fluorescent lighting, the sensors adjusted the color temperature, making the colors warmer than if they were in natural lighting.

Dell-XPS-15-003_LEDE

The XPS 15's matte finish 15.6-inch panel doesn't have all that fancy tech, but the 1920 x 1080 screen looks good nonetheless. The4K version ups the resolution to 3840 x 2160. Colors just seemed to pop off the page, and details were nice and sharp. The matte finish also ensures your reflection won't mar the view.

As lovely as both laptop panels are, when we ran our tests, the XPS 15 reigned supreme. When we tested for color reproduction capabilities, the 4K XPS 15 measured 164.2 percent, while the 1080p iteration hit 115 percent. The MacBook Pro scored slightly better than the 1080 XPS 15 at 117 percent.

MORE: Best Dell and Alienware Laptops

The XPS 15s also shone on our brightness test, with the 4K model averaging 447 nits while the 1080p hit 371 nits. The MacBook Pro obtained 354 nits, which is above our 307-nit premium laptop average.

Winner: Dell XPS 15

Keyboard

Neither the XPS 15 nor the MacBook Pro has a keyboard that meets our typical key travel requirement (1.5 millimeters) with measurements of 0.8 and 0.7mm, respectively. As far as actuation force, the XPS 15 requires 70 grams of force to press a key, while the MacBook needs 63 grams.

dell-xps-15-005

In actual usage, we preferred the XPS 15's island-style keyboard, as it had more bounce and a nice click when typing. I reached 71 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test. Typing on the MacBook 15 took a bit of getting used to, since I hit the bottom of the key so quickly. After taking the typing test several times, I managed to reach 63 wpm.

Winner: Dell XPS 15

Performance

When it comes to performance, the MacBook Pro is a beast. Our review unit has a 2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU and 32GB of RAM. The Dell XPS 15 systems we reviewed both had a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU with 16GB of RAM. Apple’s and Dell’s laptops juggle multiple tasks without slowing down. But the MacBook Pro asserted its dominance on our synthetic benchmark.

apple_macbook_pro

The MacBook Pro achieved a score of 23,138 on Geekbench 4.1, which measures overall performance, while the XPS 15 reached 21,201. The Dell XPS 15 edged the MacBook Pro on our productivity test, which matches 65,000 names in an Excel spreadsheet, completing the task in 44 seconds and 0:52, respectively.

Thanks to its 2TB SSD, the MacBook Pro delivered the fastest file transfer speeds we've ever seen on a laptop. While duplicating 4.97GB of multimedia files, the MacBook Pro hit an unbelievable 2,599.6 megabytes per second. The 1080p XPS 15 with its 256GB M.2 PCI SSD posted a result of 221.3MBps, which is a fairly respectable score, but still below the 475.9MBps average. The 4K XPS 15's 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD gave a better performance of 391 MBps.

MORE: Best Apple Laptops

On our video transcoding test, the XPS 15 transcoded a 4K video into 1080p in 10 minutes and 14 seconds, which was slightly faster than the MacBook Pro's 10:16.

Winner: Apple MacBook Pro

Graphics

You won't be playing the most graphically taxing games on either the XPS 15 or the MacBook Pro, but it's nice to know you can play most games on medium settings. Outfitted with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU with 4GB of VRAM and an Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU, the XPS 15 notched a whopping 189 frames per second on the Dirt 3 benchmark. The MacBook Pro's AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU posted 83 fps.

dell-xps-15-014

On our other gaming benchmarks (Rise of the Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto V and Metro: Last Light), the XPS 15 scored 22, 27 and 27 fps, respectively. That's several frames below our 30-fps playability threshold. However, the system achieved 60 fps on Hitman, which was pretty impressive. Although most of our gaming benchmarks don't run on Macs, the MacBook Pro managed to complete the Tomb Raider benchmark, hitting 21 fps.

Winner: Dell XPS 15

Battery Life

When it comes to battery life, it seems that 1080p has a leg up over super-high-resolution displays. The 1080p version of the XPS 15 lasted 11 hours and 53 minutes, compared with the 10:21 time posted by the MacBook Pro. The 4K model of the XPS 15 tapped out after 8:28.

Winner: Draw

Value

Dell offers consumers four flavors of the XPS 15. The $999 base model has a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-8300H chip with 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive, an Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU and a 1920 x 1080 display. Our $1,499 review unit features a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of RAM, a 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with 4GB of VRAM, an Intel UHD Graphics 630 GPU and a 1920 x 1080 panel. An extra $300 will get you a 4K touch screen, while the $1,999 model bumps up the RAM and storage  to 32GB and 512GB, but ditches the 4K panel.

dell-xps-15-008

As our review of the MacBook Pro states: "Bring money." This laptop doesn't come cheap. Our review unit was configured within an inch of its life. For $4,699, we got a bona fide powerhouse complete with an 8th Gen Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD and a discrete AMD Radeon 560X GPU with 4GB of memory.

MORE: Best Laptops Under $500

But even the $2,399 base model (2.2-GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and an AMD Radeon Pro 555X with 4GB of VRAM) is more expensive than the top-tier XPS 15. For $400 more, you get a 512GB SSD and a Radeon 560X GPU with 4GB of VRAM.

Winner: Dell XPS 15

Bottom Line

Apple did a lot of things right with the latest MacBook Pro 15. The laptop is immensely powerful, sporting the fastest SSD we've ever tested, combined with a kick-ass processor and an intelligent, beautiful display — all in that iconic chassis. It's an ideal laptop for users searching for workstation-grade power in a slim, aesthetically pleasing chassis. But, man, oh man, that price will be a major pain point for all but the most deep-pocketed shoppers.

Then you have the Dell XPS 15 — a powerhouse in its own right. With its great performance, long battery life, comfortable keyboard and pretty screen, the XPS 15 can go toe-to-toe with the MacBook Pro and still come out smelling like a rose. It's a true jack-of-all-trades, able to juggle productivity, gaming and multimedia tasks with ease. And best of all, it's hundreds less than its Apple counterpart.

Overall, if you yearn for an unmitigated powerhouse and can afford it, you should go for the 15-inch MacBook Pro. If you're looking for a system with endurance, power and speed that will be kinder to your budget, the Dell XPS 15 is the way to go.

Credit: Laptop Mag 

Add a comment
9 comments
  • blanca12 Says:

    That apparently expensive MacBook is not so much dearer, in the long run.

    _________________________
    https://inro.in/sling-tv/
    https://inro.in/purevpn/
    https://inro.in/tunnelbear/

  • Johnny Says:

    I am running XPS15 for development purposes mainly for Android Apps, and I must say that the 4k screen touch and infinity edges is something I do enjoy. The map has a design that seem to be from the middle ages with no touch as for many things. But I do not now how the fan noise is on the Mac which Dell has.

  • amparo Says:

    You selected a very slow Dell XP 15. You can buy one with 32GB RAM and a Core™ i9-8950HK processor.

  • Dav Mos Says:

    My comment from yesterday (very critical of you 'test') was removed, hmm....
    why compare an i9 Mac with and i7 Dell? the i9 Dell is $1,200 cheaper than the i9 Mac?

    Separately: as a long time osx user I recently switched to Ubuntu 18 desktop - it's actually better than osx in many ways.
    For example, running Windows in Virtualbox on Ubuntu is way better experience than running it on OSX.

  • Onthe Otherhand Says:

    Windows 10 is very nice. Mac fanboys can screech all they want, but Windows is now comparable. Sorry, haters, not sorry. #Trump2020

  • AkashGG Says:

    And of course, both have keyboards deprived of a numeric keypad despite all the real-estate available. Therefore these are a handicap to all STEM people who actually need to type in quite a number of numeric characters day-in-day-out. So both of these two laptops are shit.

  • Sally190 Says:

    Presumably Ted Ball mean’t “ Mac users can’t handle downgrading to Windows. I run both , and the Windows software is so awful , in comparison.

    These tests never mention the Apple supplied free software, including the OS. Another point , never mentioned, is the extremely valuable help, and free tutorials, that Apple staff give, in their stores. I’ve known so many Windows users stuck in utter frustration, with the simplest Microsoft problems. They are left with nowhere to go.

    That apparently expensive MacBook is not so much dearer, in the long run.

    No I am not an Apple employee, nor a “fanboy”, just a satisfied customer.

  • Elonski Says:

    The performance should be a tie at least cause you can also get a Core i9-8950HK CPU and a 32gb of ram for Dell XPS 15 and still cheaper than McBook Pro 15.

  • Ted Ball Says:

    I think you need to add one dimension to your review. Dell may have a nice piece of hardware, but you must run Windows. Any long time Mac user just can handle "downgrading" to Windows. I've tried.

Back to top