Dell XPS 15 vs XPS 13: Which Lightweight Laptop is Right for You?

  • MORE

Dell's XPS series of laptops offers an industry-leading combination of lightweight, gorgeous screens, strong battery life and plenty of performance. At present, the company makes three major models of XPS laptop: the XPS 13, XPS 15 and XPS 13 2-in-1. If you love Dell's design language and really want a convertible, you can go with the XPS 13 2-in-1, which is great looking but offers sub-par performance and endurance. But unless you are dead-set on using your laptop as a tablet, you have to choose between the Dell XPS 13 and XPS 15.

xps 15 vs 13 mf
The differences between the XPS 13 and 15 go far beyond their screen and body sizes. To help you decide, we've compared the two laptops, based on seven different criteria.

Design

Sporting a silver or gold lid and a soft-touch, carbon fiber body, both laptops have the same exact design language. Owing to its smaller, 13.3-inch screen, the XPS 13 is significantly lighter, tipping the scales at 2.8 pounds.

 

Dell XPS 13

 

By comparison, the XPS 15 weighs a full 4.6 pounds, which is pretty light for a 15-inch laptop, but not exactly ultraportable. Both laptops are about the same thickness, with the XPS 13 measuring 0.6 inches at its thickest point while the XPS 15 is just 0.66 inches thick.

  Dell XPS 13 Dell XPS 15
Weight 2.8 pounds 4.6 pounds
Size 11.98 x 7.88 x 0.6 inches 14.06 x 9.27 x 0.66-inches

Winner: Tie. The XPS 13 is lighter, but if you want the larger screen, you have to accept a heavier laptop.

Display

Both laptops are available with several different display options. The base model XPS 13 has a 1080p, non-touch screen, but more expensive configs come with either a 1080p touchscreen or a 3200 x 1800 touchscreen. The XPS 15 also comes standard with both 1080p non-touch screen and a full 4K (3840 x 2160) touch display. We haven't tested the 1080p touch panel on the XPS 13 or the 1080p non-touch panel on the XPS 15, but we have tried the other options.

Dell XPS 15

 

In our tests, the XPS 15 with 4K display was amazingly colorful, reproducing an impressive 188 percent of the sRGB color gamut. The Dell XPS 13's 3200 x 1800 display, which we tested on a 7th-Gen Core model, managed 105.7 percent of the gamut while the 1080p screen, which we tried on an 8th-Gen Core config, got a strong 112 percent. 

When it comes to brightness, the XPS 13's 1080p screen rules the roost, hitting 368 nits of brightness while the 3200 x 1800 panel clocked in at 305 nits. The XPS 15's 4K screen scored a much lower, 282 nits, but that's still more than enough luminosity for strong viewing angles and a great experience overall.

  Dell XPS 13 (1080p, non-touch) Dell XPS 13 (3200 x 1800) Dell XPS 15 (4K)
sRGB Color Gamut 112 105.7 188
Brightness 368 305 282

Winner: The XPS 15's 4K screen is much more colorful and sharper than either of its little brother's panel options. Video editors will appreciate being able to work on 4K  videos in their native resolution.

Performance

The XPS 13 is available with an Intel 8th-Gen Core i7-8550U processor that has four cores and uses up to 15 watts of power. Its larger sibling uses up to an Intel Core i7-7700HQ, which uses 45 watts. The XPS 15 is also available with an optional Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU while the XPS 13 only comes with integrated Intel graphics.

Despite having a CPU that uses a third of the power, the XPS 13 came out ever-so-slightly ahead on some performance tests. On Geekbench 4, a synthetic test that measures overall performance, the XPS 13 with Core i7-8550U scored 14,158 versus 13,911 on the XPS 15 with Core i7-7700HQ CPU scored 13,911. The XPS 13 took just 3 minutes and 9 seconds to match 20,000 names with their addresses in OpenOffice Calc while its sibling was a little slower, completing the same task in 3 minutes and 23 seconds.

Dell XPS 15

 

However, when it comes to graphics-intensive workloads, the XPS 15 and its GTX 1050 card dominate. The XPS 15 scored a really strong 134,459 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, a synthetic graphics test while the XPS 13 managed only 81,837. The XPS 15 played Rise of the Tomb Raider, a fairly demanding game, at a smooth 41 fps while we wouldn't even attempt it on the XPS 13. Creative professionals will be able to use the XPS 15's graphics might for better video editing, 3D design and animation.

  Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-8550U) Dell XPS 15 (Core i7-7700HQ, Nvidia GTX 1050)
Geekbench 4 14,158 13,911
Spreadsheet Macro Test 3:09 3:23
3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited 81,837 134,459

Winner: Dell XPS 15's strong graphics performance puts it over the top. 

Battery Life

The XPS 13 is one of the longest-lasting laptops on the market while the XPS 15 offers good, but not great endurance for its size. The non-touch Dell XPS 13 with 8th Gen Core i7-8550U CPU lasted a full 16 hours and 5 minutes on the Laptop Battery Test, which involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi while a model with a 7th-Gen Core i7-7500U CPU and a 3200 x 1800 screen conked out after 9 hours and 11 minutes. The XPS 15 with 4K display and Core i7-7700HQ CPU endured for 8 hours and 23 minutes, which is still an hour and a half longer than the typical 15-inch laptop.

  Dell XPS 13 (1080p, non-touch) Dell XPS 13 (3200 x 1800) Dell XPS 15 (4k)
Battery Life 16:05 9:11 8:23

Winner: Dell XPS 13 provides epic battery life.

Value

The XPS 13 is unquestionably less expensive than its 15-inch sibling. The base model costs $799, but it has a low-end, Core i3 processor and just 4GB of RAM, specs that belong in a sub-$500 laptop. To get the XPS 13 with good specs -- a Core i7-8550U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD -- costs $1,199, though that configuration has occasionally been on sale for under $1,000. To get the XPS 13 with its 3200 x 1800 touch screen, the Core i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM, you'll pay a hefty $1,549.

Dell XPS 13

 

The base model XPS 15 costs $949, but as with the low-end XPS 13, this is a Core i3-powered model that no one should buy. You can step up to a Core i5-7300HQ CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and the important GTX 1050 graphics card for $1,199. You can step up to the 4K display for an extra $400 ($1,599) or spend $1,899 to get a model that's decked out with a Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. 

  Dell XPS 13 Dell XPS 15
Base Price $799 $949
Mid-Tier $1,199 $1,199
High-End $1,549 $1,899

Winner: Dell XPS 13 is a little cheaper at each configuration, but the XPS 15 offers higher-end specs.

Bottom Line

With each laptop winning two rounds and tying in another, there's no clear winner. Which Dell XPS you buy should really depend on your needs. General consumers and productivity workers should get the XPS 13, because of its lighter weight, longer battery life and lower price. Anyone who needs to do professional graphics work should look no further than the XPS 15, because of its superior screen and discrete graphics card.

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
Add a comment
7 comments
  • Michel Merlin Says:

    Dell delivers the XPS 15 with up to 32gb RAM
    ~--~--~--~--~ -~--~--~- ~--~--~--~ -~--~--~-
    Your "Dell XPS 13 vs XPS 15: Key Specs" table reads "Dell XPS 15, RAM: 8GB / 16GB"
    Yet http://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/productdetails/xps-15-9550-laptop
    configuration #7, $2,549.99, has 32gb
    Versailles, Tue 25 Oct 2016 16:15:00 +0200

  • CM Kevin Says:

    @Sheldon

    Thanks for your concern! Business News Daily is actually owned and operated by Purch, the parent company for LaptopMag. It's very likely that image resources were shared. It's not something that should elicit concern, but we appreciate the heads up!

  • Paul jill Says:

    My XPS 9550 comes with 8GB RAM, I want to upgrade to 16GB or 24GB, from this teardown guide http://www.laptopmain.com/dell-xps-15-9550-disassembly/, Dell XPS 9550 have two RAM slots, I just want to know does it support up to 24GB?

  • Pawel Says:

    What I don't like about XPS 13 is that it doesn't have a normal processor but that ultra low voltage shit like all my previous Toshiba Porteges. That's why I've chosen XPS 15 to have a portable workstation.

  • Sheldon Says:

    I have recently read an article regarding information from your review of your Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (2016). Images (without watermark), paragraphs and basic benchmarks have been copied directly from your website. Article:

    http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8872-dell-inspiron-13-7000-business.html

    I suggest that you guys should take appropriate action. Please update on situation. I am unsure if the writer/website has any affiliation with LaptopMag. Writer for that post is Brett Nuckles.
    I wanted to post this on the review page itself but I couldn't.

  • JoshL Says:

    I just picked up a 2016 model of the XPS 13 (after dumping my ThinkPad T460s whose e-hour battery life was abysmal).

    There is so much to like - build quality is top-notch, materials are excellent, screen is super bright, and Iris graphics are noticeably faster than other machines.

    As an aside, Costco is selling the i7/touch/16/512 version for $1399, which is a pretty good deal.

    However, a couple things concern me:

    1. It gets hot - VERY hot.
    2. Wi-Fi signal is very weak - next to a five year old MacBook Pro, the 2.4 and 5.4 signal strength is 1/4 of the Mac on both channels.
    3. While Dell has done a great job to actually make it thicker - so it doesn't suffer from "wrists on the desk" syndrome, it's still a small machine. The 13" screen 'feels' smaller and I can sense myself crouching down (I don't have this sensation on my 14" and 15" machines)

  • shea1 Says:

    Great article! Very thorough and pithy at the same time. I went to BestBuy and held the XPS 13 and I was amazed at the quality. By far a step above the competition. Now if they could just make a 2 in 1 with the fit and finish of the XPS 13 now that would something!

Back to top