Apple MacBook vs. Dell XPS 13: It's Not Even Close

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The MacBook and the Dell XPS 13 are two of the most attractive ultraportable laptops you can buy, and they both command a premium. Apple's 12-incher starts at $1,299, while the XPS 13 9370 starts at $999.


But there are a lot more differences here than there are similarities. And the MacBook is definitely starting to show its age. Based on our in-depth reviews, here's how the MacBook and and the 2018 edition of the XPS 13 stack up.

  Apple MacBook Dell XPS 13 9370
Price $1,299-$1,599 $999-$2,099
Colors Rose Gold, Space Gray, Gold, Silver Platinum Silver/Black, Rose Gold/Alpine White
Display 12 inches (2304 x 1440 pixels) 13.3 inches (1920 x 1080), 13.3-inch touch screen (3840 x 2160)
CPU 7th Gen Core m3, Core i5 8th Gen Core i5, Core i7
RAM 8GB, 16GB 4GB, 8GB, 16GB
SSD 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
Keyboard Travel 0.5 mm 1.2 mm
Ports USB-C, Headphone 2 Thunderbolt 3, USB-C 3.1, microSD card, headphone, lock slot
Webcam 480p 720p
Size 11 x 7.7 x 0.14-52 inches 11.9 x 7.8 x 0.3-0.46
Weight 2.03 pounds 2.67 pounds (non-touch), 2.68 pounds (touch)




It's hard to beat the look of Dell's InfinityEdge Display. It goes from edge to edge with nearly zero bezels, delivering a truly immersive aesthetic. The only trade-off is that the webcam is placed below the screen.


The biggest advantage Apple has in this category is portability. At 2.03 pounds, the MacBook is significantly lighter than the XPS 13's 2.68 pounds. If you opt for a touch screen, the Dell's weight increases only slightly to 2.68 pounds.

Both machines are remarkably thin, with the MacBook being the more svelte at its thinnest point (0.14 inches), and the XPS 13 being thinner at its thickest point (0.46 inches).


Apple also offers more color options than Dell does, with four hues available: Rose Gold, Space Gray, Gold and Silver. The overall aluminum unibody aesthetic, though, is getting a bit tired.

The Dell comes in just two colors -- Platinum Silver with Black on the inside and Rose Gold and Alpine White. The Alpine White on the inside is particularly striking, and is made of woven crystalline silica fiber. If you opt for black on the inside, you'll be treated to an even more comfortable soft-touch carbon-fiber material, though it's not as much of a head-turner.

Winner: XPS 13


Talk about minimalist. The MacBook has only a single USB-C port, which is used for charging and plugging in peripherals. That means you can't plug more than one device into this laptop unless you spring for a dongle or dock. There's also a headphone jack.


The XPS 13 comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which means you can easily power two displays at the same time. The MacBook doesn't support this technology. Plus, Thunderbolt allows the Dell to connect to a growing number of graphics amplifiers, so you can boost your gaming performance.


In addition, the XPS 13 sports a USB-C port, a microSD card slot, a headphone jack and a lock slot.

Winner: XPS 13


The XPS 13 comes in two flavors: a full-HD (1920 x 1080) display without touch, and a 4K display (3840 x 2160) with touch. Both panels are stunning, though the 4K screen is more colorful and brighter.


Based on our tests, the 1080p screen offers 372 nits of brightness and covers 117 percent of the color gamut. The touch-screen version of the Dell hit 415 nits of brightness and 130 percent of the color gamut.


Compare those numbers to the MacBook, whose 12-inch panel registered a lower 340 nits but a solid color-gamut score of 117 percent, the same as the non-touch XPS 13.

Winner: XPS 13

Keyboard and Touchpad

The second-generation Butterfly mechanism on the MacBook is definitely an acquired taste. The key travel is only 0.5 mm, compared with 1.2 mm on the XPS 13. I've actually found that I can be faster on the MacBook's layout, but there's no arguing that the XPS 13's keyboard is more comfortable.


If you opt for the black, carbon-fiber model, the soft-touch deck on the XPS 13 adds to the comfort level. But even the crystalline silica deck on the white version of the Dell feels more comfy than the hard metal on the MacBook.


We found the touchpads on both the MacBook and the XPS 13 to be accurate. But the one on the MacBook is roomier at 4.4 x 2.7 inches, compared with 4.1 x 2.4 inches on the Dell.

Winner: XPS 13


This comparison is definitely not apples to apples. That's because we reviewed a MacBook with a low-power, 7th-generation Core m3 processor, and the XPS 13 we tested packed a high-octane, 8th-gen Core i5. The MacBook is available with a speedier Core i5 CPU, though it's still an older 7th-gen chip.

On Geekbench 4, which measures overall performance, the MacBook notched a score of 6,853. The XPS 13 nearly doubled that with a mark of 13,254.

It was no contest on the gaming front, too, as the MacBook mustered only 24 frames per second (fps) on the Dirt 3 racing title. The XPS 13 lapped Apple with 56.7 fps.

At least the SSD is speedy in the MacBook, as it turned in a data-copy rate of 467 megabytes per second, compared with 339.2 MBps in the MacBook.

Winner: XPS 13

Battery Life

The MacBook's endurance is in between that of the standard 1080p XPS 13 and the 4K model. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi, the MacBook lasted 9 hours and 29 minutes. The 1080p, non-touch version of the Dell XPS 13 lasted a whopping 12 hours and 37 minutes on the same test.

However, the 4K touch-screen model of the XPS 13 lasted only 8:53.

Winner: XPS 13


The MacBook starts at a steep $1,299, which is a lot to pay for a laptop with a low-power Core m3 processor. You also get 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for that price. The $1,599 model steps that up to a Core i5 chip and a 512GB SSD.

Dell's XPS 13 starts at $999 for a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and just a 128GB SSD. The better value is the $1,199 model, which includes the same CPU but 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

If you want a Core i7 CPU, you're looking at $1,399, and a model with a 4K touch screen starts at a rich $2,099. However, that also includes 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.

Overall Winner

Sleeker, faster, longer-lasting. More ports. The XPS 13 beats the MacBook in every single category, giving Dell a dominating victory in this face-off.

  Apple MacBook Dell XPS 13 9370
Battery Life  

If you really hate Windows, the MacBook is definitely worth a look, and it's also lighter. But overall, this contest shows that Apple really needs to up its game for the 2018 MacBook.



Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • Abdullah SIddiqui Says:

    So you're comparing a laptop from 2016 to a brand new model from 2018?

  • Joshua Says:

    This comment section is full of a bunch of mac lovers that just want to talk down on the xps 13. Dells laptop is definitely best in class, not only having better processing power but also having a considerably better screen. People say that they would be embarrassed to have one of these in a meeting, but this is as generic as it gets a dell. It is nothing flashy like a mac is, and macs are in my opinion over rated horrible machines. The only good thing on a mac is build quality and the track pad, that's it, but you should not compromise power for a pretty laptop.

  • Isabel Says:

    This is one the best articles I have reviewed and used to make a final business purchase decision. However, the security configuration comparison was omitted from this evaluation which is a major factor to consider by professionals who are trying to decide which one they should buy. Please include the security evaluation on your next article.


  • Dartanian Says:

    This comparison is laughable. The trackpad is horrible on the XPS and for that alone don't even consider it.

  • ken woltz Says:

    Dell's XPS 13 big faux pas is it has no monitor which works with it. You can get a docking machine that is as big as the computer which does not work well. Check the blogs

  • RoyTyrell Says:

    For serious computer work I use a big beastly tower I built from scratch. 2 - 8 core xeon processors, 64 gb ecc ram, 2nvidea gpu compute engines... with 2 - 27 in 4 k monitors. I run a vm running rhl enterprise with sap erp, at least 3 instances of visual studio and a dozen other windows of tools, helpers and web pages.

    Point being - looking for the "most powerful, most capable" ultrabook is like asking which teenage anorexic supermodel can benchpress the most.

    Buy the one that works for minimalist tasks, that you actually like looking at and working on.

    Once you free yourself to do that you realize apple makes tge best laptops.

    Carbon fiber on a laptop? Seriously? I would be embarrassed to bring into a business meeting.

  • Joe Scripps Says:

    There are a number of these comparisons on the web these days. Many of them, including this one omit one extremely valuable feature of the macbook. That is the ability to run Mac OS and Windows on the same machine using Bootcamp. You buy the Dell and you're stuck with Windows. You buy the Macbook and you can have both MacOS and Windows 10. I'm not talking about Virtual either. Bootcamp is awesome!

  • Josija Says:

    Thank you very much for your review. It's very detailed.

  • Ruphus Says:

    Clearly written by an idiot with the MacBook being introduced as a MacBook Air. As a user of both operating systems (windows and OS X) I can say the new MacBook beats any other ultraportable laptop.

  • GVFori Says:

    It's an unfair comparison between them.
    A fair comparison would be against the macbook pro 13".
    You just took the cheapest of the macbook line for the test.
    Also the camera of the dell is shit compared to the macbooks. I don't know how can you not see that.

  • DaveW Says:

    The Dell is significantly larger and heavier than the MacBook. The weight of the MB was left out of the review, but I think it is 2 pounds. The Dell weighs 30% more and is considerably thicker. Both are great computers, but I'm not sure they are in the same category.

  • dellandmacuser Says:

    honestly the trackpad on the dell is garbage, that alone is almost a deal breaker. I use both computers regularly.

  • Edwin Says:

    I have to say I knew this guy was a Mac guy when he said that the keyboard was a draw. When you perform better on a different machine it gets the higher verdict. This is purely a BIAS review. Sorry to say this I was looking for a unbiased one.

  • Alex Says:

    I really think the 13" Macbook Pro with Retina is a better competitor.

    It matches specs well, and really gives up being half a pound heavier for being faster and better in just about every way (except that QHD+ touch display).

    The Macbook is a laptop for tablet users.

  • Kyle Joh Says:

    For $1299, you getting a Macbook that is barely much faster than the iPad Air 2. It has a keyboard and slightly larger display. The new Macbook is like a Chromebook just much more expensive.

  • daglesj Says:

    @Stephen I think the spec of the Dell is fine as it price matches with the Apple. You have to know if you have $1300 what you can get for that money. The Dell is better value. Also do the Aplle reviews include the pretty essential 4 years of Apple Care you'll need in the price because it's not possible to repair?

  • Stephen Says:

    I started off so excited to read this comparison but sadly it lost much of it's value fairly quickly. Not only did you compare Apples to Oranges, but you hand-picked the Orange. The Dell wasn't evaluated on it's own as configured - for example, it isn't the base XPS 13 model, but includes an upgraded quad-core CPU, better display and touch panel. Then in the performance and battery comparison you discount the effects. With the bigger touch screen enabled display the MacBook was the winner, but because the laptop is available [in a untested configuration] without the touchscreen the "win" for that category goes to the Dell? Why not compare a MacBook Pro to the XPS as configured? Or the MacBook to a base level Dell XPS? In the end the real winner was the laptop the author preferred (as given in the comments regarding the keyboard and webcam sections). Not truly a one to one all being equal comparison.

  • Jay Says:

    Can you do a comparison of the XPS 13 with the newest Retina MacBook Pro?

  • Alan Says:

    it's beautiful, but I returned mine. Wonderful Mac, but i have an 11" MB Air with an i7. The new MB studdered when playing videos; slow frame rate and audio and video not in sync. Decided to stay with my 2-year old MB Air with i7 processor. No video studder, and video and audio are in sync. Did a side-by-side test. if I didn't have the 11" MB Air, the new MB would be great. Retina display, light weight, long battery life are all good.

  • IloveLinux Says:

    What this article didn't mention is the start up problems reported for the new Macbook and Apples response to how to fix it. Distressing for a new $1,300.00 laptop.

    Key here is that the Macbook has a low powered M processor and one port. The Dell has a better processor a SD slot and USB ports. A user could add a 64gb or 128 SD card for more storage.

  • cashxx Says:

    Sadly I have to agree with the final verdict! Apple shouldn't be using anything lower than an i5! I do think the camera on the Macbook was better, but other than that the Dell is better for the money! Just so it lasts as long as the Macbook, I have always had good luck with the reliability of my MacBooks compared to many others around me with Dell Laptops. If Apple can get more USB-C Ports and match the graphics and CPU speed the Mac would be a better buy. Too bad we can't install OS X on that Dell!

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