Help Me, Laptop: Which Premium Notebook Should I Get?

Oftentimes, we get requests for help in choosing a new laptop from someone who has no idea where to start. But forum member qingping has already chosen two potential laptops and just needs to be pushed one way or the other. Both are premium machines. In fact, they have identical specs. Which means that qinping will have to pick based on keyboard, display, battery life and price.

The two machines are the Dell XPS 15 (9560) and the Lenovo Yoga 720. Each has an Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a 15.6-inch display and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050.

An XPS 15 with that configuration costs $1,550 for a 1080p display and $1,900 for 4K. I can't find that configuration for the Yoga 720, though one with a 4K display and a 1TB SSD runs for $1,305. So, out the gate, the Yoga 720 is a cheaper system.

In our reviews, we loved both laptops. The XPS 15 has a gorgeous display, clear audio and over 8 hours of battery life on the 4K model. Similarly, the Yoga has a great screen, strong speakers and almost 9 hours of battery life (we tested the 1080p version of this machine). And both the XPS and Yoga offered great performance.

The Yoga's advantage over the XPS is that it's a 2-in-1. Sure, at 4.6 pounds, the 720 is heavier than some competing 2-in-1s, but it's one of the few with discrete graphics.

The XPS offers a nearly bezel-free display, though that means the webcam is below the screen and looks up your nose. This machine performed slightly better than the Yoga on our performance benchmarks, despite having the same specs. I personally think it's the better-looking machine.

There's one wrinkle in the plan here. Qingping is also wondering if they should wait for the XPS 15 2-in-1 or the newer XPS 15 (9570). Well, qingping, you don't need to wait. The XPS 15 2-in-1 is already on sale, and we reviewed it. It uses a Kaby Lake G with Intel's 8th Gen CPU and AMD's Radeon graphics (we've found these to be similar to a GTX 1050). But you won't get that Core i7 for less than $1,699.99. (Core i5 versions start at $1,299.99.) To get that 16GB of RAM, you need the top-of-the line, $2,200 model, which comes with only 256GB of storage. It has an excellent screen and a fantastic keyboard, but the battery life leaves something to be desired.

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That new XPS 15 clamshell has also launched, but we haven't reviewed that model yet. It uses more-recent 8th Gen Core processors. And while it starts at an affordable $999, you'll need to pay $1,499.99 to get a configuration similar to to those on the models qingping listed (it'll still have a smaller 256GB SSD). This model uses a slightly more powerful GPU, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.

Because I haven't reviewed it, it's hard for me to say with complete confidence, but the new XPS 15 looks like the pick on paper. You get the latest processor and a slightly more powerful GPU for a comparable price. We'll let you know what we think of this machine's display, keyboard and battery life when it gets into the lab, though.

If you need something now, the XPS 15 is nothing to sneeze at (I'm using one right now!), but for a 2-in-1, I'd opt for the Yoga 720, particularly for the price. I don't know when or if that laptop will be upgraded, so you're stuck with an older CPU, but it's still a capable machine.

Credit: Laptop Mag