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Help Me, Laptop: What's the Best Dell XPS 15 Alternative?

The Dell XPS 15 ($999 starting price) is a fine piece of machinery, but there are a several similar laptops that may suit your needs better. So, how do you know if you should go with that or the alternative? A Tom's Guide forum user came to us with the same question.

RubbishJunky wrote: "I've been looking [to pick] up an XPS 15 specced out like so: Core i7-8750H, 8GB RAM, 256GB M.2 SSD, GTX 1050 Ti 4GB [and] FHD non-touch display. For the cost of this configuration ($1469) is there a solid alternative that would be better or equal spec-wise for the same price, that would be about the same weight or lighter (4-4.5lbs), and still be a 15.6-inch thin laptop?"

Before we dive into XPS 15 alternatives, let’s take a look at the laptop in question.

Dell XPS 15: Best FHD Panel and Battery Life

The XPS 15 we tested is similarly spec'd, but with beefier RAM (16GB). It scored 19,775 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance test and 163,171 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, making it perfectly capable of handling multitasking and running major PC games on lower settings.

The laptop's 15.6-inch, 1080p panel is especially vibrant as well, covering 117 percent (164 percent with 4K) of the sRGB color gamut and averaging 372 nits (447 nits with 4K) of brightness, all accompanied by barely there bezels. In addition, its battery lasted a crazy 11 hours and 53 minutes (8:28 with 4K) on the Laptop Mag Battery Test. However, the keyboard could be better, as the keys travel a low 0.7 millimeters (we prefer key travel between 1.5 to 2.0 mm).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme: Best Performance and Keyboard

A great alternative is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme. The one that we tested currently costs $2,407 and comes with a Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, a GTX 1050 Ti GPU and a 4K panel. However, if you'd like to get the same configuration as the XPS 15 you're eyeing, a comparable ThinkPad X1 Extreme costs $1,506, which lands around your budget range.

Lenovo's laptop achieved 20,905 on the Geekbench 4 overall performance test and 154,719 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, beating the XPS 15 on performance but not graphics. Its 15.6-inch, 4K panel beats the XPS 15 on color but not brightness, as it covered 186 percent of the sRGB spectrum and hit 366 nits of brightness.

The ThinkPad has a disappointing battery life, lasting 6 hours and 7 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (though the battery will likely last longer on a lower resolution display). The keyboard on this baby is fantastic, sporting 1.7 millimeters of key travel as well as a pointing stick for power users.

Asus ZenBook Pro 15: Best Graphics and Multitasking

The Asus ZenBook Pro 15 is great contender as well, if a bit pricey. We tested it at $2,299, and it was outfitted with a Intel Core i9-8950HK processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, a GTX 1050 Ti GPU and a 4K panel. The only other config costs $1,749, but it'll drop you down to a Core i7-8750H CPU and a GTX 1050 GPU.

Surprisingly, the Core i9 CPU underperformed, scoring 20,076 on Geekbench 4, but the graphics excelled, hitting 174,523 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. The 15.6-inch, 4K panel couldn't match the XPS 15, covering 141 percent of the sRGB spectrum and averaging 330 nits of brightness.

However, it does have something that most laptops don’t: two displays. The ScreenPad, as Asus dubs it, is built into the touchpad and gives you access to apps like a digital number pad, a calculator and Spotify. It can also be used as a straight-up desktop display, so you can place web pages, movies or spreadsheets down there.

MORE: Laptops with the Best Overall Performance

Unfortunately, the battery life is very poor. With the ScreenPad on, the ZenBook lasted 4 hours and 23 minutes on our battery test, and only improved to 5:14 with it off. The keyboard was also a little on the shallow side, at 1.1 millimeters, but it's bouncier than the XPS 15’s.

HP Spectre x360: Best Value

If happen to find yourself more interested in a 2-in-1, then the HP Spectre x360 is a solid choice. The one we tested currently costs $1,519 and comes with a Intel Core i7-8705G CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, AMD's Radeon RX Vega M GPU and a 4K panel. It can drop to $1,289 if you want to stick with your requested config of 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD (the panel doesn’t go down to 1080p).

Since it has a G Series chip, the Spectre scored a little lower than its H series siblings, hitting 15,340 on Geekbench 4. But its AMD GPU wasn't too far off from the XPS 15, scoring 147,606 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. While its 15.6-inch, 4K panel produces a lower 119 percent of the sRGB spectrum and 340 nits of brightness, it is one of the most affordable 4K panels we've seen.

But it definitely falters on battery life, lasting only 5 hours and 27 minutes on our endurance test. It does, however, have a pretty decent keyboard with a comfortable 1.4 millimeters of key travel.

Bottom Line

The XPS 15 is a fine choice if battery life is your priority, but if you're willing to sacrifice a bit of endurance, the X1 Extreme will provide you with stellar performance and an excellent keyboard. Meanwhile, the ZenBook Pro 15 has the strongest GPU among the competitors as well as a second display, but only if you can shell out the money. If you're keen on saving, definitely go for the Spectre x360, as it'll give you most of the specs you want for an affordable price.

We hope that this helped, and let us know which one you decide to go with!

Credit: Laptop Mag