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XPS 13 vs XPS 15 vs XPS 17: Which Dell XPS is right for you?

Dell XPS 15 (2020) review
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Dell’s XPS series of laptops doesn’t do anything outlandish, no detachable options here, but they deliver an excellent clamshell laptop experience across the most useful range of sizes. Your choice, each of which comes with its own advantages, includes the XPS 13, XPS 15 and XPS 17. 

All three offer absolutely stunning bezeless displays with up to 4K resolution, making them an excellent choice for anyone who relies on dense tasks such as coding or spreadsheets, as well as those who work in visual arts, like graphic design, photography or videography.

While there is a lot of shared DNA between these three laptops, there are pros and cons to each one that will make them slightly more suited to different users. Here’s a closer look at what each XPS laptop —  the XPS 13, XPS 15 and XPS 17 — has to offer so you can determine which XPS laptop is right for you.

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Dell XPS 13Dell XPS 15Dell XPS 17
Starting Price $1,199 $1,299 $1,499
Display 13.4-inch 1920 x 1200 (non-touch); 13.4-inch 1920 x 1200 (touch); 13.4-inch 3840 x 2400 (touch) 15.6-inch 1920 x 1200 (non-touch); 15.6-inch 3840 x 2400 (touch) 17-inch 1920 x 1200 (non-touch); 17-inch 3840 x 2400 (touch)
CPUs 10th-Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 Ice Lake 10th-Gen Intel Core i5, i7, i9 Comet Lake 10th-Gen Intel Core i5, i7, i9 Comet Lake
Battery Life 12:39 (tested) 8:01 (tested 4K) 20 hours (rated)
Graphics Intel UHD or Intel Iris Plus Intel UHD or Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q Intel UHD, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q or RTX 2060
Storage 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB SSD 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB SSD 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB SSD
RAM 8GB or 16GB 3733Mhz LPDDR4x 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB 2933MHz DDR4 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB 2933MHz DDR4
Weight (pounds) 2.65 (non-touch); 2.8 (touch) 4 (non-touch); 4.5 (touch) 4.65 (non-touch); 5.53 (touch)
Dimensions 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.58-inches 13.6 x 9.1 x 0.71-inches 14.7 x 9.8 x 0.8-inches
Colors Platinum Silver or Frost White Platinum Silver Platinum Silver

Dell XPS 13 (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

Dell XPS 13

Best for mainstream users and frequent travelers

CPU: Intel Core i5-1035G1 | Memory: 8GB RAM | Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Display: 13.4-inch, 1900 x 1200 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Ports: Headphone/mic, microSD, 2 Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C

Beautiful bezeless display
Excellent performance
Strong battery life
Limited ports
Lacks discrete GPU options

As the junior member of the XPS lineup, the Dell XPS 13 is by far the most portable, at just 2.8 pounds (for the non-touch version), it is one of the smallest ultraportables on the market. That size makes it all the more impressive that the XPS 13 managed 12 hours and 39 minutes on our battery test. 

Turning to performance, the XPS 13 isn’t going to hold up to its larger siblings due to its lack of a discrete GPU option, but the Intel 10th-Gen Ice Lake processor and Iris Plus graphics are sufficient for most users' needs. 

Dell XPS 13 (2020) vs MacBook Air (2020)

(Image credit: Future)

While it has an unquestionably subtle design, the XPS 13 manages to stand out in its Frost White color scheme, and the keyboard and touchpad are expansive and responsive. The minimal port configuration is a slight disappointment, but at least both ports give you the full power of Thunderbolt 3. 

Pros: The Dell XPS 13 has enough power for most users in an impressively small package all while delivering better battery life than many of its competitors. The laptop has a beautiful and vibrant display, even in the FHD+ model, and the bezeless design will keep this laptop looking cutting edge for years to come.

Cons: If you do any graphics-heavy work, you will want to bump up to the Core i7 processor, which includes Intel Iris Plus graphics. The lack of ports will mean buying a USB Type-C hub for some users. Finally, while the 4K and touchscreen options are nice, they have some heavy tradeoffs in terms of battery life and weight, respectively.

Read our full Dell XPS 13 review

Dell XPS 15 (2020) review

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Dell XPS 15

Need power without sacrificing too much portability?

CPU: Intel Core i5-10300H | Memory: 8GB RAM | Size: 13.6 x 9.1 x 0.71 inches | Weight: 4 pounds | Display: 15.6-inch, 1900 x 1200 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Ports: Headphone/mic, SD card, 2 Thunderbolt 3, USB Type-C

Excellent audio experience
Gorgeous 4K bezeless display
Solid battery life for a 4K laptop
Can get hot
Expensive

While the Dell XPS 15 only received minor changes in 2020, the end result is impressive nonetheless and has easily earned it a spot among our best laptops of 2020. While the base model’s Intel UHD graphics isn’t going to cut it for video work, the Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake processor included across all configurations delivers excellent performance. Those with more intensive graphics needs will want to step up to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q option. 

The display on the Dell XPS 15 remains world-class and the new design eliminates the bottom bezel, creating a mesmerizing viewing experience while slimming down the laptop ever so slightly (5.5%) from the previous model. While the 4K display will take a toll on your battery life, it still delivered just over 8 hours in our testing, which is a tradeoff you might be willing to make for all of those extra pixels.

Dell XPS 15 (2020) review

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Overheating is one of the few complaints we encountered with the Dell XPS 15, with a few areas warning above our preferred 95-degree threshold. This will only be a concern to those who find themselves using the laptop in their lap. 

Pros: The Dell XPS 15 can be specced up to be a serious powerhouse depending on your needs, all while coming in at a smaller size than most of its 15 or 16-inch competitors. Regardless of which option you choose, the display is gorgeous with its virtually bezeless design, and the laptop itself features a subtle and timeless look.

Cons: While the Dell XPS 15 may start at $1,299, most people are going to want to look at models at around the $2,000 mark depending on their needs. If you really want to spec it out, you will end up spending close to $4,000. The heat for those who need to get work done on their lap is going to be a slight concern at times, but that’s the price you are paying for the small chassis. 

Read our full Dell XPS 15 review

Dell XPS 17

(Image credit: Dell)

Dell XPS 17

Best for graphic designers, photographers, or video editors

CPU: Intel Core i5-10300H | Memory: 8GB RAM | Size: 14.7 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 4.7 pounds | Display: 17-inch, 1900 x 1200 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Ports: Headphone/Mic, SD card reader, 4 Thunderbolt 3

Excellent battery life
Beautiful bezeless 4K display
Small for a 17-inch laptop
Touchscreen model is heavy
Expensive at the top end

Making its triumphant return after nearly a decade, the Dell XPS 17 has a massive screen, but thanks to design improvements, it isn’t the unmanageable beast 17-inch laptops once were. Just to give you some frame of reference, the previous Dell XPS 17 weighed in at 7.94 pounds, making the 4.7-pound new version seem like nothing. You could stack an XPS 13 on top of the new XPS 17 and still come in lighter than its predecessor.

Inside the XPS 17 are Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake processors from a Core i5 up to a Core i9 at the top end. While it starts with Intel UHD graphics, you can spec that up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 if you have more demanding needs. Similarly, you can go from 8GB all the way up to 64GB of RAM. Given the power-hungry 4K display we weren't expecting much from the battery, but it held up for 9 hours and 5 minutes in our Laptop Mag Battery Test, an hour beyond our expectations for most 4K laptops and three minutes longer than the premium laptop average.

Dell XPS 17

(Image credit: Future)

The overall design of the Dell XPS 17 is quite similar to the Dell XPS 15, although it gets four full Thunderbolt 3 ports and, unlike the MacBook Pro 16-inch, it features a full-size SD card reader. The display offers an incredibly crisp image thanks to squeezing its pixels into that 16:10 aspect ratio and is fantastically vibrant at 172% of the sRGB color gamut besting the XPS 15 and virtually every other premium laptop with the exception of the HP Spectre x360. The interior of the XPS 17 has a black carbon fiber weave that, when combined with the platinum silver aluminum exterior, should keep this laptop looking great for years.

Pros: If you prefer to avoid an external display or simply want an expansive workspace on the go without weighing yourself down, it is going to be hard to beat the Dell XPS 17. It offers high-end performance with strong battery life and a fantastic display. 

Cons: Much like the Dell XPS 15, we would shy away from the $1,499 base model and upgrade to at least the GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU option along with 16GB of RAM. If you need a touchscreen, the 5.5-pound weight of that model might start to feel like a bit of a burden, so make sure you have good straps on your laptop bag.

Read our full Dell XPS 17 review