Dell’s XPS 13 tops our list of best laptops and best 13-inch laptops. It’s a sleek, well-built, and overall solid model that has represented the pinnacle of laptop design for a few years. Apple recently released its MacBook Pro 14, which is slightly larger than the XPS 13 but is still a viable competitor. We haven’t reviewed it yet, but it is almost identical to the larger 16-inch version and will probably make our list of the best 14-inch laptops.
These two outstanding products deserve our praise, but only one can win a shootout like this. Which is the better laptop, the Dell XPS 13 or the Apple MacBook Pro 14?
|Dell XPS 13||Apple MacBook Pro 14|
|Dimensions||11.64 inch x 7.82 inch x 0.58 inch||12.31 inches x 8.71 inches x 0.61 inches|
|Weight||2.8 pounds||3.5 pounds|
|Processor||Intel Core i3-1115G4
Intel Core i5-1135G7
Intel Core i7-1185G7
Intel Core i7-1195G7
|Apple M1 Pro
Apple M1 Max
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe||Integrated|
|Display||13.4-inch 16:10 IPS Full HD + (1920 x 1200)
13.4 inch 16:10 IPS Full HD + touch
13.4-inch 16:10 IPS UHD + (3840 x 2400)
13.4-inch 16:10 OLED 3.5K touchscreen (3,456 x 2,160)
|14.2-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina XDR 3,024 x 1,964|
1 TB SSD
2 TB SSD
1 TB SSD
2 TB SSD
4 TB SSD
8 TB SSD
|Ports||2x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio jack
MicroSD card reader
|3 USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio jack
SD card reader
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1||Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home or Pro||MacOS Monterey|
|Battery||52 watt-hours||70 watt-hours|
|Classification||5 out of 5 stars||5 out of 5 stars|
Both laptops certainly look different, but they are both incredibly well built. Neither of the two flex, flex, or twist on the lid, keyboard deck, or bottom chassis, and you’ll find little to set them apart in terms of their physical design. The XPS 13 uses machined aluminum in the lid and chassis and carbon fiber in the keyboard deck (in the black version) or fiberglass (in the white version). The MacBook Pro 14 is made entirely of machined aluminum, and the only real difference is that the palm rest of the XPS 13 is warmer and more comfortable than the cooler metal of the MacBook Pro 14.
In terms of its aesthetics, the XPS 13 is the most extravagant design thanks to its choice between black and white interiors, but the MacBook Pro 14 has its own understated elegance. It’s a bit more boxy and not as streamlined, and it comes in a single dark silver color, but that’s problematic. Both are stylish and attractive laptops.
The XPS 13 is smaller and slimmer, thanks in part to its 13.3-inch 16:10 screen compared to the 14.2-inch 16:10 screen on the MacBook Pro 14. The Dell is 0.58-inch thick and it weighs 2.8 pounds compared to Apple’s 0.61 inches and 3.5 pounds. However, once again, both are small enough to be carried easily, and both feel great in the hand.
Apple took a positive step back with its latest MacBooks, making them a bit thicker to accommodate greater connectivity. The MacBook Pro 14 has three USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4, a full-size HDMI 2.0 connection, and a full-size SD card reader. The XPS 13 is an all-inclusive USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, offering two of the ports and a microSD card reader. Both will require dongles for USB-A devices, but the MacBook Pro 14 still has a better set of connectivity. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 or 5.0 provide wireless functions.
The XPS 13 uses 11th generation Intel U-series CPUs that are popular in thin and light Windows machines. You can choose from the 2-core / 4-thread Core i3-1115G4 with Intel UHD graphics up to the 4-core / 8-thread Core i7-1195G7 with Intel Iris Xe graphics. That makes the XPS 13 a solid performance for productivity work, but underpowered for creators.
The MacBook Pro 14, on the other hand, equips Apple’s latest M1 CPUs, the M1 Pro with 8 CPU cores and 14 GPU cores or 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores and the M1 Max with 10 CPU cores and 24 or 32 GPU cores. That variety makes choosing between versions a challenge.
However, even the “entry-level” M1 Pro is considerably faster than the XPS 13 options. We tested the M1 Pro on the MacBook Pro 16 and it outperformed the Windows competition. On Geekbench 5, it scored 1,773 in single-core mode and 12,605 in multi-core mode compared to the XPS 13 with a Core i7-1165G7 that achieved just 1,540 and 5,432. In Cinebench R23, the MacBook Pro 16 scored 1,531 single-core and 12,343 multi-core compared to 1399 and 4585 on the XPS 13. The MacBook Pro 14 will likely perform similarly, making it a laptop. much faster than the XPS 13 and suitable for demanding creative tasks, as well as shaking up productivity workflows.
The MacBook Pro 14 comes with just one display option, a 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR 16:10 panel that runs at 3,024 x 1,964. We haven’t tested it, but we imagine it will perform as well as the similar display on the MacBook Pro 16. That is, it will display extremely wide and accurate colors, spectacular contrast that delivers ink-like blacks, and a ton of brightness. It is the display of dreams of a creator.
The XPS 13 offers four different 16:10 displays, a non-touch Full HD + (1920 x 1200) IPS display, a Full HD + touch panel, a 4K + (3840 x 2400) display, and a 3.5K OLED display. (3456 x 2160). The first two options will provide average colors, contrast and brightness, and better battery life. The 4K + display has somewhat wider colors and higher contrast, and then the OLED panel will compete with the MacBook Pro 14 offering with the same wide and accurate colors, extreme contrast, and high brightness.
If you choose the OLED XPS 13 display, it will be on par with what the MacBook Pro 14 offers. Creators who demand the best colors and contrast will want to steer clear of the other three display options, while productivity users will be happy with All of them.
As mentioned in the design section, these two laptops are small and light enough to slip into a backpack without feeling overloaded. The XPS 13 is arguably the smallest laptop, but the MacBook Pro 14 is small enough.
Battery life is another matter. Depending on the XPS 13 display you set up, we got between five and 8.5 hours in our web browsing test running through a number of popular and complex websites. You’ll get between seven and 12 hours in our video test running through local Full HD Avengers trailer. At the high end, those are acceptable scores for Windows laptops, while at the low end they are disappointing.
However, the MacBook Pro 14 is likely to have a considerably longer lifespan. Again, we haven’t tested it and it’s not that easy to extrapolate from our MacBook Pro 16 due to its larger screen and 100 watt-hour battery (compared to 70 watt-hours on the MacBook Pro 14 and 52 watt-hours on the XPS 13). The M1 Pro is a very efficient CPU though, and you should get at least twice the battery life compared to the high-end results of the XPS 13. You don’t have to sacrifice screen quality or performance to get a laptop that lasts more than a full working day.
The Apple MacBook Pro 14 outshines the XPS 13, but at a cost
The Dell XPS 13 starts at just $ 979 with a Core i3-1115G4 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a Full HD + non-touch display. That’s a reasonable price for such a well-built laptop. It maxes out at $ 2,029 for a Core i7-1195G7, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and a 3.5K OLED display, which is firmly in premium laptop territory.
The Apple MacBook Pro 14, on the other hand, is priced at $ 1,999 for an 8-core CPU / 16-core M1 Pro GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. At max, it costs $ 5,899 for a 10-core CPU / 32-core M1 Max GPU, 64GB of RAM, and an 8TB SSD. It is an expensive laptop.
The Dell XPS 13 might have lost its place in our list of the best laptops. The Apple MacBook Pro 14 is incredibly fast and durable, and it’s built too. The only thing holding it back is its price, which takes it out of the mainstream and makes it more attractive to creative professionals for whom it will be worth investing so much power.
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