Dell XPS 13 vs MacBook Pro 13: Which flagship ultraportable laptop reigns supreme?

Dell’s upstart XPS takes on the MacBook Pro 13 in our head-to-head, but which is best?

21 Dec 2015

When Dell released the first XPS 13 early on in 2015, it fell agonisingly short of greatness. The design was there, the core hardware was fast enough, but a series of niggling little flaws prevented it from mounting a genuine challenge to the best ultraportable laptop around – the Apple MacBook Pro 13.

Wind forward a few months, however, and with the latest Intel Skylake processors onboard Dell looks to have finally cracked it. The updated, improved Dell XPS 13 is unequivocally the best Windows ultraportable laptop on the market. The question is, how does it compare with the all-conquering MacBook Pro 13?

Apple MacBook Pro 13 vs Dell XPS 13: Design, size and weight

Both laptops are excellent examples of the ultraportable laptop design done well, and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Both look fabulous: the MacBook Pro 13 resplendent in matte silver with its slab-like yet elegant outline; the Dell XPS 13 marking itself apart with its slim, wedge design, slightly moodier aluminium frame and soft-touch, carbon-fibre keyboard surround. It’s difficult to separate the two; I’d have either at a pinch.

Quality oozes from the very ports of these two laptops, and both are incredibly well-made devices: stiff, rigid and capable of shrugging off most day-to-day bumps and scrapes. There’s a difference in size and weight, however, and on this front it’s the Dell that edges out a microscopic lead, weighing 200g less than the MacBook and with a lower overall volume.

How has Dell achieved this seemingly impossible magic shrinking trick? It’s kept the screen bezels to the left, right and top of the screen to a ludicrously thin 5mm, which leads to a more compact chassis overall. The MacBook is beginning to look a tad old-fashioned in comparison.

Winner: Dell XPS 13

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