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Dell XPS 13 and 14: Smaller than You Think

MacBook Air Alternatives

The whole concept behind an Ultrabook is improving portability while remaining as close to a full-sized notebook experience as possible. Display size and performance are sacrificed for added portability, but much like Intel has managed to keep performance up while saving on battery life, Dell has found a way to keep their displays large and their footprint small.

The XPS 13 Ultrabook features a 13.3-inch display, but has an overall size that is only slightly larger than Apple’s 11-inch MacBook Air. This space saving bezel magic doesn’t come cheap, as the XPS 13 starts at $999 and lacks many of the recent upgrades the MacBook line just saw. You’ll have to settle for the 2nd generation of Intel’s Core processors, only two USB ports (one of which is USB 3.0), and the display resolution is only 720p.

Dell XPS 13 Dell XPS 14
Processor2nd Gen Intel Core i5 or Core i73rd Gen Intel Core i5 or Core i7
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 3000Intel HD Graphics 4000 or Nvidia GeForce GT 630M
Display13.3-inch 1280x720 w/ Gorilla Glass14-inch 1600x900
I/O Ports & Etc.1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, mini DisplayPort, Headphone2x USB 3.0, Ethernet, HDMI, mini DisplayPort, Card Reader, Headphone
Battery LifeUp to 9 HoursUp to 11 Hours
Dimensions (inches)12.4 x 8.1 x 0.7113.2 x 9.2 x 0.81
Weight2.99 Lbs4.6 Lbs
PriceStarting at $999Starting at $1099

The XPS 13’s best selling point is its design. Not only is it more compact than you’d expect, it’s also incredibly sturdy with a machined aluminum frame, carbon fiber base, and tempered Gorilla Glass screen.

The XPS 14 Ultrabook compromises much less than the XPS 13, and it actually bests the MacBook Air in almost all categories. It uses the same space-saving edge-to-edge display and hinge technology to cram the 14-inch 1600x900 display into a form factor that is only 7 square inches larger than the 13.3-inch MacBook Air.

If screen space is important to you, the XPS 14 is probably one of the best Ultrabook choices on the market right now. Unlike the XPS 13, it features the 3rd generation Core processors, and the models starting from $1199 and above offer even more graphics performance thanks to an Nvidia GeForce GT 630m dedicated GPU. This means that the XPS 14 is also one of your best choices if you’re looking for performance as well.

With the exception of the $1999 configuration, all of the XPS 14 models feature a 500 GB hybrid hard drive, and there are no customizable storage options. If you’re looking for the system-wide loading speed boosts a full SSD provides, you’re stuck with the most expensive model (or you’ll have to do some post-purchase upgrading).

As far as ports go, you get an HDMI and mini DisplayPort, so your secondary display bases are covered. There are only two USB ports, but both are USB 3.0. Apple does get one trump card down with its Thunderbolt port, but the XPS 14 shoots back with its Ethernet port, though it’s not quite as lofty a feature.

Ultimately, the XPS 14 Ultrabook offers some of the best performance and usability you’ll find in an Ultrabook, and while it doesn’t really cost any less than the MacBook Air, it’s easy to argue that it offers a better experience.

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