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Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15: Which laptop should you buy?

Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

With the latest versions of the Dell XPS 13 and Dell XPS 15, Dell has fine-tuned its flagship laptops to near-perfection. Both of these notebooks pack speedy 10th Gen Intel power into slim and attractive designs, and both have redesigned InfinityEdge displays that are almost completely bezel-free for maximum immersion. 

That being said, there are some notable differences between these two excellent laptops. As you’ll see in our Dell XPS 13 review, it’s the ultimate ultraportable thanks to its svelte 13-inch design, and Dell has also made the screen, keyboard and touchpad larger for more comfort. Based on our Dell XPS 15 review, it’s the laptop to get if you’re looking for a bigger display and optional discrete graphics. But there areare lots of other differences worth considering, including each laptop’s speakers, ports and battery life.

Dell’s newest pair of notebooks are both among the best laptops you can buy, but which one is right for you? Read our full Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15 face-off below to see how they stack up. 

Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15: Specs 

Dell XPS 13Dell XPS 15
Starting Price$1,199$1,299
Display13.4-inch Infinity Edge display, 1920 x 1200 or 3840 x 240015.6-inch Infinity Edge display (1920 x 1200 or 3840 x 2400)
CPU10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1/i5-1035G1/ i7-1065G710th Gen Intel Core i5-10300H/i710750H
GraphicsIntel UHD or Iris PlusIntel UHD Graphics, Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti
RAM8GB or 16GB8GB/16GB/32GB/64GB
Storage256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB SSD256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB SSD
PortsUSB-C Thunderbolt 3 (2x), microSD card reader, 3.5mm headphone jackUSB-C Thunderbolt 3 (2x), USB-C (1x), full size SD card reader, 3.5mm headphone jack
Size11.64 x 7.82 x 0.58 inches13.57 x 9 x 0.7 inches
Weight2.64 pounds (non-touch); 2.8 pounds (touch)4 pounds (non-touch, 56Whr battery), 4.5 pounds (touch, 86Whr battery)

Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15: Price and value 

The Dell XPS 13 is the slightly cheaper laptop of the two, while the bigger Dell XPS 15 can be configured with higher-end components. The starting XPS 13 costs $1,199 and gets you a 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, Intel UHD Graphics and a 13.4-inch 1920 x 1200 display. Various component and display upgrades are available, with a high-end $2,149 config getting you a 10th Gen Core i7-1065G7 CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, Iris Plus graphics and a 4K touch display.

The XPS 15 starts at $1,299 with similar specs to its smaller sibling, getting you a 10th Gen Core i5-10300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, Intel UHD graphics and a 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1200 display. On the high end, a $2,449 model includdes a Core i7 CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q graphics and a 4K touchscreen. 

Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15: Design 

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Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13 (Image credit: Tom's Guide )
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(Image credit: Tom's Guide )

As their names suggest, one of the biggest differences between these two sleek laptops is their size. The XPS 13 measures 11.64 x 7.82 x 0.5 inches and weighs 2.64 to 2.8 pounds, while the XPS 15 measures 13.57 x 9 x 0.57 inches and weighs 4 to 4.5 pounds. Both laptops are relatively slim and lightweight given the power they pack inside, but the XPS 13 is the more ideal choice if you want something that’s easier to throw in a bag while on the go.

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Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)
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What’s even more significant is that these laptops differ on ports. The XPS 13 gets you two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and a microSD card reader. The XPS 15 has more room for ports, including three USB-C ports (two of which are Thunderbolt 3) and a full-sized SD card reader, the latter of which might be more ideal for those doing photography work. Both laptops sport 3.5mm headphone jacks, and both include a USB-C to USB-A adapter in the box for connecting to older peripherals. 

Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15: Display and audio 

Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 13 (Image credit: Tom's Guide )

The XPS 13 and XPS 15 both share the biggest upgrade from their predecessors: a truly 4-sided InfinityEdge display that cuts down the bottom bezel for a truly seamless screen. The XPS 13 has a 91.5% screen-to-body ratio while the XPS 15 has a ratio of 92.9% -- both of these panels are incredibly immersive, so you’ll just have to decide how big you want yours.

Most Dell XPS 13 and 15 models get plenty bright, too. On our lab tests, our 1080p Dell XPS 13 registered 417 on our light meter, while its 4K counterpart was much dimmer at 301 nits. Our 4K Dell XPS 15 turned in a very impressive 434 nits, though we’ve yet to test out a 1080p version of Dell’s larger laptop.

Dell XPS 15 vs. Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 15 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The XPS 13 and XPS 15 both have solid audio, but the XPS 15’s larger, top-firing speakers deliver louder and fuller sound. While the XPS 13 got muffled at higher volumes, the XPS 15 delivered rich bass and crisp vocals loud enough to fill a living room. 

Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15: Performance 

Dell’s latest laptops both support Intel’s new 10th Gen processors, ranging from the Core i5-1035G1 to the Core i17-065G7 on the XPS 13 and up to a Core i7-10750H on the XPS 15. But the XPS 15 is the only notebook of the two to offer optional discrete graphics, with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Ti Max-Q GPU available in select models. 

Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 13  (Image credit: Tom's Guide )

We tested the Core i7 versions of both the XPS 13 and XPS 15, and both performed admirably in benchmark tests. On the Geekbench 5 general performance test, the XPS 13 scored  4,847, beating rival notebooks such as the MacBook Air but slightly trailing the XPS 15’s 6,174. That’s likely due to our XPS 15 packing a slightly speedier Core i7-10750 compared to our XPS 13’s Core i7-1065G7. 

Both Dell laptops have respectably speedy SSDs, with the 512GB drives in our review units transferring around 5GB of files between 627 MBps for the XPS 13 and 709 MBps for the XPS 15. 

But the real difference comes down to graphics. The XPS 13’s integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics ran the Dirt 3 racing game at a solid 58 frames per second at 1080p, but the XPS 15’s dedicated GPU nearly doubled that result at 134 fps at 1080p (not to mention 69 fps at 4K). If you want the option of having discrete graphics for video work and light gaming, the XPS 15 is the way to go. 

Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15: Battery life 

Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15 (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The 1080p version of the Dell XPS 13 offers stellar battery life, lasting through 12 hours and 39 minutes of constant web surfing on our endurance test. The 4K version of the XPS 13 tapped out at a much shorter 8:14, as did our 4K XPS 15 at 8 hours (we’re still waiting to test a 1080p version of the XPS 15). The higher-end XPS models last decently long when you consider their 4K displays, but if you want superb battery life, the 1080p XPS 13 is the best we’ve tested. 

Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15: Verdict 

Choosing between the Dell XPS 13 and Dell XPS 15 ultimately comes down to your needs. If you want a highly portable mainstream laptop that’s great for basic work use and streaming movies and shows, the XPS 13 is an excellent pick. It crams lots of power into its slim design, and its battery life for the 1080p configuration is especially stellar.

If you’re more of a power user, the XPS 15 is probably a better fit for you. The laptop’s larger screen is more ideal for getting serious work done, and its optional discrete graphics make it a more capable machine for video editing as well as a little bit of mainstream gaming. But no matter which model you choose, you’ll be getting one of the best Windows 10 laptops out there. 

  • RandomFlux
    Dedicated graphics cards are actually becoming genuinely useful and even necessary for photo editing as well as video now. For example, the increasingly popular Topaz denoise, sharpen and upsizing plugins for Photoshop run almost entirely on the GPU and achieve pretty terrible performance on systems without a dedicated GPU with at least 4GB of video memory. It might be time to start considering that when recommending systems for photo editing as well as video editing.
    Reply
  • TheExcommunicado
    RandomFlux said:
    Dedicated graphics cards are actually becoming genuinely useful and even necessary for photo editing as well as video now. For example, the increasingly popular Topaz denoise, sharpen and upsizing plugins for Photoshop run almost entirely on the GPU and achieve pretty terrible performance on systems without a dedicated GPU with at least 4GB of video memory. It might be time to start considering that when recommending systems for photo editing as well as video editing.
    I am Graphic Designer and soon to be learning Photography. I own a Macbook Pro 13inch 2019 model, 8gb ram which is slow and gets hot quickly. So I am planning to sell that and then adding some more dollars to buy a new future proof laptop for Photo editing, gaming and video editing and also music making. So will you recommend me a 15 inch Dell XPS or 13inch? Or any other laptop which has 16gb ram that you can suggest? My budget should be $2000 or a bit more. Please help.
    Reply