Dell XPS 13 and 15 are nearly identical. Both have the same silver-colored lid and bottom, black sides, and a luxurious soft-touch, carbon-fiber deck that has a subtle gray and black checkered pattern. The laptops also share Dell's nearly bezel-less InfinityEdge Display, which is their most impressive design flourish but also forces the webcam into an awkward position, right below the screen.
The XPS 13 offers excellent mainstream performance, but the XPS 15's higher-end specs make it a strong choice for graphics professionals who need to do photo and video editing. All configurations of the XPS 15 except for the $999 base model, which has a slow Core i3 CPU, come with Core i5 or i7 HQ quad-core processors and Nvidia GTX 960M graphics. In contrast, the XPS 13 has the same CPUs as most mainstream laptops, with a choice of Core i3, i5 or i7 dual-core processors and integrated Intel graphics.
A Core i7-6700HQ-enabled version of the XPS 15 scored an impressive 13,502 on Geekbench 3, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance. That's nearly double the mainstream category average (7,678) and the results from a Dell XPS 13 (7,219) with a Core i7-6500U CPU, its highest-end processor.
No matter which XPS you choose, it will be quick to boot up, open apps and copy files. Both laptops come with blazing-fast PCIe SSDs (if you get them with 256GB or higher). Our XPS 15's 512GB SSD finished our file transfer test at a rate of 254 MBps, while an XPS 13 with 256GB drive got 231 MBps.
The Dell XPS starts at $799, but the base model has just 4GB of RAM and only a 128GB SSD. A model with more reasonable specs — including a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD — goes for $1,099. A similarly configured MacBook Air 13-inch and HP Spectre cost $100 and $70 more, respectively.
To get the XPS 13 with a 3200 x 1800 touch screen, you have to pay $1,599 for a unit with a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. For comparison, a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon with similar specs but just a 2560 x 1440 screen goes for $1,619.
The Dell XPS 15 starts at $999, but we wouldn't recommend getting the base configuration that has a Core i3 processor, integrated graphics and 500GB hard drive. An $1,199 config improves the processor to Core i5 and adds the Nvidia GTX 960M GPU but still features a mechanical drive.
To get the XPS 15 with an SSD — something we wouldn't buy it without — you have to pay $1,399 for a configuration with a Core i7-6700HQ CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1080p screen. Samsung's Notebook 9 offers the same specs in a 2.7-pound body for just $1,197.Read more
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