The Dell XPS 13 is the most beautiful device to hit the streets in 2015 and the Macbook (2015) is giving it a run for it’s money. The Dell XPS 13 is bezel-less with a 3200 x 1600 resolution display that blows the Macbook’s 2,304 x 1,440 even though the Dell comes in at 13.3 inches it’s super-thin edge to edge boarder-less design makes it only a little bigger with a ton more screen real-estate and more pixels to boot!
We’ve long been fans of the Ultraportable form factor and what we have here today is a stunning 12 inch Macbook that is going to take on a larger in display size but not much larger in form factor Notebook with the Dell XPS 13. If you’re merely after a specification side by side, we’ll give that to you upfront. If you want to know what a Dell XPS 13 user thinks of the new Macbook, read on.
|Macbook (2015)||Dell XPS 13 (2015)|
|OS||OS X Yosemite||Windows 8.1|
|CPU||Intel Core M M-5Y70||2.1GHz Core™ i3-5010U|
2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200
|Screen||12″ 2304 x 1400 pixels||13.3″ 3200 x 1800 pixels|
1080p also possible
|RAM/Storage||8GB RAM, 256GB & 512GB storage||4 or 8GB RAM, 230GB storage|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 5300||Intel HD Graphics 5500|
|WiFi||802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible||802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible|
|Camera||480p FaceTime camera||720p HD webcam|
|Touchscreen||No||$1300 Glossy Touchscreen ($799 Non Touch edition available)|
|Connectivity||USB C or USB 3.1 Gen 1 (up to 5 Gbps) which also provides HDMI & Digital AV Multiport by adapters; Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output||USB 3.0, SDXC card reader, mini DisplayPort, headset jack|
|Features||Keyboard backlit with each key housing individual LEDs|
Force Track Pad
|Weight||2.03 pounds||2.60 pounds|
|Size||11.04 x 7.74 x 0.14-0.52″||11.98 x 7.88 x 0.33-0.60″|
|Battery||39.7 watt hour||52 watt hour|
Design – A Classic Look Takes on 2015
The Macbook Air hasn’t gotten much of an update since it was first launched back in 2008, but the Macbook is closest we’re going to get to that redesign, which is why Apple dropped the Air and the Pro and gave this Notebook with a few tablet tendencies a new category. Apple was able to make the Macbook (2015) so thin that it makes us think tablet because of Intel’s new Core M processor.
Dell has come out with something that’d we’d only seen in the past on Fujitsu notebooks that never left Asia. Their 13.3 inch display has a 5.2mm thick boarder and it’s aluminum design has a very durable in hand feel, much like that of the Macbook Air. Actually, when iFixit did a tear down, they found that the interior was actually very similar. When the lid is closed it looks just an 11.6 inch Notebook, but when you open it, you realize that they’ve fit a 13.3 inch screen in there.
Design wise the two devices are very different and we are actually comparing two very different devices that actually have no business going head to head. Beyond the aesthetic, under the hood, Dell’s Core i3 – i5 offering blows the Macbook’s Core M away.
Performance wise there is virtually no comparison, with the Macbook you are getting thinnest, battery life and enough performance for office applications along side your basic multimedia needs. If you need any kind of graphic performance in terms of video editing or gaming, you’re going to have to turn to Intel’s Core i series, Core M is aimed at your average user.
Display – Apple’s Got Nothing on a Boardless ‘Retina’ Display
Dell has just knocked it out of the park with it’s board-less infinity display, it doesn’t even matter that it has a way higher screen resolution than the Macbook (2015). The Dell measures in at 13.3 inches and 3200 x 1800 and the Macbook holds its own at 2304 x 1400, it does have a smaller 12 inch display giving it 226 pixels per inch the Dell is 276 ppi which even though it’s larger is much higher. This is a tough win to quantify, the eye is supposed to have a ppi limit but that is meant to happen above 300, so side by side the Dell should actually be sharper.
That isn’t to say that the display on the Macbook is a slouch, it just doesn’t win the spec race Apple started. One thing that does pull the ahead in terms of resolution battles is OS X is better at dealing with scaling, Windows 8.1 has only recently become less annoying at handling the higher resolutions. Chalk that up to Apple only having a few devices and Microsoft having to deal with a whole ecosystem.
The Keyboards – Apple’s Gone Edge to Edge & It’s Gorgeous
Dell has done a great job with their keyboard, it doesn’t take long to become used to the travel on the key’s and the keyboards design. What Apple has done with the Macbook is on a whole new level, their key’s 17% larger and each key has an induvidual LED which helped make the device thinner. The keyboard is edge to edge and we’re glad they did, HP delivered a similar experiences on their netbooks and it’s a shame they never took that innovation anywhere else. Kudos to Apple for making use of all the available surface area.
Butterfly Mechanism Adds Functionality to the Trackpad
The trackpad on the Macbook I can already tell you with out having used it that it is going to work a million times better than the Dell. The XPS 13 trackpad is a bit of disaster, it’s not great, it’s got dead spots and it’s tricky to use. It’s got two finger scroll down, but apart from that it needs work. It’s not unusable, but it’s not a pleasure to use. In the past Dell has issued driver updates but we’re still waiting. Apple has put in a Force Touch trackpad, which allows you to perform shortcuts when you put more force into a click.
Performance – Comparing Apples and Oranges
What we are comparing here are two different platforms, the Core M processor in the Macbook which is fanless and allows for the super thin design. Intel’s worked things so that you can perform the same tasks with the same performance as a Core i series processor, but while consuming much less battery. That’s who the Macbook can have such killer battery life while being so thin. The trade off is that Core M isn’t a graphics power house and this won’t be a problem for the majority of notebook users.
Graphics wise if you’d like to learn more about Intel’s Core M the Notebookcheck guys have done a very detailed analysis on Intel’s HD5300 graphics which both devices support. The bottom line is, if you are planning on doing any graphics work or gaming, you should consider the Core i series Macbook Air or the Macbook Pro. Both deliver higher performance in terms of graphically intensive activities.
Here is an excerpt from the overall NotebookCheck analysis:
Depending on the specific CPU, the maximum GPU frequency varies between 800 and 900 MHz. Due to the very low TDP, however, the average clock in 3D applications will be significantly lower. Therefore, the HD 5300 just barely outperforms the old HD 4000 or HD 4200, but requires much less energy for the same performance.
This means that the HD4400 graphics found in the 2014 Macbook Air, whose graphics have higher performance gains than the HD 4000 or HD 4200 discussed above. That’s not to say that the average user will be disappointed, but that the user of the Macbook (2015) shouldn’t have intense graphic requirements.
Dell has put in a Core i3 to Core i5 series processor with the option on the i5 to add in 8GB of RAM. We’ve got our benchmarks and first impressions of the Dell XPS 13 here is you really want to get into it’s benchmarks.
Apple Pushing the Industry Forward with USB C
At first glance you might think that Apple is going to route of pushing proprietary connectors on you, and well you might be right, but USB C is the future and Apple just got there first. They’re able to reduce the number of ports on the device by having the ports they’ve included dfo everything. The Dell has 2 USB 3.0 ports, a full size SD card slot, display port, headphone jack and even a Kensington lock. This is great you have a lot of options for connectivity.
A single port to rule them all is what USB C’s claim to fame. It can handle up to 5 Gbps transfer speeds and this ability leads to the port also being able to handle HDMI & Digital AV Multiport as well as Native DisplayPort 1.2 video output. You’re going to need adapters for these activities, but in theory you’ll be able to use the USB C connector in any device (unless Apple does something special to the dongles they sell).
Pricing and Final Thoughts
This is a comparison of use case you’re going to go with the Macbook if you’re invested heavily into Apple’s ecosystem. You’re not going to have an SD card slot or USB port the person that won’t be driven mad with the need for adapters is one who is already using Apple’s cloud services and doesn’t do a lot of on the fly collaborative work (unless they’re the kind of person who never forgets their adapter pack or exclusively deals with other people who have macs). Using a single port for everything is living on the bleeding edge of the future. We are headed in that direction, Intel has a dream for the future that doesn’t involve any cords, including charging cables.
When it comes to pricing the Dell has variations that go from $799 running a Core i3, 1080p display without a touchscreen. But the 3200 x 1800 edition that put it in direct competition with the Macbook(2015) does edge up to the 1,299 price point making them in fact the same price. What you get with the XPS 13 is a no compromises device that has a ton of connectivity. The Macbook (2015) gives you portability, a great keyboard and stunning display.
It’s all about what you need from your device, but if you’re in the Apple ecosystem I’d go for the Air if you’re thinking of having this device be your only device. If you’re in the Windows world, the XPS 13 is an awesome device.