2020 Dell XPS 13 VS. Surface Laptop 3!
The best Windows ultrabooks to buy today are the XPS 13 and the Surface Laptop 3, but you can only buy 1 laptop, so which one should you buy?
The Windows ultrabook market is very dense, and there are a lot of laptops that are pretty solid, but the XPS 13 and the Surface Laptop always are at the top of the comparison charts, so I decided to compare them so you guys would make a better decision. In this comparison, I will comparing both laptops in 6 different categories: Design, Display, Performance, Keyboard/Trackpad, Battery Life, Price/Value. I will either awarding a winner for each category or giving a tie if it is a close category.
The 2020 version of the Dell XPS 13 is much better than the one that its replacing. The keyboard going all the way to the edges, paired with the webcam on top is much appreciated, but the Surface Laptop 3 is another level. Even though it doesn’t have the super thin bezels like the XPS, the Surface’s aluminum chassis and the alcantara keyboard win me over completely.
There are some very small features that the Surface Laptop 3 does that make it the better design. A few examples of these small features would be the magnetic charger, the one hand open, and more. It takes a lot of cues from the MacBooks, but that’s a good thing
Winner: Surface Laptop 3
The display’s on both machines are at or above 1080p, which is a good starting point, since that is a basic thing to have in a 2020 ultrabook. The Dell XPS 13 has two different models, however. The 1080p model is average, and for the price Dell is charging on these laptops, it’s actually pretty sub-par. The Surface’s display matches much better against the 1080p version, coming at over 1440p, at 2256 x 1504.
There is an option for a 4K Display on the Dell XPS 13, and it looks absolutely gorgeous. The display is so vibrant and it looks so sharp, I love it. The Surface Laptop 3’s display doesn’t come close to the 4K XPS, but one thing it does have is a standard touchscreen, which the XPS doesn’t. Even if, the XPS 13 wins the display category.
Winner: Dell XPS 13
The performance category could be divided into 2 more sub-categories, CPU and GPU. The CPU side of things on both computers is solid, as they both come with quad-core processors throughout both lineups. The base model on both laptops are the 10th Gen Intel i5 processor, and you can spec it up to an i7 if you want to.
On the graphics side, the XPS 13 lags a lot. A decent graphics chip for these laptops would be Iris Plus graphics, and it’s what we see throughout the whole Surface and even MacBook lineup. Dell however, thought that the lower-end XPS models didn’t need Iris Plus, so they put Intel’s UHD Graphics in them, which are MUCH worse. To get the Iris Plus GPU on the Dell XPS, you need to pay a minimum of $1400, compared to $100 for the Surface Laptop 3.
Winner: Surface Laptop 3
The keyboard and trackpad are pretty solid categories for both laptops. I personally really like both keyboards on both laptops, and they have the right amount of key travel, and feel amazing. The trackpad is also larger than the models that they both replaced, which is a great added bonus. In the past, I never really liked the small trackpads, but with the added space plus windows precision drivers, they’re not too bad. The MacBooks trackpads are still miles better though.
The battery life on the Dell XPS 13 is pretty good, only for the 1080p version. Once you switch over to that marvelous 4K display, the battery life drops immensely. The 1080p XPS 13 gets around 10–12 hours of battery life, and that’s what you can expect from the Surface Laptop 3 as well. The 4K Dell XPS 13, on the other hand, only gets about 5–7 hours of battery life, which is a drastic decrease compared to the lower-res display.
It’s your choice to choose from with the XPS, do you want the better display or the better battery. Nonetheless, the Surface Laptop 3 has the better battery, just because the 4K XPS 13 doesn’t have a great one.
Winner: Surface Laptop 3
The pricing on both of these machines are pretty similar, and are in the range of a premium ultrabook. The problem with Dell is that you have to pay extra money for features the Surface gives standard. If you want a touchscreen, that’ll cost you an extra $100. If you want the white color option, that’ll run you $50 more dollars. These are things that are standard on the Surface Laptop 3.
The exact specification you need to buy to get Iris Plus Graphics on the XPS 13 costs $1400, and it packs an i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and Iris Plus Graphics. After adding the $150 worth of upgrades, it becomes $1550, which is close to the $1600 price tag that Microsoft will charge you for the same specification. These prices are pretty close, hence why I think this category is a tie.
The Dell XPS 13 scored 3 points in this comparison, it won the display category and tied the Keyboard/Trackpad and the Price/Value category. The Surface Laptop 3 scored 5 points, it tied the same categories, but won the Design, Performance, and Battery Life categories, which makes it the winner. In my personal use of my own Surface Laptop 3, I think that it has the edge over the XPS 13 for how simple, fast it is, and the sleek design is an extra.
If you were buying a Windows laptop today, I’d recommend the Surface Laptop 3 for the better design and internals. The XPS 13 is great, but it misses on some key things which the Surface excels in.