Head-To-Head: Dell XPS 13 Vs. Apple MacBook Pro

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Apple generated plenty of interest, and even some controversy, with the fall release of a new MacBook Pro; it was the first overhaul to the much-loved laptop in four years. Meanwhile, Dell launched a major update to one of its own popular laptops, the XPS 13, in the fall as well. For those looking to get a fresh start with a new laptop in 2017, which one is the better fit? In the following slides, the CRN Test Center lays out how Dell's new XPS 13 compares vs. Apple's new MacBook Pro on specs and price.

First Things First

The biggest new feature for the updated MacBook Pro is the Touch Bar. This touch-sensitive display strip, which takes the place of the function row of keys, provides controls that adapt to whatever app is being used.

There are three distinct editions of Apple's newest MacBook Pro: a 15-inch version with the Touch Bar, a 13-inch Touch Bar version and a 13-inch version without the Touch Bar. Dell's new XPS 13, meanwhile, comes in two versions: touch screen and non-touch.

Another key difference to mention upfront: the XPS 13 runs Windows 10, while the MacBook Pro runs Apple's latest PC operating system, macOS Sierra.


The new Dell XPS 13 features a 13.3-inch "InfinityEdge" display, which has a small bezel on the top, left and right sides. The laptop comes in different resolutions depending on whether it's the touch screen edition or not -- FHD (1,920 x 1,080) for the non-touch version, or QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) for the touch-screen version.

The newest MacBook Pro comes with Retina display with IPS technology for all three models. The laptop features 2,880 x 1,800 resolution for the 15-inch version, and 2,560 x 1,600 resolution for both of the 13-inch versions.

Thickness & Weight

Apple's work of slimming down the MacBook Pro for the new release has put it right on par with the thickness of the XPS 13. Both versions of the 13-inch MacBook Pro measure 0.59 of an inch thick, while the 15-inch MacBook Pro is 0.61 of an inch thick. The XPS 13 measures a comparable 0.6 of an inch thick.

The XPS 13 comes out ahead in the lightness category, however -- with a weight of 2.7 pounds for the non-touch version or 2.9 pounds for the touch-screen edition. The 13-inch versions of the MacBook Pro weigh 3.02 pounds, while the 15-inch model is 4.02 pounds.


Another area where the XPS 13 gets an edge is by deploying the latest Intel processors, known as Kaby Lake. The XPS 13 is available with Intel's seventh-gen Core i3, i5 or i7 processors (though the non-touch version only goes up to Core i5).

By contrast, the MacBook Pro uses the previous generation of Intel processors, apparently the result of Apple's schedule not quite lining up with Intel's timetable for Kaby Lake. The 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with the sixth-gen Intel Core i7 processor, while the 13-inch Touch Bar version comes with the sixth-gen Intel Core i5 (2.9GHz). The 13-inch non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro uses a slower (2.0GHz) sixth-gen Core i5 processor.

Memory & Storage

While 8GB of RAM is standard for the 13-inch MacBook Pro versions, both can be boosted to 16GB. The 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with 16GB of RAM. The new XPS 13 offers one additional option in the memory department, as users can choose between 4GB, 8GB or 16GB of RAM.

For storage, all three versions of the MacBook Pro start at 256GB of storage but can be configured with 512GB or 1TB. Storage configurations for the XPS 13 are 128GB, 256GB or 1TB.

Battery Life

The XPS 13 stands out on battery life, at least with the non-touch version. The laptop's battery promises up to 13 hours on a charge for the non-touch version (estimates aren't provided for the touchscreen version). The MacBook Pro promises up to 10 hours of battery life, by comparison.


Perhaps the biggest area of controversy for the new MacBook Pro has been around the lack of port choices. The laptop relies entirely on Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) and all other types of connections, such as USB-A, require attaching a dongle. There's also no slot for an SD card, traditionally a popular feature with photographers. The Touch Bar versions of the MacBook Pro both include four USB-C ports, while the 13-inch non-Touch Bar version has two.

By contrast, the XPS 13 includes two USB-A ports, one Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port, and an SD card slot.


Apple has put a premium price tag on all versions of its new MacBook Pro, meaning it's going to be more expensive than Dell's new XPS 13 nearly across the board. For instance, the XPS 13 with seventh-gen Core i5, touch screen display, 256GB of storage and 8GB of RAM is priced at $1,399. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (but a non-touch display), a sixth-gen i5 processor and the same amount of storage and RAM will still run a good deal more -- $1,799.

At the lowest end, an XPS 13 non-touch configuration is available for $799.99. The non-Touch Bar version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro has a starting price of $1,499.

As for the newest 15-inch MacBook Pro, the starting price is $2,399.