Head-To-Head: Dell XPS 15 Vs. Microsoft Surface Book 2

Face Off

Step aside, MacBook Pro: two of the leading contenders for the most-powerful 15-inch laptop of 2018 are in the Windows world. Those would be Dell's new XPS 15 and Microsoft's second-generation model of the Surface Book. The notebooks offer huge horsepower thanks in part to their speedy Intel CPUs -- with up to six cores in some cases -- while also boasting discrete graphics from Nvidia. If you're in the market for a 15-inch laptop with a lot of horsepower, which of these two is a better fit for you? What follows is our comparison of the new Dell XPS 15 vs. the Microsoft Surface Book 2 on specs and price.

First Things First

The Surface Book 2 offers 15-inch and 13.5-inch models, but for our comparison we'll just be looking at the 15-inch Surface Book 2, since that's the most comparable in size to the XPS 15.

It's also worth mentioning up front that the Surface Book 2 display detaches from the keyboard, allowing it to be used as a standalone tablet. The XPS 15 display doesn't detach in this way, and doesn't fold all the way back, either. You'll need to get the XPS 15 2-in-1 for that sort of functionality.


Though the XPS 15 display can't serve as a standalone tablet like the Surface Book 2, there is an option for a touch screen. Touch capabilities come with the higher-end configuration of the XPS 15, which has UHD/4K (3,840 x 2,160) display resolution. There's also an option for a display with FHD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution. Both XPS 15 display choices feature high brightness of 400 nits, as well as the "InfinityEdge" design with minimal bezels around the screen. That enables the latest XPS 15 to serve as the smallest laptop in overall surface area in its class, according to Dell.

Also, the XPS 15 display is slightly larger than the 15-inch Surface Book 2, with a display of 15.6 inches. The Surface Book 2 resolution, meanwhile, falls in between the two configurations of the XPS 15, with resolution of 3,240 x 2,160. The display's brightness is roughly equivalent at about 400 nits.

Processor - CPU

While Microsoft touts its Surface Book 2 as a performance powerhouse, the notebook's slightly greater age means it doesn't benefit from the very latest processors, as does Dell's new XPS 15. The XPS 15 offers eighth-gen Intel Core H series processors -- with options between a Core i5 (quad-core), Core i7 (six cores) or Core i9 (six cores). The Surface Book 2 comes with an eighth-gen Intel Core i7 processor as well, but it's from the U series, and thus is limited to four cores rather than six. Sorry, no Core i9 with the Surface lineup just yet.

Processor - Graphics

Both laptops in our comparison feature powerful discrete graphics. The Surface Book 2 comes out ahead with the inclusion of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 (with 6 GB of GDDR5 memory). The XPS 15 has two graphics options to choose from, which aren't quite on par with the graphics of the Surface Book 2: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (with 4 GB of GDDR5 memory) and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti (also with 4 GB of GDDR5). For those looking to do major creative work with their notebook -- and maybe even some gaming -- the Surface Book 2 graphics may give it the leg up.

Battery Life

Dell and Microsoft each have some lofty promises for the battery life on their respective notebooks. Microsoft promises up to 17 hours of battery life on a charge for the Surface Book 2, which features an 80WHr battery. But Dell says the new XPS 15 will go even longer -- up to an estimated 21.5 hours -- giving it the longest battery life for a 15-inch laptop on the market, according to the company. That's presumably for the XPS 15 configuration with a 97WHr battery; Dell doesn't provide an estimate on battery life for the model with a smaller, 56WHr battery.

Thickness & Weight

The laptops in our comparison are pretty comparable on weight, with the Surface Book 2 weighing 4.2 pounds and the XPS 15 just a bit lighter at 4 pounds (or 4.5 pounds with the larger battery). There's a more noticeable difference on thickness, though. The XPS 15 measures 0.66 of an inch thick, making it significantly thinner than the Surface Book 2, which measures 0.9 of an inch thick.

Ports & Pens

The Surface Book 2 and XPS 15 are similarly equipped on ports -- with two USB-A ports and one USB-C port on each laptop, as well as an SD card slot on each. The XPS 15 also manages to include an HDMI port, which the Surface Book 2 is lacking.

The Surface Book 2 comes with support for the Surface Pen digital stylus, which is sold separately. There's no indication that the XPS 15 touch model features support for a digital pen (unlike with the XPS 15 2-in-1).

Memory & Storage

The XPS 15 has the advantage on RAM options by offering up to 32 GB, compared to the 16 GB of the Surface Book 2. The XPS 15 memory also runs faster at 2666MHz, above the 1866Mhz memory with the Surface Book 2. Along with the 32 GB configuration, the XPS 15 is also available with 8 GB or 16 GB, while the Surface Book 2 is only available with 16 GB.

For storage, the laptops each have choices for 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB--while the XPS 15 also offers an entry-level configuration with 128 GB of storage.


Thanks to its entry-level configuration, the Dell XPS 15 is easily the more-affordable option in our comparison, with a starting price of $899.99. That'll just get you 8 GB of RAM and a Core i5 processor, however. A closer comparison is between the XPS 15 with Core i7 and 16 GB of RAM, and the Surface Book 2 with similar specs. In that face off, the XPS 15 still gets you the far lower price at $1,349.99, versus the Surface Book 2 at $2,499. Granted, that pricing for the Surface Book 2 will get you superior graphics and a detachable, higher-res touch display. For the XPS 15 with a 4K touch screen, you'll pay a fair amount more -- $1,709.99 -- but still well below the Surface Book 2 pricing.