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Face Off: Apple MacBook Air (M1) Vs. Dell XPS 13

The CRN Test Center compares the MacBook Air featuring the Apple M1 chip with Dell’s latest update to the XPS 13.

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Head-To-Head

Thanks to the M1 chip, Apple’s growth streak for the Mac line continues. Mac sales have surged during Apple’s past three quarters, and the M1-powered MacBook Air is no doubt helping to drive the strong demand. Designed by Apple using Arm architecture, the M1 chip offers benefits including high performance and longer battery life (it also helps to keep the MacBook Air price down). Meanwhile, over in the Windows 10 world—soon to be Windows 11—Dell’s popular XPS 13 has received an update for 2021 that should make it an alternative to the MacBook Air that’s worth considering. For the processor, Dell’s newest XPS 13 comes with 11th-gen Intel Core processors along with options for OLED or 4K displays. Both the newest MacBook Air and XPS 13 thus offer powerful CPUs for enabling productivity along with aesthetically pleasing designs. Which of the two powerful-but-pretty laptops is the better fit for you? In the following slides, we compare the new Apple MacBook Air (M1) vs Dell’s XPS 13 for 2021 on specs and price.

Display

Besides considering the Apple M1 vs Intel CPU differences, buyers looking for a new laptop should check out the differences on display with the MacBook Air and XPS 13. As mentioned, the new XPS 13 offers an option for vibrant OLED display technology or ultra-sharp 4K resolution on its 13.4-inch screen. While sporting Apple’s famous Retina display technology, the MacBook Air does not have options for resolution that high or OLED technology on the display—or a touch screen, either, as some XPS 13 configurations do offer.

For the latest XPS 13, there are a total of four to choose from. The top-of-the-line OLED XPS 13 features resolution of 3,456 x 2,160 and a touch screen, while there’s also an even higher-resolution model with 4K (3,840 x 2,400) pixels on an LCD touch screen. The XPS 13 for 2021 can also come with a 1,920 x 1,200 display, available as a touch or non-touch screen.

As mentioned, while the MacBook Air doesn’t offer OLED or a touch screen option, the notebook’s Retina display technology promises top-notch picture quality for the notebook. Apple has also introduced support for P3 wide color on the MacBook Air—which provides “an even more vibrant, true-to-life Retina display,” the company said. The resolution for the M1 MacBook Air falls in between the options on the XPS 13, at 2,560 x 1,600.

The XPS 13 also comes out ahead in terms of display brightness, with up to 500 nits of brightness available for the laptop. That’s above the 400 nits of brightness reported by Apple for the M1 MacBook Air.

 
 
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