Dell XPS 13 vs XPS 15 vs XPS 17: Which XPS laptop is best for you?
The XPS brand has been around for quite some time, but it was only in 2005 when Dell revamped the lineup to compete against Alienware, which had gained popularity in the gaming laptop space. Dell eventually took over Alienware in 2006, thereby making a dedicated gaming division. Today the XPS brand no longer focuses on the gaming audience; rather, it’s regarded as Dell’s most premium consumer laptop offering that offers a sleek design along with high-end hardware.
The current line of XPS laptops is available in 13-inch, 15-inch, and 17-inch form factors offered in various configurations. They share the same design DNA, as Dell has finally managed to deliver a unified look on all three models with a solid aluminum chassis on the outside, 16:10 aspect ratio displays with super-slim bezels, and the choice of carbon fiber or woven glass (XPS 13 and XPS 15 only) finish on the keyboard deck. All three notebooks are also expected to get the new Windows 11 update when it starts rolling out during the holiday season.
But which is the right one for you? Do you care about portability? Or do you want a large display to appreciate quality content? Let’s take a look at the latest XPS lineup.
Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15 vs. Dell XPS 17: Specifications
|Dell XPS 13||Dell XPS 15||Dell XPS 17|
Dell XPS 13 9310
The XPS 13 has been one of the most talked-about 13-inch notebooks for the past few years. It’s undoubtedly the best Windows ultrabook on the market thanks to its slim form factor and industrial design. With a weight starting at just 2.64 pounds or 1.2 kilos, and a thickness of just 14.8mm, it’s the most compact, lightweight, and portable XPS laptop. You can get it in Platinum silver that has a black interior with a carbon fiber finish on the deck or the Frost white finish that has a woven glass pattern on the inside.
Dell has made sure it offers the best visual experience with the XPS range, and there are a total of four ‘InfinityEdge’ display options available for the XPS 13. A standard FHD+ (1920 x 1200) panel is available in touch and non-touch options or a higher resolution UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touch panel, all of which offer up to 500 nits of brightness. There’s also an OLED panel option offered with a 3.5K (3456 x 2160) resolution and support for DisplayHDR500 and 100% DCI-P3 color gamut.
Alternatively, Dell also offers the XPS 13 2-in-1 that comes with a flexible hinge design and support for a stylus if you care about a convertible form factor.
Coming down to the performance, the latest model (9310) is available with the 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake processors ranging from the Core i3-1115G4 to the Core i7-1185G7. While these are low-powered chips based on the 10nm process, they offer great performance for everyday workloads, along with upgraded graphics thanks to the Intel Iris Xe.
As for storage and RAM, the XPS 13 can be configured with up to 32GB of LPDDR4x 4267MHz memory and up to a 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. In terms of port selection, you only get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack, and a microSD reader to expand storage.
Why you should buy the XPS 13
For those who want a compact laptop that’s not only easy to carry around but also features a premium design, the XPS 13 should not disappoint. Since it’s quite small, it isn’t as powerful as its bigger siblings, but it isn’t a slouch and can take a punch at all your daily workloads, light photo or video editing, and even basic gaming at low settings.
Dell XPS 15 9510
Sitting next in line is the XPS 15 9510 that takes things up a notch in terms of size and performance. Overall it comes with a similar design and construction as the XPS 13 including the silver and white color options, only in a bigger package. Even the screen options are similar, although the FHD+ resolution does not come in touch.
Essentially you get to choose between a 16:10 15.6-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) non-touch display, a UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touch display, or a 3.5K (3456 x 2160) OLED display. The OLED option does sound tempting as it offers punchier colors and contrast, and of course, deeper blacks.
The performance takes a big jump on the XPS 15 thanks to the newly announced 11th-gen Tiger Lake-H processors. Configurable with up to an octa-core Core i9-11900H that can go up to 4.9GHz clock speeds, the XPS 15 is a beast when it comes to performance. It won’t be comparable to some high-end gaming laptops due to its design constraints, but it can definitely stretch its legs when it comes to content creation apart from the regular day-to-day tasks. It also features the option of an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti mobile graphics card with 4GB VRAM and 45W TDP configuration.
Essentially, the laptop is a workhorse capable of handling heavy video rendering. It can also be used for 1080p gaming at medium to high settings along with basic ray tracing. Of course, the display is only 60Hz, so you can’t really appreciate fast-paced games. It’s also noteworthy that among the three XPS models, the XPS 15 is the only one available with up to 64GB of DDR4 memory.
The XPS 15 is limited on I/O ports, just like its smaller sibling, but apart from the two Thunderbolt 4 ports, it does offer an additional USB-C port and a full-size SD card reader, which is great if you’re a photographer or videographer.
Why you should buy the XPS 15
Get the XPS 15 if you want a balanced combination of an excellent design and high-end performance in a slim and compact 15-inch form factor. The base model is something you should avoid as you’d be missing out on the dedicated graphics, making a huge difference when it comes to performance. The inclusion of NVIDIA’s RTX 3050 Ti also means the laptop can be used for casual 1080p gaming.
Dell XPS 17 9710
Last but not least, the XPS 17 9710. This is a 17-inch laptop which makes it larger and heavier than the other two. It offers the same design DNA but is limited to the silver exterior and black interior color option. Just like the XPS 15, you get the 17-inch model with the latest 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake-H processors including the Core i5-11400H base model with Intel UHD graphics, the Core i7-11800H with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 (4GB) model GPU, or the top of the line octa-core Core i9-11900H with an RTX 3060 (6GB).
As you can see, the most expensive model gives you a more powerful GPU. While it isn’t the most powerful mobile GPU you can get on a laptop today, it should be great for 4K video rendering and gaming at 1080p or even 1440p resolutions. Having said that, it isn’t a gaming machine per se, but a couple of hours a day shouldn’t pull this machine down.
Another interesting thing to note here is the XPS 17 9710 is only available with a full-HD+ (1920 x 1200) non-touch display or a UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touchscreen. There’s no OLED option because there isn’t a manufacturer that makes one at that size. Hopefully, by next year, we’ll see more large-screen laptops with OLED panels.
The XPS 17 also offers more I/O ports where you get a total of four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a standard 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack, and an SD card reader. If you’re someone who cares about the built-in speakers, this laptop comes with a four-speaker system to produce a total of 5W. However, a similar setup on the XPS 15 is claimed to offer up to 8W of peak audio.
Why you should buy the XPS 17
The answer is pretty simple to this one honestly. The sheer size of the XPS 17 makes it a good desktop replacement that can also be taken with you for short trips. It’s not as portable as the XPS 13 or the XPS 15, but it’s definitely slimmer and offers a smaller footprint than most 17-inch laptops out there.
Since it has slightly more room compared to the XPS 15, it can accommodate an RTX 3060, which should give a substantial bump to graphics performance. Additionally, the large screen real estate is a treat to consume content, especially if you opt for the UHD+ resolution display.
If you aren’t convinced with the latest XPS lineup from Dell, check out our list of the best Dell laptops to buy in 2021. We also have a roundup of the best laptops to buy if you want to see options from other brands.