HP Spectre x360 vs Dell XPS 13: Which is the best 13-inch ultra-portable?
The Dell XPS 13 continues to be one of the highest-rated and recommended 13 inch Windows laptops. It has consistently offered a premium thin and light design, great keyboard, and solid performance for the form factor. But that doesn’t mean it has no competition. In fact, HP’s Spectre x360 13 is a wildly popular laptop and a great alternative to the XPS 13, packing equally good aesthetics and performance package. Both laptops are available with the latest Intel 11th-gen processors and can be configured with a punchy-looking 4K OLED display. As you’d expect, both of these laptops will be eligible for a free Windows 11 upgrade this holiday season.
While it seems that both laptops offer similar features however, there are some obvious and not so obvious differences. But before we talk about them, here’s a look at the specifications of the laptops.
HP Spectre x360 13 vs. Dell XPS 13: Specifications
|HP Spectre x360 13||Dell XPS 13|
The Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 13 fall into the premium thin and light category of laptops, having a solid aluminum chassis on the outside. The x360 13 is a convertible laptop featuring a 360-degree hinge, hence the name Spectre x360. This allows you to tilt the display at various angles and use it in tent mode, presentation mode, or tablet mode, making it more versatile than the XPS. It also gives a more bold look with its diamond-cut corners and Spectre branding. The Spectre x360 13 is available in a standard silver color option or if you care about darker tones, you can get it in blue or black that come with shiny accents around the edges.
The XPS 13 offers a clamshell form factor and its tried and tested industrial design which, even in 2021, looks great. It’s available in a silver finish on the outside with a black carbon fiber finish on the palm rest, or you can choose the more modern-looking white version that has a woven glass fiber palm rest. Notably, the XPS 13 is also offered in a 2-in-1 option as the XPS 13 9310 2-in-1. However, not only is it available at a higher price, it doesn’t offer the option of upgrading the RAM or storage.
If we look at the dimensions, you can see the XPS 13 is marginally thinner and lighter, but that’s honestly not enough to make you want to choose one over the other. In day-to-day usage, both should feel equally portable and easy to carry around, so you really shouldn’t dig too deep when it comes to the size.
As for the port selection, there are a few differences. The XPS 13 has two Thunderbolt 4 ports on each side, a 3.5mm headphone and microphone combo jack, and a MicroSD card reader. The x360 13 also comes with a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports and a 3.5mm jack, a MicroSD reader, as well as a full-sized USB 3.0 Type-A port.
Regardless of which laptop you choose, you will need some dongles or a dock if you are planning on connecting a bunch of devices, but the USB Type-A port on x360 13 is definitely appreciated.
The keyboards are great on both laptops offering a tactile feel, with the Spectre x360 having a bit more travel distance. While it’s a personal preference, overall the typing experience on both keyboards will not disappoint. Lastly, we have wireless connectivity, where both laptops offer support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5. HP also gives you the option of having LTE mobile connectivity on the x360 13 on certain models, so that’s a bonus.
Dell continues to offer its ‘InfinityEdge’ display with thin bezels all around. It has, however, moved to a 16:10 ratio aspect ratio for the latest XPS 13. Since it’s a taller display, you get more screen real-estate, allowing you to fit more things on the screen than the x360 13. However, a bigger display means more pixels to push, which can affect the mileage when it comes to battery life.
You can choose between a standard FHD+ (1920 x 1200) panel available in touch and non-touch options, or you can go with a higher resolution UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touch panel, and all three options offer up to 500 nits of brightness. If you do go for the touchscreen option, you should know that there’s no support for pen or stylus input. Dell also offers the XPS 13 with an OLED panel that comes with a 3.5K (3456 x 2160) resolution and support for DisplayHDR500 and 100% DCI-P3 color gamut.
The HP Spectre x360 13 is available in 1080p and 4K resolution displays, with touch support standard on all models. Similar to the XPS 13, HP also offers an OLED display with certain configurations that brings better contrast, deeper blacks, support for HDR, and a peak brightness of 400 nits.
HP also offers support for pen input on the Spectre x360 and includes one in the box. Combine that with the rotating display, and the laptop can be used for taking notes, sketching, and even professional art and design.
The Dell XPS 13 9310 and the HP Spectre x360 13 are powered by the latest 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake processors, which dominated the first half of 2021 as one of the most popular processor series for mainstream laptops. You can configure the x360 13 with either the Core i5-1135G7 or the Core i7-1165G7. Dell matches those offerings, but also offers a less powerful Core i3-1115G4 model and a more expensive Core i7-1185G7. If you’re planning to buy either of the two laptops, the Core i7-1165G7 is a recommended choice. The processor features four cores, eight threads and can hit clock speeds of up to 4.7 GHz. It also features Intel’s new Xe graphics, which give a good boost to visuals.
In terms of performance comparison, both laptops deliver similar numbers when configured with the same set of hardware (Core i7-1165G7 + 16GB RAM). However, you do need to keep in mind that with the XPS 13, the option of the Core i7-1185G7 makes it marginally better. In fact, you can also opt for 32GB of RAM, which means you can open way more Chrome tabs without slowing down on performance.
Does that mean the XPS 13 is a better choice? Well, there’s another factor to consider. The XPS 13 comes with a 52Whr battery, while the x360 13’s battery is rated for 60Whr. Just by the size of the battery alone, HP manages to beat Dell. On average the x360 13 should last at least a couple of hours more than the XPS 13.
Apart from the smaller battery size, it’s noteworthy that the XPS 13 has a 16:10 aspect ratio making the display bigger, thus more load on the battery. On top of that, if you plan on going for the 4K or OLED display option, the battery life is going to be way worse compared to the 1080p panel option. In the end, if you want better battery life, the HP Spectre x360 is going to be the better choice.
Verdict: Which one should you buy?
If you’re out looking for a premium 13-inch laptop, both the XPS 13 9310 and the Spectre x360 13 are excellent machines. They offer great performance, premium build quality, and bright displays. You can’t really go wrong with either of them. However, there are some important things to consider.
Both laptops are available with the same hardware configurations, although there are some more options for consumers to choose from on the XPS 13, which gives it a minor edge in terms of performance. Then there’s the display. While the XPS offers a taller 16:10 panel, the Spectre offers a 360-degree rotating hinge and support for a stylus. So, if you’re an artist or someone who likes to scribble down notes rather than typing, then the Spectre x360 13 should be your preferred choice. Another thing to consider is that the x360 13 has a larger battery pack, regardless of which configuration you go for.
Personally, I would choose the XPS 13, but that’s mostly because I’ve been using one for a while and absolutely love the aesthetics. If you’re planning to buy a new laptop from either of these brands, make sure you check out our recommendation of the best Dell laptops and the best HP laptops. We also have a roundup of the best laptops across various categories.