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Best Products of 2015: Computing

Dell's XPS 13 steals the MacBook's crown, then stomps on it for good measure

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Dell XPS 13

Dell’s XPS 13 has long been one of the more impressive Windows notebooks on the market, but the “InfinityEdge” display introduced in 2015 stunned everyone. Its incredibly thin bezels looked modern and reduced the system’s footprint. The result? A full-fledged 13-inch Ultrabook with size and weight similar to competitors with a mere 11-inch screen.

Often, such shrinkage has negative consequences for performance or portability, but the XPS 13 dodged those problems with ease. Instead of using a less powerful Core M chip, it stuck with standard Core, and the newest model offers PCIe solid state drives that are among the quickest we’ve ever tested. The battery is large, too, so the XPS 13 can easily handle eight hours of constant Web browsing on a charge. Leave it idle from time to time – as most people do – and you’ll see over 10 hours.

The display is notable not only because of its bezels, but also for its quality. The standard 1080p display looks sharp and vibrant. If that’s not enough for your eyes, it can be upgraded to a 3,200 x 1,800 touchscreen. In our testing it offered excellent contrast and accurate colors, and the resolution is even sharper than a MacBook with Retina.

No notebook sold today can call itself the XPS 13’s superior.

The cherry on top of this tasty computing sundae is the price. Dell’s XPS 13 starts at $800, which snags a Core i3 processor, 1080p display, and 4GB of RAM. While not as quick as tricked-out models, this entry-level system retains the build quality and battery life of more expensive versions, and is more than adequate for the average user.

Any new notebook search should start at the Dell XPS 13. It steals the MacBook’s crown, and sets a new standard for quality in the Windows notebook world. No notebook sold today can call itself the XPS 13’s superior.

Runners up

Acer Predator 17

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Acer has a long history of building value gaming notebooks, but gamers have typically bought them on price, not quality. The new Predator 17 changes that.

The notebook’s boxy design is typical, and arguably derivative of Asus’ Republic of Gamers designs. But the Predator goes for the jugular in its execution. It is solidly built, handsome, and armed with cutting-edge hardware. Gamers looking for a new LAN-friendly rig should put either model on the top of their short list.

Asus UX305CA

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While the Dell XPS 13 is the king, the more modest Asus Zenbook UX305 lurks in the shadows, ready to take the throne.

Built with a super-efficient Core M processor, the UX305 prioritizes simplicity. It’s passively cooled, has a great keyboard, and serves up a glare-free 1080p display.

The $700 model comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB hard drive, while competitors offer half of each for the same price. Dell’s XPS 13 is truly great, but the UX305’s value can’t be beat.