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Asus ZenBook 13 OLED vs. Dell XPS 13

Dell’s XPS 13 is one of the best laptops you can buy for almost any task. There are several reasons it’s our choice for both the best laptop overall and the best 13-inch laptop, not the least of which are its diminutive size, its great looks and build quality, and its plethora of configuration choices.

That’s some stiff competition, but it didn’t stop Asus from producing its own 13-inch competitor, the ZenBook 13 OLED. Can this well-configured near-budget laptop compete against the best there is?

Specs

  Asus ZenBook 13 OLED Dell XPS 13
Dimensions 11.97 inches x 7.99 inches x 0.55 inches 11.64 inches x 7.82 inches x 0.58 inches
Weight 2.51 pounds 2.8 pounds
Processor AMD Ryzen 5 5500U
AMD Ryzen 7 5700U
Intel Core i5-1135Gy
Intel Core i7-1165G7
Intel Core i3-1115G4
Intel Core i5-1135G7
Intel Core i7-1185G7
Intel Core i7-1195G7
Graphics AMD Radeon Graphics
Intel Iris Xe
Intel Iris Xe
RAM 8GB
16GB
8GB
16GB
32GB
Display 13.3-inch 16:9 OLED Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) 13.4-inch 16:10 IPS Full HD+ (1,920 x 1,200)
13.4-inch 16:10 IPS Full HD+ touch
13.4-inch 16:10 IPS UHD+ (3,840 x 2,400)
13.4-inch 16:10 OLED 3.5K (3,456 x 2,160) touch
Storage 256GB solid-state drive (SSD)
512GB SSD
256GB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
Touch None Touch optional
Ports 1 x USB-A 3.2 gen 1
1 x USB-C 3.2 gen 1
1 x HDMI
MicroSD card reader
2x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio jack
MicroSD card reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1
Webcam 720p 720p
Operating system Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home or Pro
Battery 67 watt-hours 52 watt-hours
Price $800+ $950+
Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars

Design

Dell XPS 13 9310 Featured Image
Dell XPS 13 9310 Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The XPS 13 is a study in simplistic elegance. It has clean lines, minimalist angles, and a silver aluminum lid and chassis bottom contrasted against either a black carbon fiber or a white glass fiber keyboard deck. The ZenBook 13 OLED takes a different approach with its Pine Gray color scheme extending throughout the laptop. The usual Asus concentric circle adorns the lid, and the angles are a bit more aggressive. Both are attractive laptops, but the XPS 13 is more refined and cohesive in its design.

Both laptops are also well-built, the XPS 13 constructed of the aluminum mentioned above and carbon or glass fiber, and the ZenBook 13 OLED made entirely of aluminum. You’ll find no bending, flexing, or twisting in either machine, and both enjoy hinges that allow the lid to be opened with one hand. The XPS 13 takes that a step further with a hinge that stiffens as you open it to a usable angle, keeping it more firmly in place. The ZenBook 13 OLED adds its own twist with its ErgoLift hinge that lifts at a slight angle that makes for more comfortable typing.

ZenBook 13 OLED.
ZenBook 13 OLED

The ZenBook 13 OLED is the thinner and lighter laptop at 0.55 inches and 2.51 pounds, less than the XPS 13’s 0.58 inches and 2.8 pounds. The XPS 13 is smaller though in width and depth, despite having a 16:10 aspect ratio display compared to the ZenBook 13 OLED’s old-school 16:9. That’s because the XPS 13 has some of the tiniest display bezels around — although the ZenBook 13 OLED’s bezels are small as well.

We liked the keyboard on both laptops, with both offering plenty of travel and precise, snappy switches. Touch typists will be up to speed in no time on either keyboard. We did find the ZenBook 13 OLED’s backlighting to be a bit uneven, a problem we didn’t experience with the XPS 13. Both layouts are mostly standard, although the Asus includes a row of page control buttons along the right-hand side, very much like you’ll find on HP’s Spectre keyboards.

The laptops also enjoyed good touchpads, with the XPS 13’s being a little larger thanks to the extra palm rest afforded by its taller display. Both support Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers and so are reliable with Windows 10’s multitouch gestures. The most significant difference between the two is the ZenBook 13 OLED’s NumberPad 2.0, an LED number pad embedded in the touchpad. It’s a nice feature for anyone who enters a lot of text. The XPS 13, on the other hand, offers touch-enabled display options, where the ZenBook 13 OLED does not.

Finally, connectivity is mixed. While the ZenBook 13 OLED offers two USB-C 3.2 ports, a USB-A 3.2 port, an HDMI connection, and a microSD reader, which provides for better legacy support, the XPS 13 has two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, a 3.5mm audio jack — something that Asus left off the ZenBook — and a microSD card reader. That makes the XPS 13 better able to support modern components like external GPU enclosures. Both laptops offer Wi-Fi 6 with Bluetooth 5.0 or better.

Performance

Dell XPS 13 9310 Performance view with ports and back edge.
Dell XPS 13 9310 Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The ZenBook 13 OLED uses AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series CPUs in our review unit, the Ryzen 7 5800U. That’s a speedy eight-core processor at multithreaded CPU-intensive tasks. The Dell XPS 13 uses Intel 11th-gen Core processors starting with the Core i3-1115G4, and our review unit was equipped with the quad-core Core i7-1185G7. The ZenBook was considerably faster than the XPS 13 across all our CPU-based benchmarks. In Geekbench 5, for example, the ZenBook 13 OLED scored 1,423 in the single-core test and 6,758 in the multi-core test, compared to the XPS 13 at 1,549 and 5,431. As usual, the Intel chip did better when using just a single core.

In our Handbrake test that converts a 420MB video to H.265, the ZenBook 13 OLED took just 124 seconds compared to the XPS 13 at 204 seconds. And in Cinebench R23, the Asus scored 1,171 in the single-core test and 7,824 in the multi-core test, compared to the XPS 13 at 1,399 and 4,585.

Both laptops are more than fast enough for demanding productivity workflows. But the ZenBook 13 OLED can handle some more intensive creative workflows as well.

Display

Dell XPS 13 9310 Design shwoing display and keyboard deck.
Dell XPS 13 9310 Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Dell offers a number of 13.4-inch 16:10 displays for the XPS 13, including Full HD+ (1,920 x 1,200) non-touch IPS, Full HD+ touch IPS, UHD+ (3,840 x 2,400) touch IPS, and 3.5K (3,456 x 2,160) touch OLED panels. The ZenBook 13 OLED offers just one display option, a 13.3.-inch 16:9 Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) OLED panel — in fact, it’s the world’s first Full HD OLED display, and it comes in at a bargain-basement price for that technology.

As with all OLED displays, the ZenBook’s offers outstanding brightness at 397 nits, wide colors at 100% of both AdobeRGB and sRGB, excellent color accuracy at a DeltaE of 0.49 (less than 1.0 is considered excellent), and a phenomenal 396,690:1 contrast ratio that makes for inky blacks. We tested the XPS 13’s UHD+ IPS display, and it wasn’t quite as great at 420 nits, 79% of Adobe RGB and 100% of sRGB, color accuracy of 1.21, and a 1,360:1 contrast ratio (very good for IPS). We’re sure that Dell’s OLED option would be as good as the ZenBook 13 OLED’s, except it would also be at a higher UHD+ resolution.

Asus ZenBook 13 OLED front view showing display.
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED

If you’re okay with Full HD, then you’ll love the ZenBook 13 OLED’s display. It’s old-school at 16:9, which is disappointing, but it would suit any demanding creative professional. The XPS 13 can match it and exceed it, but you’ll spend a lot more money doing so.

Portability

Asus ZenBook 13 OLED side view showing hinge.
Asus ZenBook 13 OLED

Both of these laptops are easy to pop into a backpack and carry around. The ZenBook 13 OLED is a bit lighter, and that’s a plus, but you probably won’t notice the difference unless you’re holding them side by side.

Battery life is a point of greater distinction, though. The ZenBook 13 OLED demonstrated excellent battery life, even with the OLED display, hitting over 15.75 hours in our web browsing test and 15.5 hours in our video looping test that plays a local Full HD Avengers trailer. The XPS 13 Full HD version was much lower at 8.5 hours in the web browsing test and around 12 hours in the video test.

The ZenBook 13 OLED is a very long-lasting laptop away from a plug, and it wins this battle easily. The XPS 13 isn’t terrible, but equip it with its UHD+ OLED panel, and you’ll see even worse battery life.

It’s a tough fight, but the XPS 13 wins out

The ZenBook 13 OLED starts at $800 for an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB solid-state drive. It tops out at $1,100 for a Core i7-1165G7, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. It offers an entry-level price that’s nearly in budget territory.

The XPS 13 can be had for as little as $950 for a Core i3-1115G4, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a Full HD+ non-touch display. You can spend as much as $2,078 for a Core i7-1195G7, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and the UHD+ OLED or IPS panel. It starts in near-premium territory and goes up from there.

The ZenBook 13 OLED is a fast and long-lasting laptop that puts up a good fight against the XPS 13. However, Dell’s laptop wins out for its greater configurability, better looks, and its precisely executed design.

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