Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 vs. Dell XPS 13

Battle of the best: How does the new XPS 13 compete with our favorite ZenBook?

asus zenbook 13 ux333fa
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

If you’re in the market for a 13-inch laptop, you’re in luck. There are so many good options, your biggest problem will be creating your shortlist.

In part, that’s because manufacturers like Dell and Asus have leveraged a number of component improvements and some engineering smarts to create really small laptops. Tiny bezels are number one on the list, and the Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 and latest Dell XPS 13 are two beneficiaries. We pit these excellent little laptops against each other to see which one best earns your hard-earned cash.


asus zenbook 13 ux333fa
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

To begin with, these are both great-looking laptops. The newest member of Asus’s ZenBook 13 300-series sports an upscale Royal Blue color scheme with gold trim (with a Slate Gray alternative) that stands out in a crowd without looking garish. Dell’s XPS 13 is another looker, with three of its own colors including a conservative black and silver, Rose Gold, and a new “Frost” that’s a lighter tone of silver than usual. There’s also a new webcam which moved back to the top bezel on the XPS 13, and a new easy “variable torque hinge” which makes the laptop easier to open with just one hand.

The ZenBook isn’t just beautiful, it’s also tough thanks to MIL-STD-810g military standard testing for robustness. The XPS 13 is no slouch in this department thanks to a range of materials including aluminum and carbon fiber. And these two diminutive machines are also equally small thanks to some of the tiniest bezels you’ll find on laptops today.  The XPS 13 does win out on thickness, though, at 0.47 inches versus 0.55 inches, while weight is equal at 2.7 pounds.

When it comes to which is better for inputting information, it’s another mixed bag. The ZenBook 13 has a fine keyboard with a precise mechanism but a weird layout and its very good Windows Precision touchpad is augmented by an LED inlay that offers up a nifty numeric keypad. The XPS 13’s keyboard is pulled over from the XPS 15 2-in-1 and is the same kind of magnetic levitation mechanism that’s very snappy and offers more travel than the earlier generation, and the touchpad is another good Windows Precision version without any kind of LED trickery. We’ll give the slightest win to Dell here for offering a touch display option.

Finally, connectivity reflects a different focus. The ZenBook 13 offers wider legacy support with USB-A, USB-C, and HDMI ports that save you the need to carry around a bunch of dongles. But the XPS doubles down on USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, and while that requires some dongles it also greatly enhanced the overall expandability of the machine. No external GPU enclosures for you, ZenBook.

Both are good-looking and well-built laptops, but the XPS 13 wins out for more options and more powerful connectivity.


Dell XPS 13 2019
Riley Young/Digital Trends

The ZenBook 13 is built around an 8th-generation Whiskey Lake quad-core CPU, the Core i5-8265U, that represents a great balance of performance and efficiency. It’s more than fast enough for the usual productivity tasks, and it sips power. The XPS 13 also utilizes the latest Intel CPUs, although you can upgrade to the Core i7-8565U for a little extra oomph. We tested the XPS 13 with a Core i7-8565U processor and found that it was plenty quick, beating last years model by about eight percent in both single and multicore Geekbench 4 performance.

Where the ZenBook 13 wins out is in the option (arriving later in January 2019) to opt for an entry-level discrete GPU, the Nvidia GeForce MX150. That’s not very fast by discrete graphics standards, but it would trounce the XPS 13’s integrated Intel GPU. Storage performance, on the other hand, is a virtual tie, with both laptops sporting fast PCIe solid-state drives (SSDs). In our testing, the ZenBook 13 netted a single-core score of 4,129, while the multi-core score is 13,903. That was as strong as most 13-inch laptops, and on par with the Dell XPS 13.

Display quality is another differentiator. While the ZenBook 13’s sole display option is a terrific Full HD panel with solid contrast, brightness, and color gamut and accuracy, the XPS 13 has it matched. But Dell also offers both touch and non-touch Full HD options and a luscious 4K screen with Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) support. Options are good, and the XPS 13 has them.

Both are great little laptops for productivity, but Dell’s wider display options rule the roost. We tested the 4K panel and while its contrast ratio doesn’t match the ZenBook 13 UX333, its gamma reading was high, leading for bright images and a total brightness of 472 nits.


asus zenbook 13 ux333fa
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

If it wasn’t already clear, neither of these laptops will weigh you down or take up much space in a backpack. And that’s awesome.

But battery life matters, too, and we’re going to call these two a tie. We tested the XPS 13 with its 4K display, and battery life was, as expected, unimpressive at 7 hours for web browsing and video playback. Given the battery capacity and components, we’d expect the XPS 13 Full HD longevity to be close the ZenBook 13’s. That is, both will likely get you through most of a working day on a charge.

When it comes to portability, you can’t go wrong with either of these laptops.

The XPS 13 wins this one, but not by as much as you might think

Dell XPS 13 2019 review (9380)
Riley Young/Digital Trends

The ZenBook 13 doesn’t win any of our comparison sections, but it’s also very nicely priced. Spending just $850 nets you a Core i5-8265U, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, which is plenty for the price.

The Dell XPS 13 starts at $900 with a Core i5, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD, and pricing goes up from there. It’s $1,210, for example, when matching the ZenBook 13’s Core i5, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.

Yes, you’ll spend more money on the Dell XPS 13, but it’s worth it. The ZenBook 13 is a great notebook for a budget shopper, but the Dell is a better laptop overall, period.


Looking for a new laptop? These 5 notebooks are on sale through Presidents’ Day

If you're ready to ditch your aging notebook, you can score some fantastic Presidents' Day savings right now on Microsoft's Surface Pro 6, Dell's XPS 13, HP's Spectre x360, Lenovo's Yoga C930, and Dell's G5 15 Gaming laptops.

These 13 gadgets walk a fine line between ingenious and insane

The annual avalanche of devices and gadgets is astounding, but how many will succeed? A few are destined to spark new trends, while the majority fade deservedly into obscurity. We look at some gadgets on the border of brilliant and bonkers.

You could spend $1,000 on an iPhone, or buy one of these awesome laptops instead

Finding a decent laptop is easy, but finding one under $1,000 is a bit tricky. Luckily, we've taken some of the guesswork out of picking out a budget laptop. Here are some of our favorites, the best laptops under $1,000.

In 2019, laptops are better than ever. Here are the best of the best

The best laptop should be one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance. The laptops we've chosen for our best laptops you can buy do all that — and throw in some extra features while…

Opera web browser targets enhanced accessibility with major redesign

The browser wars are heating up. In the latest move for Opera, a new development release pushes it even closer to Chrome with a redesign and overall goal of redefining the modern web browser. 

Breaking: Amazon won’t build headquarters in New York in face of opposition

Amazon has canceled plans for a New York City headquarters afer citizens, civic groups, and politicians pushed back on Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's exclamation of economic joy over Amazon's earlier…

DLSS is finally arriving in games, but how does Nvidia's super-sampling actually work?

Nvidia's new DLSS technology is exciting, but what is it and how does it work? It's not quite anti-aliasing and it's not quite super sampling. It's a little bit of both and the end results can be impressive.

A new Mac Pro is supposedly coming in 2019, but what will it be like?

Our Mac Pro 2019 rumor roundup covers all the top news, leaks, and rumors about the new Mac Pro set to be announced sometime in 2019. Here's what Apple has said, what the experts think, and what's likely to show up with the new Mac Pro.

Take to the virtual skies with these free flight simulators

You don't have to spend the entirety of your paycheck to become a virtual ace, at least when it comes to flight simulation. Our list of the best free flight simulators will let you unleash your inner Maverick.

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.

Switch your WMA files for MP3s with our quick conversion tips

The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!