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Dell XPS 14 or XPS 16? Here’s how to know which to buy

The Dell XPS 14 on a white table with the screen open.
Dell XPS 14 Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Dell upended its XPS laptop lineup, downsizing the XPS 17 to a new 16-inch model and the XPS 15 to a new 14-inch machine. At the same time, it pulled design cues from the XPS 13 Plus (now called the XPS 13) to create ultramodern and sometimes controversial new machines.

The XPS 14 and XPS 16 offer smaller dimensions than their predecessors, with varying power levels inside. As always, choosing between the two depends entirely on how you plan to use your laptop. So, which of these two outwardly similar machines is right for you?

Specs and configurations

  Dell XPS 14 Dell XPS 16
Dimensions 12.6 inches x 8.5 inches x 0.71 inches 14.1 inches by 9.4 inches by 0.74 inches
Weight 3.8 pounds 4.8 pounds
Processor Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
Intel Core Ultra 7 165H
Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
Intel Core Ultra 7 165H
Intel Core Ultra 9 185H
Graphics Intel Arc
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
Intel Arc Graphics
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070
RAM 16GB
32GB
64GB
16GB
32GB
64GB
Display 14.5-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS non-touch, 120Hz
14.5-inch 3.2K (3200 x 2000) OLED touch, 120Hz
16.3-inch 16:10 FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS non-touch, 60Hz
16.3-inch 16:10 4K+ (3840 x 2400) OLED touch, 90Hz
Storage 512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD
1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
2TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
4TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD
1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
2TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
4TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
Touch Optional Optional
Ports 3 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader
3 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 7 and BlueTooth 5.4
Webcam 1080p with infrared camera for Windows Hello 1080p with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello
Operating system Windows 11 Windows 11
Battery 69.5 watt-hour 99.5 watt-hour
Price $1,699+ $1,699+
Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars

Both laptops are premium, with the XPS 14 starting at a slightly lower price. You’ll spend $1,700 for an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H chipset, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, integrated Intel Arc graphics, and a 14.5-inch Full HD+ IPS display. You can mix and match components from there to get up to $3,699 for 64GB of RAM, a 4TB SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050, and a 14.5-inch 3.2K OLED display.

Oddly enough, right now the XPS 16 also starts at $1,700 for a Core Ultra 7 155H, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, Intel Arc graphics, and a 16.3-inch FHD+ IPS panel. Max it out, and you’ll spend a lot more at $4,549 for a Core Ultra 9 185H, 64GB of RAM, a 4TB SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, and a 16.3-inch 4K+ OLED screen.

These two laptops are closely matched at the low end, but the XPS 16 is much more powerful the more you spend. If you’re going to spend $3,500 or more for a laptop, the larger machine will give you more bang for your buck.

Design

Dell XPS 16 front angled view showing display and keyboard.
Dell XPS 16 Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The XPS 13 Plus (now known as just the XPS 13) introduced several noticeable design changes to the XPS lineup while retaining other aspects. The XPS 14 and 16 match it with surprising consistency, even given the increasingly large dimensions. All three laptops are identical on the outside: Graphite (dark gray) or Platinum (silver) finishes on the aluminum lid and chassis body, with anodized chrome protecting the edges. They look the same as past XPS generations.

Open them up, though, and everything’s changed. Gone are the glass or carbon fiber palm rests and standard island keyboards. In their place, you’ll find glass palm rests with hidden haptic touchpads, zero-lattice keyboards, and LED buttons replacing physical function keys. Each of these changes has kicked off controversy among XPS aficionados and general laptop buyers alike. But there’s no doubt that the new look is ultramodern and drop-dead gorgeous from an aesthetic perspective.

Interestingly, when comparing the XPS 14 and the XPS 16, the keyboard stays the same size while the speaker grilles grow on the larger model, as does the palm rest. But from a distance, they’re identical.

A top down view of the keyboard of the Dell XPS 14.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The XPS 14 and XPS 16 both offer excellent build quality, as per the brand. Thanks to the smallest display bezels on laptops to this day, both machines are surprisingly small. Naturally, the 14-inch model is slightly thinner at 0.71 inches versus 0.74 inches, while it’s also a pound lighter. You can find thinner and lighter laptops in each size if you look around, but Dell is trying to provide a mix of good performance and small chassis.

The keyboard on both has large keycaps with zero-lattice key spacing, something you’ll need to get used to on both laptops. They’re the same size and provide the same overall feel, with precise, snappy switches. The keyboards’ most controversial aspect is the row of LED buttons along the top that are particularly odd on the larger machine where there’s plenty of room for physical keys. These buttons don’t have haptics, so you’ll have to look to make sure they’re responding.

The hidden haptic touchpad worked very well on the XPS 14 once you got used to being unable to tell where the touchpad starts and where it ends. It was large enough on the XPS 14 that you’re unlikely to find yourself swiping on the palm rest, and palm rejection was excellent. The XPS 16’s haptic touchpad is about the same, only with more (hidden) real estate for swiping.

Connectivity is one area where both laptops are equally disappointing. Larger laptops can equip more ports, but Dell decided to go all-in on Thunderbolt 4. Both have three, one of which powers the laptop, so both are equally limited when supporting legacy devices. The microSD card reader is also disappointing, especially on the XPS 16 that’s most likely to be desired by creators. Simply put, both laptops will require dongles. Unexpectedly, the XPS 16 supports Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4, while the XPS 14 lingers a generation behind.

Regarding their webcams, both offer 1080p versions with infrared cameras for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition, and both have fingerprint readers embedded in their power buttons.

Performance

Dell XPS 16 side view showing ports and display.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The XPS 14 and 16 are both built around Intel Core Ultra CPUs, members of the Meteor Lake chipset that adds in extra low-power CPU cores, a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) for on-chip AI support, and upgraded Intel Arc integrated graphics. The XPS 14 offers the Core Ultra 7 155H, a 28-watt CPUs with 16 cores (six Performance, eight Efficient, and two Low Power Efficient) and 22 threads that runs at up to 4.8GHz. The XPS 16 uses the Core Ultra 7 or the Core Ultra 9 185H, a 45-watt chip with the same number of cores and a slightly faster 5.1GHz Max Turbo frequency.

In addition, both machines can be configured with Intel Arc integrated graphics that fall somewhere between the older Intel Iris Xe graphics and the entry-level Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 GPU. The XPS 14 can also be configured with the RTX 4050, while the XPS 16 offers up to the RTX 4070.

We reviewed the XPS 14 with the slightly faster Core Ultra 7 165H that is also on our XPS 16 review unit. Both laptops offer excellent productivity performance. However, the XPS 16 provided significantly faster performance in creative apps like Adobe Premiere Pro thanks to the faster RTX 4070. That’s evident in both the Cinebench R24 GPU scores and the PugetBench Premiere Pro results.

The XPS 16 will also be a much faster gaming laptop. Both laptops will be plenty fast for productivity users, while creators will like the larger machine.

Geekbench 6
(single/multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R24
(single/multi/GPU)
Pugetbench
Premiere Pro
Dell XPS 14
(Core Ultra 7 165H / RTX 4050)
Bal: 2,334 / 13,070
Perf: 2,344 / 12,818
Bal: 84
Perf: 72
Bal: 101 / 681 / 5,738
Perf: 100 / 772 / 5,811
Bal: 3,274
Perf: 3,547
Dell XPS 16
(Core Ultra 7 155H / RTX 4070)
Bal: 2,196 / 12,973
Perf: 2,238 / 12,836
Bal: 69
Perf: 68
Bal: 100 / 838 / 9,721
Perf: 102 / 895 / 10,477
Bal: 5,401
Perf: 5,433

Display and audio

Dell XPS 16 front view showing display.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The XPS 14 and the XPS 16 offer a choice between lower-resolution and lower-power IPS displays and higher-resolution and more power-hungry OLED panels. The XPS 14 uses a 14.5-inch 16:10 screen size in either Full HD (1920 x 1200) IPS or 3.2K (3200 x 2000) OLED, while the XPS 16 uses 16.3-inch 16:10 panels in either Full HD+ IPS or 4K+ (3840 x 2400) OLED. The XPS 14’s displays both run at 120Hz while the XPS 16’s FHD+ runs at 60Hz and 4K+ at 90Hz. The smaller machine’s display is therefore better for a buttery smooth Windows 11 experience.

We reviewed both OLED options and found them both to provide fairly wide colors, with the AdobeRGB gamut falling a bit below the OLED norm at 85% for the XPS 14 and 90% for the XPS 16 (most are closer to 100%). but with excellent color accuracy at a Delta-E of well under the 1.0 considered excellent for creative work. The usual OLED inky blacks were on full display, while the XPS 14’s 374 nits of brightness was good, but not as good as the XPS 16’s 432 nits. Both IPS display options are likely to be decent, while the XPS 14’s version will be sharper at the same resolution.

Regarding audio quality, the XPS 14’s quad-speaker configuration was okay, lacking bass while providing an overall lack of clarity. The XPS 16’s similar setup provided a lot more volume and more bass.

Portability

The side of the open Dell XPS 14 on a white table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Neither laptop is particularly small or light, but the XPS 14 is considerably more portable than the XPS 16. The latter is large enough to be a burden to carry around, although less so than some other 16-inch laptops.

The XPS 14 provided an average battery life of around 8.5 hours of web browsing and 10 hours of local video. Real-life use was about four or 5 hours of typical productivity tasks. The XPS 16 has a significantly larger battery at 99.5 watt-hours compared to the XPS 14’s 69.5 watt-hours, but it also has a larger and, in the case of the OLED display, higher-resolution display. It managed just 5.5 hours of web browsing and video. The XPS 14 is therefore the longer lasting on a charge.

Choose your size and performance carefully

The XPS 14 and XPS 16 are so similar in so many ways that it’s hard to say one is better than the other. The XPS 16 is a lot faster when fully configured, and its large, high-res 4K+ OLED display will be excellent.

But, not everyone needs the fastest performance and the XPS 14 offers significant portability advantages. It’s also less expensive when configured beyond the base model. So, which of these laptops is better depends entirely on whether you want a faster laptop or one that’s easier to carry around.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Coppock
Mark has been a geek since MS-DOS gave way to Windows and the PalmPilot was a thing. He’s translated his love for…
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