Skip to main content

Dell XPS 17 vs. Apple MacBook Pro 16: Which is better?

If you’re looking for a laptop with a larger display for editing photos or video, then you have a wide range of choices. Two of the best are Dell’s XPS 17 and Apple’s latest MacBook Pro 16, both of which are excellent laptops with prices to match.

Choosing between these two machines comes down to some fine distinctions, which we’ll go over here. Which is the best laptop for you? Read on to find out.

Specs

  Dell XPS 17 Apple MacBook Pro 16
Dimensions 14.74 inches x 9.76 inches x 0.77 inches 14.01 inches x 9.77 inches x 0.66 inches
Weight 5.34 pounds 4.8 pounds
Processor Intel Core i5-11400H
Intel Core i7-11800H
Intel Core i9-11900H
Intel Core i9-11980HK
Apple M1 Pro
Apple M1 Max
Graphics Intel UHD graphics
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Integrated
RAM 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB 16GB, 32GB, 64GB (M1 Max)
Display 17.o-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS
17.0-inch UHD+ (3840 x 2400) IPS
16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR 3456 x 2234
Storage 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB SSD 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB, 8TB
Touch Optional No
Ports 4 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
3.5mm audio jack
SD card reader
3 x USB-C 4 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x SD Card reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
Webcam 720p 1080p
Operating system Windows 10 Home or Pro MacOS Monterey
Battery 97 watt-hour 100 watt-hour
Price $1,599+ $2,499+
Rating 4 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars

Design

Dell XPS 17 front view showing display and keyboard.

The Dell XPS 17 and Apple Macbook Pro 16 are two of the best-designed and most well-built laptops on the market today. Both are constructed of CNC machined aluminum, both exhibit zero bending, flexing, or twisting in the lid, keyboard deck, or chassis, and both exude quality. Each laptop is also attractively elegant in its own way, with the MacBook Pro 16 exhibiting a more conservative, minimalist design while the XPS 17 has a sleeker, more streamlined appearance and the choice of black (carbon fiber) or white (glass fiber) keyboard decks that give it a more luxurious appearance. The fiber palm rests on the XPS 17 are more comfortable than the MacBook Pro 16’s cold metal, but that’s the only design element that stands out. You won’t choose between these two excellent machines based on their looks or build quality.

The XPS 17 is a bit larger in width, unsurprising given its 16:10 17-inch display compared to the MacBook Pro 16’s 16:10 16.2-inch panel. Both laptops have small display bezels, so they fit a lot of display into reasonably sized chassis. The XPS 17 is thicker than the MacBook Pro 16 at 0.77 inches versus 0.66 inches, even though the latest MacBook Pro 16 is thicker than its predecessors, and the Dell is also heavier at 5.34 pounds versus 4.8 pounds. These might technically be thin and light laptops, but they’re still on the larger side.

The MacBook Pro 16 enjoys the best laptop keyboard, with shallow travel but snappy, precise scissor switches that provide excellent feedback and a light touch. The XPS 17’s keyboard is deeper and also quite precise, with switches that offer a similarly snappy feel — but it’s not quite as comfortable as Apple’s keyboard for longer typing sessions. Both are excellent, but the MacBook Pro 16 wins out. Both laptops also have superior touchpads, very large and with comfortable swiping surfaces. The MacBook Pro 16’s version is entirely haptic-driven, and it’s been perfected — you can’t tell the difference from the physical buttons on the XPS 17’s touchpad. It’s a toss-up which is better, but Apple’s touchpad is undoubtedly the technological winner. You can get a touch display with the XPS 17 but not with the MacBook Pro 16, so if that’s a preference, you’ll like the Dell.

Apple took a couple of positive steps back in designing the latest MacBook Pro 16. First was adding some thickness and weight where needed rather than fixating on being as thin and light as possible. The second is related in that connectivity improved thanks to the added thickness. Now, rather than just USB-C with Thunderbolt ports, you get a full-size HDMI 2.0 port and a full-size SD card reader to go with three USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports. The XPS 17 is all-in on the latter, with four USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 connections and a full-size SD card reader. Neither laptop has a USB-A port, and so you’ll need a dongle with both to connect to legacy USB devices. Both laptops also feature Wi-Fi 6 and either Bluetooth 5.1 or 5.0.

Performance

Apple MacBook Pro 16 side view showing keyboard and ports.

Apple moved all its MacBooks away from Intel, utilizing its own Apple Silicon M1 CPUs instead. The MacBook Pro 16 offers a choice between the M1 Pro with 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores and the M1 Max with 10 CPU cores and either 24 or 32 GPU cores. Both are incredibly fast processors, and we tested the MacBook Pro 16 with the M1 Pro. The XPS 17 is offered with Intel 11th-gen 45-watt H-series CPUs, up to the Core i9-11980HK. We tested the laptop with the Core i7-11800H.

In our benchmarks, the MacBook Pro 16 was dominant. In Geekbench 5, it scored 1,773 in single-core mode and 12,605 in multi-core mode, compared to the XPS 17 at 1,568 and 8,801. In Cinebench R23, the MacBook Pro 16 hit 1,531 in single-core mode and 12,343 in multi-core mode, versus the XPS 17 at 1,525 and 10,145. Finally, in the Pugetbench benchmark that runs in Adobe Premiere Pro, the MacBook Pro 16 scored a phenomenal 956 while the XPS 17 scored 692.

On the graphics side, the XPS 17 can be configured with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, which will be faster than the MacBook Pro 16’s graphics. If that’s important to you, then the XPS 17 will make for a slightly better gaming laptop.

The XPS 17 is a fast laptop by Intel standards, but it can’t hold a candle to the MacBook Pro 16. Both are incredibly fast laptops for productivity work, but creators will be happier with the MacBook Pr0 16’s performance.

Display

Apple MacBook Pro side view showing display.

You have two display choices with the Dell XPS 17, a 17-inch Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS panel or a 4K+ (3840 x 2400) IPS panel. We tested the latter, and it was a superior display by IPS standards. It was bright at 491 nits (300 nits is our preferred minimum), had wide colors at 98% of AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB that were very accurate with a DeltaE of 0.37 (less than 1.0 is considered excellent), and its contrast was a 1,530:1, which is excellent for an IPS panel. The MacBook Pro 16 comes with just one display option, a 16.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display running at 3456 x 2234. This display was also bright at 475 nits and enjoyed wide (but not quite as wide) colors at 90% of AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB. Its accuracy was a bit less at a DeltaE of 1.09, but its contrast was extremely higher at 475,200:1 — making for inky blacks.

Both displays are excellent for both productivity workers and creators. The XPS 17 has better colors and slightly higher brightness, but the MacBook Pro 16’s contrast was superior. It’s a toss-up as to which is the better display, and you can’t go wrong with either.

Portability

The Dell XPS 17, open to reveal its carbon-fiber palm rests.

As mentioned in the design section, both laptops are larger machines with a bit of heft. You’ll feel both in your backpack, but the MacBook Pro 16 is a bit thinner and lighter.

Battery life is a more prominent, differentiating feature. The XPS 17 (with 97 watt-hours of battery capacity) managed just five hours in our web browsing test that cycles through a series of popular and complex websites, and 10 hours in our video test that loops through a local Full HD Avengers trailer. Those aren’t great results, but unsurprising given the large 4K display and power-hungry components. However, the MacBook Pro 16 (with a 100 watt-hour battery) managed 18.5 hours on our web browsing test and over 23 hours on our video test, blowing the XPS 17 out of the water. Those are some of the best results we’ve seen, and it’s incredible to get so much longevity out of such a powerful laptop with its own power-hungry display.

If working away from a plug matters to you, then you’ll get days out of the MacBook Pro 16 and well under a day from the XPS 17. It’s really no contest.

The MacBook Pro 16 is just too fast and long-lasting to ignore

The XPS 17 can be had for as little as $1,499 for a Core i5-11400H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive (SSD), integrated Intel UHD graphics, and a Full HD+ display. Max it out, and you’ll spend $4,899 for a Core i9-11980HK CPU, 64GB of RAM, an 8TB SSD, the RTX 3060 GPU, and a 4K+ display. The XPS 17 starts at a mid-premium and ramps up quickly to ultra-premium levels.

The MacBook Pro 16, on the other hand, starts at $2,499 for an Apple M1 Pro CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. You can spend as much as a whopping $6,099 for an M1 Max CPU, 64GB of RAM, and an 8TB SSD. The MacBook Pro 16 is a costly laptop indeed.

The Dell XPS 17 is an outstanding laptop that any creator will love. It’s fast, well-built and attractive, and has a great display. But the MacBook Pro 16 is in another class entirely in its performance and battery life.

Editors' Recommendations