Dell XPS 15 vs. MacBook Pro 15

Can the refreshed MacBook Pro pull back ahead of Dell's fantastic XPS 15?

Dell XPS 15 9570 right angle
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Apple and Dell are two of the world’s premier laptop makers, so taking the flagship device from each and pitting them against one another in a head to head is far from easy.

How do you pick between two beautiful laptops that perform well and offer a unique software environment? In this Dell XPS 15 versus Apple MacBook Pro 15 comparison, we duke them out to find a single, decisive victor.

Design

macbook pro 15 walkthrough 2018

Both the Dell XPS 15 and MacBook Pro occupy the higher-end laptop space in terms of pricing, so unsurprisingly, they both have a premium look and feel. Each has thin bezels, sleek lines and an attractive paint job. The MacBook Pro arguably looks a little more sophisticated, but neither with embarrass you in a public setting.

The XPS 15 does have a slightly more durable feel and that is most notable in the sturdy hinge system that Dell has used in its design too. You’ll need two hands to pry it open, which while not the most intuitive of design choices, does lead us to believe that it would be able to withstand a little more punishment from drops than the 2018 MacBook Pro.

As with other MacBooks, Apple sticks exclusively to Thunderbolt 3 with the MacBook Pro, offering four of them on the latest model, as well as a headphone jack. The XPS 15, however, offers more legacy support, with a pair of USB-A ports, as well as a single Thunderbolt 3 connector, an HDMI output, and an SD card slot, as well as a headphone jack.

Apple did make a point of upgrading the keyboard for its 2018 MacBook Pro — perhaps to avoid future lawsuits — to one that’s more resistant to dust. While we don’t know if that will result in a vast improvement in longevity for the new design, it should be at least better than its predecessors. The Dell XPS 15 keyboard is still nicer though. It’s great to type on and feels snappy thanks to its short, 1.3mm travel distance.

Webcam wise, however, the MacBook Pro’s positioning in the top monitor bezel is much better than the XPS 15’s base-bezel mounting.

Performance

best laptops for video editing macbook pro 15 3

The biggest upgrade in both of these new-generation laptops is the hardware inside them. Both have been upgraded to the eighth-generation of Intel’s CPUs, but both offer different chips and different hardware configurations at different price points. The Dell XPS 15 starts at $1,000 and offers an Intel Core i5-8300 CPU, 8GB of memory, an on-board Intel UHD 630 graphics chip, and 1TB of hybrid hard drive/SSD storage. There are a number of configurations possible, with options all the way up to an Intel Core i7-8750H, 32GB of memory, a GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip, and a terabyte of PCIexpress solid-state storage. The top spec. Dell XPS 15 will set you back $2,100.

In comparison, the MacBook Pro 2018 starts at $2,400 and comes with an Intel Core i5-8259U, 16GB of memory, a Radeon Pro 555X graphics chip, and a 256GB SSD. The highest specification MacBook Pro comes with a Core i9-8950HK CPU, 32GB of memory, a Radeon Pro 560X graphics chip, and 512GB of SSD storage for $3,500. If you need more storage, you can spend up to $6,000 for as much as 4TB of space.

All of this means both laptops are very, very powerful. Which is better really depends on what you want to do. Now that Apple has fixed the throttling issue of its Core i9 CPU, the MacBook Pro should be noticeably more powerful than the XPS 15 in day to day tasks, but the GTX 1050 Ti in the XPS 15 will make it far more capable at 3D rendering and gaming.

It’s a lot more affordable too. You can buy a top of the line Dell XPS 15 for less than the entry-level, 15-inch MacBook Pro. That includes an optional 4K screen too, while the MacBook Pro is confined to a 2,560 x 1,600 display.

Portability

Dell XPS 15 9570 left ports
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Laptops in the 15-inch form factor are never going to be as portable as their smaller counterparts, but modern day notebooks of all sizes are lean and lightweight in comparison to their predecessors. The XPS 15 measures 14.06 x 9.27 x 0.66-inches and is small as 0.45-inches at its thinnest point. It weighs in at four pounds (4.5 pounds with a larger battery).

Apple’s hardware weighs four pounds in comparison and measures 13.57 x 9.48 x 0.61-inches. The differences between the two aren’t going to be noticeable to the average user.

Battery life is also of major importance to portability. The lowest-level Dell XPS 15 comes with a 56 watt hours battery, but all other configurations have 97 watts. We found that gave it around 14-hours in our video looping test — that’s not far behind the market-leading Surface Book 2. The MacBook Pro comes with an 83.6-watt-hour battery, which Apple claims offers up to 10-hours of battery life.

We haven’t been able to run our own battery life tests on the new MacBook Pro just yet, but we would expect the XPS 15 to last longer during general computing.

XPS 15 offers far more bang for buck

Dell XPS 15 9570 webcam
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The new MacBook Pro might be a very capable piece of kit, but it’s quite a bit more expensive than the Dell XPS 15. For less than the entry-level MacBook Pro costs, you can have a full specced XPS 15 and still have a couple of hundred dollars left over. That sort of cost disparity makes this a bit of an easier choice.

The MacBook Pro is an amazing machine and if you’re dead set on a MacOS environment, there’s no better portable hardware to enjoy it on than the new MacBook Pro. For everyone else, the XPS 15 is your best bet.

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