Tested: The $1500 Dell XPS 15 vs. the $1500 MacBook Pro 13 – PCWorld

The fans have spoken. It wasn’t enough last year for me to compare Microsoft’s Surface Book to Apple’s MacBook Pro 13. Silly me, I figured a dual-core 13-inch laptop should go up against a dual-core 13-inch laptop. But nooooo, fans cried: For this to be a “fair fight,” I should have pitted the Surface Book against a MacBook Pro 15. 

Normally, comparing the 4.5-pound, 15-inch, quad-core MacBook Pro 15 to the 3.3-pound, 13-inch, dual-core Surface Book would be just the sort of Apple-to-orange mismatch I’d never consider. But the fans argued the price was the thing—comparing a loaded-up, $2,699 Surface Book to a top-of-the-line, $2,700 MacBook Pro 15 was “truly fair.”

Well OK then, fans: You want it, you got it. Let’s ignore form factor and focus on price and performance, and see what happens.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a current MacBook Pro 15 to put up against a Surface Book, so I decided to do the next best thing: Put a $1,500 Dell XPS 15 (config here in Dell’s store) up against a $1,500 MacBook Pro 13 (here’s the config in the Apple store).

Same price. Same everything? Hardly. Read on to see just what you get for the money.

macbookpro13 Apple

The 2015 MacBook Pro 13 packs Intel’s last gen Broadwell CPU with Iris Pro graphics.

The dual-core contender: MacBook Pro 13

The MacBook Pro 13 used for this showdown is the current 2015 model with a dual-core Core i5-5257U, 8GB of LPDDR3/1866 and 256GB PCIe drive. Even though it rolls Intel’s 5th-gen (Broadwell) CPU, I didn’t pick this architecture to put the Mac at a disadvantage. The simple fact is Apple only just put out its first laptop with Intel’s current Skylake CPU, and that 12-inch MacBook has no business in this fight.

That aside, the MacBook Pro 13’s design boasts a beautiful screen, a very good keyboard and “force” trackpad. It’s pretty much what you expect of a premium product at a premium price. There’s no discrete graphics inside the MacBook Pro 13, but it does pack Intel’s Iris Pro 6100. All told, this laptop sells for $1,500 as of this writing.

dell xps 15 beauty Gordon Mah Ung

The XPS 15 packs a quad-core Skylake chip with a GeForce GTX 960m inside.

The quad-core contender: Dell XPS 15

Dell’s latest-generation XPS 15 gets the “infinity bezel” treatment on its screen. It has a quad-core Core i7-67700HQ, 8GB of DDR4/2133 RAM, GeForce GTX 960m, and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD. It doesn’t feel quite as solid as the MacBook Pro does, but it has decent build quality with a decent trackpad. The screen on this particular unit is a 1920×1080 IPS with an anti-glare finish. It’s OK, but clearly the MacBook Pro 13’s screen has more pizzazz with its higher pixel density and glossy finish.


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