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Among workhorse, higher-end business computing laptops, you’ll find Dell and Hewlett Packard (HP) models going head-to-head at your local warehouse store and company IT department lineups.
Both have been producing top-performing laptops for years, with varying results. Dell typically gets the edge for build quality and features, while HP is a corporate IT darling for pricing. The brand also wins some points for innovative styling.
Typically you’ll find that the HP Spectre laptops offer a bit more for less, but you’ll often pay for it later with troubles such as weaker hinges—some give way in the areas where your hands rest while typing—and similar construction problems.
The Dells feel a bit more solid, but also come with a higher price tag, particularly in this highest-end XPS consumer line. Here, I’m comparing the popular HP Spectre x360 touchscreen 2-in-1 line with some basic laptop models from the Dell XPS line (which, despite not being touchscreen-enabled, still occasionally manage to cost several hundred dollars more than the Spectres.)
I’ve chosen a 13-inch and 15-inch model from each line. Here’s how they compare:
Hewlett Packard (HP) Spectre x360-13t
The styling on the newest HP Spectre x360-13t 13-inch laptop is very pretty, with a dark chassis and gold accents, particularly on those distinctive HP cut-off corners. Inside, it has a quad-core 8th Generation Intel i7-8550U processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive.
Like all the “t” models in the Spectre line, this is a 2-in-1 laptop, allowing the touchscreen screen to flip over and become a tablet. Its specs allow for basic office tasks with some light photo editing, though I wouldn’t recommend gaming or high-end video processing with the integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics processor (standard on most higher-end laptops these days). At $1,325, this model is reasonably priced for a 2-in-1 and offers decent hardware specs.
Hewlett Packard (HP) Spectre x360-15t
This 15-inch laptop comes with an 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD. It offers a step-up in video processing with a separate NVIDIA GeForce MX150 processor with 2GB of RAM. That should provide good video- and photo-editing capabilities, but I still wouldn’t recommend this as a dedicated gaming rig—particularly because the video response isn’t particularly swift.
At $1,480, this is also reasonably priced for the tech specs and the 2-in-1 capability, and it’s another model with HP’s elegant Spectre styling.
New Dell XPS 13 9380
The New Dell XPS 13 9380 isn’t as flashy as the Spectre x360 13t, but it does come in a pretty rose-gold finish. It’s a typical laptop without a touchscreen—not a 2-in-1—so if the tablet feature is important to you, you’ll want to step up to an XPS 2-in-1 model.
The guts of this standard 13-inch laptop include an Intel Core i7-8565 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB Solid State Drive. Graphics processing is provided by the standard onboard Intel HD Graphics 620 processor in this price point, though the laptop does have a nice 4K display screen.
The processor is slightly more powerful than the HP 13-inch model, and it has less RAM and hard drive space, but costs a little more. Still, you can definitely tell the difference in build quality between these two laptops, so they’re more evenly matched than might be initially apparent.
Dell XPS 15 7590
This 15-inch XPS laptop costs more than the 13-inch model, but offers a lot more graphics processing power, making this a flagship in the XPS series. It includes a 9th Generation Intel Core i7-9750H processor, a 15.6-inch ultra-high-definition OLED screen (for vivid colors and blacks), 16GB of RAM and a 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe drive.
Separate graphics processing is provided by a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB graphics card, which easily trumps the MX150 in the higher-end Spectre. You’re also paying about $300 more for the higher computing power, and still not getting a touchscreen (one is available for this model, but that will up the cost by $300). The build quality on this Dell is rock-solid, making it much more pleasant to use than the HP Spectre x360 15t model, but you’ll pay more for the privilege.