These two clamshell Ultrabooks have a lot in common, but there are some discerning differences that will no doubt sway you one way or the other. Let’s break it down.
Surface Laptop 2 vs. Dell XPS 13 tech specs
|Surface Laptop 2||Dell XPS 13 (9370)|
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel Core i7-8650U
Intel Core i3-8130U
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel Core i7-8550U
|RAM||8, 16 GB||4, 8, 16 GB|
128, 256, 512 GB
256, 512 GB
1, 2 TB
|Display size||13.5 inches
Touch and non-touch
|Display resolution||2,256 x 1,504
3:2 aspect ratio
|1,920 x 1,080
3,840 x 2,160
16:9 aspect ratio
|Graphics||Intel UHD Graphics 620||Intel UHD Graphics 620|
3.5 mm audio
|Two Thunderbolt 3
3.5 mm audio
microSD card reader
|Biometrics||IR camera for Windows Hello||Fingerprint reader
|Battery||Up to 14.5 hours||52 Wh|
|Dimensions||12.13 inches x 8.79 inches x 0.57 inches
(308.1 mm x 223.37 mm x 14.48 mm)
|11.9 inches x 7.8 inches x 0.3-0.46 inches
(302 mm x 199 mm x 7.8-11.6 mm)
|Weight||From 2.76 pounds||From 2.67 pounds|
Design and features
Whether you choose the Surface Laptop 2 or Dell XPS 13, know that you’re getting a premium Ultrabook with a clamshell design, slim build, and excellent display. Either one can fit easily into a backpack, and both have their perks and downsides.
A major standout with the XPS 13 is its port selection, which includes two Thunderbolt 3 with 4x lanes of PCIe each, allowing you to connect performance peripherals like an external graphics card (eGPU) for some extra gaming power. The Surface Laptop 2 does have a USB-A port, which the XPS 13 doesn’t include, but thereafter you’re stuck with Mini DisplayPort and Surface Connect. Both laptops will likely have you reaching for a dongle or adapter eventually, but at least the XPS 13 is looking to the future.
The Surface Laptop 2 is available in four color options — black, platinum, burgundy, and cobalt blue — with accessories to match, whereas the XPS 13 only comes in alpine white and rose gold. With the XPS 13, both models have a carbon-fiber palmrest construction that holds up to use quite well, but it’s rather regular. For some extra style and comfort, the Surface Laptop 2 comes with Alcantara fabric to match the rest of the laptop. It holds up to use and abuse as well, and you can even clean it if it becomes stained.
Camera location is a big issue with the XPS 13, as it’s located below the display. It is an IR camera for quick logins with Windows Hello, but it also shoots at an angle that looks up your nose when conferencing. The Surface Laptop 2 likewise has an IR camera for Windows Hello, but it’s located in the normal spot above the display for a more direct angle. Also available on the XPS 13 is a fingerprint reader integrated into the power button, which the Surface Laptop 2 is lacking.
Finally, overall the XPS 13 does have a slightly smaller footprint and does weigh a bit less, but only marginally so. It also has a slightly smaller display, which is where some of the size and weight is made up in the Surface Laptop 2.
The Surface Laptop 2 comes with a single 13.5-inch touch display option. It has a 3:2 aspect ratio, 2256×1504 resolution, and it’s compatible with the Surface Pen and off-screen Surface Dial interactions. If you want to draw, sketch, or take notes, the Surface Laptop 2 is really your only choice since the XPS 13 does not have pen support no matter the configuration.
What the XPS 13 does have is two different 13.3-inch screen options, both with a more conventional 16:9 aspect ratio. Go with a non-touch 1920×1080 (FHD) display for better battery life and a cheaper price, or opt for the touch 3840×2160 (4K) model if you like the extra resolution. Either display has almost no bezel around it for a picture that seems to stretch edge to edge, whereas the Surface Laptop 2 holds onto more bezel.
Note that while the introductory XPS 13 costs less at about $833, it has an FHD non-touch display, and comes with just 4 GB of RAM, an Intel Core i3 CPU, and a 128 GB solid-state drive (SSD). The introductory Surface Laptop 2, which costs a bit more at $999, has a touch display with a much higher resolution, 8 GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5 CPU, and a 128 GB SSD. If you’re in search of something with a great display and don’t want to drop the dough on the more expensive 4K XPS 13, the Surface Laptop 2 makes a great choice.
Neither of these laptops is available with discrete graphics (GPU) — though the XPS 13’s Thunderbolt 3 ports allow for an eGPU — and both have similar CPU options. The i7-8650U in the Surface Laptop 2 will slightly edge out the i7-8550U in the XPS 13, Core i5 options are the same in both, and only the XPS 13 is available with a Core i3 option.
Both laptops likewise come with 8 GB and 16 GB RAM options, but only the XPS 13 is available with 4 GB for a lower-priced base model. As for storage, the XPS 13 starts with a 128 GB SSD and makes incremental jumps up to 2 TB, whereas the Surface Laptop 2 starts at 128 GB and maxes out at 1 TB.
Until we benchmark the Surface Laptop 2 ourselves it’s tough to say which laptop will edge out the other, but really both are going to be able to tackle a regular day’s work with some light gaming on the side. Both will also be able to go a full day of work without needing a battery charge.
Stick with Surface Laptop 2 for pen support and premium design
The Surface Laptop 2 has Surface Pen and Dial support for an excellent inking experience, and it’s also built to high Surface standards. Choose from four colors, and enjoy an Ultrabook that can handle a day’s work.
New Surface notebook
Surface Laptop 2
Microsoft’s latest notebook is here.
With 8th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs, high-res touch display with pen support, and a premium build that includes Alcantara fabric on the palmrests, the Surface Laptop 2 is a great choice for anyone who needs a clamshell notebook.
Go with the XPS 13 for better port selection and more configuration options
Dell’s XPS 13 is one of our favorite laptops for good reason. It’s built incredibly well, it looks great, and it has plenty of hardware configurations available. Get up to a 4K touch display and take advantage of ports that are ready for the future.
Dell XPS 13
An outstanding laptop with quality build and smart features.
Choose from 8th Gen Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 CPUs (plus plenty of other configuration options) for a laptop that best suited to your needs. Two Thunderbolt 3 ports can handle a lot, and the 4K touch display with almost no bezel is stunning.
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