HP Spectre x360 13.5 vs. Dell XPS 13: which flagship must you purchase?

When you’re seeking to purchase a premium, light-weight, 13-inch Home windows laptop computer with top-notch construct high quality and a recognizable model identify, I’ll wager that you just’ve been beneficial at the very least one of many following two fashions: the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 13.5. These two laptops are the cream of the 13-inch Home windows laptop computer crop. They’re dear, they’re light-weight, they usually’re pleasing to the eyes.

However what precisely are the variations between them, and which one must you select? I’ve spent a great period of time utilizing each of those units, and I’m right here that can assist you. A quick spoiler: the Spectre might be the one I’d purchase, because it has an a variety of benefits over the XPS (which its larger worth displays). It does, nonetheless, have one sizable drawback that you ought to be conscious of.

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Proper, let’s get this half out of the best way. You may at present purchase a Spectre x360 13.5 with a Core i7, 16GB of reminiscence, and 1TB of storage (the configuration I examined) for $1,434.99. A equally specced XPS 13 has an MSRP of $1,449 however is at present discounted to $1,299 on Dell’s web site. (The 1TB mannequin of the XPS 13 can solely be bought with 32GB of RAM.)

That’s a distinction of $135.99, which can differ as reductions change. That extra cash doesn’t totally go to waste, although.

Appear and feel

This can be the distinction between the XPS and the Spectre that may most affect your day by day life. They’ve very totally different visible vibes, and there’s no mistaking one for the opposite.

I favor the look of the Spectre. It’s attractive and complex. The black mannequin I’ve has gold accents across the touchpad, on the hinges, and in another alternative areas, and whereas they’re delicate, they offer the system a suave C-Suite look. The place the Spectre is constructed to face out, the XPS is constructed to mix in. It has a bit extra of a plasticky really feel (although it’s not flimsy by any means) and extra of a generic aesthetic. It’s not ugly, however I wouldn’t flip to stare if I walked previous.

That mentioned, there’s one thing else that Dell’s chassis has going for it: it’s extra transportable. The Spectre is simply over three kilos, which is a bit on the heavy facet for contemporary 13-inchers. The XPS is nearly half a pound lighter, and that’s a distinction I really feel when carrying each laptops round in my backpack or tote.

The Spectre’s weight has finally been the first cause I’ve been avoiding buying it myself regardless of loving every little thing else about it. It’s not heavy by any means, however I nonetheless like my ultraportables to be a bit extra comfy to elevate and carry with one arm. As somebody who does a lot of commuting to and from the workplace, the XPS is simply far more nice to lug round.

I’ve additionally discovered that the XPS’s end scratches extra simply, whereas the Spectre’s is far more liable to fingerprint smudging.

This was shot earlier than there have been too many fingerprints, however you’ll be able to spot some if you happen to look intently.

Video calling expertise

The XPS’s webcam isn’t nice. It’s not horrible, but it surely’s not nice. My backgrounds have been usually fairly washed out once I used it for calls.

The Spectre’s, whereas not wonderful, is healthier. The picture it produces is way much less grainy, and it does a greater job with brilliant backgrounds. It additionally has a bodily shutter (managed through the keyboard), which simply provides me some peace of thoughts once I’m at house.

Pictured: 50 p.c of the XPS’s port choice.

The Spectre additionally comes loaded with a set of “beautification” options that HP calls GlamCam. There’s one which’s much like Apple’s Middle Stage and follows you round if you happen to’re on the transfer throughout your name. There’s a lighting correction filter, which by no means made that a lot distinction in my checks. There’s a hilarious “BRB Mode” that, whenever you toggle it on, “BRB” in your display screen if you happen to… get uninterested in your Zoom name and must duck out for a nap, I assume? And there’s an look filter that “retouches” your face. There’s a separate dialogue available about whether or not it’s applicable for laptop computer producers to be governing these sorts of magnificence requirements, but when these results are one thing you need, you will get them on the Spectre.

The Spectre additionally has twice as many audio system because the XPS, and it sounds nice, with crisp audio and strong bass. The XPS’s audio isn’t horrible, however it’s a noticeable notch down, significantly by way of quantity. I typically had hassle listening to my calls in public areas when utilizing that system.

3:2. One thing you don’t see a lot anymore.

Display screen

HP wins right here. The XPS has a 1920 x 1200 IPS panel, and that’s all you will get. If you need a higher-resolution OLED choice, you’ll want to have a look at the dearer XPS 13 Plus. That system truly has a a lot higher-resolution OLED show, but it surely additionally has an invisible haptic touchpad, an LED operate row, and another odd stuff.

The Spectre I’ve has a 3000 x 2000 OLED display screen, and it’s divine. There’s barely any glare, even within the brightest potential settings. Colours are vivid, and particulars are crisp. I nearly want I didn’t need to ship this unit again to HP as a result of I’ve such a good time taking a look at it.

HP’s laptop computer additionally has a 3:2 facet ratio, whereas the XPS is 16:10. I favor each of those to the basic previous 16:9, however 3:2 provides you barely extra vertical room and is the one of many two that I’d select.

I want you lasted longer.

Battery life

Right here’s the place the Spectre runs into hassle. I averaged simply over 4 hours from steady use of this OLED system. Though it has a bigger battery than the XPS does, the high-resolution display screen is eagerly consuming up the battery.

That low battery life, whereas not essentially surprising given the display screen’s decision, is a significant hangup for such a dear system. It’s just about my solely important grievance in regards to the Spectre; if I have been in a position to get, say, 10 hours out of it, I’d be significantly considering giving it a ten out of 10 rating. It’s a standout throughout many classes, however the brief lifespan makes it a troublesome promote for people who might need to use it out and about.

The XPS did significantly better right here, averaging six hours and 42 minutes from the identical workload. That isn’t nice as XPS fashions of the previous few years have gone, but it surely is without doubt one of the higher outcomes I’ve seen from a latest Home windows laptop computer. With Intel’s choices as of late, all-day battery life on my private workload has change into extra of a luxurious than a staple.


I don’t need to make too large of a deal about benchmark scores on these two units, as neither is absolutely designed for use for lengthy durations of time underneath heavy masses. Nonetheless, for individuals who need to know, the scores are above.

The Spectre has a barely extra highly effective processor than is offered within the XPS. The scores I acquired are related however not fairly the identical, with the Spectre popping out on prime in nearly each case. When you plan on taking part in video games or exporting video as I did right here, you’ll be able to anticipate that the Spectre is perhaps barely sooner. But when these are common duties for you, neither of those units needs to be in your shortlist.

When it comes to common use in Chrome, Safari, and such, I didn’t see a distinction. For workplace workloads and residential leisure, each of those computer systems are — and I can’t stress this sufficient — superb. One factor I did discover is that the Spectre is quieter than the XPS. Dell’s followers got here on fairly simply, like after a pair Chrome tabs, throughout my testing course of. The Spectre was cool and quiet all through my use, with noise solely obvious throughout heavy benchmarking. When you don’t like fan noise, the Spectre is the best way to go.

That is the one my coronary heart needs.

That is the one my pockets needs.

Which must you purchase?

Finally, the Spectre is a step up from the XPS in lots of vital areas. It could be my hands-down suggestion.

Aside from that stinkin’ battery life. 4 hours is simply unlucky for a tool that’s nicely over $1,000. And the distinction between 4 and 6 hours may very well be the distinction between needing or not needing to carry your charger to a espresso store, making it via a flight, or ending a college day. That issue alone is a big level within the XPS’s favor.

Regardless of that shortcoming, I nonetheless suppose the Spectre affords higher worth for its worth. Its construct high quality and facet ratio are pretty distinctive in at present’s panorama. I feel it affords a bundle that’s troublesome to search out from different producers proper now, and HP is innovating with this in ways in which Dell hasn’t with this technology of the old-school XPS. That makes me barely extra excited in regards to the Spectre x360 this yr.

With that mentioned, I’d not fault somebody for going for the XPS as a substitute as a result of till HP figures out the best way to make a high-resolution OLED display screen play good with the 67Wh battery, that lower cost and better battery life are fairly engaging. Whereas Dell’s machine is just not as thrilling or showy of a product, I wouldn’t be stunned if it finally ends up being a extra pragmatic purchase for many individuals.

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