Last year’s Dell XPS 13 was Dell’s first foray into the ultrabook market. Its highlights included a carbon fiber, aluminum, and magnesium chassis. With its exposed carbon fiber weave on the bottom panel and metal top lid, it was just as showy as the MacBook Air. Bu like many of its rivals, the first version used a cheaper 1,366-by-768 screen so the new platform could still meet an $899-$999 price point. Since then, higher-end ultrabooks have appeared on the playing field, and the XPS 13 we see here is no exception.
As configured here, the newest iteration of the Dell XPS 13 goes for $1,599 and has a lot of goodies, including a 256GB SSD, Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, and 6GB of memory. Frankly, this blows the $1,199 base configuration of the Apple MacBook Air 13-inch out of the water, but with a bit of judicious clicking on the configuration site, you can build one to almost exactly match. Add a “2.0GHz Intel Dual-Core Core i7″ ($100) and 8GB of memory ($100) to the $1,499 MacBook Air model with 256GB Flash Storage, and you’ll have an Apple analogue to the XPS 13. Well, almost. The screen on the XPS 13 actually has a bit higher resolution—1,920 by 1,080 versus the 1,440-by-900-resolution screen on the $1,699 built-to-order MacBook Air.
|Name||Dell XPS 13 (2013)||Apple MacBook Air 13-inch (Mid 2012)|
|Operating System||Windows 8||Mac OS X|
|Processor Name||Intel Core i7-3537U||Intel Core i5-3427U|
|Processor Speed||2 GHz||1.8 GHz|
|RAM||8 GB||4 GB|
|Screen Size||13.3 inches||13.3 inches|
|Native Resolution||1920 x 1080||1440 x 900|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||256 GB||128 GB|
|Weight||2.01 lb||2.85 lb|
|Battery Type||47 Whr (Watt hours)||50 Whr (Watt hours)|
|Read the Review||Read the Review|
The XPS 13 and the MacBook Air 13-inch are made for the demanding user who needs a balance between portability and usability. Both have 13.3-inch screens, which reduce the laptop’s overall footprint compared to a 15-inch model, but the chassis for a 13-inch laptop lets you use a full-sized keyboard and palm rest. Ten- and 11-inch laptops may use a smaller compact keyboard in order to match the smaller screen. The MacBook Air and XPS 13 are slim to the point that you can’t expect full-sized ports like HDMI or Ethernet, or have any hope of using an internal optical drive. The two systems jibe pretty close stats-wise, when you match upgrade for upgrade, and both will serve a power user road warrior well.
By Joel Santo Domingo, PCMag