Dell's 2015 XPS 13 - A Real MBA Challenger

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by rittchard, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. rittchard macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007

    Early impressions all seem positive, but the proof will be in the pudding, as they say.

    I have been a dedicated MBA fan since the first one was released, and after trying multiple different options, I have gone back to it time and again for one reason or another. Note that I have been running Windows in Boot Camp almost exclusively on my MBAs for work purposes. Before you ask, it's just been a better experience than any of the other notebooks I've tried, even running Windows. The hardware is just all around better.

    This is the first time I suspect my experience may change. I've pre-ordered the slightly lower end model (non touch screen) so this will pretty much be a direct competitor to my current 13" MBA from a feature standpoint. But the new Dell design is lighter, has higher resolution, AND has a significantly longer battery lifetime. So from a hardware standpoint, it looks like an improvement all around. Now Dell being Dell, I am leery about things like bloatware, the wifi and most importantly the trackpad, but it sounds like they've made improvements so we'll see.

    Of course there's the rumored MBA refresh looming in the background, so I was certainly tempted to wait. But given the rumors of USB ports being removed, I'm not entirely sure the new MBA will end up being the best choice for my work environment. I'm really curious to see if the rumors pan out. Will the MBA weigh in less than 2 pounds with a retina screen AND maintain battery life? Definitely going to be interesting to see how it pans out.
  2. hankdu macrumors member

    Feb 24, 2011
    A very good looking laptop

    I have been reading around the new Dell XPS 13 and I too think it is a very handsome laptop. The edge to edge screen and high resolution are pretty amazing, and so are the construction of and materials used to build the laptop.

    My laptop is due for an upgrade this year (now using a 13 inch 2012 maxed-out i7 cMBP) and I think I am finally getting an ultrabook. I have been putting off buying an ultrabook because the lack of self-upgradability. My current cMBP has 1TB HDD (optibay) + 256 SSD + 16GB ram. The screen resolution of cMBP 13 inch is, however, pretty appalling by 2015 standard.

    I would like to my next laptop to be smaller than the current 13 inch MBA but with a 13 inch screen size (through thinner bezel?) and retina resolution. The rumoured 12 inch MBA may potentially tick those boxes. The new Dell XPS 13 seems to tick those boxes for me - no wonder why I find the machine pretty sexy.
  3. Nee412 macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2010
    Sunny England!
    Before I got my MacBook I used to have Dell laptops. Granted that's over 6 years ago, but that's proof that Macs can last.

    My Dells never did. They lasted nearly 2 years each before grinding to an inevitable halt. The build quality was just rubbish. The fact that they ran Windows and came with far too much bloatware just made matters worse.

    Nothing could tempt me away from Macs and OSX. Nice try though.
  4. iosuser macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2012
    I've owned countless Dell laptops. The last one being the Haswell XPS 12. Amazing build quality. Sold it after a few months of letting my son use it. Like all Windows laptops, I had to fight the trackpad doing the simplest task. To me, it really doesn't matter how nice a screen they put on it, how much RAM or SSD or CPU horsepower. It's a frustrating experience using any Windows laptop trackpad compared to a Mac. I'm dumbfounded as to why ALL Windows laptops still have horrible trackpads, after all these years. Supposedly this new Dell XPS 13 has a vastly improved touchpad, but I really have no reason to believe it as they've made such claims before. And no I will not use an external mouse with my laptop.

    I just bought another MBA13 today. I marvel at how the trackpad does exactly what I want precisely when I want. Macs have been this way for years.
  5. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2013
    There's no comparison to Macs. All ultrabooks will always have subpar quality, functionality and reliability. Plus, they run Windows POS OS. Better spend your hard earned money on a perfect mac rather than unreliable, poorly quality ultrabooks.
  6. ctyrider macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2012
    I would be interested, but.. It runs Windows.. and.. it's a Dell.
  7. b3av3r macrumors regular


    Dec 9, 2012
    Sadly, like most Windows laptops the first thing you have to do is wipe and do a fresh install of the OS. It looks like a really nice machine, but the OS is the breaking point. I would much rather a Mac running Windows in boot camp 90% of the time and be able to run OS X 10% of the time instead of having to run Windows 100% of the time.
  8. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Definitely looks good but also definitely not mindblowing.

    For my first ~7 years of laptop ownership, all my laptops were about 5 lbs. and 1 inch thick. That was considered extremely portable. You had to pay a fortune if you wanted anything smaller and lighter. They all had optical drives that I didn't use, batteries that only lasted between 2 and 3.5 hours, they got super hot and loud when stressed, and they were a pain to carry around and travel with (too big and heavy).

    Now, with my 2014 11" MBA, I have a laptop that weighs less than half as much, is half as thick, has ~4 times the battery life, essentially never gets hot or loud, has roughly the same performance as my desktop, and I have to triple-check my bags for my laptop when I go anywhere because the thing is so small and light that I often doubt that it's even in there.

    So when you show me a Dell that weighs a tiny fraction of a pound less, has a tiny fraction more battery life, and has a screen that's effectively sharper but can't really be used to display more information, color me relatively unimpressed. I'm not going to try to convince myself or anyone else that the Dell is actually worse than a MacBook but it's not like the've made a quantum leap in technology here.
  9. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I want to assume this is clever satire, but...

    This is really good looking hardware. OS X versus Windows 8 is of course a very legitimate argument and you can't really fault someone for outright dismissing one machine or the other if they refuse to work with the OS. (However, the edge goes to the Mac for being able to also run Windows if you so desire).

    The other major point against Macs is often the price. But on a machine like this, the pricing is very comparable, as is the spec sheet and build quality.

    Aluminum chassis, 15 hour battery life, lighter than the 13" MBA... I'm impressed (on paper, anyway).

    My only issue would be working in Windows 8 on a daily basis. And that's not a knee-jerk, "Macs rule Windows drools" reaction, but based on my experience trying to be productive with Windows. No Windows 8 machine I've tried has offered as good of an out-of-the-box experience as I have with my MacBook Pro. Still, I'd be willing to give this Dell a try...
  10. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    Honestly, if I were to consider getting one of these, the first thing I would do is wipe it clean and install linux on it. And then, absolutely, I would consider it a worthy competitor to my MBA.

    But given that the current iteration of MBA (6,2) started mid-2013, isn't it a bit discouraging that it's taken the PC side this long?
  11. BenTrovato macrumors 68030


    Jun 29, 2012
    I used to have a Dell XPS 13 that died when the Nvidia 8600 burned out about a week after the warranty expired. I still have a Dell Latitude D620 from 2006 runs great but horribly cheap feeling. The price of the new XPS non-touch is more expensive than a MBA. It would have to be cheaper for me to consider running Windows, providing Win 10 is a winner.
  12. rittchard thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 12, 2007
    A few comments:

    By no means am I trying to convince people to buy this over an MBA, I was just excited that after so many years, it finally looks like a vendor *might* truly challenge the MBA hardware design. There have been a number of "clone" PC laptop designs that were very similar to the MBA but nothing I've tried yet has actually seemed like an overall better design. Of course that also means it's perfect timing for Apple's new MBA to kick some ass with a bold new design... My only concern with that is the practicality (for work use) of a design that might completely eliminate standard USB ports, which I unfortunately still need on a regular basis.

    The thing that stands out most for me about the Dell is battery life + portability. For the non-touch model, it's 0.4 pounds LESS than the current 13" MBA, getting closer to the 11" in weight (which I absolutely loved from a portability standpoint). And yet they have not had to compromise screen size, plus they have actually improved screen resolution AND battery life. I don't use touch screen much and I'm OK to sacrifice screen res for an extra 3 hours of battery life.

    OS wasn't an issue for me since at work I'm still more or less stuck with Windows. I tried running Parallels for a while but it didn't seem like it was worth the performance hit vs. Bootcamp.

    Price-wise, in the configuration I'm looking at (i5, 256GB + 8GB RAM), the Dell is cheaper than the equivalent MBA.
  13. noobinator macrumors 603


    Jun 19, 2009
    Pasadena, CA
    Love the small bezels on this thing. I'm seriously considering it. If they price the new 12" MB Air at like $1,500 or something to start, I'll get the Dell.
  14. Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    More of a rMBP 13 challenger. It has a retina-level screen.
  15. JHUFrank macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2010
    Like a few others, the game changer for me has always been the trackpad, or in the Lenovo instance, the little nub. Nobody comes close to the comfort and control of either Lenovo or Apple on a laptop.
    However, on a side note, I absolutely abhor Apple's implementation of bluetooth mice. Horrible usability design IMO. On Windows boxen, I've always used a simple wireless logitech mouse and have loved it.
  16. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    What's wrong with bluetooth mice? I'm using one now. Seems to work fine.
  17. iosuser macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2012
    I went to the Microsoft store to check out the new XPS13 at lunch today. It is a beauty. About the footprint of a MBA11. Every bit as solidly built. I can grip it by the front edge corner with two fingers with ease. In fact it feels more solid than a Macbook air holding it in this fashion. The screen is much much nicer than Macbook Air. The demo unit was the 1080p version with a full matte screen. I don't know how Sharp's IGZO display differs from IPS, but viewing angle is much the same as IPS.

    Now the biggie (for me) - the trackpad. Cursor control is very responsive, no lag at all. Glide your finger and the pointer moves with your finger. Very smooth two finger scrolling, can scroll by one pixel at a time accurately, like the Mac trackpad. Doing the edge swipe for charm and app switcher is still not 100%, not that I ever use that. The big disappointment is no forward/backward gesture in desktop mode, under Internet Explorer or Windows Explorer. Only in full screen Internet Explorer app three-finger forward/backward is supported.

    Never mind your preference in OS (I use both equally), strictly from the hardware standpoint, Dell has (years later :eek:) toppled the Macbook Air in design and build quality, and I'm saying this after having bought another (had another couple years ago) MBA13 this week.

    I just ordered one from Dell :D
  18. ~~Hello~~ macrumors 6502

    Apr 27, 2007
    Everything looks good, but I'm disappointed it doesn't come with 16GB of RAM. Might have considered buying it, the xps 15 doesn't look as nice.
  19. Serban, Jan 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015

    Serban Suspended

    Jan 8, 2013
    Sorry but you have to see Dell in person. And every person who own an macbook will see the practicality of impossibility to open the lid without touching the screen even. The chassis is hard solid plastic and when you are holding it with just one hand everywhere but middle you feel and hear in a quit room a creak. So, i think the next MBA generation will be in front still far away for its display, trackpad, OS, rigidity and probably will be lighter than this one. and the ports...the look of them and their design with the plastic side ...
  20. newellj macrumors 604

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    I assume this is humor, though I didn't see a ;) at the end.

    However, I will say I have owned Dell XPS machines, desktop and laptop, for more than 10 years (and other Dell lines for almost 30 years), including the XPS 13 predecessor to this new laptop. While it was a nice machine, it simply isn't the hardware equal of a MBP (though it beats a MBA). And, if you configure them on a truly equivalent basis, the Dell XPSes aren't any cheaper. So the best we can say is the XPS 13 is a very nice machine that may be competitive with a MBP for some users. It's not likely to be something that should cause anyone who's happy with their Mac laptop to go out and buy a Dell.
  21. FrozenDarkness macrumors 65816

    Mar 21, 2009
    the most disappointing part is that the laptop maxes out at 8gb ram and 256gb ssd



  22. cbautis2 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 17, 2013
    It doesn't matter how good pc laptops get. They will always have inferior reliability and build quality and materials compared to Macs. No Windoze POS laptop has worked perfectly at all. Driver problems, crappy Windoze registry and UBERunderwhelming performance for the specs (it's dog slow even with raid 0 SSD and extreme edition 8-core CPUs! due to crappiness of windoze drivers/updates). In addition in less than a day, you get BSODs, abysmal battery life, choppy audio, gazillion malware and all of that crappy experience that come with Windoze. Ultracrapbooks are extremely expensive, zero resale value and have extremely abysmal support from OEMs as well.
    Save yourself from headache and choose Macs all the way!
  23. newellj macrumors 604

    Oct 15, 2014
    Boston, MA, US
    You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about on either the PC or Mac side. If you think Macs and OS X are perfect, you must have never read any posts here. :rolleyes:
  24. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    This is terrible advice. Unless your fresh install is using the system image provided by the manufacturer, you will likely murder the battery life, create sleep issues, and possibly lengthen the startup times by doing a generic install of Windows. All of those systems are now tightly integrated by the manufacturers today. If you are just installing the factory image, why bother? Its exactly how the machine was shipped to you.
  25. Beachguy macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2011
    Florida, USA
    You have to bump up the $$$ to get the QHD+ resolution, and at 1299 U.S. dollars, it is only a 128 GB SSD.



    Only if you opt up for it. Most have 1920x1080 screens.

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