Dell XPS 13 vs XPS 15 vs XPS 17: Which laptop is best for you? | CNN

Dell’s flagship XPS series features a range of slim, attractive notebooks that offer serious power. They’ve consistently impressed us when it comes to their fast performance, great displays and beautiful designs — the Dell XPS 13 has long been our favorite Windows laptop, and you can also get the XPS in 15-inch or 17-inch sizes if you want something bigger.

But the XPS 13, 15 and 17 don’t just vary by size — these three laptops have some notable differences when it comes to connectivity and overall speed. And once you throw in the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and the optional OLED variations, choosing the right model suddenly gets a little tricky. But fret not; we’re here to break down every Dell XPS model so you can snag the right one for your needs.

  • Dell XPS 13: The most portable and affordable option (starting at $969;
  • Dell XPS 13 2-in-1: For those who want a laptop/tablet combo (starting at $969;
  • Dell XPS 15: The best middle ground of performance and size (starting at $1,299;
  • Dell XPS 17: For serious creators and gamers who want a huge screen (starting at $1,599;

Mike Andronico/CNN

You want the most affordable Dell XPS

The Dell XPS 13 is the most affordable member of the XPS family, with a starting price of $969 that occasionally dips below that during sales (Dell typically has some major Black Friday deals). For that money, you get an 11th Gen Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB solid state drive and a 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200. That’s good enough for everyday web browsing and basic work tasks, and there are plenty of optional upgrades you can make while still keeping the price pretty reasonable. If you opt for a more powerful Core i5 processor and 16GB of RAM (which we recommend for those who do lots of multitasking) and add in a touch screen, you’re not paying a whole ton more at $1,269.

You want the slimmest and most portable Dell XPS

No surprises here, but the smallest XPS is the way to go if you need something super portable for traveling. At just 0.58 inches thin and with a starting weight of 2.6 pounds, the Dell XPS 13 is very easy to toss into a bag.  Similarly, it won’t take up much desk or table space when you’re working from home.

Key specs

  • Starting price: $969
  • Display: 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200 (touch optional) / 13.4-inch OLED 3.5K (3456 x 2160) touch screen / 13.4-inch 4K (3840 x 2400) touch screen
  • Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 / Core i5-1135G7 / Core i7-1185G7 / Core i7-1195G7
  • Memory: 8GB / 16GB / 32GB
  • Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
  • Ports: 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, microSD card reader
  • Weight: Starting at 2.64 pounds


You want a laptop that can double as a tablet

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is exactly what it sounds like — you get virtually the same aesthetics and performance as the standard Dell XPS 13, but within a convertible design that can be folded into a tablet or propped up as a standalone display. This option is ideal for folks who want something they can easily sketch or take notes on, or just want a more immersive way to binge a show on Netflix from their laptop.

It’s a pretty good deal too, currently starting at $969 with an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD storage drive and a 1920 x 1200 touch display. That’s a good amount of power for everyday multitasking and some artistic work, and like on the standard XPS, you can upgrade the CPU and RAM if you need more muscle. You can also upgrade to a 4K screen for an extra $400.

You can live without OLED

As of this writing, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is the only XPS model that doesn’t offer an OLED display option. You’ll still be getting a great-looking and versatile screen, but we’ve found that the deeper blacks and bolder colors on the OLED models really do make a difference.

Key specs

  • Starting price: $969
  • Display: 13.4-inch touch display at 1920 x 1200 or 3840 x 2400
  • Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 / Core i7-1165G7
  • Memory: 8GB / 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB / 512GB
  • Ports: 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, microSD card reader
  • Weight: Starting at 2.9 pounds


You want a nice middle ground between size and performance

On top of offering a larger 15-inch screen, the Dell XPS 15 can be configured with higher-end components than the XPS 13 for those who need stronger performance. While the XPS 13 maxes out at a Core i7 processor, 32GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, the XPS 15 can go all the way up to a Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM and a whopping 8TB of SSD space. That all equates to a machine that can be significantly faster for heavy multitasking and power-hungry apps.

And unlike the XPS 13, the Dell XPS 15 can be upgraded with a discrete Nvidia RTX 3050 or 3050 Ti graphics card. That makes it more ideal for demanding visual work, as well as some light PC gaming. The good news? All of that power is packed into a body that’s still pretty portable at 0.7 inches thin and about 4 pounds.

You want a good amount of ports

The XPS 15 offers a nice bump in connectivity over the 13-inch model, as you get one standard USB-C port, two Thunderbolt 4 ports (ideal for external 4K monitors and external storage drives) and a full size SD card reader. By comparison, the XPS 13 has just two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a microSD card slot. You’ll get more ports overall on the XPS 17, but the XPS 15 is a solid middle ground between the two.

Key specs

  • Starting price: $1,299
  • Display: 15.6-inch 1920 x 1200 non-touch / 15.6-inch OLED 3.5K touch / 15.6-inch 4K touch
  • Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400H / Core i7-11800H / Core i9-11900H
  • Memory: 8GB / 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
  • Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB / 4TB / 8TB
  • Ports: 1 USB-C, 2 Thunderbolt 4, SD card reader
  • Weight: Starting at 4 pounds

Mike Andronico/CNN

You want a really big screen (at the expense of portability)

As its name implies, the XPS 17 is the biggest member of the XPS family, with a gorgeous and nearly borderless 17-inch display that really pops if you go with the OLED option. If you want as much screen space as possible for multitasking — or just a big and beautiful screen for watching movies — this is the one to get. And while it’s not quite as bag-friendly as the XPS 13 or XPS 15, it’s still pretty svelte for a 17-inch laptop at 0.77 inches thin and weighing around 5 pounds.

You want the most powerful XPS there is

While the gap between the XPS 17 and XPS 15 isn’t as dramatic as the one between the XPS 15 and XPS 13, the biggest version of Dell’s flagship laptop does have some exclusive performance perks. You’ll have the option to upgrade to a slightly more advanced Intel Core i9-11980HK processor for better overall speeds, as well as Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics for a bit more visual muscle while editing video and playing games. To put all those specs in context, our XPS 17 (Core i7, RTX 3060) pumped out some of the best performance we’ve seen from a mainstream laptop, trailing only the 2021 MacBook Pros in processing power and trumping every non-gaming notebook we’ve used in gaming tests.

You want the XPS with the most ports

If you want as much connectivity as possible, the XPS 17 is your best bet. Dell’s biggest XPS has four Thunderbolt 4 ports and a full size SD card slot, which is a nice upgrade from the two Thunderbolt 4 and one standard USB-C port you get on the XPS 15. You’ll still need a USB-C hub if you plan on connecting any legacy USB-A accessories, but the XPS 17 still gets you the most ports out of the box.

You can live with a single color option

The XPS 17 is a great-looking laptop, but unlike its smaller siblings, it only comes in a silver variation with a black interior. This is purely aesthetic and down to personal preference, but we really love the gorgeous arctic white option that’s offered on the XPS 13 and XPS 15. So if looks matter to you, just note that you won’t have a choice of color on this high-end laptop.

Key specs

  • Starting price: $1,599
  • Display: 17-inch 1920 x 1200 non-touch / 17-inch 4K touch
  • Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400H / Core i7-11800H / Core i9-11900H / Core i9-111980HK
  • Memory: 8GB / 16GB / 32GB / 64GB
  • Storage: 512GB / 1TB / 2TB / 4TB / 8TB
  • Ports: 4 Thunderbolt 4 ports, SD card reader
  • Weight: Starting at 4.87 pounds

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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