Dell XPS 13 Plus vs. Apple MacBook Air M1 |  digital trends

Dell XPS 13 Plus vs. Apple MacBook Air M1 | digital trends

The Dell XPS 13 Plus represents half of the new 13-inch XPS lineup, offering higher performance and a more innovative device compared to the more affordable XPS 13. Both are among the best laptops on the market. Apple’s MacBook Air M1 is Apple’s old-school choice, sticking to an affordable design that’s been refined over many years into one of the best MacBooks you can buy.

While the XPS 13 Plus is more expensive than the MacBook Air M1, the difference isn’t huge. So if you’re looking for a portable powerhouse, chances are you’ll have both on your pick list. But what is better?

specifications

Dell XPS 13 Plus Apple MacBook Air M1
Dimensions 11.63 inches by 7.84 inches by 0.60 inches 11.97″ x 8.36″ x 0.63″.
weight 2.71 pounds 2.8 pounds
processor Intel Core i5-1240P
Intel Core i7-1260P
Intel Core i7-1280P
Apple M1
graphic Intel Iris Xe graphics Apple M1
R.A.M. 8GB
16 gigabytes
32GB
8GB
16 gigabytes
advertisement 13.4 inch 16:10 IPS Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) non-touch
13.4″ 16:10 IPS Full HD+ touchscreen
13.4-inch 16:10 OLED 3.5K (3456 x 2160) touchscreen.
13.4 inch 16:10 IPS UHD+ (3840 x 2400) touch
13.3 inch 16:10 (2560 x 1600) 400 cd/m²

storage 512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2GB SSD
256GB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
Touch Optional no
ports 2 USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 2x USB-C 4.0 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
cam 720p, Windows Hello IR webcam 720p FaceTime HD
operating system Windows 11 Home or Pro macOS
battery 55 watt hours 49.9 watt hours
Price $1,299+ $1,000
valuation 4 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

price and configurations

The MacBook Air M1 is the most affordable MacBook you can buy, starting at $1,000 for an 8-core CPU/7-core GPU M1 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. At most, you can spend $2,000 for the same CPU with 16GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD.

The XPS 13 Plus is a more expensive device, with an entry-level configuration that costs $1,300 for a Core i5-1240P, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a non-touch IPS display with Full HD+. The most expensive model costs $2,400 for a Core i7-1280P, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and a 3.5K OLED or UHD+ IPS panel.

The MacBook Air M1 is cheaper across the board, although it’s still a premium laptop.

draft

There is nothing wrong with the design of the MacBook Air M1, as its tapered body started the trend towards thin and light laptops. The new MacBook Air M2 inherits the blockier look of the latest MacBook Pros, but there’s nothing wrong with the original aluminum machine. And the build quality is second to none. Externally, the XPS 13 Plus looks like previous XPS 13 models, with a streamlined aluminum body with double-anodized chrome edges. Open it up, however, and Dell’s latest looks futuristic thanks to a borderless keyboard, LED function keys, and a sleek glass palm rest with a hidden touchpad. It’s also incredibly well built, and choosing between these two laptops in their designs comes down to very personal taste.

Speaking of keyboards, the XPS 13 Plus has large keycaps and a comfortable layout with switches that aren’t particularly deep but offer a quick, precise response. However, the MacBook Air M1 comes with Apple’s Magic Keyboard, and it’s the best there is. The switches are also flat, but offer an even more precise feel with excellent feedback. You can type quickly and accurately on either keyboard, but the MacBook is better. Both laptops also have haptic touchpads, and Dell’s version is responsive across the entire surface, mimicking physical buttons. The MacBook Air’s Force touchpad is even better, benefiting from Apple’s years of experience with this technology. The XPS 13 Plus features LED function keys, which offer no benefit to the user, but rather serve to keep the case thin.

Both laptops are limited to just two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4, but the MacBook Air M1 retains the 3.5mm audio jack that the XPS 13 Plus dropped. At the same time, the Dell has more up-to-date wireless connectivity. One benefit of the XPS 13 Plus is its ability to natively drive two external displays, while the MacBook Air M1 is limited to just one.

Finally, both devices have 720p webcams that are behind the curve, while the XPS 13 Plus includes an infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello password-less login via facial recognition. The MacBook Air M1 uses a Touch ID fingerprint reader on the power button. Both methods work quickly and reliably when logging in.

perfomance

A Dell XPS 13 Plus viewed from the side.
Dell XPS 13 Plus
(Core i7-1280P)
Apple MacBook Air M1
(M1)
geek bench 5
(single / multiple)
Sal: 1,316 / 8,207
Performance: N/A
Ball: 1.727 / 7.585
Performance: N/A
handbrake
(seconds)
Ball: 170
Power: 94
Ball: 156
Performance: N/A
Cinebench R23
(single / multiple)
Ball: 1.311/ 6.308
Power: 1,650 / 7,530
Record: 1,479 / 6,680
Performance: N/A

display and sound

Macbook air m1
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The MacBook Air M1 has a 13.3-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina IPS display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600. It’s great for productive work, with adequate brightness and contrast, and decent colors. However, the XPS 13 Plus’ 13.4-inch OLED touch panel with a resolution of 3456 x 2160 is spectacular. It’s just as bright, but offers incredibly wide and accurate colors and deep contrast with inky tones.

You can also choose between Full HD+ non-touch and touch IPS displays and a UHD+ touch IPS display on the XPS 13 Plus. However, there is no doubt that the OLED display is superior for productivity, creativity and media streaming needs. Notice the huge difference in contrast in the table below; OLED displays play in a completely different league.

Dell XPS 13 Plus
(OLED)
Apple MacBook Air M1
(IPS)
brightness
(nits)
386 389
AdobeRGB scale 99% 100%
sRGB scale 100% 79%
accuracy
(DeltaE, lower is better)
0.83 1.29
contrast ratio 386,030:1 1,130:1

Both laptops have two speakers that emit clean sound with sufficient volume. You want a pair of headphones to best enjoy your TV shows and movies with both.

portability

The edge of the Dell XPS 13 Plus chassis.

The XPS 13 Plus is smaller than the MacBook Air M1 in all dimensions and only slightly lighter. However, both laptops are small and light enough to take with you wherever you go.

Where the MacBook takes home a strong win is in the efficiency of Apple’s M1 processor. In our web browsing and local video tests, the MacBook Air M1 almost doubled the lifespan of the XPS 13 Plus, lasting for more than a work day, while the Dell needs to be charged to last well past lunchtime.

Dell XPS 13 Plus
(Core i7-1280P)
Apple MacBook Air M1
(M1)
surf the Internet 8 hours, 0 minutes 14 hours, 34 minutes
Video 9 hours, 20 minutes 18 hours, 28 minutes

The MacBook Air M1 is simpler but less expensive

With the XPS 13 Plus you get some innovations at a higher price, not the least of which is its beautiful OLED display, and its productivity performance is better. You pay more money, however, and the MacBook Air M1 benefits from significantly longer battery life and an equally strong build quality.

If you’re deciding between these two laptops and just want a solid productivity machine for the least amount of money, then the MacBook Air M1 is a better choice.

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