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MacBook Pro 15in v Dell XPS 15 head-to-head review

While Apple has long had a reputation of making laptops that loads of people drool over, PC makers have held onto making big lumps of tin for business travellers. Not anymore. Dell’s XPS 15 takes the fight to the Mac. That said, Apple has a reputation for leaving a long time between iterations of its flagship Macbooks and although that usually means hot new features are crammed into their super-sleek chassis time-after-time, Apple does tend to leave its loyal fans on tenterhooks, it would seem, forever.

Take a look at Apple s Broadwell-based 12-inch retina MacBook1. It has seen some pretty important hardware updates, including a thinner Retina display (paper thin, in fact), USB-C and a redesigned trackpad. All of these extras make it a very attractive option, so if you’re after the very latest Apple notebook, it’s likely to be a winner. MacBooks have proved amazingly popular due to their Retina displays, PCIe flash storage and phenomenal battery life. How then, can – if at all – Dell s latest Windows 10 machine, the XPS 15, challenge the class-leading OS X device?

The Windows machine is the cheaper of the two devices, starting at 1,099 while the 15in Mac Pro starts at 1,599. However, some enormous savings are now on offer for the 2015 iterations of the MacBook 15-inch and 12-inch thanks to rumours of the 2016 MacBooks launching early next year. Clearly a number of retailers are trying to clear their shelves to make space for the brand new laptops next year and the fact discounts have started so early has got tongues wagging that it ll launch in early 2016 rather than at the end of the first quarter as other Macbooks usually launch.

Design, Connectivity2, Screen quality3, Performance4, Keyboard/trackpad5, Software6, Battery life7, Upgrades and serviceability8. To find out the winner you can jump straight to our verdict9.


The MacBook Pro has an iconic design with people able to spot a machine from 20 paces. It s made from a single block of machined aluminium so there are no visible joints. It s got sharp edges, rounded corners and the speaker grilles are milled into the metal on each side of the keyboard.

MacBook Pro 15in V Dell XPS 15 Head-to-head Review

This vintage look is matched with top-notch build quality. Because it s solid metal, the wrist rest and the base have no give, the thin screen is sturdy, and the hinge between the two sections is strong. Dell has borrowed a few design cues from Apple, but it the XPS has enough to distinguish itself from the MacBook.

MacBook Pro 15in V Dell XPS 15 Head-to-head Review

The XPS 15 uses the same aluminium chassis as Dell s Precision M3800 workstation, and it s visible across the lid and on the edges of the base. This is intertwined with carbon-fibre, which can be seen on the underside and along each edge. A soft-touch finish is applied to the wrist-rest and area around the keyboard. The Dell s base is as sturdy as the MacBook, but there s a hint of weakness in the 4mm screen the one area where this machine falls behind.

However, the XPS weighs in at 1.88kg in weight, undercutting the 2kg MacBook. The Dell XPS also has a 17mm-thick body, one millimetre less than the Apple (18mm) if you discount the rubber feet on the Windows machine.

WINNER: Draw – Apple and Dell have created beautiful machines with superb build quality. The MacBook is the more recognisable of the two machines, but the XPS is thinner and lighter.


Apple MacBook Pro 15in (late-2013)

OS: OS X Mavericks (10.9) Processor: 2GHz quad-core Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz) RAM: 8GB DDR3 (configurable up ot 16GB)
Storage: 256/512GB or 1TB PCIe Flash storage Screen: 15.4in, (2880 x 1800) 220ppi
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi ‘Fi wireless networking IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible, Bluetooth 4
Ports: 2 x USB 3, 2 x Thunderbolt 2.0, SD card reader, HDMI
Dimensions: 359 x 247 x 18mm (WxDxH) Weight: 2.02kg

Dell XPS 15

OS: Windows 8.1 (64-bit)
Processor: 2.2GHz quad-core Core i7 (Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz)
Storage: 512GB SSD
Screen: 15.6in, (3,200 x 1880) 238ppi
Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260, Bluetooth 4
Ports: 3 x USB 3, 1 x USB 2, 1 x HDMI, 1 x miniDisplayPort, SD card reader
Dimensions: 372 x 254 x 17mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 1.88kg


  1. ^ 12-inch retina MacBook (
  2. ^ Connectivity (
  3. ^ Screen quality (
  4. ^ Performance (
  5. ^ Keyboard/trackpad (
  6. ^ Software (
  7. ^ Battery life (
  8. ^ Upgrades and serviceability (
  9. ^ verdict (