Dell and HP are the two American giants of the PC industry, sort of like Ford and Chevy if they sold 90 percent boring boxes to huge industrial clients. (So, exactly like Ford and Chevy?) But it’s not all beige rectangles: today Gordon has two of the sleekest and sexiest ultraportable laptops from both, the HP Spectre x360 14 and the Dell XPS 13 Plus in for testing. In this extended car metaphor, these laptops are the Mustang and Camaro of their brands. In the latest PCWorld YouTube video, we put them head-to-head to see which can race around a track fastest which is the best.
Gordon compares both high-end ultraportable laptops in size and weight, upgrade potential, ports, build quality, keyboard and trackpad, screen quality, webcam quality, performance, battery life, and overall value. Oh, and “sex appeal,” because we know that’s a pretty big deal when it comes to these sleek ultraportable designs.
This is a great comparison, because after evaluating on all these categories, they end up a lot closer than you might think. The Dell wins easily on size and weight, but that also comes with the caveat that the HP has the more flexible 2-in-1 design and 3:2 screen. The HP wins handily on ports, with an extra USB-A port, headphone jack, and MicroSD card reader, plus a USB dock in the box, all versus the Dell’s two USB-C ports alone (not even a headphone jack). The Dell’s keyboard deck and hidden trackpad are beautiful, but the HP wins out on usability, because you don’t have to deal with capacity Escape and Delete keys.
The screens are pretty close in terms of quality, and it’s going to come down to whether you prefer the 3:2 aspect ratio on the HP versus the 16:10 on the Dell. The XPS wins on pure resolution, while the HP is better for more general work with a few extra square inches of space. Both are using beautiful OLED panels with similar color accuracy and brightness. In terms of pure number-crunching, the Dell comes out on top easily with its 14-core i7-1280P. The HP is no slouch, but its lower wattage and 10-core setup (with just two primary cores) simply can’t keep up in a foot race. The Spectre, with its bigger battery, less powerful processor, and slightly lower-res screen, wins on battery life with a 44% margin in a video rundown test.
At the end of the day, reducing these two designs to pure numbers just doesn’t tell the whole story. Even the stuff in the box could make the difference for a lot of buyers — the Dell uses a sleek, tiny power brick for maximum portability, while the HP includes a USB dock and a stylus to really emphasize its flexible 2-in-1 nature. Which one works better for you is a matter of both taste and practical consideration.
Our review of the latest Spectre design is coming soon, but you can check out the full review of the XPS 13 Plus now. For more deep dives in the laptop market, be sure to subscribe to PCWorld on YouTube!