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MacBook Pro 2021 vs Dell XPS 13: 4 key differences

It’s the battle for the ages, the renowned Dell XPS 13 against the new and improved Apple MacBook Pro. But with both offering excellent specs you may justifiably be wondering which will win out?

The Apple MacBook Pro 2021 was announced recently at the Unleashed event, showing off a whole new chipset and boosting the title of possibly the best performing laptop from Apple yet.

The Dell XPS 13 has been on the market for a little longer at this point, but it’s still a formidable foe for Apple, getting the honour of the rare 5/5 stars from us during testing.

Keep scrolling to see how these two laptops differ and which one comes out on top based on our current knowledge of the two products.

Also make sure to check back later as we’ll update this page with our definitive verdict once we’ve had the MacBook Pro in for testing.

Processors

The MacBook Pro 2021’s most interesting feature is its new M1 Pro and M1 Max chipset. The new chips are made by Apple and set to make their debut on the new MacBook. The M1 Pro is the default option, but you can upgrade the 16-inch variation to the M1 Max – the most powerful of the two – if you want even more speed.

The MacBook Pro is being specifically targeted at creators, the chipsets should allow for a speedy performance even while running high-intensity tasks like video editing or 3D rendering.

Dell XPS 13 OLED

The Dell XPS 13 was not made with creatives in mind per se, but it packs in Intels 11th-Generation processors, with the option between the Intel Core i5-1135G7 or Intel Core i7-1185G7 chips. These will run basic productivity tasks like a dream and should be able to handle most mid-level tasks with ease, with our review even mentioning it was able to handle more taxing applications like Photoshop and Premiere Pro. Just don’t expect to be doing complex Vector work on it, based on experience.

It’s not surprising that the MacBook Pro has more processing power, but knowing that the XPS 13 can handle some of the higher-intensity tasks is good to know if you’re someone that only occasionally dabbles in photo editing you may find that Dell has you covered.

Design and ports

The design on these two laptops is pretty different, which isn’t that shocking seeing as they were made by two different brands.

The MacBook Pro has even switched things up by Apple’s standards; there’s a smaller bezel than before with the infamous notch we’ve all grown to hate that also appears on the iPhone 13. You can also get the Pro in two sizes, 14-inches and 16-inches, with the latter weighing in at a hefty 2.2kg.

Macbook Pro 2021 13

The Pro also includes three Thunderbolt 4 ports, despite no longer featuring an Intel processor. You can get the laptop in 14 and 16-inch variations.

Thunderbolt takes on the shape of a USB-C port but it can do a lot more; it can power devices and transfer data at IP to 32Gbps, making it a handy add-on if you need to move any heavy-duty files off your laptop.

The Dell XPS 13, meanwhile, has a 13.3-inch infinity edge screen, which means it has no notch whatsoever, with a 3.5K resolution that keeps things looking sharp.

The XPS 13 also supports 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, which isn’t that shocking since it runs on an Intel processor. The laptop is also skinny and lightweight, sitting at just 1.16kg, which makes it a great portable laptop option, while the MacBook Pro weighs in at 1.6kg.

Operating System

One of the most noticeable differences between Apple and Windows devices is the change in OS; the MacBook Pro is powered by macOS Monterey, which came out in full today after being in beta since July.

The updated OS has new features like an overhauled Safari, with the ability to group tabs together, as well as Universal Control, which connects to your Mac and iPad to use the same trackpad, mouse and keyboard across both devices without any setup required.

The XPS 13 comes with Windows 10 preinstalled, however, you are more than welcome to install Windows 11, which came out to the public fully in early October.

Dell XPS 13 OLED

Dell actually recommends that users install Windows 11 Pro for business, and all Windows 10 PCs are eligible for the upgrade for free. Interestingly enough, the latest upgrade is reminiscent of macOS, with a central taskbar and app dock.

The performance has also been improved from the last iteration, with Microsoft claiming that updates will be 40% faster and can happen automatically in the background to help streamline the experience.

Price

The MacBook Pro 2021 is not for anyone on a budget. The high-end laptop has a starting price of £1899 for the 14-inch, with the 16-inch unit taking on a steep £2399 price tag to start.

However, do keep in mind that the latest Pro is not meant for the regular consumer, and you should only buy it if you’re going to make the most out of the impressive amount of graphics power. This will mean that mainly, the MacBook Pro will be bought and targetted at creatives, not office workers.

The Dell XPS 13 has a much more standard price tag; starting at £899 and going as high as £999, this laptop is much more affordable and is almost cheap considering its high-end capabilities.

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