Dell XPS 13 (model 9310 of 2021) and MacBook Air with M1 are among the most outstanding high-portability laptops on the market. There is a lot in common between Dell and Apple, such as the offer of a high-resolution screen at 13.4 inches, battery with the potential to last more than 12 hours – apple says 18 hours on the Air –, as well as high-end SSDs velocity.
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The differences are due to the systems, with macOS on one side and Windows on the other, the upgrade with SSD only for the XPS 13, and the price. While the Dell appears for R$8,499, the MacBook Air appears cheaper, with values from R$7,699, both on Amazon.
The 2021 edition of the XPS 13 exhibits the same minimalist design as the 2020 version — Photo: Divulgação/Dell
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Both products feature a compact, premium-looking design with an emphasis on superior materials and finish using aluminum, carbon fiber (in the case of the XPS) and even a Gorilla Glass screen coating.
Both have a 13.4-inch screen and also tie in weight, which is 1.2 kg. With reduced dimensions, both the MacBook Air and XPS 13 focus on portability and therefore sacrifice interfaces: the user finds headphone output on both, plus two USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 on the Air and two USB -C with Thunderbolt 4 on Dell. The XPS also has a microSD card reader, a feature absent from the Apple notebook.
In terms of colors, the MacBook has more variation: in addition to the traditional space gray, there are options in gold or silver, while Dell’s XPS is only in the combination of silver and carbon fiber. In networks, both computers are compatible with Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and also provide support for Bluetooth 5.0.
Screen is high resolution in both cases, but MacBook doesn’t have a touch version — Photo: Press/Apple
In terms of screen, the two laptops are the same size but differ in resolution. The MacBook Air is offered by Apple with only 2560 x 1600 pixels, which gives a display in 16:10 aspect and definition level high enough that the individual pixels are not noticeable.
The XPS 13 from Dell can be found in the Brazilian market in two options, both in 16:10, with a Full HD+ screen (1920 x 1200 pixels), or an Ultra HD+ (3840 x 2400 pixels) sensitive to the touch. It’s unlikely that you’ll notice the difference between Dell’s 4K+ screen definition and that of the MacBook Air, something that leaves only touch sensitivity as a relevant differential in this regard.
The XPS 13 runs on Intel’s 11th generation Core i7 1185G7 processor, a state-of-the-art CPU, but it may have difficulty keeping up with Apple’s own designed M1 processor.
M1 processor is Apple’s trump card at the moment — Photo: Press/Apple
The M1 appears in performance benchmarks with performance comparable to CPUs found in gaming laptops, which are generally faster than Dell’s Core i7. In some scenarios, the Intel chip may even be faster, but this will basically depend on the type of application and usage profile of each user.
The two computers also differ greatly in graphics processor. On Apple’s side, the GPU comes embedded in the M1 processor and is Apple’s own design. The Core i7 uses a state-of-the-art Intel Xe Graphics that delivers performance similar to what you would find in a dedicated entry-level graphics card, making the XPS 13 an option for casual or older gaming.
In RAM, the Air can be seen with 8 or 16 GB, while the XPS is currently sold in a single version with 16 GB. On both laptops, these amounts of memory are soldered to the motherboard and cannot be removed or expanded by the user.
There are also differences in the amount of space for data. The Air can be configured by the purchaser with 256, 512GB, 1 or 2TB of data storage space on a high-speed SSD, always soldered – and thus irreplaceable – to the motherboard. On Dell’s computer, there is 1 TB of space on the SSD that can be exchanged by the user – for that, it is necessary to open the computer, which will interfere with the product warranty.
Keeping the breath of its predecessor, the XPS 13 2021 should pass 12 hours of use on a full charge — Photo: Disclosure/Dell
The MacBook Air takes advantage of the more frugal appetite associated with the M1 processor’s ARM architecture to achieve a battery life of up to 18 hours – and that’s all even considering mixed use. Another highlight of the Air is that the design is so efficient that the laptop completely dispenses with active cooling: without a fan, the computer will always work quietly.
Dell doesn’t release an official runtime estimate for the XPS 13, but it’s possible to get a pretty good idea of how much the ultrabook can take out of power. The 2021 model maintains the same 52 Wh (Watts-hour) battery capacity of the 2020 version. In last year’s XPS, this was enough to guarantee 14 hours of operation: the 2021 version should bring something similar, since the biggest difference in hardware it is the processor, more efficient.
Macbook Air can run mobile apps natively — Photo: Press/Apple
A key difference between the two notebooks concerns the user experience: whoever is on a MacBook Air will predominantly use macOS, while the XPS 13 comes with Windows 10. Depending on the types of applications you use in everyday life, it’s possible that your choice ultimately determined predominantly by the machine’s operating system.
The macOS that runs on the current Air is compatible with old apps, developed for Macs with Intel, and also has native support for iOS apps and games. You can use software created for iPhone on MacBook Air naturally. On XPS, something like that should only become a reality with Windows 11.
Both notebooks offer fingerprint authentication technologies. On Dell, there is also the inclusion of facial recognition via Windows Hello, not to mention the touchscreen for those who choose the model with a 4K+ screen.
The XPS 13 hit the market in June at a suggested retail price of R$ 11,999 for the Full HD+ screen version. After just over two months on the market, prices are already better: the option with a lower resolution screen appears in our surveys starting at R$8,499. The UHD+ model, which had a launch price of R$12,699, can be found at R$12,199 at the moment.
On Apple’s side, things are different and with great price variation. The laptop doesn’t sell for less than R$ 12,999 on the brand’s official website on the Internet, but it can be found at more attractive prices in Brazilian retail. On Amazon, the device is seen for R$7,699, a value that makes the Apple laptop a hard option to beat in the ultralight segment.
Dell XPS 13 (9310) vs. Apple MacBook Air M1
|Specifications||Dell XPS 13||MacBook Air M1|
|Launch||June 2021||November 2020|
|Price||from BRL 8,499||from BRL 7,699|
|Screen||13.4 inches||13.4 inches|
|screen resolution||Full HD+ or UHD+||2560 x 1600 pixels|
|Processor||Apple M1||Intel Core i7 1185G7|
|Video card||integrated into the processor||Intel Xe Graphics|
|RAM memory||8 or 16 GB (soldered)||16 GB (soldered)|
|Storage||256, 512GB, 1 or 2TB (Soldered SSD)||1 TB (removable SSD)|
|Ports and interfaces||two USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, headphone output, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0||two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, microSD reader, headphone output, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0|
|Dimensions and weight||30.4 x 21.2 x 1.6 cm; 1.2 kilos||29.5 x 19.8 x 1.4 cm; 1.2 kilos|
|Colors||space gray, gold or silver||silver with black|
With information from Dell and apple
See too: Dell XPS 13 Notebook Review
Unboxing the New Dell XPS 13: The Professional Grade Notebook
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