It’s no secret that 15-inch (and larger) laptops are driving portable computing. They are used for gaming, content creation, video editing, and serious work.
Two of the best laptops are the Dell XPS 15 and the Apple MacBook Pro 16. They’re both great laptops that offer great performance, great build quality, and great input options – but which one? is the best for you ?
Table of Contents
|Dell XPS 15 9520||Apple MacBook Pro 16|
|Dimensions||13.56 inches x 9.06 inches x 0.73 inches||14.01 inches x 9.77 inches x 0.66 inches|
|lester||4.62 pounds||4.8 pounds|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-12500H
Intel Core i7-12700H
Intel Core i9-12900HK
|Apple M1 Pro
Apple M1 Max
|Chart||Intel UHD Graphics
Intel Iris Xe
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti
|Integrated Apple GPU|
64 GB (M1 max)
|Display||15.6 inch 16:10 Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS non-touch
15.6 inch 16:10 UHD+ (3840 x 2400) IPS touchscreen
15.6 inch 16:10 3.5K (3456 x 2160) touchscreen OLED
|16.2 inch 16:10 Liquid Retina XDR (3456 x 2234)|
|Storage||512 GB SSD
|512 GB SSD
|Ports||1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 SD card reader
|3 USB-C 4 ports with Thunderbolt 4
1 HDMI 2.0 port
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 SD card reader
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2||WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0|
|Operating system||Windows 11||macOS Monterey|
|Battery||86 watt hours||100 watt hour|
|Evaluation||4.5 out of 5 stars||5 out of 5 stars|
Your first decision is which operating system is right for you. If you don’t have a preference, read on. But if you’re a fan of one over the other, the hardware won’t matter – your decision has already been made.
If not, you’ll be pleased to know that both laptops offer great design and ruggedness. The XPS 15 combines machined aluminum and carbon fiber (black keyboard deck) or fiberglass (white keyboard deck), while the MacBook Pro 16 is built from a single piece of ‘aluminum. Both have a snug fit and finish and feel very stiff in the hand – you won’t make your decision based on build quality alone.
Aesthetically, the MacBook Pro 16 is a simpler design. It’s either silver or space gray, with just the black keyboard section and the black Apple logo on the lid breaking up the color scheme. It’s a study in understated elegance, and although it’s a minimalist design, it still exudes quality. The XPS 15 is more elaborately designed, with silver or frosted aluminum making up the lid and bottom of the chassis and a black carbon fiber or white glass keyboard creating a nice contrast. The sides are made of double anodized chrome which accentuates the streamlined chassis and provides additional protection against scratches. Both laptops are fine machines, and which is better is up to subjective tastes.
Despite a relatively short stroke at just 1mm, the MacBook’s Magic Keyboard is crisp, snappy and responsive. It’s the best keyboard available on a laptop today. Dell’s XPS 15 keyboard is also excellent, with more travel and its own precise mechanism. Both keyboards have large keys and wide key spacing, which combined with excellent switches make them well suited for long typing sessions.
The MacBook Pro 16’s touchpad is also superior to the XPS 15’s. While Dell sports a thin touchpad that’s large by Windows 11 standards and supports Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers, it doesn’t compare to the Apple’s expansive Force Touch trackpad. It takes a little getting used to with the MacBook’s haptic feedback method of registering “clicks” versus the XPS 15’s physical buttons. Once you get used to it, however, it becomes second nature. Apple’s touchpad also remains the most responsive when it comes to the plethora of multitouch gestures supported by macOS.
The XPS 15 uses a fingerprint scanner and facial recognition to support Windows 11 Hello, which works well for logging in without a password. Apple has its Touch ID fingerprint reader which also allows passwordless login. These are two excellent solutions that work very well.
When it comes to ports, there are key differences between the two. Apple has expanded connectivity on the MacBook Pro 16, offering a full-size HDMI port and a full-size SD card reader to go along with three USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 and a 3.5mm audio jack. Dell offers a less diverse range of connectivity, with just one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a full-size SD card reader. The XPS 15 offers Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, an advantage over the MacBook Pro 16’s Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.
The MacBook Pro 16 can be equipped with Apple’s M1 Pro or M1 Max processor. The first offers a 10-core processor (eight performance and two efficiency) and a 16-core processor. The latter is a 10-core CPU but offers 24 or 32 GPU cores. Both are blazingly fast for CPU-intensive tasks and scorching creative workflows. We tested the MacBook with the M1 Pro chip.
The Dell XPS 15 offers Intel’s 12th-generation 45-watt processors, including the Core i5-12500H (four performance cores, eight efficient cores, and 16 threads), Core i7-12700H (six performance cores, eight efficient cores and 20 threads) and the Core i9-12900HK (the same number of cores and threads as the Core i7 but a maximum Turbo frequency of 5.0 GHz compared to 4.7 GHz). The range offers improved performance over Intel’s 11th Gen processors and competes well with the M1 Pro in most of our benchmarks.
For example, when switched to performance mode, the XPS 15 trailed the MacBook Pro 16 in Geekbench 5, was faster in our Handbrake test which encodes a 420MB video in H.265, and was faster in Cinebench. R23. The MacBook Pro 16, however, was significantly faster in the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark that runs in a live version of Premiere Pro, showing off the M1 Pro’s prowess in real-world tasks. And, the MacBook Pro 16 can be upgraded to an M1 Max which will still be much faster.
The only area where the XPS 15 will outperform the MacBook Pro 16 is in gaming, thanks to its discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti processor, but even there the difference won’t be extreme.
Both laptops are fast enough for creative applications, but the MacBook Pro 16 is the faster option for demanding creators.
|Dell XPS 15 9520
|Apple MacBook Pro 16
|Geek Bench 5
(single / multiple)
|Balance: 1,470 / 9,952
Performance: 1,714 / 11,053
|1,773 / 12,605|
(single / multiple)
|Balance: 1,509 / 11,578
Performance: 1,806 / 13,313
|1,531 / 12,343|
|Pugetbench Premiere Pro||Balance: 760
The MacBook Pro 16 comes with a single display option, a 16.2-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina XDR (mini-LED) panel running at 3,456 x 2,234 resolution. It offers unparalleled contrast at 475,200 :1 for inky blacks and brightness at 475 nits, with a wide color gamut (100% sRGB and 90% AdobeRGB), and exceptional accuracy at a DeltaE of 1.04 (less than 1, 0 is considered excellent).
The XPS 15 offers a variety of 16:10 15.6-inch displays, including non-touch Full HD+ (1920 x 1200), touch UHD+ (3840 x 2400), and 3.5K OLED ( 3456 x 2160). We reviewed the OLED version, and it was a truly spectacular experience. Brightness was high at 391 nits, although considerably lower than the MacBook Pro 16, and contrast was 381,130:1 with deep blacks. The color gamut was wider than MacBooks at 100% sRGB and 96% AdobeRGB, with significantly better accuracy at 0.42.
Both screens are excellent for creators, with wide, accurate colors and true blacks. They are also great for productivity work and media consumption. Call this category a draw.
|Dell XPS 15||Apple MacBook Pro 16|
(DeltaE, lower is better)
|Contrast ratio||381 130:1||475 200:1|
The MacBook Pro 16 has a larger 16.2-inch screen, so its chassis is slightly larger than the XPS 15, but both benefit from thin display bezels that allow for as small a chassis as possible. The MacBook is thinner than the XPS 15 at 0.66 inches versus 0.73 inches, but it’s slightly heavier at 4.8 pounds versus 4.62 pounds. In short, both are equally portable – or not portable, depending on your height and weight tolerance.
The XPS 15 is available with an 86 watt-hour battery, while the MacBook Pro 16 comes with a whopping 100 watt-hour battery capacity, the maximum allowed on airline flights. Even more important is the incredible efficiency of Apple’s M1 Pro and Max chips.
Simply put, the MacBook Pro 16 delivers amazing battery life for such a powerful laptop with a large, power-hungry screen. It nearly doubles the battery life of the XPS 15, which in itself isn’t bad for a portable workstation. You’ll get two days of work on the MacBook Pro 16, while you’ll get only one day on the XPS 15. And even if you push the CPU and GPU, the MacBook Pro 16 could get a full day of work.
|MSI Z17 Creator
|Apple MacBook Pro 16
|web browsing||9 hours, 38 minutes||6:35 p.m.|
|Video||12 hours, 40 minutes||23 hours 11 minutes|
The MacBook Pro 16 is more powerful, but it’ll cost you
This is where the XPS 15 and MacBook Pro 16 diverge the most. Dell offers a configuration of the XPS 15 that starts at just $1,420 for an Intel Core i5-12500H, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Intel UHD graphics, and a 15.6-inch Full HD+ non-touch display. You can spend up to $3,331 for a Core i9-12900HK, 64GB RAM, 2TB SSD, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, and 3.5K OLED display.
The MacBook Pro 16 is a much more expensive laptop, especially at the lower end. The entry-level configuration is $2,499 for an M1 Pro with 10 CPU cores and 16 GPU cores, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. At the very high end, you can spend up to at $6,099 for an M1 Max with 10 CPU cores and 32 GPU cores, 64GB of RAM and an 8TB SSD.
The MacBook Pro 16 is the best all-around laptop, with more high-end performance, incredible battery life, and a spectacular display. It is the best choice for the most demanding creators. Dell’s XPS 15 is a better mainstream laptop though, costing around half the price fully configured and offering its own excellent performance. What is right for you depends entirely on the depth of your pockets.