On paper, the specification list shows that you get much more for your money with XPS 15, like dual storage, higher resolution with touchscreen, and slightly faster RAM. It's also the Core i9 processor in XPS that surpasses the same chip in the MacBook Pro, but it's only partially true and something we'll come to later.
So why would anyone pay more for a MacBook Pro? There are many reasons, including security, the Apple ecosystem, reliability, resale value, design, macOS and the Apple brand itself, but in this case, we're worried about which notebook gives the best overall experience.
Both laptops have the same size and weight, but the MacBook is noticeably thinner. Most people will agree that the XPS design is not as good as MacBook's aluminum construction, but it still looks and feels good.
Perhaps the worst part of the XPS design is that it's extremely difficult to open the notebook with one hand. On the MacBook Pro, you can lift the lid from your body only using your pinky finger.
XPS offers a lot more variety in ports, such as an SD card slot, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a single Thunderbolt 3 port that supports up to 40 Gbps speed. The MacBook Pro has just 4 full-speed Thunderbolt 3 ports, with all four supporting any device you need, but just with the right cable or dongle. This could be a deal breaker for many, but USB-C cable prices have recently decreased in price, making it less of a problem.
There is no doubt that XPS has the better screen, with thinner brackets and 4K resolution, and turns the MacBook Pro 2.8K screen in almost every way. Disadvantages for Dell are that the screen is not so clear, it is a bit more reflective, and it forces the webcam underneath the screen for an unattractive camera angle.
Higher resolution sources tend to use more battery power, but the XPS has a battery power greater than 97 watts compared to 83.6 on the MacBook Pro, so the battery life will balance.
The charger is also better on XPS on paper, as it comes with a 130 watt power supply compared to the 87-watt version for the MacBook, so it should technically reboot faster.
The trackpad is probably one of the best portable laptops, but it is still behind Apple's Force Touch Touchpad, which is about twice as big and has a perfect smooth feel wherever you press. It can even be customized by the user's preference, making it difficult to produce a competing version that challenges it adequately.
The keys on the XPS are quite quiet, with good travel and a quality feeling, which results in a keyboard we think most will prefer compared to Apple's minimal travel-filled keys. Apple added a silicon barrier under the keys to fix the dust and debris problem, which potentially provides durability, constitutes one thing from the past.
The volume of the XPS speakers is good enough for most situations, but the sound quality is below and the speakers burn to the bottom, which is fine if it's on a desktop but will be muted when used on a lap ora soft surface. The MacBook speakers face the user with much more bass, clean mids and sharper heights.
MacBook Pro comes with Touch Bar, and we honestly think it's mostly a gimmick. The exception is Touch ID, the fingerprint reading security feature that is also available on XPS.
However, the Touch Bar model comes with Apple's T2 chip, which takes care of a variety of system controllers on behalf of the processor. This includes providing automatic SSD encryption that does not noticeably reduce main storage, which used to be the main disadvantage of encryption of the main drive.
The T2 chip also gives "Hey Siri" on the MacBook, and with macOS Mojave coming soon, you can use it to control your HomeKit devices.
One of our favorite features in XPS 13 was Windows Hello authentication to sign in, a feature similar to the Face ID concept, but unfortunately, the XPS 15 is not equipped with that feature. It is still limited to the biometric safety fingerprint sensor only
The MacBook Pro fingerprint sensor has been overcome because it is supported by hardware encryption so you can use fingerprints for things like Apple Pay purchases.
As mentioned earlier, both notebooks have the same exact processor, but XPS is loaded with the Nvidia's Geforce 1050TI graphics card, which is quite faster than the Radeon Pro 560X in the MacBook Pro.
Right out of the box, XPS 15 will not run at full performance, which requires a change in battery performance settings so that it can run at maximum capacity.
Starting with Geekbench 4, we noticed that the MacBook Pro scored far higher in the multi-core test, despite scoring lower in single-core. This seemed a bit odd as they both use the same exact piece, but then it was discovered that the i9 of the XPS 15 will not run fully unless the charger is plugged in.
A power adapter plugged in showed that the XPS ran about the same performance as the MacBook Pro. As with the battery, we also had to look up the performance shutter on XPS for the connected mode.
Plugging in the MacBook Pro made absolutely no difference, with the same result, whether it ran from the battery or from the mains.
The Cinebench R15 stress test, which runs four times back-to-back, was run first with the power adapters plugged in. After starting the first run, we noticed the 77 watt XPS power watt, and when the temperature reached 97 degrees, the processor went down to an average of 55 watts and 85 degrees celsius.
We also noticed that the clock frequency was very stable and lasted over 3.2 GHz most of the time with a one-time spike down to a low of 2.6 GHz.
XPS scored 1183 on the first round, then 1104, then 1081, and finally 1061, for an average of 1107 points. The gradual decline in scores shows that it is suffering from thermal gas damages in later test runs.
A battery power recovery showed that the processor hit a maximum of 46 watts, much lower than the 77 we saw during charging. The temperature limits only a maximum of 85 degrees, and only for a split second after the start of the second round. The average temperature was 80 degrees, indicating that the thermocouples are not behind the large wattage decrease.
This means that the battery does not charge enough power to get i9 to its full potential without the power adapter being connected, which may circumvent the battery completely. It is unclear whether this is due to a hidden battery-saving measure or that the battery itself can not put out so much voltage.
It was also noted that the clock speed was above all while you were on battery power and hit a shocking low 1.2 GHz multiple times. On battery power alone, XPS 969 scored on first run, 955 in second, then 959 and finally 968, on average 962. This is quite low compared to when it is connected to the charger.
For the MacBook Pro on battery power, the peak was 83 watts initially, before average to about 45 watts. Temperatures shoot close to 100 degrees Celsius shortly afterwards run but quickly cool down to about 93 degrees before it lowers heating up to around 95 degrees before each round is complete.
The average clock speed fluctuates around 3.15 GHz, but did not drop below 3.0 GHz anytime during the test.
MacBook Pro scored 1053 on first round, 979 on second, then 1009, and finally 1029, on average 1017 points. The reason that the second round scored so low is that the fan was a bit late to ramp up, but the temperatures fell as it went in, allowing for a higher clock speed and an increase in score.
MacBook Pro was 5 percent faster than XPS on battery power, but while plugged in, XPS 15 is 9 percent faster than the i9 MacBook Pro.
In the graphics sample, XPS is much better than the MacBook Pro, even under battery power, even though the Geekbench 4 score dropped by 10,000 points.
Ongoing Unigine Heaven's game benchmark, XPS scored 48 frames per second, more than twice what the MacBook Pro scored. After disconnecting the chargers, XPS turned down by a few FPS, and the MacBook Pro got exactly the same score as the plugged-in run.
Now let's see if these drops in performance translate into the real world by testing photo and video editing performance.
Using Lightroom Classic to edit 42MP RAW images, the MacBook Pro was completely smooth when using the sliders in the development module while the XPS had a weak layer. Exporting 100 RAW images to JPEG, MacBook was only 3 percent faster on wall power, and took 5 minutes and 57 seconds compared to XPS with 6 minutes 7 seconds.
The results did not change when there is battery power, but it's important to note that MacBook Pro fans become clearer even if the computer completes the task a little faster.
The delay in adjusting slider controls is probably due to differences between software optimization between operating systems, as XPS technically has the same or better specifications.
We continued video editing and exported a 5 min 4K h.264 project with Premiere Pro effects on both machines, along with Final Cut Pro X on Mac for software comparison.
XPS 15 was much faster when reproducing and exporting the test project, especially when plugged in, and took 9:06 compared to 22:38. On battery power it went down to 12:22, but was still about twice as fast as our Mac.
Monitoring System Utilization, The XPS i9 processor was utilized at around 35 percent while the MacBook was higher at around 50 percent. The graphics were another story, with the Dell 9570 on about 90 percent GPU utilization while the 2018 15-inch i9 was only around 20 percent.
XPS 15's higher GPU load not only reduced rendering times, but also meant that the CPU could run at higher clock speeds, average around 3.5 GHz compared to 2.8 GHz average on Mac. Using Apple's own software shows how optimized software and hardware can be, much better use of both the processor and the GPU and only takes 3 minutes in 44 seconds to complete the task.
|4K H.264 Render and Export|
|i9 MacBook Pro (Premiere)||23:38|
|i9 XPS 15 – Battery (Premiere)||12:22|
|i9 XPS 15 – Wall Power (Premiere)||9:06|
|i9 MacBook Pro (Final Cut Pro X||3:44|
If you are looking at a similar project, but using 4K HEVC files exporting to HEVC, MacBook Pro superior, finished at 5:39 compared to Dell at 7:36 on wall power and 10:13 on the battery. Tested with Final Cut Pro X, the result is a shocking fast 46 seconds. As with all other tests, it got high speed achieved with background rendering turned off, which made it even more impressive.
|HEVC to HEVC||.R3D to H.264|
|i9 MacBook Pro (Premiere)||5:39||7: 23|
|i9 XPS 15 – Battery||10:19||4:14|
|i9 XPS 15 – Wall Power (Premiere)||7:36||2:12|
|i9 MacBook Pro (Final Cut Pro X||0:46||2:22|
Finish with 4.5K RED R3D RAW files, the domain dominates here, at 2:12 time when it's connected to the wall, which turns MacBook Pro into Final Cut on 2: 22. Switch to battery power doubles XPS time almost 4:14, and Mac in Premiere takes much longer 7:34.
This is impressive for a laptop editing of RAW files, especially with Premiere, and this is because both the CPU and the GPU are used near their maximum capacity, which is also the reason why when we pull out of the wall, time dramatically.
While editing, XPS still strikes fans up and down and it's getting annoyingly high. The MacBook Pro may lose performance since it melts more because it drives its fans more slowly and more consistently, but it's more fun to use. In Final Cut, the timeline is very smooth while editing, while in Premiere, XPS has an advantage due to its more powerful graphics, but both machines have some sticks when adding color corrections, titles, and effects.
2018 Dell XPS 9570 is a great choice for anyone who is not affiliated with the Apple ecosystem and needs extra graphics performance, especially those using Premiere Pro. It goes slowly under battery power, but it's still quite faster than using Premiere on top of MacBook Pro.
Players and the cost conscious will probably have a better experience with the XPS 9570. You also get dual SSD capabilities at a lower price and a wide range of ports including an SD card reader.
However, the MacBook Pro 2018 is more refined, with a much better trackpad, better speakers, camera, dedicated T2 chip and all the extra features, and of course MacOS that we strongly prefer to use.
On top of that, for changes between 2017 models and 2018, Apple appears to solve the biggest issue surrounding the MacBook Pro: the butterfly keyboard. Add to the fact that you will not get any downsides on the move compared to XPS, and the MacBook Pro continues to be an attractive suggestion.
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Prefer Dell XPS 15? Dell currently discounted Core i9 XPS 15 with $ 160, and costs the model we tested down to $ 2,799.99.