When comparing Surface Book vs Dell XPS 15, the Slant community recommends Dell XPS 15 for most people. In the question“What is the best laptop for programming?” Dell XPS 15 is ranked 4th while Surface Book is ranked 13th. The most important reason people chose Dell XPS 15 is:
Two display choices are available for the XPS 15, an Ultra HD touchscreen or a Full HD non-touch screen. Both screens have a very wide array of colors as they cover approximately 100% of sRGB color space. The viewing angle is around 170 degrees. However, at 45 degrees, slight color change can be noticed. With around 350 nit output for brightness, it’s a viable choice for outdoor usage. All of this makes it an amazing display.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Great touch display
Surface Book has a detachable, 13.5”, 3000x2000, 10 point multi-touch PixelSense display. It has good viewing angles, color reproduction and strong, 1700:1 contrast ratio.
Pro Great performance
Can be equipped with the latest specs in terms of processors, graphics cards, etc.
Pro Versatile design
It can be used as a standard touch laptop, the hinge allows it to be used in a tent configuration and the screen can be detached from the rest of the body to be used as a standard tablet.
Pro Comes bundled with a great stylus
The stylus can be magnetically attached to the side of the screen.
Pro Good trackpad
The Surface book has a large, accurate 5-point multitouch trackpad.
Pro Zero bloatware
Pro Great laptop battery life
Laptop battery life lasts for an excellent 12 hours on a single charge.
Pro Great key spacing
Microsoft's years of experience creating keyboards are noticeable in the keyboard's layout as keys are spaced in a way that will be intuitive to most users.
Pro Magnetically sealed lid
The lid of the Surface Book is, when closed, magnetically sealed.
Pro Durable design
Pro Amazing display
Two display choices are available for the XPS 15, an Ultra HD touchscreen or a Full HD non-touch screen. Both screens have a very wide array of colors as they cover approximately 100% of sRGB color space.
The viewing angle is around 170 degrees. However, at 45 degrees, slight color change can be noticed.
With around 350 nit output for brightness, it’s a viable choice for outdoor usage. All of this makes it an amazing display.
Pro Good battery life if you pick the 1080p display
Models with the 1080p screen last about 10 hours with general usage. Naturally, if more intensive tasks are involved, the battery will be drained faster.
Pro Solid keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard and trackpad are reliable and solid all-around. The keyboard is responsive but is not super “clicky”, rather a bit soft. It has a white backlight on black keys that illuminates them at night. The touchpad is rather large while having no buttons. Despite this, the XPS 15 can reliably distinguish between the left and right clicks which are done on the trackpad itself.
Pro Optional password-free-sign-in via a fingerprint reader
For an additional $25 it’s possible to enjoy a password-free-sign-in by having a fingerprint reader. It will keep your laptop safe while still providing convenient access to it.
Pro Operates well on a Linux system
All essential things, like network connectivity, ports and sound, work right “out-of-the-box” with a Linux operating system. There is a compatibility issue on the new 9560 model with its graphics card but the laptop is still very usable with its integrated Intel graphics card.
Pro Can run most modern games
Being an excellent all-rounder, it can be used as a gaming laptop for games that are not exceptionally demanding, like Overwatch or Dota 2. Unless you’re using the cheapest model, you can expect a reasonable 60 frames per second for almost all modern games, provided that you’re willing to lower the game’s settings.
Pro Very well-rounded laptop
The cheapest configuration is a great choice for general non-intensive use - things like internet browsing, watching movies and similar tasks.
Whereas the more expensive configurations are gradually more capable of intensive tasks, like video editing or gaming. It’s not as good as a specialized computer built for a specific purpose, like a video editing laptop with an enormous RAM size or a gaming laptop with a superior graphics card, but it’s a very well-rounded, reliable laptop.
Pro Slick design
The whole design is quite stylish. The aluminium chassis provides a very clean look while the black carbon fiber palm rest with an almost borderless display cements it as a visually modern laptop. All of this is made with a premium build quality.
Con Comes with Windows that lacks developer tooling
Developer tools under Windows are lacking compared to OSX and Linux. And while it's possible to replace the OS, dual-boot or run a VM environment for development, it's extra hassle that you have to deal with.
Con No USB-C port
USB-C will be the prominent new port used, as it can manage much more than previous USB ports. While it isn't widely adapted yet for accessories, some computers being sold today only have USB-C, which will really help push for more USB-C devices down the road. For now it isn't a big issue, but in a few years the lack of a USB-C port could limit the accessories you use to older options (unless you want to carry adapters around).
Con Far too expensive for specs
Con The screen and keyboard isn't protected from dirt when laptop is closed
The laptop leaves a gap on the side when it's closed allowing for dust and dirt get to the screen and keyboard.
Con Keybord might not be for everyone
Surface Book has a keyboard with a uncommonly low travel that might require some getting used to.
Con 3K, not 4K display
Most laptops in this price range have 4K laptops.
Con No Kaby Lake CPU options
Kaby Lake is Intel's 7th generation processors, which weren't available when the Surface Book was first released. As such, it isn't possible to get the current Surface Book with these newly optimized processors.
Con 3h of battery in tablet mode
According to a TechCrunch video, 3/4 of the battery is stored in the base and 1/4 in the tablet. That 1/4 of the battery will last you about 3h.
Con Screen's aspect ratio might require some getting used to
Surface Book uses a 3:2 aspect ratio compared to the more traditional 16:9 or 16:10 used in most other laptops. The aspect ratio also means that most videos will be letterboxed.
Con The hinge is not as resistive as a typical hinge of common laptops
The hinge can slightly wobble when the Surface Book is used in a lap. This is especially important on this computer as it has a touchscreen you'll want to use and also a pressure sensitive pen which won't work great in laptop mode without support.
Con Hinge scratches any surface it touches.
The hinge when the screen is open will scratch the surface that the Surface Book is sitting on. That nice glass table you're working on? Ruined. Your antique table? Worthless.
Con Battery doesn’t hold long with the Ultra HD screen
If you’re choosing the configuration with an Ultra HD screen, expect a very short battery life of around 6 hours for general usage. With more intensive tasks it's even less than that.
Con 9560 model's GPU has compatibility issues on Linux
The new 9560 model has some trouble accepting its GTX 1050 Ti video card while running a Linux operating system. Fortunately, the integrated Intel graphics card is capable enough to substitute it. The manufacturers are probably aware of the issue and will, most likely, release an update for it.
Con Palmrest collects sweat
The palm rest is made from carbon fiber which attracts fingerprints and sweat. After some time it gets kind of unpleasant to touch and needs to be cleaned.
Con Some ghosting in games
The display is not intended for gaming purposes so it can produce an effect called “ghosting”. Ghosting is when the pixels are not able to change their colors fast enough, so the color of the preceding frame can still be slightly seen on the next frame. This causes a blurring effect. Note that it only happens on high framerates coupled with fast objects.
Con Noisy fans
The laptop is very quiet during idle and light usage but when there is some workload, the fans get quite loud and distracting.
Con Awkward webcam location
The webcam is located under the screen instead of on top. It means that your face will be shown from a lower angle which can seem a bit weird. It also means that your fingers can partially obstruct the webcam while you’re typing.
Con Audible coil whine
Coil whine can be heard when it’s generally quiet and the fans are not running. Audible when the laptop is connected to the power supply. The manufacturers have acknowledged it as a problem and, if possible, will push out an update which should eliminate it. Until then, it’s still a gripe.