When comparing Dell XPS 15 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4, the Slant community recommends Dell XPS 15 for most people. In the question“What are the best laptops for Linux?” Dell XPS 15 is ranked 5th while Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is ranked 12th. 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 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 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 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 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.
Pro Great pen support
The (included) Surface Pen has a very interesting set of features - it allows for 1024 points of pressure, has an eraser on top, and when you click the eraser it will open Cortana (Microsoft's new voice assistant). It's magnetized, so it will stick to the left side of the Surface. The Surface achieves all of this via its new N-trig technology (replacing the Wacom technology found in older generation models). There's also palm rejection technology, so whenever the pen tip it close to the screen is will ignore all finger or palm touches.
Pro Laptop-level specs
The Surface Pro 4 comes in configurations from core M up to a core i7. RAM starts at 4GB, and goes to 16GB. Storage caps out at 256GB of SSD storage, which should be enough for most users. These are all specs that can be found in most laptops - even beating out some budget-midrange desktop options.
Pro Good expandability options
The Surface has a USB 3.0 port that can be used for a mouse to be plugged in, or you can plug in a USB hub or Microsoft's own Surface Dock, which has 4 USB 3.0 ports, audio output, Gigabit Ethernet, and two HD video ports. The Surface Dock allows for as much expandability (or more) as most laptops out there. There's also a SD card slot if you need more storage (current SD card sizes range up to 200GB, although this won't be as fast as the internal SSD speeds).
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.
You can find a computer with similar specs for about half the price of the Surface Pro 4. You are paying a premium for the high-end build quality, for the engineering required to manufacture a fully portable computer, as well as for the high resolution touchscreen.
Con Lack of touch-focused apps
Windows has traditionally been a mouse-and-keyboard operating system. Finally, third party apps are starting to become more touch friendly, although it's a long, slow process. The Windows Store still lacks many big titles, which means the only option is to download the regular Windows version of most apps, which are rarely touch-friendly.