It seems the holidays will be a battle of ultrabooks. While tablets and smartphones continue to accumulate sales, ultrabooks seem to have a bright future ahead. Even with portable devices like slates and mobile handsets, laptops or notebooks still offer the best computing capacity. As laptops move to the next level as ultrabooks, tech manufacturers like Apple and Dell are taking advantage of it. How do Dell XPS 12 and late 2013 MacBook Pro Retina par?
Dell XPS 12
The Dell XPS 12 is a hybrid featuring a slim-rotating screen. Whereas previous hybrids from the company were not as successful but their latest offerings appear to be improving every refresh or update. The basic design provides users with a center horizontal hinge that they can rotate 180 degree and fold to create a tablet. The first of the series was the Dell Inspiron Duo in 2010 but it was a far cry from what Dell XPS 12 is now.
The Dell XPS 12 offers up to 7 hours of battery life, movable screen including a light and slim body. It runs on Intel Core i5 and 128GB SSD. Just like other ultrabooks it is more expensive than the average laptop starting at $1,199. Whereas the latest XPS 12 only got minor changes compared to the previous models, the most important tweak was with the CPU.
The device now comes with CPUS from Intel's recent fourth-generation Core i-series. Dell finally achieved a great tablet/ultrabook hybrid with excellent battery life. In terms of design, the latest XPS 12 follows the same screen within a thin outer frame look. Nearly every aspect of the physical design is similar to its predecessor.
The XPS 12 offers a well-designed screen mechanism allowing people to snap it to position without fear of slipping. According to Dell, the company tested the mechanism up to 20,000 cycles to ensure sturdiness.
As an overview, basic specs include: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 touch screen, 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 4200U, 4,096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz, 1,745MB Intel HD Graphics 4400, 128GB solid-state drive, 802.11b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 and Windows 8 (64-bit).
The slim design of the device compromises the collection of connections and ports on the ultrabook. It does not have an SD card slot and it provides a DisplayPort output instead of the standard HDMI. Dell XPS 12 also features an NFC antenna ideal for looking and connecting to NFC devices. People can choose from three stock configurations:
- Intel Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD
- Same processor but double RAM up to 8GB
- Intel Core i7 CPU with up to 512 GB SSD
Given its processor and hardware combinations, the Dell XPS 12 performs at par with similar ultrabooks on the market. The device is ideal for office productivity, social media, Web surfing and other mainstream use. Since it does not have discrete graphics chip, it may not be suitable for gaming.
2013 Haswell MacBook Pro
The newest 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina display models are lighter and thinner than before. The lighter design ensures greater portability but the faster integrated graphics and increased battery life makes it an even better choice.
The recently announced models of the 13-inch MacBook Pros appear just like their predecessors although they are 0.04 inch thinner and 2 ounces lighter. The difference in weight and thickness may not be apparent when looking at the models side by side but Apple assures the difference is there.
The latest models contain similar ports and connections are previous generations. These include a headphone jack, two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port plus an SDXC card slot. The new generation also features two Thunderbolt 2 ports. The ports ought to deliver quicker throughput compared to the preceding variants.
Similar to other Retina models, the 13-inch models still do not have Ethernet ports, optical drives and FireWire connectors. Apple changed the WiFi configuration to 802.11ac. This gives users better and swifter wireless transfer speeds.
Apple did not change the Retina display configurations. For the purpose of this comparison, the 13-inch model served as the reference product. As the name implies, the device sports a 13.3-inch screen with 2560 x 1600 pixels. All of the latest 13-inch MacBook Pros run with fourth-generation Intel Core i5 Haswell processors.
The entry level 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro starts at $1299 and runs on dual-core 2.4GHz Core i5 processor including 128GB of flash storage. This is comparatively low especially for people who work and store considerable amount of movies, music and photos. For those who want more storage, they can use cloud storage or external drives.
The high end 13-incher starts at $1799 running on dual-core 2.6GHz Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM including 256GB flash storage. The latest Retina MacBook Pros pack on PCIe-connected flash storage. This is faster compared to the SATA-connected flash previous models used.
While the previous models depend on integrated graphics, this year's models rely on Intel's higher-end Iris graphics. This means around 45% to 65% improvement in frame rates.
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