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Dell XPS 15z Laptop vs Apple MacBook Pro Notebook Computer Review Comparison – Separated at Birth?


Summary. For anyone seeking a high-end performance notebook computer, the Dell XPS 15z laptop computer and Apple MacBook Pro would likely be on the list of systems to consider.

Similar Price. Although the Dell XPS 15z has a retail price of about $1920 for the Core i7 configuration, the online sale price at the time of writing this article was about $1500. A similarly configured Apple MacBook Pro is also $1500. However, this is the smaller 13″ MacBook Pro — the only MacBook Pro available in the slower Core i7 (dual core) processor like the Dell. The 15″ Apple MacBook Pro comes with a quad core processor making it much faster than the Dell as explained below.

Processor Cost Differences. The processor included with the 15″ Apple MacBook Pro has a retail price that’s about $220 more than the Dell version of the Core i7 processor. Most consumers don’t look at the fine print and compare one Core i7 processor to another, yet there can be a huge difference in performance. The base model of the 15″ Apple MacBook Pro costs about $1800 – since the quad core processor costs more.

Processor Performance Difference. It’s expected that the Apple would far outperform the Dell because of the following specifications.

  • Apple Processor. The Apple 15″ MacBook pro comes with a 2.0 GHz Core i7 quad core processor for $1,800 or a 2.2 GHz processor for $2,200. These have a 6MB shared L3 cache. A 2.3 GHz version with 8MB cache is available for $2,500. These are based on the Intel® Core™ i7-2800 Mobile Processor Series. All of these come with the 3.4 GHz turbo boost capability.
    • Given the already amazing processing power of the quad core version of the i7 processor, the marginal gain in upgrading to the 2.3 GHz version (with 2MB more of cache) might not be worth the additional $700.
    • Because it’s a quad core processor, it can have 8 threads. So, when you use the Apple Activity monitor, and view CPU activity, all eight threads will show up – almost as if you had 8 processors.
    • A quad core processor makes a huge difference when processing video and high quality RAW photos. While processing video, for example, you’ll likely see the computer engaging all cores simultaneously.
    • This processor has a retail price of $568.
  • Dell Processor. The Dell comes with low-end 2nd generation Intel Core™ i7-2620M processor 2.70 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 3.40 GHz.
    • This is a dual core processor, not a quad core processor. So, it only has up to four threads instead of the 8 threads that the Apple’s processor has.
    • The cache in this processor is only 4MB.
    • This processor has a retail price of $346.

Video Performance. While both the Apple and Dell will likely have very nice displays, the Dell actually includes a higher resolution display that provides true high definition.

  • Dell Display. The Dell comes with a FHD (full high definition) display that has 1920 x 1080 pixels of resolution.
  • Apple Display. The Apple comes with a 1440 x 800 resolution display, or for $100 more, you can nudge up to 1680 x 1050 resolution, but still not a full HD experience, meaning that, presumably, high definition videos will be automatically adjusted fit the non-optimized dimensions.

Design Similarities. The Dell XPS 15z and Apple MacBook Pro are very similar in their design, as shown by the chart below (click to enlarge). In this regard, Dell seems to have intentionally copied the popular Apple design. With other quality notebook alternatives in the $700 to $900 price range, Dell will need to sell consumers on the value of the design and durability of the XPX 15z. Click image to enlarge.

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com