The new Dell XPS 13 totally undermines the MacBook Air |  Digital trends

The new Dell XPS 13 totally undermines the MacBook Air | Digital trends

The Dell XPS 13 2022 marks a turning point in the history of this iconic laptop. With the XPS 13 Plus making its debut in the lineup, Dell has pivoted the standard XPS 13 into an extremely value-based offering.

But Dell isn’t going after Windows rivals with this decision – its aim seems to be to undermine the MacBook Air M1. The crazy thing? Dell may have succeeded.

The continued success of the MacBook Air

The MacBook Air M1 is now two years old. Kicking off the launch of its Apple Silicon, this laptop showed just how far the M1 has taken Apple. The chassis was identical to previous models in the line, and there was almost nothing in the way of new features, but the 2020 MacBook Air update was aimed almost entirely at showing off what the M1 could do. And man, the world of laptops – and computing as a whole – is still trying to catch up.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? Just consider this: no comparable Windows laptop has come out in the past two years that rivals the MacBook Air M1 in terms of performance, battery life, or surface temperatures.

There are plenty of 13-inch Windows laptops out there, but we just haven’t seen Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and HP find ways to keep up with the MacBook Air. Even with the huge improvements we’ve seen from Intel and AMD over the past two years, ARM’s raw efficiency is still hard to beat.

Apple MacBook Air M1 open, on a table.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

In many ways, even Apple itself didn’t know how to keep up with the MacBook Air M1. The MacBook Air M2 looks great, but by pricing it higher and keeping the MacBook Air M1 in the lineup, a true successor to this laptop still hasn’t come.

It’s the MacBook Air M1’s $999 price tag that makes it such a great value.

It’s incredibly rare that a two-year-old tech still comes highly recommended, and yet the MacBook Air M1 did just that. And until now, it’s been hard to imagine just how much a Windows laptop could really compete. But Dell has spent the past two years finding a way. And between the XPS 13 Plus and the standard XPS 13, the solution may have arrived.

But the price

The side of the Dell XPS 13 on a table.

The Dell XPS 13 (9315) can’t compete apples to apples with the MacBook Air M1, especially if it had followed its previous path. Instead, Dell seems to have made the decision to bypass the MacBook Air rather than compete with it directly.

The new XPS 13 comes in a starter configuration that costs just $829. That’s cheaper than the XPS 13, especially since it comes with 512GB of storage instead of 256GB. When configured the same, the XPS 13 is $400 cheaper than the Macbook Air. It is important.

Of course, the MacBook Air is still a more powerful, longer-lasting, and quieter laptop. But Dell has made strides to compete in each of those categories — at least enough to make the $829 price point quite attractive. The key is the processor Dell chose for the laptop, which is a 9-watt Core i5-1230U or Core i7-1250U. These are less powerful chips than the standard 15 watt processors, and probably, they are a bit cheaper for Dell to buy from Intel.

This all translates to less performance, but improved battery life, quieter systems, and a cheaper price. In other words, a laptop that pretty much matches the strongest aspects of the MacBook Air.

The lack of performance is certainly cause for concern, but for the tasks a laptop like this is meant to be used for, it’s probably more than enough. On top of all that, it’s only 0.55 inches thick, which means it’s even thinner than the MacBook Air M1.

A bold move

Dell XPS 13 USB-C port.

When the decision to split the line between two different 13-inch XPS laptops was announced, I was skeptical. It seemed like an odd decision at the time, especially when only the XPS 13 Plus was available. But now Dell’s strategy has become fully visible, bolstered by its aggressive pricing. The MacBook Air M1 hasn’t been replaced by the XPS 13, but it’s now starting to look quite expensive.

Hopefully more Windows laptops catch on and find new ways to compete with Apple. Until then, the Dell XPS 13 is as good of a MacBook Air alternative as we’ve seen yet.

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