Dell XPS 15 vs. XPS 17: performance, display, and More

You’d be forgiven for mistaking the Dell XPS 17 for only a slightly bigger XPS 15. Both have large displays packed into the smallest chassis possible, and both boast some ambitious performance claims. However, there’s more going on between the two than meets the eye.

Just how big of a difference is there between the XPS 15 9530 and the XPS 17 9730? Here’s everything you need to know about these two great laptops, and which you should buy. Note that both laptops received refreshes in 2023 that upped the CPU and GPU but left the rest of the laptop alone. Neither is as compelling compared to the competition as it was in previous generations.

Specs

  Dell XPS 15 9530 Dell XPS 17 9730
Dimensions 13.56 inches x 9.06 inches x 0.73 inches 14.74 inches x 9.76 inches x 0.77 inches
Weight 4.23 pounds (non-touch)
4.62 pounds (touch)
4.87 pounds non-touch
5.37 pounds touch
Processor Intel Core i5-13500H
Intel Core i7-13700H
Intel Core i9-13900H
Intel Core i5-13500H
Intel Core i7-13700H
Intel Core i9-13900HK
Graphics Intel Iris Xe
Intel Arc A370M
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 (40W)
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 (40W)
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 (40W)
Intel UHD graphics
Intel Iris Xe graphics
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050 (60W)
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060 (60W)
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 (60W)
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 (60W)
RAM 8GB DDR5
16GB DDR5
32GB DDR5
64GB DDR5
8GB DDR5
16GB DDR5
32GB DDR5
64GB DDR5
Display 15.6-inch 16:10 Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS
15.6-inch 16:10 3.5K (3456 x 2160) OLED
17.0-inch 16:10 Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS
17.0-inch 16:10 4K+ (3840 x 2400) IPS
Storage  512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
2TB PCIe SSD
4TB PCIe SSD
8TB PCIe SSD (2 x 4TB SSDs)
512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
2TB PCIe SSD
4TB PCIe SSD
8TB PCIe SSD (2 x 4TB SSDs)
Touch Optional Optional
Ports 1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Full-size SD card reader
4 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Full-size SD card reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 720p with Windows 11 Hello infrared camera 720p with Windows 11 Hello infrared camera
Operating system Windows 11 Windows 11
Battery 86 watt-hours 97 watt-hours
Price $1,500 $2,450+
Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.5 out of 5 stars

Design

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

There aren’t any significant design features that distinguish the Dell XPS 17 from its smaller sibling. The XPS 15 was redesigned in 2020 and launched alongside the XPS 17, which was the first of its kind. Since then, the two laptops have received minor revisions, but the overall design has remained the same. The XPS 17 uses an identical keyboard and large touchpad, and it also borrows the same black carbon fiber and silver aluminum materials for the palm rests, lid, and chassis.

The size, though, is where these two laptops depart. There are 1.4 inches of diagonal difference in screen size between the two, which makes the XPS 17 both the larger and heavier option.

The XPS 15 weighs 4.62 pounds, which is about three-quarters of a pound lighter than the XPS 17. You can feel the difference when lugging it around in your backpack or even resting it on your lap. That applies to the dimensions of these devices, as well. The XPS 15 is 5% thinner at 0.73 inches thick. The XPS 17’s overall footprint is also 17% larger.

If you opt for the non-touch models, both XPS laptops are lighter (starting at 4.23 or 4.87 pounds, respectively), though it’s the same percentage difference.

Ports

Dell XPS 17 9730 left side view showing ports.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

There are two important differences between the XPS 15 and XPS 17. First, the XPS 15 offers just three USB-C ports, whereas the XPS 17 has four. More than that, all four of the XPS 17’s four USB-C ports also support Thunderbolt 4 as opposed to just two of the XPS 15’s.

Thunderbolt 4 means faster data transfer speeds, 4K display output at 60Hz, charging, and the ability to power external graphics cards. Both devices also include a headphone jack and a full-size SD card slot.

Display

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The display selection between the XPS 15 and XPS 17 is another point of differentiation. They both use a 16:10 aspect ratio and share one resolution option for IPS displays: Full HD+ (1920 x 1200). The XPS 17 offers a UHD+ (3840 x 2400) IPS display while the XPS 15 has a 3.5K (3456 x 2160) OLED option. The lower resolution is used in all the base models, while the higher resolution panels are options.

We tested the XPS 15 with the OLED display, and it offered extremely wide and accurate colors, decent brightness, and OLED’s typical inky-black contrast. The XPS 17’s IPS UHD+ display is also excellent, with even wider colors, significantly more brightness, and a very high contrast ratio for an IPS panel that can’t match the XPS 15’s OLED panel.

Both displays are excellent for creators who demand wide and accurate colors. The XPS 15’s OLED display offers incredibly deep blacks and better high dynamic range (HDR) support, so it’s the better all-around display.

I didn’t test the lower-resolution models, but Dell tends to use lower-quality screens on its base models.

Dell XPS 15 9530
(OLED)
Dell XPS 17 9730
(IPS)
Brightness
(nits)
358 501
AdobeRGB gamut 96% 100%
 sRGB gamut 100% 100%
Accuracy
(DeltaE, lower is better)
1.31 1.33
Contrast ratio 24,850:1 1,570:1

Performance

Dell XPS 17 9370 front view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Ultimately, the reason for the existence of the XPS 17 is extra performance. It’s more than just a slightly bigger version of the XPS 15, largely thanks to its more powerful GPU options. You can configure the XPS 17 with up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080, whereas the XPS 15 maxes out at an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070. Both GPUs are powered down compared to gaming machines, with the XPS 15’s running at 40 watts and the XPS 17 at 60 watts.

Note that both laptops utilize Dell’s thermal control utility that allows tuning the fans and CPU speed for quieter operation or faster performance. I’ve reported both balanced and performance mode results in the table below. In most tests, neither laptop demonstrated much of a difference in performance mode. The Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark which runs in a live version of Adobe’s Premiere Pro and uses the GPU to speed up certain operations was the exception.

Both laptops utilized the same CPU, the 45-watt, 14-core (six Performance and eight Efficient), 20-thread Core i7-13700H, and their performance was similar in our synthetic benchmarks. That’s likely due to the larger chassis and more room to move air in and heat out.

Each laptop was equipped with the RTX 4070 GPU, although the XPS 17’s was clocked faster. Surprisingly, the XPS 15 did better in the Pugetbench benchmark, where the XPS 17 fell way behind. This speed difference has a significant impact on large video projects, and the smaller laptop surprisingly took the lead.

Both laptops offer processor options that range from the Intel Core i5-13500H up to the Core i9-13900H. The memory and storage options are also the same: Both laptops support up to 64GB of DDR5 RAM and can be configured with up to 2TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD storage (with two 1TB SSDs running in RAID 0). In terms of gaming, the XPS 15 was faster in performance mode than the XPS 17, again a surprise given the GPU power differences.

Dell XPS 15 9530
(Core i7-13700H)
Dell XPS 17 9730
(Core i7-13700H)
Geekbench 5
(single/multi)
Bal: 1,787 / 11,978
Perf: 1,830 / 11,769
Bal: 1,901 / 12,654
Perf: 1,928 / 12,911
Handbrake
(seconds)
Bal: 79
Perf: 76
Bal: 79
Perf: 71
Cinebench R23
(single/multi)
Bal: 1,856 / 13,386
Perf: 1,868 / 13,386
Bal: 1,933 / 13,554
Perf: 1,912 / 15,462
Pugetbench Premiere Pro Bal: 866
Perf: 1,023
Bal: 760
Perf: 848
3DMark Time Spy Bal: 7,077
Perf: 7,632
Bal: 9,639
Perf: 9,535
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
(1080p Ultra)
Bal: 65 fps
Perf: 105 fps
Bal: 88 fps
Perf: 95 fps

Battery life

The larger screen and improved performance of the XPS 17 do come with one compromise: battery life. Even though the XPS 17 has 97 watt-hours of battery capacity compared to the XPS 15’s 86 watt-hours, the smaller device saw much better battery life in our tests. Surprisingly, the XPS 15 will likely last a full day of typical productivity work on a single charge, but the XPS 17 will need its charger to make it all the way through.

This is, of course, for the high-resolution models that I tested. The Full HD+ models should last at least an extra hour or two longer, though I haven’t tested them yet to confirm those numbers. Either way, the smaller screen helps the XPS 15 get a lot more juice out of its battery.

Dell XPS 15 9530
(Core i7-13700H)
Dell XPS 17 9730
(Core i7-13700H)
Web browsing 9 hours, 43 minutes 4 hours, 46 minutes
Video 11 hours, 46 minutes 5 hours, 17 minutes
PCMark 10 Applications 10 hours, 49 minutes 5 hours, 34 minutes

Conclusion

For most people, the XPS 15 9530 will offer more than enough performance, and for creators, it’s even faster than the XPS 17. If you aren’t gunning for the top-level XPS 17 with the Nvidia RTX 4080, it’s a better value to go with the XPS 15. Depending on the configuration, the XPS 17 sells for $300 to $400 more than the XPS 15 with comparable hardware.

The XPS 17 is suitable if you need more GPU power or a larger display. If you’re able to drop well over $3,000 on the RTX 4080-powered model, then you’ll see a substantial performance increase that makes the 17-incher ideal for professional video editing or 3D modeling. But with equal components, at least in our testing, the XPS 15 is the better value.

Editors’ Recommendations






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