HP Specter x360 13.5 vs. Dell XPS 13 Plus: The Flagship Battle


Simply put, the HP Specter x360 13.5 and Dell XPS 13 Plus are two of the best laptops you can buy at any price and in any size. These flagships are top-notch in terms of premium design and components.

But choosing between the two is not easy. They each have their own relative strengths and they cost the same. Below, we go over the differences between the Specter x360 13.5 and the XPS 13 Plus to help make your decision a little easier.

Glasses

HP Specter x360 13.5 dell xps 13 plus
Dimensions 11.73 inch x 8.68 inch x 0.67 inch 11.63 inch x 7.84 inch x 0.60 inch
weight 3.01 pounds 2.73 pounds
Processor Intel Core i5-1235U
Intel Core i7-1255U
Intel Core i5-1240P
Intel Core i7-1260P
Intel Core i7-1270P
Intel Core i7-1280P
graphics Intel Iris XE Graphics Intel Iris XE Graphics
to hit 8GB
16 GB
32GB
8GB LPDDR5
16GB LPDDR5
32GB LPDDR5
show 13.5-inch 3:2 IPS WUXGA (1,920 x 1,280) Touch
13.5-inch 3:2 IPS WUXGA SureView Privacy Touch Screen
13.5-inch 3:2 OLED 3K2K (3,000 x 2,000) touch
13.4 inch 16:10 IPS Full HD+ (1920 x 1200)
13.4-inch 16:10 OLED 3.5K (3456 x 2160) Touch
13.4-inch 16:10 IPS UHD+ (3840 x 2400) Touch
storage 512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
2TB PCIe SSD
512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
2GB PCIe SSD
Touch Yes Alternative
ports Thunderbolt 4. With 2 x USB-C
1 x USB-A 3.2
1 x 3.5mm Audio Jack
microSD card reader
Thunderbolt 4. With 2 x USB-C
cordless Wi-Fi 6e and Bluetooth 5.2 Wi-Fi 6e and Bluetooth 5.2
webcam 5MB, Windows Hello IR Webcam 720p, Windows Hello IR Webcam
Operating System windows 11 windows 11
battery 66 watt-hours 55 watt-hours
worth $1,250+ $1,149+
Rating 5. 4.5 out of stars 4 out of 5 stars

Price and configuration

The Specter x360 starts at $1,250 for the 13.5 Core i5-1235U, 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and 13.5-inch 3:2 WUXGA+ (1920 x 1280) IPS display. At the high end, you’ll pay $1,830 for the Core i7-1255U, 32GB of RAM, and a 2TB SSD. The OLED display maxes out at 16GB of RAM and costs $1,830.

The XPS 13 Plus entry-level configuration is slightly less expensive at $1,150, thanks to the Core i5-1240P, 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and 13.4-inch 16:10 Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS non-touch display. , Max it out, and it’s $2,199 for the Core i7-1260P, 32GB of RAM, 2TB SSD, and 3.5K (3,456 x 2,160) OLED display.

Both are premium laptops, and the XPS 13 Plus has a wide range of prices. Dell has a slight advantage here in that you can get the maximum amount of RAM you can with an OLED display, even if you’re paying more for it.

design

HP Specter x360 showing 13.5 front angle view display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The most important design difference between the two laptops is in their form factor. The Specter x360 13.5 is a convertible 2-in-1 while the XPS 13 Plus is a traditional clamshell. This means the HP is a bit thicker and heavier and has a larger lower chin on the display to accommodate more complex hinges. This makes HP more flexible and potentially useful, with the ability to switch to media, tent and tablet modes and allow for quality active pen use. If these things don’t matter to you, it’s not much use. But if they do, the Specter is a more suitable laptop.

The Specter x360 13.5 and XPS 13 Plus are similar in that they are both made of CNC machined aluminum and solidly built. You will not be able to bend, bend or twist in either of the machines. The Specter has a more extravagant aesthetic with rounded, gem-cut, and colored edges and cuts across the bottom of the display and the rear of the chassis. There is a USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 port in one notch and a 3.5mm audio jack in the other.

The XPS 13 Plus has a more streamlined design, with simple lines by an edge-to-edge keyboard and a palm rest that’s monolithic thanks to the embedded haptic touchpad. Dell also gets LED function buttons instead of physical keys, adding an air of modernity.

HP has done a great job with the Specter keyboard over the years. They have plenty of key spacing and large keycaps, with a switch mechanism that is fast and light with precise bottoming action. It’s one of the best keyboards in Windows laptops, rivaled only by Apple’s excellent Magic Keyboard on the latest MacBooks. The XPS 13 Plus keyboard is quite different, with an edge-to-edge design and very little space between the keys. The mechanism is also precise and fast, and quite good when taken apart from the Specter.

On the keyboard side on the Dell XPS 13 Plus.

The biggest difference is in the touchpad. While the Specter x360 13.5’s touchpad is quite large and pretty good as a mechanical version, the XPS 13 Plus’ haptic touchpad is better. It is more precise and offers the ability to click anywhere. Plus, HP benefits from pen support and touch on each display option compared to the optional touch on the Dell.

The Specter x360 13.5 has a better webcam, comes with great low-light performance at 5MP and some nice HP Presence features like auto framing and appearance filter that corrects defects. The XPS 13 Plus webcam is far more pedestrian, coming in at just 720p and offering a low video image.

Lastly, the Specter x360 13.5 offers better connectivity, including a USB-A port for legacy support, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader. The XPS 13 Plus has just two USB-C ports along with Thunderbolt 4. The lack of an audio jack is controversial, and while Dell throws in a USB-C to headphone jack, it’s pretty limited. Since power is also provided by USB-C, you’ll need some sort of dock or adapter to use the headphones while charging.

performance

Dell XPS 13 Plus' side of the chassis.

We reviewed the Specter x360 13.5 with the 15-watt Intel 12th-gen 10-core/12-thread Core i7-1255U, a lower-powered version of Intel’s Elder Lake chips for thin and light laptops. Our XPS 13 Plus review unit was equipped with a 28-watt 14-core/20-thread Core i7-1280P, a faster CPU on paper. Both laptops offered utilities that allowed for some thermal adjustment, and both were faster, faster, and more effective at running quieter and cooler in balanced mode versus warmer in performance mode.

However, our benchmarks didn’t show nearly the division one might expect. The Dell was faster in the Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R23 multi-core (except in performance mode), as well as in our Handbrake test which encodes 420MB of video as H.265. The Specter x360, on the other hand, was faster in the Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R23 single-core. The HP managed to take the win in the PCMark 10 Complete benchmark that ran through a series of productivity, multimedia, and creativity tests.

These results are surprising, but the XPS 13 Plus is thin and therefore couldn’t possibly keep its CPU cool. In real-world use, the laptops will deliver equally excellent productivity performance, while both are nominally underpowered for creative tasks. Neither laptop was particularly fast in the 3DMark Time Spy test nor is it a viable gaming machine.

HP Specter x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
dell xps 13 plus
(Core i7-1280P)
geekbench 5
(single / multi)
Hair: 1,566 / 7,314
Completed: 1,593 / 7,921
Hair: 1,316 / 8,207
Full: N/A
handbrake
(seconds)
Hair: 169
Perf: 120
Hair: 170
Perfect: 94
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
Hair: 1,623 / 5,823
Completed: 1,691 / 7,832
Hair: 1,311 / 6,308
Full: 1,650 / 7,530
PCMark 10 Full 5,203 4,309
3DMark Time Detective Hair: 1,582
Completed: 1,815
Hair: 1.708
Completed: 1,992

performance and audio

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

We reviewed both laptops with their respective OLED displays. The Specter x360 13.5’s display is a tall 3:2 panel that’s great for productivity and works best in portrait tablet mode (it’s closer in size to a physical sheet of paper). On the other hand, the XPS 13 Plus’s 13.4-inch 16:10 display is sharp at 3.5K (3456 x 2160), which is sharper than the Specter’s 3K2K (3,000 x 2,000) resolution.

In terms of image quality, however, both are superb. They’re nearly equally bright and nearly accurate, both enjoying an excellent deltay of less than 1.0. Dell’s AdobeRGB gamut is a bit wide, but it’s not as noticeable. Both displays are unprecedented for productivity users, creators and media consumers alike. Note that the difference in contrast is due to the colorimeter used. Both have equally inked blacks.

HP Specter x360 13.5
(OLED)
dell xps 13 plus
(OLED)
flash
(nits)
380 386
AdobeRGB gamut 97% 99%
sRGB gamut 100% 100%
Accuracy
(delta, lower is better)
0.61 0.83
Contrast Ratio 28,230:1 386,030:1

Both the laptops offer four-speaker audio with similar performance in terms of volume and bass. They’re both fine for bingeing Netflix on occasion, but they both benefit from a good set of headphones.

portability

Top-down view of the Dell XPS 13 Plus' keyboard.

The XPS 13 Plus is smaller, thinner and lighter. However, both the laptops can be easily carried around by sliding them in a backpack.

The Specter x360 13.5 takes advantage of its lower-power CPU than its faster CPU compared to the XPS 13 Plus. There was a difference of just half an hour in our web browsing test, but a difference of six hours in our video test.

If you’re particularly careful, the XPS 13 Plus can get close to a full day’s worth of battery life. However, the Specter x360 13.5 is more likely to make it all the way.

HP Specter x360 13.5
(Core i7-1255U)
dell xps 13 plus
(Core i7-1280P)
Web browsing 9 hours, 20 minutes 8 hours, 0 minutes
Video 9 hours, 58 minutes 13 hours, 59 minutes

The flexibility and battery life of the Specter x360 13.5 wins

Yes, the XPS 13 Plus has some innovative features that make it stand out. But the Specter x360 13.5 offers more functionality due to the flexibility of its 2-in-1 design, and has better battery life with similar performance. Given that it’s a bit less expensive, that gives HP a narrow win in this very competitive shootout.

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