The overall look and design of the clamshell XPS 15 lineup hasn't changed a whole lot over the last few years, sticking with the carbon-fiber inside and CNC-machined aluminum outside. It's a proven design, and as long as you're not tired of the look, it should serve you well. The newer 2-in-1 model has taken that classic feel and added two convertible hinges to a thinner and smaller chassis, with the same silver exterior and black interior option; there's also a brushed onyx color available for the 2-in-1. Both laptops are built extremely well and should put up with a lot of abuse.
The backlit chiclet keyboard on the XPS 15 is a delight to use, and the large Precision touchpad on either laptop has plenty of room for multi-touch gestures. It should ultimately come down to a personal test of both laptops, but the XPS 15 2-in-1 is actually using a maglev keyboard with magnets instead of rubber cups beneath the keys. It has a lot less key travel, but it's comfortable to use for all-day typing.
As for biometrics, the XPS 15 comes standard with a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello built into the power button but does not have an IR camera. The XPS 15 2-in-1 comes standard with an IR camera for Windows Hello, and you can add a fingerprint reader to the mix at an additional cost at checkout.
Finally, port selection could play a role in your final decision. The XPS 15 9570 holds onto two USB-A 3.1 ports as well as HDMI 2.0, but it also looks to the future with Thunderbolt 3. The XPS 15 2-in-1 goes full-future with two Thunderbolt 3 and two USB-C 3.1, and it has a microSD card reader. The standard XPS 15 uses instead a full-size SD card reader.
If you'd like a laptop that can be used as a tablet (or any mode in between), definitely consider the XPS 15 2-in-1. If you'd rather stick with a classic clamshell, especially something with a lot more variety when it comes to ports, the XPS 15 9570 will be your best bet.
Both laptops have big, beautiful 15.6-inch displays, though only the standard XPS 15 can be had in a non-touch configuration. If you're in need of 4K, both laptops can likewise deliver, and both come cheaper in an FHD configuration if you don't need the higher resolution.
The touch XPS 15 doesn't have pen support, so if you'd like to jot down notes or sketch some images, you'll have to go with the XPS 15 2-in-1. A Premium Active Pen uses the Wacom AES protocol and has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with tilt functionality, though it is sold separately for about $100.
Both of these laptops have knockout displays with hardly any bezel, though if you want pen support, the XPS 15 2-in-1 is your only choice.
Though the 8th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors (CPU) in both laptops deliver impressive performance, the H-series chips in the standard XPS 15 will provide a bit more power over the G-series found in the XPS 15 2-in-1. For ridiculous processing power, you can also up the standard XPS 15 to a Core i9 CPU with six cores, something that XPS 15 2-in-1 is lacking.
The XPS 15 can likewise pack more RAM (up to 32GB compared to 16GB) for better multitasking, yet both laptops have quite a few storage options, with up to a 2TB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) for a lot of fast data transfer.
When it comes to the graphics card (GPU), both laptops are available with dedicated options — the XPS 15 has an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630 option to save you money — that can handle a decent amount of work or gaming. The XPS 15's GTX 1050 Ti hits about a 75,665 Geekbench score, while the AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL hits about a 66,903 score. Both are far better than integrated graphics, but the XPS 15 has just a bit more power.
Battery life in the XPS 15 2-in-1 differs depending on the CPU inside, with Core i5 1080p models hitting about eight hours of regular use and Core i7 4K models struggling to hit six hours. The larger 97Wh battery in the standard XPS 15 should get you more time between charges, but be wary of the 56Wh battery that comes standard in baseline models without the NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti GPU.
The XPS 15 2-in-1 is undeniably a powerful laptop, but the standard XPS 15 edges it out in almost all areas.
Whereas the standard XPS 15 has a baseline model with an Intel Core i5-8300H CPU, 1TB SATA hard-disk drive (HDD), 8GB of RAM, non-touch FHD display, and no dedicated GPU for about $1,000, the XPS 15 2-in-1 starts at about $1,250 for a model with a touch FHD display, Core i5-8305G CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SATA SSD, and an AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL dedicated GPU. No, you don't get as much storage space and you don't get quite as fast of a CPU, but that touch display and dedicated GPU will no doubt be worth the extra $250 for a lot of people.
Comparing relatively high-end models from both sides, prices remain close. A standard XPS 15 with Core i7-8750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD, 4K touch display, and NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti GPU costs about $1,900. As for the XPS 15 2-in-1, a Core i7-8705G CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD, a 4K touch display, and a Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU costs about $1,850.
Prices remain quite close (at least until you get into the Core i9 XPS 15 models), leaving your decision mostly to the other factors discussed here.
Making a final decision between these two laptops will probably come down to whether or not you'd like a convertible design, whether or not you'd like the extra power the XPS 15 can deliver in lieu of a tablet mode, and which types of ports you use on a regular basis.
In any case, you're getting a premier laptop with beautiful display and hardware inside that can chew through a day's work.
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