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Should you buy the new Dell XPS 13, or save £350 on last year’s model?

The new Dell XPS 13 (2020) has come through our test lab, but with big savings to be made on last year’s model, are there enough benefits to justify paying more?

Should you buy the new Dell XPS 13, or save £350 on last year’s model?

If you’ve been looking for a replacement for your current laptop and need something that’s thin, light and fast, it’s likely you’ve come across the Dell XPS 13 in store or in online recommendations. Dell’s high-end line is its most expensive range of laptops, and the 13-inch model is the smallest and lightest of them all.

The 9300 model for 2020 has a new design and updated internal specifications, but while it might steal the headlines, last year’s 7390 is on sale on Dell’s website for up to £350 less. We dig into the improvements to find out if it’s really worth paying more.

Jump straight to the results of our tough tests:

Or browse all the very best laptops from our reviews.

How to save on the Dell XPS range

Let’s compare four models from both ranges to see how they compare:

Core i5, 8GB Ram, 128GB SSD, Full HD display

  • Old: £949
  • New: Not available

Core i5, 8GB Ram, 256GB SSD, Full HD display

  • Old: £1,049
  • New: £1,399

Core i7, 8GB Ram, 512GB SSD, Full HD display

  • Old: £1,249
  • New: £1,549

Core i7, 16GB Ram, 1TB SSD

  • Old: £1,799 (includes Ultra HD display)
  • New: £1,799 (Full HD display)

Straight off the bat, it’s clear that the absolute cheapest way to get yourself a Dell XPS 13 is to opt for last year’s model with 128GB of storage as nothing of that specification is available on this year’s model. But even as you go up the range, there are savings of £350 to be had with the mid-tier models, and if you plump for the top-spec model of last year’s machine you get yourself a 4K display.

But there is, of course, a little more to it than that, and it’s worth knowing what the difference between the two models is beyond basic specifications.

Dell XPS 13 2020 vs 2019 – specs compared

Although they may look similar, there are several differences between these two laptops when it comes to changes that have happened under the bonnet. The processors, while both 10th-generation Intel chips from 2019, are slightly different. In 2020, Dell ships the XPS 13 with Intel’s processors that have enhanced Intel UHD and Iris Graphics on board. This may not make a difference to people who aren’t using their laptop for graphically intensive tasks such as video editing and computer-aided 3D design, but for those who do, it could be a deciding factor. If you’re a gamer, even these new chips are unlikely to be up to scratch with the latest triple-A titles.

Elsewhere, the two laptops have completely different designs. The old model had a 13.3-inch screen, while this year’s ups the screen size to 13.4 inches. This extra tenth of an inch actually doesn’t change the laptop’s dimensions whatsoever, because Dell has made the borders around the screen slightly smaller despite increasing the screen’s height. It’s essentially free space that means you have more vertical space on the screen, which makes it easier to fit more text on it at once, and makes longer pages easier to navigate. This is a feature that some people really like and is a key selling point of the even-taller Microsoft Surface Laptop 3.

Consequently, this year’s model is slightly heavier, at 1.184kg versus 1.162kg on our lab’s scales. This is a trivial difference, of course, and you won’t really notice.

This year’s model also has fewer ports, with just two USB-C connectors versus last year’s three.

On the face of it, then, last year’s model at a bargain price seems like a win-win. However, you should read our full Dell XPS 13 9300 and Dell XPS 13 7390 reviews before buying to ensure you know all the facts and the results of our lab tests.

Three alternatives to the Dell XPS 13

Still on the fence? You could also consider one of a range of alternatives that tick similar boxes to Dell’s popular range:

Google Pixelbook Go

This laptop starts at an impressively low price of just £629. It isn’t as fast as the Dell if you pick this spec, but if you’re after something with premium styling without the cost, it could be a good option. Read our full Google Pixelbook Go review.

Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch

A chief rival to Dell, Apple’s famous all-metal laptops continue to draw the buyers, despite the high starting price of £1,199. Read our full MacBook Pro review.

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 13.5 inch

You get a bit more screen for a bit less money with Microsoft’s device, and otherwise quite similar specifications to the XPS 13, starting at £999. Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review.

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