Microsoft Surface Book vs Dell XPS 12 – Comparison

Dell has been doing an excellent job with its latest line of Windows 10 laptops. One of the newest of the batch is the Dell XPS 12, a laptop that can be transformed into a tablet without having to detach the keyboard from the display.

The big question right now is how would the XPS 12 fair against the Microsoft Surface Book. We know that both devices are quite the powerhouse, but in this comparison, only one can come out on top. If you’re not in agreement, then by all means, shoot off in the comment area and let’s chat.

Dell XPS 12 vs Surface Book

Dell XPS 12 vs Surface Book

Let’s get the ball a-rolling.

The Design:

The Dell XPS 12 is made from magnesium alloy, and the screen is docked on the keyboard in similar ways to the Surface Book. It can be removed with the press of a button, but unlike the Surface Book, the screen can only be tilted up and down.

When it comes down to the Microsoft Surface Book, this bad boy is a beast. The device has a premium look and feel due to the brushed magnesium construction. The screen can be docked on the keyboard for true laptop feel, unlike the Surface Pro 4, and it can be completely released from the keyboard to be an actual tablet. Users can even adjust the angle of the display in many ways thanks to what Microsoft calls, the “Dynamic Fulcrum Hinge.”

This thing is nothing short of a work of art, and no doubt others are going to follow Microsoft’s lead on this one.

The Display:

The new Dell XPS 12 comes with a 12.5-inch screen. There’s also a 4K option available, and we’re certain it is going to cost an arm and a leg to own. We’re going to focus on the 4K option since it is the best of what this new model has to offer.

The 4K screen packs a punch with a resolution of 3840 x 2160. The company also claims the display contains 100% color gamut accuracy, so it should look mighty fine. We should also point out that the tablet itself measures 11.5 –inches, but Dell managed to increase the size of the screen by using the Infinity Display technology found on the Dell XPS 13.

On the matter of the Surface Book, this beauty comes with a 13.5-inch display with a pixel resolution of 3000 x 2000. That’s inferior to the screen on the Dell XPS 12, but not by much. Microsoft talks a lot about its new PixelSense technology that makes colors on the screen more vibrant. Furthermore, the touch responsiveness has improved when compared to the Surface Pro 3 and others before it.


The Hardware:

Dell made a decision to incorporate the Intel 2.7GHz Core M5 processor with two USB Type-C ports. One designed for power while the other is designed for accessories. The processor might not be the most powerful, but it is fanless so expect less heat and more battery life. On the matter of the RAM, it comes with 8GB, which should be enough for any computer user. Furthermore, it comes with up to 256GB of SSD storage.

Microsoft upped the ante by adding a 6th generation Intel Core i7 processor that is based on the Skylake architecture. The speed here can go up to 2.7GHz, which makes it much faster than what the Dell XPS 12 has to offer. The Surface Book comes with 8GB of RAM, but it can be upgraded to 16GB.

Storage wise, the Surface Book comes with up to 1TB of SSD, something most manufacturers have yet to attempt. This is where things get interesting, you see, potential buyers who can burn a bit more cash can get the Surface Book with an NVidia GDDR5 GPU. The placement of the GPU is set inside the keyboard dock, so once the screen is detached, the Surface Book reverts to the regular Intel HD GPU.

When it comes down to ports, the Surface Book doesn’t support USB Type-C but do have two USB 3.0 ports.

The Verdict:

While the Dell XPS 12 has a lot of exciting things going for it, we have to give the Surface Book the edge here, due to the better design and more powerful internals. It is definitely the laptop/tablet to beat going into 2016, and Dell hasn’t managed to do that just yet.

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Vamien McKalin possesses the awesome power of walking on water like a boss. He's also a person who enjoys writing about technology, comics, video games, and anything related to the geek world.


  1. R6ex

    4K in 12 inches? Pfff …

  2. Scott

    A lot of these reviews I find fault with for one key critical aspect. The Surface book was designed to be a Laptop first and tablet second. The Dell XPS while a former laptop is a tablet first and laptop second. Thus the M5 vs a I-series processor. So it’s like you’re trying to compare an apple to an orange on this review.

  3. KCatty

    Exactly. A comparison of the XPS 12 vs. the Surface Pro 4 would have been far more helpful.

  4. Zhouyang Lai

    Dear author, do you really know tech or you don’t even know simple math? The laptop measures 11.5” on the length and the screen is 12.5” diagonally….Given the 11.5” length and 7.8” depth, it can be fitted with a 13.5” screen easy if it’s really bezelless.

  5. tom

    why compare two products aiming at different markets? Surface book is so much heavier, of course it is more powerful. At least compare xps 12 with surface pro 4 would be more helpful.

  6. Vamien

    The comparison was made based on the fact that the designs are similar. Two devices where you can remove the screen from the keyboard, two devices where consumers do not have to purchase a keyboard add-on. Two devices where the keyboards are similar. Comparing the Dell with the Surface Pro 4 made little sense in this regard. Based on design, they are different.

    It is not all about the internal specifications here.

  7. Vamien

    What are you attempting to say, exactly? Because I have never mentioned a thing about a 13.5-inch display not being able to fit anywhere.

  8. Vamien

    Look at my explanation below.

  9. Scott

    Did you not read your own review on the subject? You brought it down to the internal specifications here. “we have to give the Surface Book the edge here, due to the better design and more powerful internals”.

    That sentence alone says, it has better internals.

    You want to talk about what it includes let’s look at this then. The Dell has a magnetic connection vs a locking connection on the surface book. The dell has no flip out attached kick stand, but comes with a folio option while the surface book at present is missing this option. The XPS has all the connections for it on the tablet vs the surface book’s only options for connections being via the base for it.

    In the end, these two devices are completely different metas. On you can connect to a dock easily, other essentially is the dock for the machine. Any way you crack it, it’s still a comparison of the hardware that you brought it down too. Even with the book getting a $1,500 price tag with a guess of a $1,300 on the XPS they don’t even compare to what they offer in terms of power.

    The surface book in the end despite what it has inside it, is aimed at taking laptop setups to a different perspective. It was not setup so you can use the tablet alone and connect things to it. You have to have the base to do things. Meanwhile the XPS you can plug into it with normal gear provided and mount it on a wall to use by itself or use it on the dock provided.

    Sure the Surface Pro doesn’t include a keyboard. But when you compare it to the 4k resolution screen, the price is about the same. The capabilities of the tablet to tablet become a little more equal enough though they are different devices. Because now, you can plug into the tablet itself on both devices. Now you can look at a resolution of the same size, or about the same size.

    And then when you compare to the Surface 3 or later when it comes the 4 (non-pro) you start to see the difference in the terms of Cost vs devices with the same internals. This is where a device can beat the XPS on terms of what it offers on the base models because of equipment vs cost line.

    If you want to compare items, look at the XPS 13 or the 15 to compare to the book. Then the advantages becomes clear, because you are starting with equipment on the same level, but with one huge advantage of detachable screen.

    Book I see as the new laptop meta. XPS I see as the new want to be tablet meta. the two worlds do not converge nor should they.

  10. Marcos Babu

    When the author mentioned “…two devices where consumers do not have to purchase a keyboard add-on…” I understand he’s going to compare two devices in the same price range (after all I wouldn’t have to buy anything else with those two), but it fails at this point as well as XPS, at least this model, will be way below the Surface Book price range…

    Should compare XPS 12 to the Surface 3 maybe (man, I’d love Surface 3 to have USB Type-C…)

  11. Augie

    “It is definitely the laptop/tablet to beat going into 2016, and Dell hasn’t managed to do that just yet.”

    This article must’ve come out before the Dell XPS 15… right?

    Because LOL.

    Dell XPS15 trounces the surface book.

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