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Head to Head: DELL XPS 13 2015 vs Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro [Review]

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Remember how a couple of years ago everyone said the laptop was dead? Wow, how wrong were they? Turns out tablets really aren’t as good at general computing as people thought, right? We thought it would be fun to compare two of the latest greatest generation of ultra-portable PC notebook computers, and see what you get for your money. Hint: a heck of a lot.

You can check out our video above to get a hands on feel and comparison between the two computers, the DELL XPS 13 2015 and the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. Both machines offer top of class portable computing in an impossibly small form factor as well as incredible battery life, which makes them probably the most desirable portables on the planet alongside the Apple MacBook Air.

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Base Specifications:

DELL XPS 13 QHD+ 2015. Intel i5 processor running at up to 2.07GHz, 8 GB RAM, 13.3″ QHD+ touchscreen at 3200 x 1800 resolution, 8GB RAM, 128 GB SSD drive, 52 KWh battery and Windows 8.1. Size: 11.98 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches.

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. Intel Core M 70 processor running at up to 1.6 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 13.3 QHD+ reversible touchscreen running at 3200 x 1800 resolution, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD drive, 44.8 KWh battery and Windows 8.1. Size: 13 x 9 x 0.5 inches.

DELL XPS 13 2015 – Product as tested $1299.99

This brand new DELL model is an ultraportable which manages to deliver astounding computing power in a form factor which is more like a netbook than a full blown laptop. Not only has the company managed to cram a 13 inch screen in the same space as a typical 11 inch notebook, but it’s also got the processing power to use it, probably better than any other similar sized laptop. The model we tested came with the Intel i5 CPU running at some ridiculous 2.7GHz speed, which is stupidly powerful for a machine this small.

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The screen also features the highest resolution available on planet earth, with a full 3200 x 1800 res, which basically means you get around twice as much information on your screen as other mere mortals. The result is a touchscreen which not only looks amazing, but is great to use. No more extended swiping sessions on your Windows 8, you’ll get everywhere much quicker. You will however need pretty good eyes to be able to see some of the fine print on-screen, but hey that’s the price for progress right?

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The DELL is crafted from high grade aluminum. which means it’s light as well as tiny, weighing in at just 2.8lbs for this model. Gone are the days when you had to compromise between weight and power, now you can have both and throw in some amazing battery life too, which is awesome. Speaking of which, we found it almost impossible to deliver any meaningful battery specs on both products. The problem is there are far too many variables to give any kind of consistent answer.

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The company claims up to 15 hours, our gut feeling is that many people will happily see a full day’s worth of computing on a charge, as long as they don’t indulge in full brightness, end to end HD movies, at which point you’ll probably only see half that figure if you’re lucky. Benchmarks tend to be rather meaningless unless placed in some kind of historical context (e.g. as comparisons with other models), so we’d rather err on the side of caution.

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In terms of performance, however, the DELL is clearly a master. Our benchmark (click on thumbnail above for larger version) put it almost twice as powerful as the Lenovo we tested, which in real world scenarios is really important if you’re wanting to get work done. Rendering video during editing, manipulating larger images, handling mega spreadsheets, all of these tasks and more need power, and the DELL delivers in spades. Most people will focus on the benefits of 2.70 GHz to gaming performance, but really that’s only a part of the story.

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In terms of ergonomics, we also have to say that the DELL comes out slightly on top, if only because of its really tactile keyboard and large trackpad, which again can really aid productivity in the right hands. The Lenovo has the edge in keyboard width and spacing of course, which does even things out a little, but even so in our opinion the DELL edges this at the post.

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Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro – Product as tested $1199.00

We’ve covered the Lenovo product before of course, in our recent review, but it’s still fascinating to come back and compare it with the latest contender for the crown. The Lenovo, as you can tell from the specs and our previous review is no ugly princess. The notebook comes with a solid set of specifications, and while the whole package is nowhere near as portable friendly as the minuscule DELL, it packs some very clever tech into a wafer thin format.

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The real appeal of the Yoga 3 Pro is the fact that it converts instantly into a couple of interesting formats. The giant tablet is perfect for using the superb QHD+ touchscreen with no competition from a front facing keyboard, and the display mode (think propped up recipe display in the kitchen useful) is also a really nice feature. As we noted earlier, these features position the laptop at a very distinct audience, those who maybe are not as worried about production power, but in consuming content conveniently. It’s an important distinction.

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In terms of battery life, the Yoga 3 Pro is clearly at a disadvantage over the DELL, since it has the smaller battery. Indeed the Lenovo claims to have up to 7.2 hours battery life available, which is around half that claimed for the DELL. Again though, the Lenovo does sport some very fancy power management software which may help to mitigate the difference. But the bottom line is definitely, if you want maximum battery time, stick to the DELL.

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However when it comes to processing power, the DELL really does leave the Lenovo in the dust. There’s no comparison between the beefy Intel i5 CPU and the Intel Core M70 on the Yoga 3 Pro as we say above. Our benchmarks show an almost 2x difference in performance, with the DELL easily trouncing the Lenovo on just about every count. If you want to get things done fast, you’ll go for the DELL, no question.

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Conclusion
This may well turn out to be the golden age of laptop computers, if only because for the first time we have a range of serious portable computing options which don’t compromise on weight, power and resolution in any way. Not to mention the fact that we can now take advantage of touchscreen technology to make the interface even better. It’s definitely all good news for the consumer, even if the price sticker is still definitely at the premium end of the scale.

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The 600lb gorilla in the room is still, of course, the MacBook Air, which is the reigning king of lightweight computing with style, but if these two models are anything to go by, those days may be coming to an end. Both the DELL and the Yoga 3 Pro offer Mac like design style, and the DELL can even match or exceed the master on the performance front, which evens the playing field out a lot.

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And so what’s our verdict between these two Windows models? For those who want a versatile, cleverly engineered laptop which can deliver decent specs and performance, then the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is a great option. However if you need to get serious work done, you’ll definitely plump for the raw power of the DELL. Not to mention the fact that you can stick the DELL into small bags and pockets where the Lenovo simply won’t fit. We’re going to have to give the DELL the edge here, because the company’s design team has done something really special with this size and form factor, and with a competitive price too.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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