Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13: two of the best laptops head to head

These are two of our favourite laptops – but which comes out on top?

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13 2020
(Image credit: Asus/Dell)

Picking the best laptop for you means sifting through a lot of top-quality portable computers, and two of the best you're going to come across at the moment are covered here in a head-to-head comparison: the Asus VivoBook S15 and the Dell XPS 13.

If you're wondering which of these two excellent laptops is going to be the best buy for your particular needs right now, we're going to cover all the key categories below – the battery life, the performance, the screen size and quality, and everything else besides.

In some respects, it doesn't matter which one you actually pick – both of these Windows laptops are going to do a fine job of taking care of your personal computing. There are some crucial differences between the two as well though, which we'll get into below.

As is the norm for most laptops these days, the Asus VivoBook S15 and the Dell XPS 13 are available in several configurations, so you've got a few different options to pick from when it comes to specs and pricing – and we'll also cover those options in our head-to-head too.

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13: design and screen

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13

The Asus VivoBook S15.

(Image credit: Future)

Our first major difference between these two laptops comes with the screen – the Asus VivoBook S15 is the one to go for if you want a bigger canvas for your movies and applications. The 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel, 16:9 aspect ratio screen is a pleasure to use, based on our testing. Despite the large size of the display, the laptop still feels relatively thin and lightweight at the same time.

Aside from the screen, the Asus VivoBook S15 offers a very premium feel in general, with an all-metal chassis that's durable and stylish, and a choice of colourful laptop lids to pick from. The extra space on the laptop – which measures 361.4 mm x 243.5 mm x 18 mm (14.2 inches x 9.6 inches x 0.7 inches) – means that there's room for a full keyboard with a number pad, which will be a key selling point for some.

These larger laptops also mean more room for ports to connect up your accessories. You get an HDMI port, a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port, a USB 3.2 USB-A port, and two USB 2.0 USB-A ports, together with a headphone jack and a microSD card reader. If you've got a lot of peripherals to attach – such as external monitors and hard disk drives – then this might be the laptop to go for.

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13

The Asus VivoBook S15.

(Image credit: Future)

The Dell XPS 13 is an altogether more compact affair, starting with the 13.4-inch display. It's a real stunner whether you go for the 1920 x 1200 pixel version or pay extra for the full 4K experience (that's 3840 x 2400 pixels). You'll notice the aspect ratio here is 16:10, which is a little better for websites and documents. Like the Asus laptop, the Dell XPS 13 offers an excellent display.

With thin display bezels and a nicely finished carbon fibre material across the chassis, the Dell XPS 13 might look even better than the Asus VivoBook 13 – it's a very close call. The Dell laptop is certainly easier to carry around and use with one hand, so it's going to be a better option if you're looking for something to use on the go.

The overall dimensions of the Dell XPS 13 are 296 mm x 199 mm x 14.8 mm (11.7 inches x 7.8 inches x 0.6 inches), so it's perfect for putting in a bag as well as sitting on a desk. In terms of ports on the laptop, you've got a 3.5 mm headphone jack, a microSD card reader, and two Thunderbolt 3 ports which double-up as USB-C slots – if you do have a lot of accessories you want to connect up to your next laptop, make sure the Dell XPS 13 is able to handle them before making a purchase.

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13: specs and performance

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13.

(Image credit: Future)

We've mentioned that various configurations of both the Asus VivoBook S15 and the Dell XPS 13 are available, and those configurations will continue to change and be updated over time. We can compare the two laptop models we had to review, but be sure to check out the other options currently on sale in each series.

The Asus VivoBook S15 we tested came with an 11th-gen Intel i7-1165G7 processor, plus 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD – that's a powerful configuration, especially for a laptop at this size. However, it's not enough for heavy duty video gaming or video editing, as Intel Iris X integrated graphics are on duty as far as the graphics power goes.

In terms of battery life, the Asus VivoBook S15 manages 7-8 hours of use away from a charger, based on our experience with it – that's respectable enough for a laptop this size. Our standard two-hour video streaming test – maximum brightness, low volume – the laptop dropped from 100 percent to 75 percent, suggesting it lasts for around 8 hours overall between charges if all you're doing is streaming video.

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13.

(Image credit: Future)

Moving on to the Dell XPS 13, the model that we tested in our review was fitted with a 10th-gen Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage. It's worth noting that the laptop is now available with the 11th-gen version of the same chip, which would put it on a par with the Asus laptop as far as processing and on-board graphics power goes.

Battery life hovered around the 5-6 hour mark, while our two-hour video streaming test knocked the battery level down from 100 percent to 68 percent, suggesting around 6-7 hours of non-stop movie watching. It's worth noting though that was on the 4K screen version of the Dell XPS 13, which is going to mean a lot of battery life gets sucked up by powering the display.

In terms of how much performance you can expect to get out of these two laptops, they're very similar – both can speed through the majority of tasks you need to put them through, with the latest silicon from Intel, though you're not going to get the sort of graphics performance required for any serious levels of gaming. Whether at home or on the go, they pack a lot of power into two portable packages.

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13: price and verdict

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13

The Asus VivoBook S15.

(Image credit: Asus)

When it comes to what you'll need to spend to get your hands on the Asus VivoBook S15 or the Dell XPS 13, the various configurations for both these two laptops give you a choice of price points to pick from – and those prices change on a pretty regular basis too. Check the widgets on this page for the latest deals, but broadly speaking the Asus laptop will cost you less than the Dell one.

While the internal components are similar across the two laptops, the Dell computer packs everything into a smaller space, and that usually comes with a price premium when it comes to the laptop market. What we can say is that both the Asus VivoBook S15 and the Dell XPS 13 offer plenty of value for money.

Both laptops are stylish and well built, both come with impressive displays attached, and both have similar levels of performance to help you power through all but the most demanding tasks and games. In terms of the two laptops we've got here, it really is just the graphics power where you would need to maybe think about spending a bit more money to make sure you could run the top-tier games on the market (if you wanted to).

Asus VivoBook S15 vs Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS 13.

(Image credit: Dell)

As we've mentioned, one of the key differences is the size – the larger, 16:9 aspect ratio 15.6-inch display on the Asus gives you more room and a better configuration for sitting back and watching movies, while the 16:10 aspect ratio 13.4-inch display on the Dell makes it more compact and more suitable for taking around the world with you (or just taking around the house).

We've said that both these laptops impress in terms of their aesthetics, but there are differences here too: the Dell is the more subtle and business-like of the two, with the Asus a little more flamboyant when it comes to looks (including the coloured backlighting on the Enter key and the choice of lid shades).

Considering both these laptops come running the latest version of Windows 10, it really is the size and the design that you need to weigh up in order to make a decision and choose between them. Hopefully you'll now feel much more well informed when it comes to knowing the differences between the Asus VivoBook S15 and the Dell XPS 13.