Dell XPS 15 (7590) vs. MacBook Pro: Which should you buy?

MacBook Pro 2018
MacBook Pro 2018 (Image credit: iMore)

For most people, the choice comes down to brand and operating system preference. If you like Windows and getting more for your money, go with the Dell XPS 15 (7590). If you're locked into Apple's ecosystem or prefer to buy all your technology from a brick and mortar store then the MacBook Pro will be the better choice.

Similar specs

MacBook Pro

When looking at the two different prices, you'd assume the MacBook Pro packs more of a punch, but throwing these two notebooks into the ring would result in a draw. The numbers don't lie.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Dell XPS 15 (7950)MacBook Pro (15-inch)
Processor9th Gen Intel Core i5-9300H
9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H
9th Gen Intel Core i9-9980HK
9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H
9th Gen Intel Core i9-9980HK
RAM8GB DDR4 2666MHz
16GB DDR4 2666MHz
32GB DDR4 2666MHz
16GB DDR4 2400MHz
32GB DDR4 2400MHz
OSWindowsmacOS
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 630
NVIDIA GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5
AMD Radeon Pro 560X 4GB GDDR5
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16 4GB HBM2
AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20 4GB HBM2
Display1080p InfinityEdge 500-nits
4K InfinityEdge 400-nits
2880 x 1800 Retina 500-nits
Storage256GB M.2 NVMe
512GB M.2 NVMe
1TB M.2 NVMe
2TB SSD
256GB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
4TB SSD
Ports2x USB 3.1 (Gen 1)
1 HDMI 2.0
1x Thunderbolt 3
1x 3.5mm jack
1x AC
1x SD
4x Thunderbolt 3
1x 3.5mm jack
Wireless802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0
802.11ac
Bluetooth 5.0
Battery56Whr
97Whr
84Whr
Dimensions9.27 x 14.06 x 0.45 inches
(235 x 357 x 11 mm)
9.48 x 13.75 x 0.61 inches
(240 x 350 x 16 mm)
WeightFrom 4lbs (1.8kg)4.02lbs (1.83kg)
Warranty1-year1-year

The two notebooks are very similar on paper, though the Dell XPS does come rocking up to a 2TB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) while the MacBook Pro can be kitted out with a massive 4TB SSD. The XPS 15 does come out on top with RAM, topping out at 32GB of DDR4 clocked at 2666MHz, although the MacBook Pro can be upgraded to 32GB of DDR4 clocked at 2400MHz.

XPS 15 and MacBook Pro displays are gorgeous to work with.

Both laptops do not come with touch-enabled displays, but Dell can install a 4K InfinityEdge panel if you so choose. Still, working on both displays is a dream, even with Apple's slightly lower resolution, so the screen test really is a tie. Dimensions and weight don't mean much, nor does the battery since both notebooks should provide similar results. The difference between the GTX 1650 and Radeon 560X are also minimal, unless you opt for the Radeon Pro Vega 16 or 20 with HBM2 memory for the MacBook Pro.

Things really fall apart for Apple when you consider the price. Choosing an Intel Core i9 processor, dedicated NVIDIA or AMD equivalent GPU, 32GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage results in a price tag for the Dell XPS 15 (7590) of $2,550. A similar configuration for the MacBook will see you paying a full $3,400. That's crazy talk if you're on a tighter budget.

Gorgeous aluminum design

Dell XPS 15 7590

The new Dell XPS 15 (7590) didn't change much in terms of design from the previous model, sporting the same aluminum and carbon fiber design from Dell with an InfinityEdge display, which results in a gorgeous laptop. We're big fans of the XPS 13 design and the XPS 15 is essentially the same notebook but with a larger chassis and display. At just 0.4 inches (11 mm) thick and weighing in at a whopping 4.4 pounds (2.0 kg), it's also great for taking on a work trip.

Prepare to buy dongles to use all your gear with the MacBook Pro.

Apple's MacBook Pro looks similar, thanks to the familiar aluminum construction, but even the main plate around the keyboard and touchpad is aluminum whereas the Dell XPS 15 is carbon fiber. This isn't a negative, nor a positive of either laptop. It's a difference in design that leads you to prefer one or the other. The Pro also comes in space gray or silver.

Both are solid looking notebooks. A drawback for Apple is if you want to use hardware that don't have USB Type-C cables. The MacBook Pro houses four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which is great for bandwidth, but you'll need to pick up a dongle or two for legacy accessories. Dell keeps it simple with Thunderbolt 3, USB Type-A, and an SD card reader.

Windows vs macOS

Windows 10

Comparing the operating system on desktops and laptops of today between the Windows and macOS camps isn't such a major factor anymore simply because you should go with the OS you prefer using. You could create a list of all the features one does that the other doesn't, but there's no point in buying a laptop with an OS that you won't be able to get along with.

Both macOS and Windows 10 will be able to handle all your design printworks, video editing, and other productivity tasks while on the go without issue, so long as you have necessary tools and software installed. Where they differ is in the UI, how you install software, as well as other functions. For example, macOs is a little more secure and robust, while Windows 10 has way better software and gaming support.

If you like Microsoft's OS, go with Windows. Prefer Apple? Go macOS. If you're unsure whether you should make the switch, test out both systems in a store.

There's only one Apple MacBook Pro

Those who simply enjoy using macOS and could see themselves taking advantage of the Touch Bar and other included features should consider the MacBook. You won't be getting the best internals for the price, but you will be getting a more feature-rich package as a result.

Dell XPS 15 (7590) for value and power

If you want to be smarter with your wallet and seek only the performance you require, the Dell XPS 15 line of notebooks is where you should look, especially if you have software that only runs on Windows. This notebook can be configured to handle everything from programming and design work to video editing.