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New Dell XPS 13 developer edition now available (bartongeorge.io)
488 points by sahaskatta 86 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 472 comments



Wonderful! I was excited when they announced they had finally moved the camera to the top, and was hoping for a Dev Ed soon. Didn't expect it so quickly! Good job Barton & team!

Weight-wise, it's under the Macbook Air... Feature-wise (and pricewise), it's closer to the MBP.

Starting weights:

  * XPS13: 2.7lbs/1.23kg
  * MBA: 2.75lbs/1.25kg
  * MBP (13.3"): 3.02lbs/1.37kg
Screen resolution:

  * XPS13: 13.3" 3840x2160 (or 1920x1080)
  * MBA: 13.3" 2560x1600
  * MBP: 13.3" 2560x1600
Ports:

  * XPS13: 3xUSB-C 3.1 (TB3, PD, DP USB3.1 Gen??), headset, MicroSD
  * MBA: 2xUSB-C 3.1 (TB3, PD, DP, USB3.1 Gen2), headset
  * MBP: 4xUSB-C 3.1 (TB3, PD, DP, USB3.1 Gen2), headset
And pricing (for closest equivalent HW I could find, not quite equal, XPS with 4k screen, 8GB RAM, 256 SSD):

  * XPS13: i7-8565U (GPU Intel UHD 620): $1590 (+tax)
  * MBA: i5-8210Y (?) (GPU Intel UHD 617): $1400 (+tax)
  * MBP (no Touch Bar): I5-7360U [1] (GPU Intel UHD 640): $1500 (+tax)
And with 16GB Ram, 512 SSD (max for XPS13):

  * XPS13: $1840
  * MBA: $1800
  * MBP (no TB): $1900
[1] https://everymac.com/systems/apple/macbook_pro/specs/macbook...


German prices are (512GB SSD, 16GB Ram, i7, UDH):

* XPS13 - Ubuntu: 1599€ / 1819$

* XPS13 - Windows: 1729€ / 1967$

* MBA - i5 - 2089€ / 2377$

* MBP - i5 - 2489€ / 2832$

* MBP - i7 - 2849€ / 3242$

Entry models (256GB, 8GB, i5): * XPS13 - Ubuntu - HD : 1289€ / 1467$, has a i7 instead of an i5 !?!

* XPS13 - Windows - HD: 1309€ / 1490$

* XPS13 - Windows - UHD: 1479€ / 1683$

* MBA - i5 - 1599€ / 1820$

* MBP - i5 - 1999€ / 2275$

* MBP - i7 - 2359€ / 2685$

I noticed that dell doesn't offer customization. They have many different configurations but some combinations are missing e.g. no 256-16-UHD option.

That being said I find it difficult to rationalize Apple's prices. I'd like to replace my ancient MBA but I'm not willing to pay 400€ for their new MBA, just to get an inferior CPU. Not to mention the huge price difference for higher-end configurations.

I'd be very interested how well dell notebooks last - do they have similar 'design flaws' as the current gen Apple notebooks (keyboard, display cable)?


> I'd be very interested how well dell notebooks last - do they have similar 'design flaws' as the current gen Apple notebooks (keyboard, display cable)

I have 9360, it has pretty annoying coil whine. The touchpad has some play which is extremely annoying, for almost a year I always used a trackball instead. Now I've gotten used to it somewhat, but still it irks me every day when I have to use it. Headset port stopped recognizing dedicated microphones at some point, probably some driver/software problem on the Windows side.

For work it is okay and I chose it basically because the Macbook Pros of the time already had the horrible keyboards and touchbar. In retrospect I should have gone with Lenovo, at least their keyboards are much better and they have actual docks, which are very convenient for work. Touchpads are still crap, though they may have improved since T440s.

Compared to the late 2013 Macbook Pro I have the MBP has better hardware, but I prefer Windows and Linux to OSX.


Irish prices:

(512GB SSD, 16GB Ram, i7, UDH)

* XPS13 - Ubuntu: €1820

* XPS13 - Windows: €1899

* MBA - i5: €2119

* MBP - i5: €2589

* MBP - i7: €2949

Entry model (256GB, 8GB, i5):

* XPS13 - Ubuntu - HD (with i7): €1429

* XPS13 - Ubuntu - UHD: Not offered in this config

* XPS13 - Windows - HD (with i7): €1399

* XPS13 - Windows - UHD: €1599

* MBA - i5: €1629

* MBP - i5: €1800

* MBP - i7: €2159

Apple is a bit more competitive here, mostly because Dell raised their prices, though interestingly the high end Apple options cost more here and the low end Apple options cost less.

My current laptop is a 2017 XPS 15. The Windows wifi drivers were rubbish on launch, but they finally patched it early last year. Durability wise it's been fine (Though not yet at usage levels of lifespan that I can say much about long term wear), as were my previous Dell laptops (An Inspiron and XPS Studio in the 2000s)


I'd be very interested how well dell notebooks last - do they have similar 'design flaws' as the current gen Apple notebooks (keyboard, display cable)?

It's just one data point, but I have an XPS 13 model 9350 that's now 3 years old (used daily) and I haven't had any faults develop yet.


I have an XPS15 that's almost two years old at this point. It doesn't have the same flaws as an MBP but overall I feel like it may be slightly less durable.

The screen isn't covered with Gorilla Glass and gets marked up the way Macbooks used to. The monitor hinge has a little slack in it and the power connector is a bit loose.

The trackpad has been surprisingly good. The keyboard is decent. I also like the fact that I was able to swap in 32GB of memory and an NVME SSD of the make and model of my choice.

Mine came with a Fujitsu SSD, I think. I swapped in a much larger Samsung 960 Pro. I've ordered several of these for others and they all came with a Samsung OEM unit of equivalent performance.

In summary, the hardware doesn't suck and it runs Linux, which is the best part.


I'm really excited to see what the next XPS 15 will look like.


Rumor is that it's a slightly reworked 9570 with a really nice screen. Comes out in March.


Another data point, I have an XPS13 L322X that's a couple months shy of 6 years old that's also been a daily driver. I've replaced the battery, but it has otherwise stood up surprisingly well. I was amazed when I looked up how old it is.

I'll pass it onto the kids once I get one of these shiny new ones and will be replacing the keyboard and fan when I do. Some of the plastic covering on a few of the keys is starting to come off and the fan bearings are starting to go so sometimes it's louder than it ought to be.


My XPS 13 9360 QHD has shown no signs of letting up since I purchased it in the middle of last year. It's been a fantastic machine for me.


My wife's XPS has been rock solid.


I love my 9360 UHD I just upgraded to latest Elementary OS (Ubuntu 18.04). I have used it as my main machine for 2 years.

It runs really well, there's a minor issue with the touchpad but it does still work well enough that I haven't done anything about it.

Dell continue to push out firmware updates. I bought a USB-C monitor (that acts as a USB-A hub) and I power it via that.

Screen is beautiful, of course in certain light conditions the gloss is a negative, but it looks beautiful often and has great brightness.

My next laptop will either be a System76 or another XPS Developer Edition. I really appreciate what they have done.


If you choose the non touchbar 13" rMBP the German prices are:

512GB/16GB i5 2239€ 512GB/16GB i7 2599€


How is it possible in Germany the Macbook Pro is 50% more expensive than the XPS13, while the parent has the Macbook Pro cheaper than the XPS13?

Are you looking at the same thing?


keep in mind that in eu usually people are getting prices after import tax, vat tax. AFAIK US prices everywhere are listed before taxes.


Tax on a Dell laptop (manufactured in China, sold by a US company) is not different to tax on an Apple laptop (manufactured in China, sold by a US company)


To clarify, US prices include import tariffs and all other federal taxes, but not state taxes (sales tax, CA recycling fee when applicable, etc.).


I got two and several problems (spread evenly between both):

bt didn't work with wifi, changed the wifi card, but still troubles

weird display dimming when reading white on black and no official patch (can link you an unofficial one)

coil whine

speaker blown (don't eq them)

battery bloated (replaced for free even out of warranty)

hard to get to sleep

very short screws, can get lost if you don't use lock tight after opening it once


Great, effort-intensive comment.

I was starting to regret my recent-ish purchase of a System76...until I saw even this new XPS maxed out at 16Gib. I specifically bought my Galaga Pro because it was the only 32GiB + matte-screen (well, not _that_ matte) laptop I could find, though it was a bit more expensive than this new XPS.

If you're looking, I think its great, though one big bummer is there's no good dock (single-connection, 2x2k displayport out), in part because its USB-C can't charge it. I literally have 6 things I plug into it at work each morning (power, keyboard, mouse, headphones, HDMI monitor, miniDP monitor). Some docks would cut that down, but I feel like if I can't get down to 1 it's not worth it.


For what it's worth, the T-Series Lenovo laptops can take 32GB and have matte screen options. I'm using a W-series at the moment that has a matte screen, and it can take 64GB, with the latest one taking up to 128.

The W-series isn't nearly as sleek as the XPS, although the T-series ones are looking pretty good these days!


Be aware: only the T series without the ‘s’, e.g.:

T450 (has 2 dimm slots) but not T450s (smaller, has 1 dimm slot + 1 soldered module)

4= display size (14’) 5= cpu generation (here: Broadwell)

So an equivalent to the new XPS would be a

T480 T480s

Thunderbolt is only available from T470 onwards (not in the x270)

The Reddit ThinkPad forum is your friend here.


T-series are great machines. Even the old T520 can do 16gb, which is pretty good for a unit you can get under $200


Maybe not an option for all, but for everyone on my team, we ordered the least memory available (8GB) and swapped in 32GB of memory for less money than the 16GB unit.

I also swapped the Killer wireless for an Intel unit.


I bought a System76 with a stuck pixel. It never went away, and they wouldn't do anything about it.

I've never bought anything from them since.


It's a good comparison, but I feel the best comparison is not to a MacBook Pro or Air, but to the Thinkpad X1 Carbon or X280. I haven't used either the Dell, Thinkpad, or the MacBook Air, but I do have the MacBook Pro. I'm mostly concerned about build quality. My experience with Dell is they feel cheap while my last Thinkpad was a tank and I miss it (I ran FreeBSD on it) and loved the nub and keyboard and overall feel.


I agree. Dell XPS 13 is a direct competitor to Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon[1], and is inferior in almost every way (build quality, port selection, keyboard, and screen). In my opinion, Macbooks stand on their own: you either want MacOS with the entire Apple's ecosystem, or you don't.

[1] https://www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-X1-Carbon-2018...


Macbook Pro to X1 Carbon convert.

I could not disagree more with you as a developer.

- The X1 Carbon lets me use Nvidia GPUs using an eGPU.

- It has a much, much better keyboard. On my MBP, I hit this problem: https://youtu.be/4QDsqWkUvXQ

- The high end models don't force you to get a touchbar.

- I love having more port diversity and number of slots vs. the MBP. No dongle life for me.

- As an added bonus, I got the X1 Carbon Yoga, which has an OLED display. The display is gorgeous with fabulously dark blacks.

The one thing that I miss from the Macbook pro is it has a much better trackpad. But overall, I am very happy with the switch, and it's overly simplistic to just say "Macbooks stand on their own".

Though overall, I couldn't be happier with the switch.


Interesting - I read the parent comment as saying that the XPS was inferior to the X1, not the other way around.

I completely agree that the lenovo is a better laptop, for similar reasons to the ones you've mentioned.

I think the 'Macbooks stand on their own' comment is more along the lines of "you either operate in the macOS space, or the 'everything else' space. There isn't much crossover due to the large shift in workflow between macOS and windows". This rings true for me - I have the option of using a mac for work, but I prefer to run windows on a lenovo because the hardware is just better. I can deal with windows 10's quirks, and I just run a VM for all my linux needs - no half-assing it with the BSD terminal in macOS.


I think you may have misread? GP said that the XPS is inferior to the Carbon and that Macs were in a different category because of the OS and ecosystem and therefore not directly comparable.


So, how does iOS development work for you on the X1?


It works fine [1]. But if that was important what does the hardware matter?

Besides that, how does linux work on your macbook?

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comments/92unvp/my_guide_f...


Hackintosh is not an option for the serious developer.


Neither is a mac.


Yet Macs are overwhelmingly popular in Silicon Valley software companies--to the point where devs not using Windows has become a quality/dogfooding issue for multiplatform apps. Maybe it's because nowadays the platform you code on doesn't really matter if you're not a native app developer?

I think Google has swung more towards Linux laptops, but honestly, this, the T or X series from Lenovo, maybe System76 are the only realistic choices I see there personally. And at the end of the day, Linux and Mac offer pretty similar programming experiences.


...or you want no longer due to keyboard etc. and have the option to move (to Linux).


If I recall, the OpenBSD developers mainly use the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

While I understand the merits of supporting everyone's toaster, it would be nice to see an unofficial truce around a couple of key laptop models. If I could get a ThinkPad X1 Carbon or a Dell XPS13 and absolutely know it would work, I would seriously consider moving on from my launch-day original 2012 rMBP. Unfortunately, that's still the best available option for someone who's primary job is something other than writing code but writes code and admins servers sometimes.


QubesOS developers use X1 Carbon.


I have one 2 generations behind (XPS 13 9360) and I have to tell you your fears are completely justified. I was a long-time Thinkpad user (had a Z-series, T42, X1 carbon) but switched because the screen was just so pretty. While I was initially very happy, I've had tons of issues around both the build quality and support.

When my machine started refusing to charge, my "next day on-site service" extended warranty turned into "you called 20 minutes too late, so it's actually in 2 days" and then "Oh, while we confirmed the appointment time with you, we never did with the tech, we'll find out when they're coming" and then "Oh yeah, they're not actually coming today, you have to take another day off work too". Then, after the tech managed to replace my main board without any ESD protection and it started completely hard locking up every 5 minutes (even in their own diagnostic tool and the EFI setup tool) it took me several days worth of phone calls and emails before they swapped it out.

Of course, about a year later, I started having problems with the SECOND laptop they'd sent me and had to send it back to have parts replaced. A few months later, right after the warranty expired, the screen started going crazy. I've found the right place to hit it to fix it whenever that happens (about once a month).

Next machine I get, I'm going back to an X1 Carbon.


FWIW, I have a 2015 Dell XPS 15 that had the battery start to swell(making the trackpad unusable), I did not get next day service but was able to schedule an appointment where the tech came and fixed it, no charge. All in all I don't regret my purchase and would buy again, I think the screen is still amazing and nobody else seems to want to challenge Dell in the niche they've made.


I leaned to the Thinkpad X1 Carbon initially but then bought the T480s (i5, 16 GB/24 GB later, 1 TB). Works nicely (so far;)). The XPS 13 is certainly a nice machine also.


MBP with no Touch Bar only has two USB ports. More importantly though, the XPS13 has a quad-core CPU, while the others are only dual-core.


A 4K 13-inch display feels like absurd overkill to me. Am I in the minority on that?


I have the older 13" 3200x1800 screen and it is amazing. I put Ubuntu 18.04 on it since it wasn't available as a developer edition. The display scaling is my only problem but that's more a gnome thing. Running it with Windows was a almost perfect (why, Xilinx can you not do display scaling...). I thought I wouldn't notice the extra resolution due to the small screen but it both looks really nice for text and allows me to scale everything slightly smaller so that I can fit more on my screen for productivity. That being said, I use it as a laptop, on my lap. The extra resolution is pretty useless if I'm using it on a desk or table. But for that I have an XPS15 + 27" 4K setup.


As far as I know GNOME can do display scaling, but not fractional display scaling yet.


Yeah that's the problem. 2x is too big and 1x is too small on 3200x1800. Luckily there's a workaround to scale text to 1.5x which for most purposes is fine.


I like 2x scale on the XPS 13 9350 (with 3200x1800). It results in a super sharp 1600x900 which is ideal for the 13.3" screen site.


Give KDE Neon a try. I use it as my daily driver on a Latitude 7370 with the 3200x1800 display.


4K displays eat batteries (at least driving them). I'm very nomadic in my usage and I want a computer that I can do 8 hours of work on a single charge if I have to. Pretty much impossible with a 4K display, so I've gotten used to lower resolutions. Since I have vision issues (eye strain triggers ocular migraines), I usually have a massive font -- imagine full screening a console with only 32 lines of text. In that configuration, 4K is definitely overkill because there is very little difference to see. If you are young, with super power vision (like some people I know), I think it would make a pretty big difference in really tiny fonts and might be worth the power price. However, I think if I were going that route, I would be getting a 15" not a 13" -- I can't really see the advantage of the smaller format if you are tying yourself to a power cord anyway.


I'm curious, what machine are you using to achieve those? And do you have some special applications to help you in doing what you do?


Currently have a Toshiba KIRA V63, which unfortunately I think was only available in Japan. Basically i5 processor with 8 gigs of memory, SSD, integrated Intel graphics. The main power saving tool is Powertop. However, I run Arch and do not install GNOME, or KDE. I've got Xmonad for a window manager and I'm usually using Kitty as a terminal emulator. Work requires me to run Chromium (I write internal web systems for a travel tour company, and we deploy to Chrome, so I only need to make sure it works on that platform). I'm mostly spending my time in tmux with Emacs (in Evil mode).

I'm pretty careful about turning everything off -- for example bluetooth, etc. For maximum power savings I use a very high contrast colour scheme and turn the backlight down using xblacklight. Indoors, in the library for instance, I can happily turn it down to 7-11%. Outdoors, I usually need 70%. If I'm on the train or bus (I often work on the go), then I'm usually about 20%. The backlight is really the biggest thing to consider. It helps to spend some time in Powertop and see what's draining the battery.

Another important thing is that I run as little disk access as possible. Even with only 8 gigs of memory, I have no swap partition or swap file. I try to stay out of the browser and do as much as possible with TDD -- files will be cached by the OS. As much as possible I have no VMs running (obviously with the lack of memory) and as we've pretty much moved over to Docker this has helped out.

Apart from that I'm pretty anal about my machine. I don't allow anything to run that I'm not completely aware of. I've got a processor monitor running and if I notice it spike when I'm not doing anything, I track down what's going on. Same thing with memory.

Ah.. One more thing. I almost always have the WIFI turned off, unless I'm actually communicating with someone. I tend to work using pomodoros and spend 5 minutes every half an hour checking my email, etc. But I try to keep offline documentation, etc available.

I'm going to be replacing this machine soon (I think it's 3-4 years old now). I'll probably end up buying the V63's replacement (I forget the model number). It's supposed to have about 10% more battery, so I'm looking forward to seeing if I can relax some of my habits. If I'm not grinding the machine too much I can usually get 9-10 hours. However some days I only manage 6, which is a pain.


Agreed. I would have preferred a 2K screen, but I needed the better specs of the 4K model, and in practice having 4K didn't affect me. With TLP I get 8-10 hours of battery life on Ubuntu with the 4K display, and Ubuntu/Gnome handles the high DPI well.

What does affect me is the glossy display...


Do you actually get 8-10 hours of working battery life with that? If so, that's amazing to me. What do you use for backlight percentage?


Yup. Thanks to TLP I have 9 hours and 35 minutes left at the moment (88% battery) with 70% screen brightness, bluetooth and wifi enabled, several local dev servers running light workloads, and Firefox, Slack, Libreoffice and various other smaller apps open.


I have the 4k screen on older model. It makes the ui a bit sluggish unless I downscale it. I would have preferred a less fancy screen tbh for that reason (battery would be better too)

Mostly though, I'm jealous of a friends' macbook keyboard and trackpad. My particular xps is not amazing in those areas


I use both a last gen macbook and an xps 13 9360 every day. Even after three iterations of the new keyboard style, the macbooks do not have a decent keyboard. The keyboard of the xps is better (still not as good as the perfect keyboard of an X1 or a yoga) and way more quiet.

The trackpad of the XPS is worse than the macbook, but at least it feels OK. Overall, I prefer the input methods of the XPS.


I have a current XPS-13 for work, which I work as a developer. The size if it just makes it almost unusable by itself. When I have it docked, the laptop screen is set to a lower res and I it for my communication apps. I have two extra monitors on for everything else.


Obviously you are expected to use scaling on high PPI displays. Didn't you use any?


D'oh! Forgot about scaling up. Thanks for reminding me!


I have the XPS13 running at 3200x1800 in macOS - it's absolutely gorgeous.


I would agree, though running it in FHD should be much sharper than a lower density screen.


I'm not bothered about the bottom camera as I don't use it. The specs are pretty good otherwise if you max it out.

However, the battery life is terrible after upgrading Ubuntu LTS from 16 to 18 as it doesn't sleep properly. I wrote a more detailed review of it here (2018 version, not the new one just released): https://unop.uk/dell-xps-13-ubuntu-review/


>they had finally moved the camera to the top,

Now I know where to put the tape! ;)

For the rest of the specs, seems to make the MBA look like a pretty fair deal so long as you like the Apple ecosystem.


XPS13 i7-8565U is a 15W part running 4C/8T @ 1.8-4.6GHz, MBA i5-8210Y is a 7W part running 2C/4T @ 1.6-3.6GHz. That's a significant performance difference.


The i5 version of the XPS is 70% faster than the i5 in the MBA (8250u vs 8210y) so it seems you are getting a whole lot more for your money in the XPS (or even the MBP)


I have the latest XPS13 and they really are great machines. We also have the older XPS 15, but it feels noticeably heavier, bulkier and seems to have some stability issues.

Also worth looking at the Lenovo X1. Similarly light and powerful.

Edit: My only complaint with the XPS13 is the ports ... it's definitely one short (power, monitor, USB peripherals) which forces you to get the expensive dock. Not cool.


nice comparison.

I am waiting for the right time to buy an ubuntu laptop, but it still seems like a MBP is the better choice. You're just much less likely to run into some weird hardware driver issue.

I guess it used to be quite a bit cheaper to get a non-apple laptop, but it seems like the other companies have figured out that you can charge more for a "premium" product..... Looking at the above comparison, price would not be a differentiator for me. ( Do I really care about what amounts to a ~$300 price difference if we were looking at literally same specs? )

It's too bad because I'd love for there to be a real, price conscious alternative to an apple laptop, but that doesn't seem to be the way the industry is going. It seems like every year dell and lenovo creep closer to apple pricing.


I have the last gen non-developer xps 13 running Ubuntu. No driver issues what so ever. Honestly most of the hardware are pretty standard these days.


Weight-wise I've been interested in the Asus Zenbook S range recently.

Similar specs to the XPS13 and weighing in at around 1KG.

But for some reason Asus don't sell the 16GB models in the UK :/

The MBA is a weird machine, to me, as it's almost as heavy and almost as expensive as the Pro, with far worse specs.


Excellent breakdown for comparison. Thank you.


Sad to see the XPS 13 line going the same way as Apple and removing the USB A ports. On the plus side, it's at least possible to connect two monitors to the USB C ports now (the 2017 version I have has only one USB C port), but it's less overall ports now since the power jack is also replaced by USB C. The body seems the same size as previously, so the excuse of "more thinness" doesn't really apply.

That said, the XPS 13 has been the best experience I've had with Linux on a laptop. The bundled Ubuntu install works out of the box, but even on other distros it's not difficult to set up, and I've not encountered any driver issues, which have been common on every other laptop I've installed Linux on. It helps that it's a great quality laptop in general - anecdotally in my office, we see far more hardware issues with the latest Macbooks than with XPSs.So I'd recommend it for anyone who wants a Linux or Windows laptop, or is considering switching away from Mac without compromising on hardware quality.


Apple has the common decency to make all of their USB-C ports identical, and support just about every allowable feature I know of, so, in theory, there's no reason you'll ever plug a device into a Mac and have it not work because the port isn't compatible (even though it's physically the same). Great in theory, I just wish the ports were more reliable — I've now had two laptops with flaky ports.

Dell dropped the ball by giving this laptop two TB3 ports and one that only does USB.


I have the previous gen model which also is 2 TB3 + 1 USB-C and it really doesn't matter much at all in practice. Since TB3 is isolated to the more "permanent" stuff (docks or eGPUs) it's pretty natural to just always use the same port since the cable layout is fixed. It's not like you connect random TB3 stuff to it regularly on the go.


One thing that threw me for a while on my 9370 was why I couldn’t get it to boot from a USB-C memory stick.

I didn’t realise at first, this was due to the difference in USB vs Thunderbolt.


On some MBP configurations (I think the 13 inch model?), the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports on the left and right side don't have the same capabilities.


That was the case with the 2016 and 2017 models of 13" MBP w/touch bar - the right side had reduced PCI Express bandwidth. The 2018 model has full bandwidth on all ports.


Does the 15 have the same problem?


ISTR that the 15” of all generation had 4 lane TB3 ports on both sides. The distinction was the older 13” had two lanes on the right.


It's the 2016/2017 versions of the tbMBP 13". My understanding is that the the right-hand side have all the same capabilities as the left-hand side, but lower PCIe bandwidth.

It's definitely confusing and a bit frustrating that it's different if you're in a scenario where the bandwidth matters, but at least it's just numbers rather than devices outright not working.


I once encountered a situation where a particular projector would only work when connected to the right hand side of my 13" MacBook Pro (2016) - so it's not true to say that devices don't work.


They're identical on the same machine, but the Macbook only has USB3.1 (+ Display Port) whereas the Macbook Pro is TB3. This isn't very obvious to users.


On the MacBook Pro 2016 and 2017 they weren't completely identical, as the TB3 ports on the right side only provided 20Gbit/s instead of the "full" 40Gbit/s. Check out https://www.macrumors.com/2016/10/28/macbook-pro-tb3-reduced... for details.


Fair point, completely forgot about the Macbook.


Today I learned that Thunderbolt is the name of the interface/protocol, not the connector.


Mhm. Same USB 3 is the protocol while USB C is the connector. You can totally have USB 2.0 only USB C ports.


Many of the first phones that launched with USB-C connectors were USB 2.0.


Additionally, it might even make sense to have the power plug only be USB-2.0, if it's cheap. No reason to have a thunderbolt 3.0 cable plugged into the wall all the time


Unless you want to use your external display as power supply and usb hub at the same time with just one cable.

Some of us do work in actual offices and not in some coffee shops down the street. ;)


> Some of us do work in actual offices

Whoah, what's up with that? Not sure why you're inferring this coffee shop story or why you're doing this smug posturing thing but it's pretty obnoxious.


but it’s not what parent author wrote. idea was to use usb-2 cheap cable as a cable to transfer electricity between charger and laptop.


USB 2.0 specifies a maximum of 20AWG wire width for power transmission, which would limit you to 1.5A for charging.

http://sdphca.ucsd.edu/lab_equip_manuals/usb_20.pdf


We're talking about usb-2.0 data over usb-c cable. It'll still have the power delivery of usb-c


And that wastes physical real estate that could be used for a more modern cable. And with more USBC / thunderbolt cables around, theyll also get cheaper.


Can you have USB 3.x over Type A?


Yes, USB 3.X type A has additional pins, all the “blue“ type-a ports can support USB 3.0 and 3.1 gen 1/2 depending on the controller powering them.

USB-C adds additional pins for alt-mode as well as a higher power delivery allowance, but the USB data protocol part of it is the same as any other type of port of the same spec.


Type A, Type B, Micro B, and C are all valid: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#Receptacle_(socket)_identi...


Yep, before USB-C was out, Thunderbolt used a MiniDisplayPort connector.


>Dell dropped the ball by giving this laptop two TB3 ports and one that only does USB....

That was a serious miss on Dell's part. I'm not sure why they did that?

Makes it a little annoying for users.


Three TB3 ports would have required an extra controller chip.


Seems like it would have been better to omit the third port entirely, then—or, better yet, put a USB-A port there instead.


Having a Yubikey permanently installed, I can say that on the 9370, I don't miss USB Type A ports, but I definitely wouldn't be using this as a daily laptop if it had one fewer (two total) USB Type C connectors.

That would effectively mean I have zero ports free when charging and with my permanent Yubikey plugged in. It's never been an issue in practice, but I also wish that Dell would remove the ambiguity and make them all TB3 ports.


> there's no reason you'll ever plug a device into a Mac and have it not work because the port isn't compatible

You can't transfer data between two Macs using USB-C to USB-C cable that comes as a charger...


Apple dropped the ball on the Macbook, IMHO, by making the one port not a TB3 port.


I know everyone has a different step but I would welcome two usb C ports over a regular port just because the I can get a powered usb c dock that is connected to all my peripherals. That way all I have to plug in when I get in to work is one cable.


This was the #1 use case for Type C development BTW. I have friends who were working on silicon this for over a decade.

I anticipate that 2019 will be the year when we'll get monitors that are the "dock", so in practice most users will use at most a single port.


I already do this, and it's wonderful. I had to get a monitor that was way too big though to find one that had all the ports I want and which could supply enough power back to the laptop, but I assume smaller monitors are getting it by now too. Still though, it's well worth it if you need a new monitor to wait for one that has all your preferred specs and also does USB-C, I don't think I could go back.

I plug in my laptop and the monitor comes on, my keyboard and mouse start working over USB, my speakers start working because I turned the builtin soundbar off and enabled the in USB-C/3.55mm DAC that's also built into some Dell monitors, and even my printer and a synthesizer that I use as a practice (piano-)keyboard are are ready to go.


They are already pretty widespread, but expensive for now. I have to regularly use at work a Dell XPS 13, a macbook and a Lenogo Yoga. The monitor I use is an HP Z27 with a built in dock, where I have a keyboard and mouse connected. Whenever I have to switch a laptop, I just unplug the usb-c cable of the monitor from the laptop I am using and plug it to the new one. It takes a couple of seconds and I have my full setup usable again. The best thing is that it also provides power to the laptops, so I do not have to plug them.

In the past, when I was connecting a laptop to a monitor I had two options:

1) Use a proprietary dock. This is as convenient as the usb-c cable, but you can use it with a single brand of devices. Also, in the case of the usb-c cable you are free to move the laptop around the desk. Not so easy with a dock.

2) Plug the monitor and the peripherals directly the ports of the laptop. When you have to switch laptops frequently, it feels like this process is taking ages. It also looks ugly to have an octopus laptop on the desk.

Having said that the dedicated usb-c docks are notoriously problematic. I have tried a lot to find a single one with more than 3 star reviews, but it seems impossible. At least, I have not heard complains about the built-in docks inside monitors. In this case though, you have to make some sacrifices in the number and variety of ports. For example, in my case, I do not have ethernet.


There are already screens like that, and I like the idea in principle.

I'm more hesitant in practice because the USB3 hub in my current Dell display didn't get along with my computer and would cause blue screens when used. Easy to avoid, I just don't have the USB hub plugged in.

As things get more and more integrated, a problem anywhere in the system means the whole thing doesn't work and you can't avoid the busted parts.


> As things get more and more integrated, a problem anywhere in the system means the whole thing doesn't work and you can't avoid the busted parts.

That's a general issue: laptops are pretty integrated and even in your tower it's pretty hard to patch the mobo (and let's not get into the issue of upgrading your L1 cache.

I started computing on a machine (PDP-6) on which you could add instructions with a wire wrap pencil. That's clearly impossible today, but with modern manufacturing, increased integration typically means increased overall reliability.


All true, but the benefits of integrating those things are more obvious to me than "you don't have a separate USB and power cable."

On the plus side, issues like mine ought to become less common with an integrated device, since it would become impossible for Dell to not test their USB hub when they plug in the display cable.

And I suppose I've considered a thunderbolt hub for the convenience and decided against it just because of what they cost. If that sort of integration were "free" with displays, yeah I'd probably take it.


I have a Dell monitor which does video, audio, power, and a couple of USB ports over USB-C. It’s easily the best setup I’ve ever had just for the convineance in being able to plug in one cable and immediately have everything I need working.


Such monitors are pretty common now, at the higher end of the market, but most of them cannot charge larger laptops like 15-inchers that need more than 80 watts.


This is my primary concern with the whole "charge your laptop through peripherals" trend promoting usb-c. My laptop ships with a ~200W PSU, so anything that wants to reasonably charge my it needs that amount in excess power. I just don't see it being economical to stuff that king of power into everything. Not to mention I can't even find a 200W usb-c wall charger...


> Not to mention I can't even find a 200W usb-c wall charger...

I wouldn’t recommend buying one if you saw one — the power delivery spec only goes up to 100 W!


Some of those monitors already exist such as the Dell 38" (depending on your definition of dock; it doesn't have Ethernet).


I've had this setup for a couple of years. Back when I started out on it, with a Dell XPS 15 (9550) and Dell docks, reliability was pretty iffy; unusable for their TB dock and kind of flaky for their USB-C dock. The latter is the only one that has proven in the long run to be a decent implementation; when I switched to a Thinkpad (P52s) a year ago the USB-C dock ended up working just fine, and the TB dock was recalled and replaced and now is just flaky.

I'd either go with a hardware combination that you or a trusted reviewer has tested, or wait another year or so for the bugs to get worked out.

EDIT: Or just avoid Dell, they seem to be behind the curve on figuring out Thunderbolt 3.


Even well reviewed devices aren't guaranteed to work. At work I had a TB3 dock from Belkin, that was one of the top sellers on Amazon. Everything worked on the MBP, but when I tried connecting my ThinkPad (T470s) all the peripherals and displays worked, however it wouldn't deliver any power. On the other hand the cheap Chinese TB3 dock (UGREEN branded) I have at home works fine with the ThinkPad.


Same here. My work laptop is a HP Zbook workstation. My favorite thing is my USB C doc. 4 USB ports, 2 display ports, Ethernet, USB c port, power, and a VGA port.


My 9360 XPS13 is the best experience I have for a macbook air replacement. I get a fan, keyboard that doesn't destroy itself, tiny bezel, i7, etc, and it runs high sierra.


How hard was the Hackintosh process?


Easy to get it installed, difficult to trouble shoot. But now that I figured it out I can breeze through it.


How are things like external display support and sleep/wake with Linux on this laptop?


Can't speak for the new models, but suspend/resume is bulletproof on the 9550, Mac-like experience installing Ubuntu


If you stick with non-bleeding edge distros, I think it will be fine. A colleague had some problems with Arch occasionally with newer kernels (especially when using Powertop since it often lags behind a bit). I've also had occasional problems with a very similarly built Toshiba laptop. By the time distros like Ubuntu were using those kernels, all of the problems were fixed. Probably in a 3 year period it only happened twice, so it wasn't a huge deal since I was expecting to have occasional problems.


I run Arch on a XPS 15, it was relatively painless and I have no major complaints, I am very cautious about upgrading the kernel and only do so periodically. I would 100% consider switching to something else if they manage to solve packages as Arch has.


Same with the 9360 and running Fedora.


You do have the option of the XPS15. My XPS15 has 2 USB 3.0 ports and one USB C port. It also has a separate power connection port, HDMI, and SD card reader.


Do you run Linux on it? Apparently the XPS15 can't be ordered with Linux [1], so you're paying the $100 MS tax and as of a year ago, installing Linux was not without issues [2].

[1] https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/dell-laptops/xps-15/spd/xps-...

[2] https://medium.com/@kemra102/linux-on-the-dell-xps-15-919e6d...

Personally I want a 15-inch laptop with Linux preinstalled or perfectly supported, a great trackpad, a bright screen so I can work outdoors, and USB A so I can plug in my mech keyboards without dongles because I lose them all the time.


I would assume a mechanical keyboard is not being used portably? Couldn't the dongle just stay with the keyboard?

I do not use Linux on my XPS15. It's just a personal preference but I prefer Windows on my personal machines. I use many virtual machines on the laptop, and those have no issues, but that is a bit different than running it as a OS ;).

But I do love the laptop a lot! That is quite annoying that there are some Linux problems and that you pay a bit extra for MS. I stick with using Linux at work when I am purely doing development work, and at home when doing casual stuff, like a little coding, gaming, and web browsing I prefer Windows.


My previous employer got me a new macbook pro and every couple weeks I either lost a dongle or it broke. The cheap ones are really fragile, and the better ones still not great. If I had only one machine, or all machines took the dongle, I probably wouldn't lose so many at least.

I do use a mech portably...I like to carry one in my laptop bag and set up at a picnic table at a nearby park. I'll use the built-in keyboard for light work but with heavy typing I need the mech for ergonomics.


If you add a backlit KB I'll buy it. Room for a second HD would be a bonus but not a requirement.


And with the USB C docking station you can have two (three??) external monitors as well as regular USB, sound and Ethernet.

The only thing I'm really missing is an ethernet port on the laptop itself, but that's hard in this form factor.


Using an XPS 13 2-1 from 2017 and have 3 external monitors via the Dell TB16 Thunderbolt dock.


Yeah I have had some cases where I wish I had an ethernet port, but not enough cases yet to make me buy a USB-Ethernet adapter.


Don't. I got both, and while the xps 13 is good gear, the 15 has been nothing but pain. The name is the only thing they got in common, and dell stayed silent on numerous issues about it.


This was my experience with a previous gen version that I was given at work too; half the hardware was different, it was hit or miss whether Linux would work with the wifi hardware you got (if they make a developer edition of the 15" though I assume that one would always come with a working chipset), it was falling apart much quicker than people with the 13" versions were, the keyboard was terrible (although the keyboard on the 13" was terrible too, but it didn't stick as much as the 15" did, though that could just be bad luck), etc.


I already have the XPS15 and have nothing but good things to say about it. I have had zero issues with it and love it.

What issues do you have? I do not notice a difference from the xps13 quality.


Random blue screens.

Poor USB-C support (sometimes ethernet died, sometimes screens changed resolutions...). The problem kept changing from BIOS update to BIOS update.

Then the USB-C harware failed: I could use it only if my laptop stayed perfectly still.

Only a few hours of battery life.

Drunk touchpad.

Speakers died after 3 month.

The 2 first points were fixed after years of hit and miss BIOS updates. It felt like beta testing the product.

Tons of complains from many users on Dell forum, with zero help from Dell.

Given the price of the machine, it's a damn shame.


That is rather unfortunate. I have had zero of these problems you describe with my XPS15 laptop and I have had it around 5-6 months now. I hope it will stay that way.


Using a Thunderbolt dock like the TB16 from Dell you can connect 3 external monitors.


They bilindly copy Apple's decisions, without realizing that Apple is in the long term death spiral without Jobs. That's a big mistake.


I do own XPS 13 9360 and there are number of issues:

- coil whine under load;

- poor heat sink, under little load i7 goes to 100C and CPU throttling kicks in;

- sometimes 'w' button seems to be 'stuck' in pressed state even when it's physically un-pressed; seems to be a firmware keyboard bug, since I've seen same problem on another XPS 13;

- I've had to replace Killer WiFi card, because RTT for packets spiked up every time card was scanning for networks;

- that 'spidey-fingers' webcam;

- that 'Content Adaptive Brightness Control' when gamma-level goes off every time you switch from black to white image on the screen;

- unable to replace battery, since even when I've ordered battery from authorized service center they gave me non-official third-party battery which was not accepted by laptop;

- connecting 4K@60Hz is kinda problematic, since you need to find USB-C adapter which supports it;


I have 9370 (the 2018 model) and I only have these two:

- that 'spidey-fingers' webcam;

lol, that's a weird one, but solved with the external keyboard

- that 'Content Adaptive Brightness Control' when gamma-level goes off every time you switch from black to white image on the screen;

that's a weird one, how to turn that off? (win 10)


You can do that from the BIOS and disable Dynamic Brightness Control in the display options


I bought a 9360 and returned it because of the coil whine, it was so bad that I could hear it over music playing from the laptop. I returned it for a refund and got a 9370 about 8 months later and it has been so much better. No coil whine now. The webcam is in the same place, but I have never had to use it. I didn't have any issues with the Killer card in either the 9360 or the 9370 (and use it daily for multiple hours at a time).

I do really wish I could've got the laptop without the 4k screen because on a 13" laptop I would rather save the battery life and not have a glossy screen, alas, it wasn't available last year in Australia with 16GB RAM. It does seem that this year though it is available.

I use an external 4k screen and don't have any issues, although I am using the Dell TB16 dock. The more annoying issue is that you can use 4k@60 over HDMI since it isn't supported by the Intel GPU, you need to use a DP connector.


Coil whine seems to be a problems with lots of current gen laptops - work colleague had to return a brand new top-of-the-line Apple laptop a month or two ago because the coil whine was ridiculously loud.


> sometimes 'w' button seems to be 'stuck' in pressed

I've had several XPS13s with keyboard issues. I honestly cannot consider it a "developer edition" when the keyboard is wonky. Contacted HP support every time, found them trying to ignore the issue while whole support forums where mobbing up in anger over the issue. Finally they admitted, but nothing happened. I'm on a T420 now, while I really-really wanted to support suppliers that provide Linux-out-of-the-box machines.


You contacted HP support for a Dell laptop... That might be the problem ;)


PEBKAC classic. But I have to second the keyboard sentiment. I can't rely on it to be decent on anything but lenovo these days, may be not even...

I have HP probook where you can replace the keyboard easily. When I got the machine with "premium" keyboard, a few keys were wobbly, made different squeaky sounds and had overall inconsistent feel to them. I went to HP website and ordered a replacement -- it came with other keys being bad. I called HP and they sent me replacement for replacement -- the same story -- their keyboards are just so cheaply made and quality control so lacking, that you have to be very lucky to get one with all keys working consistently.

Keyboards are the worst part of the laptop these days.


Excuse. It was Dell obviously that I contacted. :)

(okay I had to contact HP several times as well, but that was a server unit, and after some calls/ceremony it got adequately serviced)


I have a 9360 with coil whine. So far I like everything about it (size, weight, power) except that noise. Luckily, FreeBSD powerd_flag="-a adaptive" seems to get rid of most of it. I find that it is silent when idle with low CPU freq, silent when under heavy load with high CPU freq, but noisy when idling with high CPU freq, so that a quickly dropping the speed make the problem mostly go away.

I don't use the Killer WIFI because my OS doesn't support it yet. Perhaps I'll be able to complain about that later in the year.

Sometimes I regret not picking up a Thinkpad X1 C6 (I have lifelong Thinkpad keyboard envy, since owning a T something many years ago), but they're way more expensive and I keep reading about disappointing manufacturing problems with those things, and I know that'd be a pain to deal with in my location.


I've started returning laptops with coil whine.. ended up doing it last I tried XPS.

Similarly, I sent a X1 Carbon back this summer due to missing Linux support -- suspend, touchpad, CPU scaling, and lots of small bugs. (I'm quite happy with my older X1 though)

Anyways, I suggest sending it back and ask for refund next time to get a laptop with coil whine. There is only one way to teach manufacturers that this is unacceptable.


> Content Adaptive Brightness Control

It is part of Intel's shenanigans to improve battery life.

CABC bothered me on my surface book too, fortunately they allow you to disable this. It previously (pre-9350) required a firmware update but can now be switched off using the latest intel display driver control panel.


Personally the bezel is driving me nuts. How is the screen not flush with the top frame? Coil whining is taken care of by preventing any single core to run at 100% for any period of time. My biggest grip is still the lack of proper docking station for using it as a desktop replacement. Every single port replicator I have used fails at some point (ethernet, dual monitor, external USB device) and requires a reboot. For that reason I would personally go with a TP given the choice.


You’re not alone: I have the 9360, too, and experienced 6 of your 8 listed problems (the battery replacement I haven’t tried, and the heat I never noticed).


I also have a 9360 and I have also experienced 1, 2, 5, and 6 off your list. I also have the monitor just go nuts every so often until I give it a whack in exactly the right place. I've also had horrible experiences with reliability and Dell's support which I posted elsewhere in this thread.

Next machine's another X1 Carbon for me (I had the 1st gen before this).


I’ve been having many of these problems with my 9360 as well. I recently switched back to using a 2013 MacBook Pro Retina with Linux on it, and the much older thing just feels faster, and I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it’s the CPU throttling? I mean, even web browsing doesn’t feel right on my 9360.


Another issue is that the battery can swell. And you'll have to go through the process of ordering a third-party battery and trying to replace it yourself.

At least with Apple, you can take it to the store for authorized service.


> - sometimes 'w' button seems to be 'stuck' in pressed state even when it's physically un-pressed

Ah, so it's a common issue. I also have the 'w' problem on Dell Lattitude E7450.


Ditto almost all of that. The 9360 is junk (and doubly junk when paired with a TB16 dock)


I have xps15 with killer wifi card and it sucks


I split my development time between a 2015 rMBP and a Precision 5530 (pro model of the XPS 15). I still can not switch fully to the Dell because of a few issues:

- The touchpad is just garbage compared to the MBP, to the point I have an even more keyboard centric setup on it than my desktop, because I want to drop it out of a window every time I use the touchpad.

- Fans. I've accepted that most laptops will run active cooling more than any radiative chassis MBP, but the issues are that while the fans run constantly, they also change speeds constantly in both Windows and Ubuntu. They'd be far less annoying if they ran at a higher, but steady RPM by averaging response over a large time window. Manually managing fans feels like 1998. Also, for a $3.5K laptop that runs fans constantly, these are some of the jankiest, most rattling prone fans I've heard. Most colleagues with XPS 13/15 have sent them in for fan replacement at least once.

A more niche gripe is that 16:9 is the wrong aspect ratio for a professional laptop.

Pros:

- Screen quality and brightness.

- Keyboard (why I can't just get a new MBP).

- Hardware configurability.

- Many hardware issues at first, especially in linux, were quickly and effectively fixed by Dell driver and firmware updates.


Ditto on the touchpad issues. Have a 2016 XPS 13 (1st or 2nd year of the new design) that I ended up sending in 3 times for repairs due to the touchpad. Jittery, can't scroll, unreliable with right clicks / two finger clicks; ruined the experience for me. I eventually gave up sending to the factory because they were all equally dysfunctional.

-Many issues with power management, where I would close the lid and it would sleep, only to wake up later randomly. I would find it in my backpack blazing hot with fans at 100%.

-This was the 4k model, and at that point windows barely supported that resolution so the experience was awful with all but the most robust apps. Any legacy app was unusable. I expect this is better now.

-The speakers on 2/3 gave off a poppy, static sound during boot.

-Network connectivity is horrible. Sometimes the adapter would just turn off, requiring a restart. Resuming from sleep would take a full 60 seconds to connect to known networks. Insane


I also stopped sending it back in because every touchpad seemed to have the same scrolling issues. Then I tried installing Linux to see if the issues would be the same, and since then the trackpad has been working great. It's the reason I use Linux these days.


I have a rather high end Latitude, (model lower than XPS 13), and every mac user that used the touchpad on it says it feels on par with the one on MBP.


I bought (and returned) an XPS 13 9360 last year. Touchpad was trash - overly sensitive, skipped, unrecognized movements, etc. I understand part of that is software, but it's embarrassing how much better the touchpads are on Macbooks.

It seems all the trackpads got worse when they went button-less to copy Apple.


Maybe it was broken? Were you testing under Windows or Linux? I do have buttons on my touchpad though (and a trackpoint).


Windows. I don't think it was broken, it was a similar quality to the HP Spectre I bought (and also returned).

Maybe the Latitudes have a better touchpad? I don't mind the Lenovo T-series touchpads and they look similar.


I would be surprised as Latitudes are business line a bit lower than XPS, but who knows.

I also own MBP13 - and I prefer the keyboard on my Dell over it.


> A more niche gripe is that 16:9 is the wrong aspect ratio for a professional laptop.

What aspect ratio is more fitting for a professional laptop? 4:3?


16:10 is great, although I did briefly trial run a Surface Book 2 and loved the 3:2 screen, as well as the rest of the hardware. Only decided against it because of the amount of compromises and maintenance when running Linux on it.


I'm hoping more device start offering 3:2 screens now. I was interested in the surface line too but decided against it for the same reasons as you. I ordered Huawei's Matebook X pro yesterday which was the only other laptop I saw which offers a nice 3:2 display. I'm hoping everything will work out of the box (this laptop uses intel wireless unlike the marvell chip on the surface) with any recent distro.

Sidenote: I've also read about decent openbsd support for the older version of this laptop. [1]

[1] https://jcs.org/2017/07/14/matebook


Anything taller than 16:9. Unless you like scrolling, or use the professional developer laptop for watching movies all day.


Probably referring to 16:10 - which I also love. Another victim of the endless march towards cost cutting & manufacturing standardization.


Yep, or 16:10.


I wish I could even get my HP ZBook trackpad to function as nicely in Debian as it does on Windows. I probably need to dig in the Xorg settings, but the last two attempts saw me reverting to the defaults + Gnome tweaking, which seems to be insufficient regardless of how I tweak the simple options.


Tip: make sure you're using libinput and not synaptics. These days libinput seems to have the most reliable trackpad support.


Sorry for asking an unrelated question, I recently bought a XPS 15. Do you know what is the difference between Precision 5530 and XPS 15 exactly?

It is the graphics card? Or it does have better build quality or better keyboard or something? Build quality is important to me since I use my laptop all the time.


The differences should be the different GPU (Quadro vs GTX) and that you can order the Precision 5530 with an intel wifi chip and Xeon CPUs. The actual build quality for both should be very similar considering its the same chassis.


Why does a "developer edition" notebook come with a glossy screen?

I sort of understand why computer makers like glossy screens: because they just look better to the causal shopper. OK. But in a laptop that is aimed at professionals? People that stare at the screen all day long are sophisticated enough to know that a matte screen is just better.

I'm often on the train and I do not envy the poor souls that work on an enterprise-bought laptop with a glossy screen and that have to swing their heads the whole time to avoid reflections from the train window.

BTW, a thorough (p)review of the 9380: https://www.ultrabookreview.com/24336-dell-xps-13-9380/


The matte finish has horrible optical qualities, causing ambient light to scatter ("antiglare") washing out colors, and also causing light from individual pixels to scatter and refract back into neighboring pixels. This reduces the quality of displayed images, and in high density LCD displays it causes pixel-fine details (small text) to appear smeary.

By contrast, well-designed glossy displays minimize internal refraction and also cause light at high angles to reflect, reducing the amount of ambient light which pollutes the display. The result is that the display appears much brighter in any setting, black are blacker and do not get washed out by brights. Colors show higher dynamic range, and small details are crisper. In addition, well-designed glass glossy displays (such as those on the MacBook Pro) are actually visible and easy to use outdoors in full daylight. Even when reflections show up on glass displays, it's easy to see past them because they're full optical reflections with correct depth in stereo vision, meaning that you can correctly focus on the screen without focusing on the reflection.

Glossy displays are bad under basically two conditions:

* They are warped plastic, such as on older Dell laptops, causing weird shiny glossy glare at all angles that cannot be ignored.

* You have positioned your screen so that there is a small but very very bright reflection behind you, and cannot tilt your display.


I had XPS-13 9350 with a glossy screen. The reflection of ambient light sources was terrible. Plus, as the screen max opening angle was small, I often could not just tilt the screen sufficiently to direct the reflection away. I ended up getting a filter cover. With that the experience was like on MacBook Air 2013. The screen still reflected, but not strongly enough to bother.

Now I have Thinkpad X280 with the mate screen and I really like it. Reflections are just not there and I can tilt the screen 180 degrees.


> I have Thinkpad X280

I considered getting one. But they don't come with on-site warranty in my area -- and the warranty can't be upgraded to include on-site service. Not sure what their deal is with that. Makes me think they're crappy machines that are hard to service. Or maybe Lenovo just don't want my business?


You say all that -- regardless how superior your glossy screen is on paper; I, and many others still prefer to look at matte screens and have far less problems with them in real world situations.


I downvoted you. He’s stating facts/info and answering a question. He’s not telling you what you should prefer. Unnecessarily argumentative.


The problem is some times things look good on paper, but those good attributes don't translate into user satisfaction.


I don't even know any developers that work on matte screens. What problems are we supposed to have in the real world?


I'm a developer and I prefer matte screens. Here's why:

Comfort: I don't need to adjust myself or the screen's position depending on the light.

Power saving: My brightness can be lower, because it's not competing with reflection.

To me, these greatly outweigh any advantages of a glossy screen.

On thing which may be important: I require a dark desktop theme.


Are they all using Apple?

- Glare for one, never had a glossy screen not be horrid with glare.


Maybe you're on Macs. Those have glossy screens with a "secret recipe" coating to avoid glare. Consider then half glossy/matte.


> Even when reflections show up on glass displays, it's easy to see past them, because they're full optical reflections with correct depth in stereo vision, meaning that you can correctly focus on the screen without focusing on the reflection.

This... just doesn't track my experience, at least with MBPs up through 2015. "easy to see past [reflections]" is a subjective point even if what you're saying about the optics is 100% correct.

Retina displays are great in some ways but for me a typical open office plan lighting will do the job of providing distracting light reflections on any glossy display, and depth of reflection has never made them any less distracting than, say, someone standing behind me -- sure, you can focus on something else but it doesn't mean they're not a distraction. Not a problem with matte screens unless there's sun-bright direct light. And for outdoor use, sure, that can be a problem, but if I'm picking between any retina model and my mid-2012 non-retina antiglare/matte MBP, the latter has won every time. Which is one of the reasons I'm typing this on that same model and dreading the day it outright breaks or falls out of OS update.

Now if you're more worried about any subpixel smudginess, it's never bothered me, but OK, that's a fair personal preference. And as for scatter through matte from light sources degrading images, outside of bright daylight, I've never even noticed on-screen quality being compromised.

But who knows, maybe your perceptual wetware works differently. And if you like glass/glossy displays, congratulations, you have plenty of options, and that's great. None of that is enough reason to assume it's a global experience.


> Even when reflections show up on glass displays, it's easy to see past them because they're full optical reflections with correct depth in stereo vision, meaning that you can correctly focus on the screen without focusing on the reflection.

That does not work for a laptop - the glass surface is too close to the pixels for the "focus past the glass" to make a difference.

The light which is not "at high angles" reflects into your eyes from the surface you are focusing on (+/- 0.5 mm).


> That does not work for a laptop - the glass surface is too close to the pixels for the "focus past the glass" to make a difference.

You have misunderstood. You are focusing past the reflection, which will appear to be many meters "past" the glass.


You're right, that makes sense.

But still glossy displays seem to have plenty to reflect right into your eyes.


>Why does a "developer edition" notebook come with a glossy screen?

Because developers like sharp text (as opposed to smudged due to the diffusion filter) and better color and saturation too.

Not all of us work under back lights we cannot avoid...

I mean, it might be a personal preference, but it's not like some objective law that developer === matte screen (like eg. 3D artist === discreet GPU).


Well, this is an ultra-portable, not a workstation screen in a darkened studio. Color saturation might matter for developers at a vfx house, the vast majority are looking at text.

A matte screen should be default for this one.


> People that stare at the screen all day long are sophisticated enough to know that a matte screen is just better.

I always enjoy it when someone arrogantly poses a subjective statement as fact from a position of arbitrary authority. I like it especially so when there are a plethora of reasons against their position as in this case.


You’re obvious not sophisticated enough. /s


> But in a laptop that is aimed at professionals? People that stare at the screen all day long are sophisticated enough to know that a matte screen is just better.

Way to stereotype..? I guess I am not sophisticated enough because I prefer a glossy screen.

> I'm often on the train and I do not envy the poor souls that work on an enterprise-bought laptop with a glossy screen and that have to swing their heads the whole time to avoid reflections from the train window.

We unsophisticated commoners work from desks and where I don't seem to have this problem.


> work from desks and where I don't seem to have this problem.

Depends where you work and if you have control over the lighting. I used to have a horrible time with overhead fluorescent tubes, glare and flickering. To the point where I'd have to climb up and disable them. Thankfully they've gone out of style.


I used to have this reaction, but these days I go between matte and gloss screens without really noticing. Apple's got the best one, and a backlight on the ones I've got doesn't bother me at all. Dell's are also okay (though there are other reasons I don't like the XPS line).


I can somewhat understand glossy on a desktop display where you at least have a decent chance of some control over the lighting.

However on a laptop it seems silly. Last thing I want to see in my new expensive screen is my ugly mug reflected back at me.


Most laptops are sitting in either desktops or places like airports coffee shops.

In all three places you can move it easily (and it being a laptop makes moving it even easier).

Hundreds of thousands of developers have MBPr's which are glossy only.


> Hundreds of thousands of developers have MBPr's which are glossy only.

The number of people doing something does not strengthen your argument. Even more so given that Apple does not offer matte displays.


>The number of people doing something does not strengthen your argument.

Actually it very much does, it just depends on the nature of the argument.

Here it's very relevant. It's not silly to put a glossy screen on a laptop if tons of people buy it -- and even prefer it.


You can only develop IOS apps on Apple products, apple does not offer a matte display. The argument only holds true if Apple offered a matte display and developers still chose glossy.

No for sure there are people who want MacOS -- but again those people don't have a choice if they want a Apple they get gloss. So the argument does not hold.

People buy apple despite glossy screens, not because of glossy screens.


>You can only develop IOS apps on Apple products, apple does not offer a matte display. The argument only holds true if Apple offered a matte display and developers still chose glossy.

Or if the iOS thing is a red herring, and tons of developers still buy Apple products regardless.

I'm not an iOS/macOS developer and still use Apple products (and just about everybody else in my company). And in most dev conferences for totally unrelated stuff (Golang, Rust, Java, etc.) the number of MBP yielding devs is 50% or most (and most of the speakers even more so).


But you are missing the Apple does not offer a matte. So if you decide you like the rest of the hardware and OS you have no choice.

If apple offered a matte MBP then you would have numbers that could mean something. You have many users using glossy displays because that is all that apple offers. It does not mean they actually prefer glossy screens.

I remember when apple stopped offering matte and TONS of people were outraged.


>If apple offered a matte MBP then you would have numbers that could mean something.

They did offer a matte and glossy option and some point, and moved on to glossy only. Safe to assume the buyers have spoken?


It's cute that you think that is how apple works.

There was a huge backlash. People hates it. Apple pushed forward anyways. They knew they had a monopoly on Apple hardware and the iPhone would ensure they could make silly decisions without backlash.

Has the market spoken about removing evey single port from their laptops ? Donglegate ? There are many other things apple did that people have been very vocal about.


> Hundreds of thousands of developers have MBPr's which are glossy only.

also billions of flies can't be wrong about dung.

https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFalla...


>also billions of flies can't be wrong about dung.

And they aren't: dang is nutricious and very beneficial to flies, they are right to consume it.

>https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFalla...

That's irrelevant, as what matters here is what makes sense for a company to offer -- not what someone thinks is "better" for themselves. And that's a popularity metric.


> Hundreds of thousands of developers have MBPr's which are glossy only.

They have a coating to reduce glare. Consider them half glossy/matte.


I see it in the opposite way. A laptop with a glossy screen can be re-positioned to avoid strange lighting. While my desk, and my monitor have little mobility. When the sun comes down I like my matte desktop screen because it does not reflect any sun that might be coming in from the windows.


I like glossy screens much more than matte, even though I use my laptop almost exclusively for development.

I just love how good it looks. That makes it better for me.

Suggesting that people who like glossy screens are unsophisticated is just unwarranted gatekeeping.


> Why does a "developer edition" notebook come with a glossy screen?

Not all glossy screens are bad, just the ones released relatively recently are.

Sony was making near perfect high end LCDs with glossy screen, glass surface, AND real AR coating.

In comparison, later design panels simply had glossy polycarbonate with poor still poor surface finish.

Laminated and "one glass" screen also do come in varying quality levels. One glass screens with AR coatings are very, very good, but ones with poor lamination, and mismatched refraction indexes are horrid.


People that stare at the screen all day long are sophisticated enough to know that a matte screen is just better.

"The group I'm conveniently in is more sophisticated." Mmm, hmm. Matte screens suck because everything is blurry and smeared. I mean, if your work/life balance is out of whack and you have to work in moving vehicles, I could see the need. But professionals that work someplace other than sweatshops prefer glossy screens with sharp pixels.


Please don't counter an elitist argument with an elitist argument.


What, irony is no longer allowed on HN? Lighten up, Francis.


Irony is famously hard to communicate reliably over the internet. If I've misjudged your comment, and it appears I have, I apologise.


Touch-screen models are glossy.

Non-touch-screen models are matte.

At least that was the case for my XPS 15, and I was told it is a fairly general rule that touch screen laptops are glossy.


Last year they didn't offer a high-res version without touch.


"People that stare at the screen all day long are sophisticated enough to know that a matte screen is just better."

A matte screen isn't just better. You get that weird prism-like diffraction of light, that turns a white pixel into coloured dots. Personally I much prefer to maybe have to move my machine occasionally to avoid a reflection than to have that weird fuzziness. For a laptop screen, anyway.


I've been looking at a screen for probably 8-9 hours a day on average since I graduated college 11 years ago and I can honestly say I've never once thought about glossy v. matte screens.


Glossy vs. matte LCDs? Pfft, I remember what it was like staring at a fuzzy CRT all day.


Green or amber?


green


You can pick the matte one if that's what you want. I agree that glossy screens are very annoying.


There is a lot to of good to be said about the XPS series. I love them for all my coding tasks.

The only problem is that you cannot open the display up fully. They block at 160° or so.

In many situations it would be super useful to have the laptop opened up 180°. In a plane for example. Or when it sits on a desk in a laptop stand and you use an external keyboard.

Running a laptop comparison site myself (https://www.productchart.com), I wonder if we should add '180°' to the filter list. It seems like an odd feature. It's super useful to me. Never heard anybody else talk about it though.


I personally can't think of the last time I wanted to open a laptop 180* or more.

Obviously both our experience is anecdotal but if it was driving purchasing decisions you'd see more laptops that can open 180 since the design trade-offs are relatively minor in the overwhelming majority of cases.


On a plane is pretty much the only time for me. I've been on planes where my intention to get work done on the trip was shot because with the keyboard on the tray I wasn't able to open the screen far enough to get a good view.

But typing on a vertical keyboard is probably not awesome.


If 180° opening angle is an important feature for you it might be worth it to go towards the XPS 2-in-1 series which features a 360° opening angle. In a car, on a plane or on foot that can be an awesome feature to have.


I would love a 2-in-1! Especially if the keyboard could be disconnected.

But then you don't have the option of a matte screen. And that is essential for me.

I am waiting for the day we have matte touchscreens.


You can search for "Antiglare Touch Screen Protector" in Amazon and some suitable products will appear.

Why would you do such atrocity and how can you really keep clean a non-smooth surface which you constantly touch with your fingers are two issues that I better not think too much about.


I'm waiting for the 2-in-1 with the camera on top


On top of the screen?

I am typing this comment using one of these.


A 2-in-1 xps with the camera on top? What's the model number?


> Running a laptop comparison site myself (https://www.productchart.com), I wonder if we should add '180°' to the filter list.

Taking into account the context of this story, does it make sense to add "Linux" to the OS list?

With that, your site would be very useful to me, without it, not so much.


Yes, we hopefully get there at some point. I have categorized over 1600 feature requests so far. A 'Comes with Linux preinstalled filter' is not yet at the top, but it is in the top 5% of requested features.


In addition to 180 I would add Thinkpad as a separate option to Lenovo. The security issues have been separate between the 2 systems and frankly I would never consider another lenovo but certainly a Thinkpad.


Lenovo also makes Thinkpads …?


They are currently listed under Lenovo on the site. They own them now not sure who is the technical manufacturer.


I bought an XPS15, and have had nothing but trouble with it. Every time there's a Windows update, the hard drive "can't be found" and it wipes GRUB on every reboot. I've been spending half an hour every morning getting it to a state where I can use it again, and had to mess around with firmware downgrades to get it usable (until the next Windows update).

Never buying a Dell again. Their support were worse than useless, insisting that somehow installing Linux had caused the problem.

I'm eagerly waiting for my first Purism laptop, then I can get 30 mins of my day back.


That's a cool website! Anyway, as a owner of an XPS, my question to you is what would you do with the 180 degree hinge on an airplane?


I have an XPS 2-in-1 and I open to 180 degrees sometimes when laying down and using the touchscreen. It sometimes works in economy seats as you can rest the laptop on your lap and then the screen is kind of like a seatback IFE. But if you opened it flat on your lap, the screen can't open that far because of the restrictions of the seat in front of you. I also will put it in "tent mode" e.g. over 270 degrees open and the screen upside down on the tray table to watch a movie.

About the only thing I don't do much is use it as a tablet as its kind of heavy, even though I have the Dell pen for it.


I thought that, but on the near vertical laptop stands its increadibly useful.


Great looking site! Add trackpoint as an option.


I second the motion to add TrackPoint/PointStick/TrackStick as a filterable attribute.


"...please."


Pretty please!!


Great idea for your site. Though im disappointed by how many laptops you're missing


My email is on the site. Feel free to get in contact and let me know which ones are missing!


In fairness, there are literally an infinite number of laptops out there (if you take into account the never ending cycle of new laptops being released). Cataloguing every make and model for a hobby project is simply not going to be possible.


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