Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 vs. XPS 13: Which one should you buy in 2020?

With Dell’s announcement of freshly upgraded XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1 laptops, it’s that time of year to help you figure out just which XPS 13 you should buy.

While you might not think it’s that complicated to pick the best XPS 13 for you needs, there are now no fewer than at least four different models to pick from.

dell xps 13 2 in 1 tablet mode 2 Gordon Mah Ung

It’s really hard for a clamshell to beat the versatilty of a convertible laptop that can turn into a tablet.

XPS 13 or XPS 13 2-in-1: Which is best for you?

First you must decide between a traditional XPS 13 clamshell, or a convertible XPS 13 2-in-1.

For many, the versatility of the XPS 13 2-in-1 puts it ahead of its sibling. The laptop features a 360-degree hinge, so you can flip the screen into an A-frame mode for watching videos, or flip it all the way around to use as a tablet. Because every XPS 13 2-in-1 can be used as a tablet, all models have a touchscreen—something you can’t say about every XPS 13 clamshell, which only offers touch as an option. The XPS 13 2-in-1 also supports an active pen for the times when you want to draw or sign a document. The pen is optional, but it’s there if you want to take advantage of it one day.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 has two well-known drawbacks: the permanent storage and the keyboard. To make the XPS 13 2-in-1 as thin and small as possible, Dell soldered the memory chips for storage on the motherboard. This, of course, means you’ll never ever upgrade it. Technically, you were never supposed to upgrade it, but for some, upgradability is a must-have feature.

sk hynix gold p31 ssd 05 hero SK Hynix

One “weakness” of the XPS 13 2-in-1 design is its soldered storage. That means that you won’t be able to swap the drive out  down the road.

We’re not fans of permanent storage, but we do understand the rationale behind the decision. Few people are actually going to crack open an expensive laptop to swap out the SSD. Just make sure you choose the biggest SSD you can afford when you buy it.

The second drawback is more subjective. Dell uses a keyboard that uses magnets to make the keys bounce, back rather than a spring. This helps make the laptop thinner, but it also means less travel and a little more noise when typing. All things said, it’s not a bad keyboard, but not our favorite either.

The third thing going against the XPS 13 2-in-1 is its price. All of the advanced features, such as a nifty copper-cooling system, mean more money. More technology and features mean more money. 

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