HP Folio 13 vs. Dell XPS 13: Ultrabook laptop Prizefight

Ultrabooks are a hot topic right now, but with so many superslim 13-inch laptops available, how do you choose the best one? It’s especially hard in the new pseudo-category, as most of the ultrabooks we’ve seen have are very similar, both in design and specs. For this eagerly awaited Prizefight, we pitted two of our favorite ultrabooks against each other — the HP Folio 13 and the Dell XPS 13.

HP Folio 13 vs. Dell XPS 13: Ultrabook laptop Prizefight

The Dell has a very MacBook-Air-like design, while the HP is a bit more businesslike, but has fantastic battery life. Below, you’ll see our laptop experts, me along with Julie Rivera and Brian Tong, rate both systems across several key categories, and at the end, we’ll tally up the score and declare a winner.

Round 1: Design

Dell XPS 13
Dan: The Dell is so MacBook-Air-like, it hurts. But, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. 4/5
Julie: Although I’m not a personal fan of the tapered look, the edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass, comfortable keyboard, and sturdy feel shine in comparison. 4/5
Brian: It’s a nice design that’s a pure knockoff. It looks good, but not as good as the original. 4/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: Businesslike, but thin. Still, not nearly as eye-catching. 3/5Julie: Basic no-nonsense design, nice keyboard, but slightly heavier than the Dell. 3/5Brian: A classic design that isn’t a conversation starter, but isn’t a distraction either. I prefer its keyboard over the Dell’s. 3/5

Round 2: Features

Dell XPS 13
Dan: Lacking both HDMI (it has DisplayPort instead) and an SD card reader, the XPS 13 falls short on features. 2/5
Julie: Besides lacking HDMI and an SD card slot, there’s no Ethernet port on this more expensive 13-incher. 2/5
Brian: There’s not even a SD card slot…real skimpy here. Backlit keyboards for both. 2/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: The Folio 13 covers the basics, but don’t look for anything extra. Both of these at least have backlit keyboards. 3/5Julie: Has all the above; an all-around intro for the average consumer looking for just enough productivity. 3/5Brian: Built-in Ethernet and HDMI-out, two USB, and an SD card slot. It has what I expect in an ultrabook. 4/5

Round 3: Performance

Dell XPS 13
Dan: Identical, middle-of-the-pack performance from both, and more than enough for everyday use. 4/5
Julie: Sporting identical specs, neither has the edge over the other; both exchanged leads on every benchmark. 4/5
Brian: Benchmark tests are nearly identical. 4/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: You’ll very rarely feel like you’re using a low-voltage processor on either of these. 4/5Julie: Performance suffices for ordinary everyday tasks on both systems. 4/5Brian: The same specs yield pretty much the same results. 4/5

Round 4: Battery life

Dell XPS 13
Dan: Good, but not extraordinary, battery life. 3/5
Julie: On par with the first round of ultrabooks; not that impressive. 3/5
Brian: A solid 5 hours; that’s standard for most ultrabooks. 3/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: The longest-lasting ultrabook battery to date, running about an hour longer than the Dell, but still behind the 13-inch MacBook Air. 4/5Julie: Closest to the MacBook Air, hitting the 6-hour mark–pretty impressive overall. 4/5Brian: It’s an impressive 6 hours, behind only the MacBook Air. 4/5

Round 5: Value

Dell XPS 13
Dan: Decent bang for your buck, but not ahead of the crowd. 3/5
Julie: Cheaper than the MacBook Air, but not as packed as the HP. 3/5
Brian: You’re still getting good value, just not great value. 3/5

HP Folio 13
Dan: At $100 less than the Dell, for essentially the same specs, this is a clear value winner. 5/5Julie: Same specs, more ports: Ethernet, SD Card slot, HDMI — at $899, the HP is the better value. 5/5Brian: Just $899 for the performance and features in the HP may be the best value for an ultrabook of this caliber. 5/5

This was a tight contest between two very similar laptops. But the differences were clear enough that our category scores were nearly unanimous among the three judges — a very rare occurrence. The final tally was as follows (calculated as an overall average of the average score of each individual round):

Total points:
Dell XPS 13: 3.3       HP Folio 13: 3.9

Winner: HP Folio 13

Apple MacBook Air MC965LL / A 13.3-Inch Laptop

The new MacBook Air is up to 2.5x faster than before. It features the latest Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O, a backlit keyboard, and OS X Lion, the next major release of the world’s most advanced desktop operating system. MacBook Air also comes standard with flash storage, so it boots up in seconds, launches apps quickly, and wakes from sleep in an instant. And a long-lasting battery powers MacBook Air for up to 7 hours and offers up to 30 days of standby time. All in a durable unibody design that’s thin, light, and ready for anything.

Apple MacBook Air MC965LL / A 13.3-Inch Laptop

The introduction of the new MacBook Air, mobile Mac in any way, shape or form. It features the latest generation of Intel Core i5 processor, high-speed Thunderbolt, all flash memory, a full-size keyboard with backlight, multi-touch trackpad, a long-lasting battery and a high resolution display. The MacBook Air is not thin on features at all. These enhanced features are in a unibody enclosure that is easy to manage, thin and strong enough to meet all your daily tasks and then some packed, whether you’re on the couch, in a lecture hall or at a conference.

It is true mobility. Optional external USB MacBook Air SuperDrive (sold separately) 13.3-inch (diagonal) high-resolution LED-backlit glossy widescreen display (1440 x 900) Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 384MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory (Dual Display & Video Mirroring supports shared) FaceTime camera and omnidirectional microphone, 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless networking, compatible with IEEE 802.11a/b/g Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology.

Product Features

  • 1.7GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor
  • 128 GB Flash Storage
  • 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy widescreen display, Intel HD Graphics 3000 processor
  • Ships in Certified Frustration-Free Packaging

Processor, Memory, and Motherboard

  • Hardware Platform: Mac
  • Processor: 1.7 GHz i5-2320
  • Number of Processors: 1
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • RAM Type: SDRAM
  • Max RAM: 4 GB

Hard Drive

  • Size: 128 GB
  • Manufacturer: SATA
  • Type: Solid State

Graphics and Display

  • Graphics Card: HD Graphics 3000
  • Graphics RAM: 384 MB
  • LCD Native Resolution: 1440 x 900

Ports and Connectivity

  • USB 2.0 Ports: 2

Cases and Expandability

  • Size (LWH): 0 inches, 0 inches, 0 inches
  • Weight: 2.96 pounds


  • Rated Charge (normal use): 7 hours
  • Rated Charge (standby): 10 hours

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