OLED has been common in high-end televisions for some time, but it’s still on its way to the mainstream laptop. This is good news for buyers who want a more vibrant multimedia experience. OLED panels have unbeatable contrast ratios that combine the blackest possible blacks and the whitest possible whites. They bring entertainment to a new level, and they can also help with creative photography and video work.
Recently, OLED laptops were a luxury purchase. But smaller mainstream OLEDs have become more common each year. Whether you’re a hard-working OLED enthusiast or just looking for a way to enhance your movie viewing experience, you now have a choice of two great 13-inch OLEDs: the Dell XPS 13 and the Asus ZenBook 13. The question is – which one is worth buying?
TL; The DR is that the XPS is a more expensive and narrower purchase, while the ZenBook has more configuration options. Technical data and prices should make that clear. Dell machine comes with only Intel Core i7-1185G7- no other processor options available. You can connect this processor to 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for $ 1549.99 and upgrade it to 2GB of storage and 16GB of RAM for $ 1,999.99 or 32GB of RAM and 1 TB of storage for $ 2269.99.
With the ZenBook 13 OLED, you can choose your own processor. For a starting price of $ 799.99 you get AMD Ryzen 5500U, 8GB RAM and 512GB storageor a Core i5-1135G7, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Then you can get Core i7-1165G7 or a Ryzen 7 5700U, both with 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for $ 899.99. In addition to this, there is a model with Core i7-1165G7, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for $ 1,099.99.
So these laptops fill quite a variety of niches. The ZenBook offers affordable options for a variety of needs, while the XPS is a powerful computer for people with deeper pockets. The most important question for yourself is whether the added benefits of OLED XPS are worth it.
To answer this question, I have a summary of the outlets and disadvantages of each product below.
- Processor options: AMD Ryzen 5500U, Intel Core i5-1135G7, AMD Ryzen 7 5700U, Intel Core i7-1165G7
- RAM options: 8GB, 16GB (available on Core i7 only)
- Storage options: 256GB (available on Core i5 only), 512GB
- Dimensions and weight: 11.97 x 7.99 x 0.55 inches, 2.5 pounds
- Battery size: 67 Wh
- Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080
Don’t let the low price fool you — the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED is one of the best 13-inch laptops you can buy. Its main selling point is battery life. The AMD configuration I reviewed was distinctive in this area, averaging over 11 hours in my testing. It is also one of the lightest laptops in its class and weighs just over two and a half pounds.
Another primary benefit of the ZenBook is its flexibility – you can choose your processor. The eight-core AMD model offered excellent performance (in addition to a long-lasting battery), tore my daily workload and ran lighter games even at a repeatable frame rate. People who may want quad-core Intel models want to connect Thunderbolt 4 accessories (standard is not available on AMD models) or who want to take advantage of Intel’s Quick Sync feature for video work.
Nonetheless, you make a couple of compromises about this low price. If you put the ZenBook next to the XPS, it becomes clear which one is more expensive – the ZenBook has a slightly plastic look and feel, and the body is quite flexible and has a disc hinge. The cover is also a pretty fingerprint magnet that dampens its otherwise cool concentric swirling design.
Another significant difference is the screen resolution. While many OLED panels are 4K, the ZenBook actually has an FHD OLED display. It still looks good, but it doesn’t look quite as stunning as a 4K OLED device (like Gigabyte’s creator-centric) Aero 15 OLED). And there is no headphone jack.
Overall, the ZenBook is still an impressive package for the price – but there are some potential contract breakers. Here’s how I summarized it in my reviews:
There are some nice extras (LED numeric keypad, HDMI) and some disadvantages (plastic look, lack of headphone connection, awful webcam), but the monitor and processor are the stars of the presentation and the most important aspects. While some downsides may be trading for some buyers (they would be for me), many may see them as reasonable sacrifices to get this performance at this price.
- Processor options: Intel Core i7-1185G7
- RAM options: 16GB, 32GB (available with 1GB only)
- Storage options: 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
- Dimensions and weight: 11.64 x 7.82 x 0.58, 2.8 pounds
- Battery size: 52 Wh
- Screen resolution: 3456 x 2160
The XPS 13 OLED is truly a premium machine for customers who want the best. The first thing to note is that this laptop has a 3.5K screen that offers a really great picture. If screen quality is important to you, you’ll probably notice a difference in the sharpness of this screen compared to the ZenBook. (Although again, the ZenBook still looks good and should be great for many people.)
Another great separator is the data available. The XPS 13 features the Core i7-1185G7, which won our ZenBook unit in our content creation tests. That, of course, we would like to see, given how much more expensive this laptop is.
And of course, the Dell product offers some other advantages over the ZenBook. It has a 16:10 screen that gives you a little more vertical space. Although it is slightly heavier, it is also much more sturdy and the quality of the structure is much better. The keyboard and touchpad are also slightly better. It’s a small step up – but the monitor and processor are most of what the extra money gets.
Even if you’re willing to pay extra money for the benefits of the XPS, one really important thing to keep in mind: battery life. The combination of a high-resolution display, a powerful processor, and a smaller battery life disappointed the XPS 13 OLED for longevity in my testing. I only got about five hours of testing on the device, which is less than half the life of the ZenBook.
So if price isn’t your goal, you still have to think: is power or battery life more important to you? Given that ZenBook’s options can handle most of the tasks most people need, I conclude that only people who have fairly specific workflows and don’t have to move as much will do better with the XPS. As I said in my review, “If you’re someone for whom OLED is worth the price, you probably know who you are.”
Photographer Monica Chin / The Verge