Dell XPS 13 (9343) Developer Edition vs Lenovo X1 Carbon (2015)

XPS 13 (9343) Bright Display

XPS 13 (9343) Bright Display

I recently purchased a Dell XPS 13 (9343) Developer Edition for home and a Lenovo X1 Carbon (2015) at work. Both laptops are in the same ultra-thin and portable category, but the XPS has added Infinity Display this year and the X1 Carbon reversed course on the touchpad and keyboard design this year. I debated a long time about which laptop to get for home use, but in the end Dell won me over in a knock out.


XPS 13 (9343):
8GB DDR3L-RS 1600Mhz
DW 1560 Wireless (Broadcom)
SAMSUNG SSD PM851 M.2 2280 256GB
Intel Core i5-5200U CPU @ 2.20GHz
13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) infinity display
52 WHr, 4-Cell Battery (integrated)
Price $944.10

X1 Carbon:
Work X1 Carbon – Comparison Specs:
8GB DDR3L-12800 1600 MHz
Intel 7265 Wireless
Intel Core i5-5300u @ 2.30Ghz
14″ WQHD+ (2560 x 1440)
50 WHr battery (integrated)
Price: $1,403.10

Temperatures (using lm-sensors):

XPS 13:
Adapter: Virtual device
temp1:        +25.0°C  (crit = +107.0°C)
temp2:        +34.0°C  (crit = +105.0°C)
temp3:        +34.0°C  (crit = +105.0°C)

Adapter: ISA adapter
Physical id 0:  +33.0°C  (high = +105.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)
Core 0:         +32.0°C  (high = +105.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)
Core 1:         +32.0°C  (high = +105.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)

X1 Carbon:
Adapter: Virtual device
temp1:        +39.0°C  (crit = +128.0°C)

Adapter: ISA adapter
fan1:           0 RPM

Adapter: ISA adapter
Physical id 0:  +33.0°C  (high = +105.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)
Core 0:         +33.0°C  (high = +105.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)
Core 1:         +33.0°C  (high = +105.0°C, crit = +105.0°C)

The boot times are close with the XPS 13 at 13.4 seconds and the X1 Carbon at 16.1 seconds.


XPS 13:
Disharge Rate: 3.8W
Watt Hours: 52.9
Volts: 8
Vendor: SMP

X1 Carbon:
DIschater Rate: 4.5W
Watt Hours: 50.1
Volts 15.3
Vendor: SMP

The XPS 13 has bios settings for battery charing thresholds. The X1 Carbon allows those to be set using tlp and the optional components for Thinkpad models. The system on the X1 Carbon works well and the indicator shows the proper state (charging, discharging or none). With the XPS 13 bios settings the start charging threshold appears to be non-functional. I have it set at 50%, but the battery starts charing as soon as it is below the stop charging threshold. I applaud Dell for putting this feature in bios, but they need to work on the implementation so that it functions properly.

Subjective experiences:
LCD Panel:
With the X1 Carbon I had to change the scaling to 1.12 in order to make the display readable. With the XPS 13 this adjustment was not necessary. Both screen are very crisp, but color temperature on the X1 is a warmer. I can make no claims about the color accuracy of either monitor. For my use the XPS 13 has the superior panel. Both the panels are IPS panels, but the Dell is an IGZO. If Lenovo offered a 1920×1080 IPS panel with the X1 Carbon things might be a tie, but the resolution of 2560 x 1440 causes some difficulty with apps that do not using scaling. With a dark panel I notice light bleed on the X1 Carbon and none on the XPS 13.
(XPS: 9 | X1: 7)

I like the keyboards on both laptops. The X1 Carbon has seperate page up, page down, home, end and print screen keys. The XPS 13 has these keys, but they are combined with other functions. The Lenovo also offers the ability to mute the microphone with a function key. The Dell offers play control functions keys for previous, pause-play and next. The XPS also has a caps lock indicator light while the Lenovo does not. Both keys boards offer three steps (off, low, high) of backlighting. The Lenovo keys are have a little indented contour to them that make for a pleasent feel to the keys when typing. Overall I prefer the keybaord on the X1 Carbon slightly.
(XPS: 9 | X1: 9.5)

Ports and connectivity:
The X1 Carbon comes out ahead on this metric for most business users. The laptop comes with a special docking port that both powers the laptop and provides dock functionality. This functions much better than using a USB 3.0 dock and having to plug in the power adapter too. It also has a full size HDMI out which in the right circumstances will avoid having to carry an adapter. The X1 also includess a special port for a gigabit ethernet adapter that is included with the unti. At work where I need to use my gigabit network connection frequently the dock is invaluable for its ease of use and fucntionality. This is an area Dell could improve on for business oriented customers. My use at home is much different and the included SD card reader on the Dell is much more useful than a dock. I take plenty of pictures of my children and being able to extract the pictures directly from the SD card is much more valuable.
(XPS: 9 | X1 9)

Other items of note:
The Dell XPS offers an easy way to update the bios at boot time which avoids having the make a bootable CD or USB stick. At a time when so many manufacturers only provide Windows execuatbles for bios updates this is a welcome feature. The fact that Dell is officially supporting the XPS and the unit gets 24/7 next day business support for a year makes the warranty superior to what Lenovo offers. I also know that Dell will not deny support based on the fact that I choose to use Ubuntu over Windows. Both laptops are cool and quiet, but I do prefer the X1 Carbon exhaust being on the side vs bottom of the unit. The build quality of the SPX 13 is superior to that of the X1 Carbon. I have no squeeks or creaking noises from the case of the XPS 13, but I do have that issue with the X1 Carbon.

XPS 13 (9343) vs X1 Carbon footprint.

XPS 13 (9343) vs X1 Carbon footprint.

XPS 13 (9343) vs X1 Carbon Thickness

XPS 13 (9343) vs X1 Carbon Thickness

Overall, the XPS 13 (9343) Developer Edition is an awesome laptop. While my T500 and T530 are fine laptops, this is the first laptop I have been truly excited to own. Considering this all comes in at a price roughly $460 less than the X1 Carbon I think it is obvious that Dell hit a home run with the XPS 13 (9343) Developer Edition.

Coming up: Accessories that help me get the most out of my XPS 13.

This entry was posted in Dell, Lenovo, Linux, Miscellaneous, Ubuntu and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Dell XPS 13 (9343) Developer Edition vs Lenovo X1 Carbon (2015)

  1. Could you give more details about battery performance? Maybe you could try streaming video over the web and see how long it lasts?

    • Charles Profitt says:

      I tend not to like to run my battery down (not good for its health), but based on some tests taking the battery from 80% to 60% I would venture to say that I will get 12 hours of battery life based on my usage style. That was mostly web browsing and email reading. I did upload a video to Youtube and tested playing a few videos though.

  2. Lu Chen says:

    Hi charles, thanks for posting this.
    I am also interested on buying the 2015 xps once it will be available here.
    I wonder if you can tell me if the laptop working perfectly with Ubuntu and how many hours can you get from a single charge? Thanks.

    • Charles Profitt says:

      I have not tested the battery life, but it looks like it will be superior to the X1 Carbon which I have tested. I would say your battery life will be between 8 and 13 hours depending on how you use it. The X1 Carbon usually runs me about 8.5 hours and I expect the XPS 13 will get me about 12.

  3. alanpater says:

    A note to Dell & Lenovo: Will these machines be demoed at UbuConLA 2015?

  4. Alex says:

    Nice review. It’d be very helpful if you checked 2 critical aspects of hardware compatibility with Linux to inform us deciding between those 2 laptops:

    i) Whether all devices (including e.g. wireless card) enter power saving states when not used. It seems the case, as the power consumption you report is very low. However, it’s worth confirming via powertop. Enable all power saving tweaks in the appropriate tab, leave the computer idling and then check whether all devices end up using 0 W. You might need to run powertop with the learning option beforehand, so that consumptions can be accurately measured.

    ii) If the battery reports discharge events via ACPI. This is a major nitpick of mine, and it’s especially helpful if you are running a distro without desktop environment. If available, one can write very neat udev rules that get triggered appropriately.

    Install acpid. Run sudo acpid. Then run acpi_listen (which blocks waiting for events). Press some media keys. You should see events there. Then unplug the laptop and wait for a few % of battery to be discharged. Post the event log. There should be some battery events there. This means the ACPI driver is well implemented in Linux.

    • Charles Profitt says:

      I will try to do that in the near future. I can tell you that I had issues with the X1 Carbon with wireless disconnects until I disabled power management on the Intel 7265.

  5. Jim says:

    On the XPS 13, which power savings tweaks have you used both in the BIOS and the OS? I got mine about a week ago, and have been trying to determine all of the tweaks I can realistically use. I have the same setup as yours, except I swapped out the broadcom card with an aftermarket intel 7265, and swapped the built-in 128GB Samsung SSD for a 512GB Crucial MX200 SSD. At times I can see my power usage getting as low as what you report, but it seldom stays there for long. I’m not an expert at using powertop and/or tlp, so I’m sure I’m missing something here.

    • Charles Profitt says:

      Right now I have pretty much the default tlp configuration. The only modification I have made is that I have bluetooth off. I also set the battery to stop charging at 75% in the bios.

  6. Awesome review; I have the gen2 X1 Carbon (running Arch Linux) and my only gripes are the shite battery life and wifi disconnects. I can see how running at 1080p makes life simpler, but modern Gnome and Chome are actually great with hi-dpi screens

  7. Bersam says:

    Where did you get XPS 13 with that config on 944$? All offers in Amazon are above 1100$ for this config.

    • Charles Profitt says:

      I purchased it directly from Dell. They had a special save $100 on any order over $1000 at the time and the price was $1044 w/o the sale. Amazon also does not offer the Ubuntu version so it will usually be %50 more expensive due to the cost of Widnows. Currently, the same model on Dell’s site is $1199.

  8. Pingback: Dell XPS 13 Dev Edition - More Than a Laptop Running Linux

  9. Ken says:

    Thanks for the review. I’ve been consider these two models for a Ubuntu machine for a while. My only reservation moving forward is the touchpad functionality, on which I cannot find explicit info. Can you comment on the touchpad, specifically on palm-detect and two finger scrolling. Or at least on the touchpad driver: is it synaptics?

    I sure that the basic touchpad functions work, as they do is nearly all laptops, nevertheless, my experience with touchpads is extremely unpleasant in linux. Unlike with Windows, I’m finding two-finger scroll and palm-detect are poorly supported in linux unless the touchpad uses synaptics driver. And with such large touchpads these days, at minimum palm-detect is a must have.

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