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The Dell XPS 13 Plus appears to be capable of surpassing Apple’s new MacBook Air M2 in terms of raw CPU power, indicating that Intel’s latest Alder Lake laptop CPUs continue to pose a serious threat to Apple technology. We know this because Dell supplied us an XPS 13 Plus with an Alder Lake Intel Core i7 CPU for review, which we are now testing. As a result, we’ll be updating our hands-on review of the Dell XPS 13 Plus in the upcoming week or so to include a thorough analysis of Dell’s thinner, lighter version of the XPS 13.

However, some of our testing findings were so intriguing that we couldn’t wait to share them with you ahead of the review. Here’s a crucial disclaimer: Neither the XPS 13 Plus nor the Air M2, which we evaluated, are entry-level products. The entry-level specifications for both laptops (plus the 13-inch Pro M2) are compared in the table below for context, but the actual models we tested are more expensive and powerful. The XPS 13 Plus that we are testing has a 3.5K OLED touchscreen, a 512GB SSD, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and an Intel Core i7-1280P CPU.

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The identical configuration would cost approximately $1,910 to purchase straight from Dell; but, if you decided against the OLED touchscreen upgrade and chose the standard 1,920 x 1,200 display, the price would be closer to $1,616. In contrast, the MacBook Air M2 that we examined had an enhanced M2 CPU that had a 10-core GPU (instead of the standard 8-core), 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The same laptop costs $1,899 from Apple, but if you lower it to a 512GB SSD like the XPS 13 Plus, you only have to spend $1,699.

The XPS 13 Plus scored 10,621 on the Geekbench 5.4 multi-core CPU benchmark test, which is really noteworthy. The XPS 13 Plus got an even higher 11,217 when we used its “Ultra” performance mode. Simply said, this test involves subjecting your CPU to a range of workloads designed to simulate real-world jobs (producing content, playing games, etc.), after which it is graded. The CPU is better (or at least more efficient) the higher the score.

The Dell XPS 13 Plus scored well for an ultraportable and outperformed the MacBook Air M2’s 8,965 score by a wide margin. The fact that the MacBook’s multi-core score is lower than the XPS 13 Plus’ shows Intel’s processor is better at handling multi-threaded workloads, or programmes that can make use of multi-core CPUs and simultaneously send complicated instructions to several cores. The fact that the XPS 13 Plus outperformed the Air M2 in the multi-core CPU benchmark suggests that Intel’s most recent laptop chips can still outperform Apple’s M2, even if there is active cooling to keep Apple’s silicon cool when under stress. Both scores for these thin-and-light laptops are quite good.

Because the M2 processor in Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro has the advantage of active cooling via fans, but the M2 chip in the new MacBook Air solely relies on airflow and heat sinks to stay cool. I am aware that the Macbook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) received a score of 8,911 in the Geekbench 5.4 multi-core CPU benchmark because we put those fans to the test during testing for our evaluation. This suggests that any impact active cooling provides isn’t immediately noticeable in raw CPU tests because the results are essentially equivalent to what the Air M2 produced.

Apple MacBook Air M2 vs. Dell XPS 13 Plus: Video encoding

One component of a laptop’s performance is its CPU power. A notebook can be purchased (or skipped) for a number of additional reasons, including as battery life, screen quality, port options, and more. The raw CPU power of a laptop may not really make much of a difference in your daily work, depending on what you intend to use it for. In light of this, let’s examine some of the other outcomes of our testing to see how the MacBook Air M2 compares to the XPS 13 Plus overall.

Photoshop and Premiere Pro on the MacBook Air M2 vs. the Dell XPS 13 Plus

The Adobe Creative Cloud suite performance tests from PugetBench were also done on both laptops using a script that automatically runs through tests for Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Lightroom Classic. The XPS 13 Plus we’re testing scored lower (670) and took longer (6:28) to finish the Photoshop test than Apple’s MacBook Air M2, which completed it in an average time of 4:49 using Photoshop 23.3.2 via Rosetta.

Likewise, the MacBook Air M2 easily outperformed the XPS 13 Plus with an average score of 452, when we put both computers through a Premiere Pro benchmark test. Therefore, it is obvious that Apple’s laptop has a distinct advantage over Dell’s newest flagship 13-inch if you intend to perform a lot of work in the Adobe suite of apps.

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