Dell vs Apple Laptops: Which Brand To Choose In 2021?

No other company seems to have inspired the level of fandom that Apple has. Everybody loves their iPhone, iPad, or MacBook.

Unless of course, you’re Dell—recently, Dell seems to have been gunning for Apple. Promos for their new workstation pit it against the leading MacBook Pro and unsurprisingly, find in Dell’s favor.

Frank Azor, the general manager of the Dell XPS brand was recently quoted as saying “They (Apple) set a nice bar and our goal is to exceed it in any way we can.”

It’s not the first time the Dell versus Apple spat has raised its ugly head. In 1997, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, Michael Dell was asked what he would do first as Steve Jobs. To which he replied he would, “Shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

As of the 2nd of August 2018, Apple became the first publicly listed company to hit the trillion-dollar mark. While Dell is still hovering around the 58 billion dollar value. Good thing Michael Dell wasn’t in charge of Apple.

An Apple computer’s success or failure is often seen by how well it matches the Dell equivalent. Has Dell really become the innovation leader and is Apple not seen as revolutionary anymore?

Let’s take a look at how the two companies face up against each other in 2021.

The Genius That is Apple

Macintosh Apple Logo

Ever since Steve Jobs and his pal Steve Wozniak built that first Apple computer in a garage, Apple has been changing the computer world.

Many people would argue the smartphone market wouldn’t exist without the iPhone. Tablets had been tried before but it wasn’t until the iPad that they became widespread.


The latest generation of the MacBook Pro is the most powerful ever, with Intel Core i9 processors and up to 64GB of memory (RAM). The 13-inch models start with a quad-core Core i5 CPU all the way up to eight-core Intel Core i9 processors in the 16-inch version.

Both the Core i5 and i7 processors use integrated graphics which are built onto the CPU. The newer Macs which feature Iris Pro or AMD Radeon Pro graphic processors tend to be better, as they have additional memory for graphics use.

Apple did use NVIDIA discrete graphics cards in the past, but currently, they seem to prefer the AMD chipsets and cards. The top of the range MacBook Pro uses a Radeon Pro 5500M card with 4GB of VRAM, with Radeon graphics also found in desktop Macs.


Apple Retina

Except for the MacBook Air, all MacBooks now feature Retina displays, offering better than full HD resolution.

The Retina is basically the name coined by Apple for where there is more pixel density than the retina can detect. Retina displays can be either QHD, Super Retina 4K, or even Retina 5K on the 27-inch iMac or Mac Pro.

Apple displays are acknowledged to be some of the best in the industry, with impressive brightness ratings of 300 to 500-Nits. A wide color gamut and True Tone technology provide the best images.


Although there were thin netbooks before, the MacBook Air changed the design of thinner and powerful laptops for many. Even the latest MacBook Air range, with a 5th Gen Intel Core processor, weighs less than 3 pounds.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro adds to the scales at 3.02 pounds, with the top-of-the-range MacBook 16 weighing just 4.3 pounds. They all employ the familiar brushed aluminum chassis, machined from just one piece of metal.

Variety of Products

Apple Lineups

Their product range at any one time only ever consists of about seven or eight machines. Although they can be customized with larger SSDs, more memory, and upgraded CPUs, they are all basically the same machine.

Once you get past the OS X, and many people have come to love it, the main choice is what screen size and power you want. Apple is seen by creative types as the computer of choice, with many pro video or music editing packages exclusive to the Mac.


It’s true that for a similar price you can get a PC with a much higher spec, but it’s a Windows computer.

Dell laptops used to be the go-to computer of students. A generous discount for students has led to an increasing Mac population at colleges across the States


Apple Supports

Apple’s after-sales support is second to none in the computer industry. Genius bars, an excellent telephone support line, and extended AppleCare packages mean you are never alone.

Apple has constantly been awarded first place in annual surveys of after-sales support in the consumer electronics market. Apple fans love to share their wisdom on the forums.


One of the biggest criticisms of MacBooks in the past has been the random time between updates. Many people blame this on delays to new Intel processors, and Apple intends to prevent this with their own processors.

Rumors suggest that, by the end of 2021, Apple will be producing its own CPUs for use in the Macbook and desktop ranges.

Where the Apple Mac Range Stands Out

macOS X operating system

The experience of a Mac is loved by so many people with, OS X tending to be a more stable OS. It also syncs better with those Apple mobile devices so many of us own.

Mac laptops come with excellent built-in software in the i-suite of programs: iTunes, iWork, including Pages and Numbers, and iMovie. Applications, like Facetime, Photos, Maps, and Garageband, are all easy to use yet produce professional results.

Macs may be more expensive, but they have a solid build quality with sleek designs. All the components in a Mac have been optimized for the best performance and offer even longer battery life. As Steve Jobs used to say, “It just works.”

What Others Say

Forbes list Apple as the most valuable brand in the world.

They are the 7th most regarded company, but their innovation rating has dropped to 13th in recent years.

Apple users will tell you they have the best computers in the world which are more secure than PCs and have no viruses. They will argue that OS X is much better (debatable) than Windows, and Safari is one of the quickest browsers (true).

Opponents of Apple will point to the locked-down nature of the system, how poor they generally are for gaming, and the price. Windows offers more choice, higher-end gaming rigs, and an industry-standard more widely accepted around the world.

Dell - The Pretenders to the Throne

Dell Logos

Dell has been making computers for nearly as long as Apple. 

They started in 1984, not long after Apple’s garage experiment in 1976. Initially starting from his dormitory at the University of Texas in Austin, Michael Dell provided customized upgrades for PCs.

In 1989, Dell released their first laptop, the 316LT, followed by their first color notebook in 1991. In 1994, they were the first major company to adopt the use of lithium-ion batteries for longer battery life.


With a wide range of laptops available, Dell uses different processors from brands such as AMD and Intel.

Budget laptops will favor dual-core processors while newer high-end models use the latest generation quad, six, or even eight-core CPUs.

Gaming laptops and high-end business machines can vary in the GPU they use, with gaming machines tending to prefer the latest NVIDIA graphics cards.

Budget laptops will go for the Intel HD graphics instead.

Screen quality can vary greatly too, depending on the model you choose. Some cheaper models may only have HD rather than full HD. While premium gaming machines will feature full HD, 3K, or 4K with G-sync technology.

For a company that was innovative in the use of lithium-ion batteries, the battery life of the budget Dell laptops often leaves a lot to be desired. The 3-cell batteries you find in cheaper models don’t keep their charge as long as other batteries.


Laptops Dell Designs

Primarily being business machines in the past, most of the Dell laptop range doesn’t feature exciting designs. The use of matte black plastic can look very dull compared to the brushed aluminum of competitors, although Dell does offer a choice of colors on some.

It’s only in the XPS range and the Alienware gaming laptops that the designs become sleek and interesting. The XPS 13 out-MacBooks the Mac itself, according to many critics. Dell has managed to slim down this year’s XPS to less than 0.3 inches thick at the thinnest point, and only 2.67 pounds light.

Variety of Products

The main Dell brand for home or school use is the Inspiron, which comes with models at all price ranges. For basic photo editing, some college work, or managing the household finances, these are capable machines. Some higher-end ones will also be suitable for occasional gaming.

If it’s gaming you’re all about, you want to be looking at Dell’s Alienware range. These gaming laptops usually feature all the latest components, with construction aimed at hardcore gamers.

Finally, for business users or people on the go, there’s the Latitude brand. These are thin, yet powerful, laptops with some designed to be extra rugged for use in more extreme situations.


Dell laptops are known to be some of the most competitively priced in the market. For the really budget conscious they offer Chromebooks and Chromebook 2-in-1 systems that make a viable alternative to a laptop.

The Inspiron range starts at about $300 and Dell laptops go up to over $2,000 for the high-end Alienware gaming machines. The XPS range tries to match the price of the nearest MacBook competitor, often under-cutting it by several hundred dollars, depending on the spec.


Customer Service Dell

Dell customer service is very highly rated and comes second only to Apple. The Dell website features a comprehensive mix of informative guides and forums.

If you do end up having to call them you are appointed your own personal service technician who stays with you all the way. If the fault can’t be fixed on the phone, your technician can remotely connect or arrange for the machine to be repaired at your nearest Dell dealer.


Dell is constantly striving to improve their laptop range. This is demonstrated most succinctly by the XPS range, which used to follow the lead set out by the MacBooks, but now sets the standard to follow.

Where They Stand Out

The biggest advantage when you choose to purchase a Dell is there are so many of them to choose from: Inspiron, Latitude, XPS, or Alienware.

The Alienware laptops and XPS range are stylish and powerful machines that are coveted by many. If you’re ever going to convert an Apple addict, a Dell XPS is the machine to do it.

What Others Say

Over the years, Dell laptops have been generally well-received by critics. Looking through any buying guide, you will find at least one best-of-class or Editor’s Choice logo next to a Dell laptop.

The latest Dell XPS 13 is the machine most people rave about, it’s a work of beauty. PCMag actually voted it the best ultraportable laptop of 2018. T3 magazine even puts the XPS 13 in the running for the gadget of the year in their annual poll.

What Are the Main Differences Between Apple and Dell?

Apple vs Dell

Let’s keep this one short, it’s the OS.

With Apple, you only get the choice of whatever OS X variant Apple is pushing at the moment or the time your Macbook was made. Dell laptops tend to use the latest Windows 10 OS with a choice of 32-bit or 64-bit, depending on the system.

The contrast between high-end Dell laptops and the MacBook is getting slimmer all the time. And the prices are also getting closer too. Dell does still offer a little advantage of price vs performance in the XPS v MacBook Pro debate.

When to Choose Apple

When you want a stylish laptop that will be the envy of all your friends, go for an Apple

If you want a laptop that runs OS X you have no choice, Apple doesn’t license their OS to anybody else. If you’re happy in the Apple world, with your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and iTunes collection, an Apple laptop is the obvious choice.

When to Choose Dell

If you’re on a budget and need a laptop that won’t let you down, Dell can provide one that meets your needs

For gaming, the Alienware range is hard to beat, with the Inspiron range providing good all-purpose computers.

The latest XPS range is perfect for somebody who likes the looks and portability of the MacBook but doesn’t want an Apple.

Final Thoughts

Macbooks and Dells

A lot of this article has focused on the Dell XPS and its similarity to the Apple MacBook.

Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for the XPS, we probably wouldn’t be comparing the two brands.

Both Apple and Dell are well-established companies formed by young men with a vision. Both have played an important part in the evolution of mobile computing, but there the similarities end.

Apple has gone on to build their own computing world of OS X and i-devices. While Dell has built a successful laptop business within the framework provided by Windows and PC gaming.

About the Author Marcus

Marcus has a graduate degree in computer engineering and has many years of experience in cutting-edge technology research and development in both startups and Fortune 500 corporations. In his free time, he enjoys RTS gaming.

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