Should you get the touch or non-touch Dell XPS 13?

Best answer: If you're looking to get a 4K display, then you'll want a touch-enabled XPS 13, but without official pen support, the regular non-touch will be better value for most people. People who want to use touch or a pen should get the XPS 13 2-in-1 instead.

Touch adds more to the price

It shouldn't be any surprise, but having the XPS 13 with a touchscreen will cost you more than if you go for one without it. The standard choice is the 1080p non-touch display, but this can be configured to a 1080p touch version for an additional $100. The 4K display with touch is also an option now for an extra $300, but it comes standard on the higher-end models in the range, though you can opt to spec it down to a 1080p on some models.

The quality of Dell's displays is excellent, whichever you go for, with great brightness and color reproduction across the board. However, even the touch models don't officially support a digital pen, so you're not gaining a whole lot of functionality by being able to jab at your laptop screen with your fingers. After all, Windows 10 isn't the most touch-optimized operating system, with both Store and traditional desktop apps, for the most part, better used with a keyboard and mouse pointer.

Most people who buy a Dell XPS 13 are going to spend more time using the trackpad or an external mouse, which means there's an excellent opportunity to save some money and ditch the touch screen. The savings outweigh the small use the touchscreen will likely have for most.

4K only comes with touch

If you're in the market for a 4K display, however, perhaps for creative work or professional applications such as CAD, you'll need a touchscreen. You don't have to use it, but there's no option for a 4K non-touch.

That's a little disappointing since plenty of people won't want both, and Dell could've offered a lower cost 4K option this way. But whether you buy the top of the line configuration or add it as an option yourself, the 4K display only comes with touch.

A better choice for inking

If you have a desire to use inking with a digital pen, perhaps the best reason to have a touch-enabled Windows device at all right now, there is a better option. The XPS 13 2-in-1 is a convertible version of the XPS 13 with a display that folds right round. It can be used either as a traditional laptop, a tablet, or somewhere in between.

The hardware inside is now a little more impressive, too, with 10th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, and the possibility to have Intel's new Iris Pro graphics. The 2-in-1 also uses the slightly superior Ice Lake 10th Gen processors; the regular XPS 13 is on the Comet Lake chips without the newer graphics. It even starts at around the same price as the regular XPS 13, as well, which makes it an exceptional value.

The beauty of the XPS 13 2-in-1 is that it supports Dell's Active Pen, so you can write and draw away to your heart's content. It's an extra spend, but well worth it, and the 2-in-1 variant is the better touch screen choice for anyone who really, truly wants to have touch on their laptop.

No touch

Dell XPS 13

From $1,200 at Dell

Save some cash and avoid the touch

The XPS 13 is cheaper without a touch screen, and most people won't use it that much anyway. The better choice is to go without unless you want a 4K display. Because there you haven't got a choice.

Write and draw

XPS 13 2-in-1

An XPS 13 you can scribble on

From $980 at Dell

The XPS 13 2-in-1 is a more useful application of touch with its fold around display and support for Dell's digital pen.


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