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 or not: Dell XPS 13 (From $1,100 at Dell)
- For inking: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (From $1,050 at Dell)
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 exceptional 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 will 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 on this epic laptop.
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 have 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 11th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and the possibility to have Intel’s new Xe graphics. It even starts at around the same price as the regular XPS 13, making it an exceptional value laptop.
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.
Dell XPS 13
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
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.