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After five years with the same highly-upgraded Early 2011 MacBook Pro 15″, and a recent trip to the Apple Store for a motherboard replacement, it hit me that my laptop is living on borrowed time and that I should probably get a new machine.

What I wanted was an Ultrabook, a lightweight machine with a decent CPU and can run several hours on battery. After a few weeks of research into quality vs. price, as well as Linux compatibility, I ended up purchasing the XPS 13. It really came down to this and the Thinkpad Carbon X1 3rd Gen, but the XPS has slightly better specs and a sexy bevel-less screen.

Dell XPS 13 (9350) @ $999

  • 8GB LPDDR3 (1,866MHz)
  • Intel HD Graphics 520
  • 128GB SSD
  • Broadcom DW1820A (AC) + Bluetooth 4.1
  • 56WHr Battery
  • 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6200U (3M Cache, 2.3 Ghz – 2.8 GHz)
  • 13.3″ FHD (1920 x 1080)

Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 3rd Gen @ $1,272

  • 8GB PC3-12800L (1,600 MHz)
  • Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • 128GB SSD
  • Intel 7265 (AC) + Bluetooth 4.0
  • 50WHr Battery
  • 5th Gen Intel Core i5-5300U (3MB Cache, 2.3 Ghz – 2.90GHz)
  • 14.0″ FHD (1920 x 1080)

Aftermarket Upgrades

The hard drive size in each is pretty low @ 128GB. Luckily, despite most components in ultrabooks being soldered to the motherboard, these SSD’s uses an M.2 interface and can be swapped out. The WiFi card in the XPS sucks and has horrible Linux compatibility. Luckily, it too can be upgraded to a quality one (the same the Carbon uses).

Once the machine arrives and I make the upgrades I’ll write a few more posts on my findings, build quality, hardware compatibility, etc.

Thomas Hunter II

Thomas is the author of Advanced Microservices and a prolific public speaker with a passion for reducing complex problems into simple language and diagrams. His career includes working at Fortune 50's in the Midwest, co-founding a successful startup, and everything in between.
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  • gettons

    Hi there, thanks for your post, this really helps.

    Quick question though :
    I had the xps developer edition 9343 with ubuntu in the past but the trackpad was horrible and if I am not mistaken there were issues with the keyboard as well ( typing the same character twice ).
    How are you finding the trackpad with 9350 mate ?

  • Simon

    My Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus running Mint was pinched so I set about the job of finding a replacement Ultrabook. I came up with the same result: The XPS13 or the Carbon 2016. I chose the 13 because it is easier to use behind an airplane seatback. Just got it this morning. Not sure what the model change to 9360 means. About to start down the Linux conversion track.