While Dell makes a lot of laptops, choosing the best Dell laptop can be a little bit of a minefield. The company has so many different models and product lines that it's easy to get lost among names and numbers.
Once you know what you're looking for, though, it's not as bad as it first seems. Inspiron is Dell's mass-market brand, where you find the most choice for most consumers, and it's also the one with the most variation.
What is Inspiron?
Inspiron is part of Dell's consumer-focused PC lineup, just the same as XPS, G Series, or Alienware. It's where you'll find the biggest variety of laptops on offer. While XPS is the premium brand, and Alienware and G Series target gamers, Inspiron is for pretty much everyone.
Whether you want a budget laptop, a gaming laptop, or everything in between, you'll find it in the Inspiron range.
7000 series vs 5000 series vs 3000 series
Deciding which to get can be made a lot easier by understanding what you'll find in each of the numbered series.
This is where you'll find the lowest-cost, value-oriented, entry-level laptops from Dell. They might have low prices, but they still deliver a compelling user experience. One of our favorites is the Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1, a dinky little convertible laptop that's great for kids and light laptop users. It comes in a few different colors and has now shifted to AMD-based hardware.
You'll also find choices for larger laptops still centered on a value proposition. The range goes up to a very lovely 15-inch laptop that tops out with a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 and superfast NVMe storage, all for less than $600. When shopping on a tighter budget there are always compromises to make, but Dell has kept these to a minimum and ensured that the overall experience of using these laptops is still excellent.
Great for kids
Dell's most affordable laptop is excellent for kids
If you need something for the kids, light work, or for utmost portability, the Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 is a great choice.
10th Gen Intel power and some really attractive prices
The best of the bunch has 10th Gen Intel processors and NVMe storage, but with a range of specs and all at great prices, there's something for everyone.
Dell now also has a 17-inch laptop in the Inspiron 3000 range that is quite close to the 5000 series in many areas but keeps the costs down a little by making some sacrifices, such as in the build materials. All 17-inch models come with Intel's latest 10th Gen processors, all the way up to the excellent Core i7-1065G7 with Intel's newest Iris Plus graphics.
The tradeoff is that it comes with a horrendously slow HDD, so you'll need to spend a little extra getting an SSD inside it; otherwise, all that power will be lost on terrible loading times and data transfer speeds.
Ultimately, if you want a great laptop but want to spend less, the 3000 series is for you. The most expensive models are now approaching the more expensive 5000 and 7000 range, but the vast majority of these laptops are extremely affordable.
Impressive hardware and impressive pricing
If you're looking for an affordable laptop with a massive display, the Inspiron 17 3000 is a good choice.
The 5000 series sits precisely where you'd expect it to — right in the middle. The lowest cost laptops start at $500, so there's some crossover with the 3000 series on price. This is where a lot of people will find the sweet spot of great specs, build quality, experience, and price. Unless you know you want a super-budget laptop or you want something approaching the high-end, it's the first place you should probably look.
Size-wise you can choose 13-, 14- and 15-inch laptops in the 5000 Series. You can also choose between both AMD and Intel-powered machines, as well as between regular notebooks or the 2-in-1 form factor. The 13-inch model only comes as a notebook, while the 14- and 15-inch sizes can be had as both.
One of the most significant differences to the 5000 series over the 3000 series is the overall design and construction. Everything looks and feels a little higher quality — maybe it has that "premium" look you might be searching for — and it's evident in the 13-inch LTE model.
Two other stand out models are the 14-inch notebook and the 15-inch 2-in-1. Both boast Intel 10th Gen processors, speedy NVMe storage, options for Intel's new, more powerful Iris Plus graphics, and features like DDR4 RAM and USB-C ports.
Prices are also very attractive, with a low entry cost but also some well-priced range toppers, both representing good value all through the range.
With a lot of different variations in the 5000 series, it's the place most should start looking. The wide range of specs and prices on offer make it worth taking a little time to thoroughly browse, but it's probably the most likely place you'll find what you're looking for.
The sweet spot
The sweet spot in Dell's Inspiron lineup
If there were a sweet spot in the lineup, it would be the 14-inch 5000 series, which has a range of great specs, attractive prices, good design, and excellent build quality.
The divide between the 5000 and 7000 Series is a little muddier than with the 3000 and 5000 Series. The 7000 Series starts at $765, so there's some definite budget crossover that adds to the confusion. Mainly, it's where you find the high-end Inspiron laptops, and it's where folks hunting for the best but not quite XPS-grade should go.
Currently the 7000 series is the best place to look for a convertible 2-in-1 laptop. All of the 7000 series 2-in-1s have been updated to Intel 10th Gen U-Series processors at 13-inches and 15-inches. Across the range you have great displays and specs like Intel Optane memory, speedy NVMe storage and even on the 17-inch model, dedicated NVIDIA graphics.
There is also a 14-inch notebook running Intel 10th Gen, but the 15-inch does not. In a toss-up between the 13-inch notebook and 13-inch 2-in-1, it's the convertible that makes the most sense. The 13-inch notebook would be better had from the 5000 series.
It's a shame the 17-inch is the only model with dedicated graphics because not everyone will want a huge display, but many would be attracted to the additional power. Nevertheless, it's worthy of consideration.
One of the best value convertible laptops around
With 10th Gen Intel processors, a great screen, stunning design, and even Thunderbolt 3, this is one of the best value convertibles you'll find anywhere.
The bottom line
All of the Inspiron series' have great laptops in them; the difference is price and spec. The higher the number, the higher the spec, and the average price. But by approaching each knowing what you're looking for, choosing a laptop will be much easier.
Budget-conscious and entry-level shoppers should hit the 3000 Series, those looking for a more premium experience or specifically a great 2-in-1 should hit the 7000 Series. Everyone else has the 5000 Series right in the middle, and that's the best place to start.
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