While Dell makes many laptops, choosing the right one 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 widest variety of laptops on offer. While XPS is the premium brand, and Alienware and G Series target gamers, Inspiron devices are for pretty much everyone and are some of the best Dell laptops overall if you need something simpler and more affordable.
7000 series vs. 5000 series vs. 3000 series
Dell's Inspiron devices come in three different product lineups: the 3000 series, 5000 series, and 7000 series. Deciding which to get can be made a lot easier by understanding what kind of hardware and prices you'll find in each one, which we'll go over in detail below.
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 3195 2-in-1, a small 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 with both AMD and Intel CPUs on the slate. The range goes up to a very lovely 15-inch Dell Inspiron 15 3000 laptop that tops out with an 11th Gen Intel Core i5 and superfast NVMe storage. 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.
Ultimately, if you want a great laptop but want to spend less, the 3000 series is for you. The 5000 and 7000 range of devices are more expensive, but the vast majority of 3000-series laptops are extremely affordable.
If you need something for the kids, light work, or for the best possible portability, the Inspiron 11 3195 2-in-1 is a great choice. It's light, inexpensive, and performant enough for schoolwork and general productivity.
This 15-incher has options for 11th Gen Intel CPUs and fast NVMe SSD storage, making it the better option for folks who want something with a little more power. The tradeoff is a higher price, although the cost of the device is still very low.
The 5000 series sits precisely where you'd expect it to — right in the middle. The lowest cost laptops in the lineup start in the $500-600 range, so there's some crossover with the 3000 series in terms of price. This is where many people will find the sweet spot of great specs and build quality, experience, and cost. Unless you know you want a super-budget laptop or something approaching the high end, it's the first place you should probably look.
Size-wise you can choose 13-, 14-, 15-, and 16-inch laptops in the 5000 series. You can also choose between both AMD and Intel 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 other sizes can be had as both.
One of the most significant differences between the 5000 series over the 3000 series is the overall design and construction. Everything looks and feels a little higher quality compared to most of the 3000 laptops that scream "dirt cheap" with their thick bezels and middling displays.
The best overall 5000-series device is the Dell Inspiron 16 5000, which packs 12th Gen Intel Mobile CPUs like the Core i5-1235U and Core i7-1255U into a sleek chassis along with Iris Xe graphics, up to 16GB of DDR4 memory, and up to 1TB of SSD storage space. The 16-inch FHD+ 1920x1200 also looks quite nice, offering a better contrast and color gamut than what you'll find with 3000-series devices.
Overall, with the many different variations in the 5000 series, it's the place most people should start looking. The wide range of specs and prices on offer make it worth taking a little time to browse thoroughly, but it's probably the most likely place you'll find what you're looking for.
The Dell Inspiron 16 is our favorite 5000-series Inspiron device, offering great 12th Gen Intel CPUs, a good amount of memory and storage, and a solid FHD+ display for a very attractive price.
The divide between the 5000 and 7000 series is a little muddier than it is with the 3000 and 5000 series. The 7000 series generally starts around the $700 range, so there's definitely some crossover with 5000-series options when it comes to pricing. Mainly, the 7000-series lineup is where you'll find the most capable 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 12th Gen processors, with a variety of size options ranging from 13 inches all the way to 17. Across the series, you have great displays and specs like Intel Optane memory, speedy NVMe storage, and even dedicated NVIDIA graphics on the 17-inch models.
The best 7000-series device for most people will likely be the Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 7620. It's essentially a more advanced version of the 16-inch 5000-series device we mentioned before, featuring options like an incredibly performant 12th Gen P-Series Core i7-1260P CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce MX550 GPU, and a beautiful 4K UHD+ 3840x2400 display with rich, vibrant colors and a maximum brightness of 400 nits. It also comes with dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, making it a superb option for people who have lots of laptop accessories or a Thunderbolt 4 hub.
Offering a 12th Gen Intel P-Series chip, NVIDIA graphics, Thunderbolt 4 connectivity, and an option for a gorgeous 4K panel, the Dell Inspiron 16 2-in-1 7620 is an excellent convertible that represents the best of Dell's Inspiron products.
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, while 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.
In the event that none of Dell's Inspiron devices tickles your fancy, make sure to check out our roundup of the best Windows laptops for other quality options.
Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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