Alienware, XPS, Inspiron, Latitude, and Precision are all names you'll come across when you're hunting for the Best Dell laptop. Generally speaking, the first three are the consumer brands, Latitude is for the business crowd and the Precision lineup is for the mobile professional, designers or programmers for example, with high-end workstation components.
While the last two listed have a very definite target audience, there's a little crossover between the rest. Alienware is traditionally for gamers, XPS is for the prosumer and the premium ultrabook market and Inspiron is generally the more affordable laptops. But you can get XPS laptops capable of gaming, likewise from the Inspiron range, and not every Alienware laptop is the smartest buy for gamers.
So let's try and help you make the right decision by breaking down who each different range is for.
All the best Dell laptops in one place
The outright best laptop isn't always the best one for you, and when you make as many as Dell, there's something out there for everyone. The key is finding that right choice, and it's fair to say that navigating the mound of machines Dell makes can be confusing and time consuming.
If you're curious to see what the absolute best of the best are, our roundup will tell you everything you need to know. We've compared them all to make some recommendations that should help you out.
XPS 13, XPS 15 and XPS 17 — Best of the best
When comparing the two top of the line XPS laptops there's not really a bad choice to make. The biggest barrier to choosing either of them is the asking price, as XPS laptops always command a premium price.
If the budget allows, though, the XPS range is the place to be. The XPS 13 is one of the most well-balanced ultrabooks around, with performance and a gorgeous display packed into a really tiny body.
If you're looking for a bit more grunt, the XPS 15 can now be had with Intel's latest 10th Gen processors paired with dedicated graphics from NVIDIA. The XPS 15 is certainly a better choice for photographers and videographers, or more professional applications that rely on horsepower thanks to the upgraded internals over its 13-inch sibling.
If you're looking for pen support, too, the XPS 13 also has a 2-in-1 convertible variant which has been recently updated. It's a different kind of experience overall to the regular model, but it's a perfect fit for touch and inking fans.
The smallest, most affordable XPS is
The XPS 13 might not have as powerful hardware or as large of a display as the XPS 15 and XPS 17, but it's still a superb Ultrabook for anyone who wants to remain as mobile as possible.
More Power, Bigger Size
The balanced middle option
The XPS 15 is an excellent pick for anyone who needs significant performance without getting into the 17-inch laptop range.
There is also now a third way, the XPS 17. Simply put, it combines everything great about the other two XPS laptops and rolls it all up in a package with a massive 17-inch display. It's one of the most compact and portable 17-inch laptops ever made, but with the added size comes more space to put more hardware.
As such, this is the most powerful XPS laptop outright. The graphics can be taken all the way up to a whopping RTX 2060 from NVIDIA, making this not only good for work but a serious gaming machine, too. Dell also sells a "creator edition" which has been tailored to meet the needs of today's creatives.
Big Laptop, Big Performance
The XPS 17 offers a massive display with tremendous performance inside. It's big and expensive, but it'll no doubt appeal to creators and designers.
Alienware and G-Series - For the gamers
When you're considering Dell from the perspective of being a PC gamer, you'll be drawn immediately here. Alienware is Dell's dedicated gaming range and when looking for the best Alienware laptop, the Alienware m15 is the one to get. It's actually the entry-level model now in Alienware's lineup since the 13-inch notebook got discontinued. But in this case entry-level doesn't mean it lacks in any area that matters for gaming.
Whether you go for the m15 or the larger m17, you're getting a very similar design and very similar specs, just a different sized laptop. And since these are hardly Ultrabooks, our recommendation always goes to the smaller one. In both cases you're getting the latest Intel processors, lots of RAM and storage, good looking, high refresh rate displays and up to an RTX 2080 GPU from NVIDIA. Which in a laptop, is as much as you can get for gaming right now.
Smaller size but big internals
The Alienware m15 R3 has something for all gamers, including a more wallet-friendly entry-level model to the screaming performance of the higher-end versions.
Or if you're feeling a little more, mad, and your budget allows, the Area 51-m is Alienware's desktop gaming PC replacement. There are some quite insane specs on offer here, but the big story is that this is an upgradeable laptop in its truest sense. It uses a desktop-class CPU, which you can upgrade, you can upgrade the GPU, too, as well as the RAM and storage.
But, there is another way also that's a little more subtle and wallet friendly.
What used to be the Inspiron gaming laptop lineup is now the Dell G-Series. The G3, G5 and G7 aren't always more affordable than an Alienware laptop, but for the budget conscious gamer, it's a much better place to look.
The G3, for example, starts under $800 while still being able to deliver strong 1080p performance. Like Alienware, you have options for either 15-inch or 17-inch displays, with the G7 being the largest.
Our top recommendation would be the middle of the G5 range, going for a coniguration of a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 and one of two NVIDIA GPUS, either the GTX 1660 TI or the RTX 2060.
A more wallet friendly approach to gaming with Dell
The G5 is in the middle of Dell's G-Series range and is the one to go for if you're looking for impressive performance without breaking the bank.
Inspiron — Bang for your buck
The XPS laptops are more glamorous, but the Inspiron's are the meat of Dell's consumer laptop range. Ultimately what you're getting here is value, whether that's at the super-low price budget laptop end of the spectrum, or the slightly more expensive but still way short of the XPS price point. The Inspiron range is where most Dell buyers will find the right laptop for them.
Inspiron is also a great place to find a 2-in-1 laptop, especially if you like the look of the XPS 13 2-in-1 but the price tag is a bit much for you.
The drawback to all this is that the Inspiron range is massive. Fortunately, we have a full explainer on what each different sub-series within the Inspiron range is all about. A couple of our favorites, though, are the Insipron 14 5000 which is a good sweet-spot for everyone, and the dinky Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 which makes a brilliant laptop for kids.
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.
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.
All business — Latitude and Precision
Dedicated graphics in laptops aren't just for gamers. NVIDIA's Quadro and some AMD Radeon GPUs are designed for workstations used by folks who need hefty computational power. People such as designers, architects, programmers, even video editors can all benefit from a workstation laptop such as Dell's Precision and Latitiude ranges.
So, for the average consumer, these are not, but they're a very important part of Dell's laptop portfolio.
We'd recommend the Latitude 5510 as a solid, no-nonsense business laptop that's also reasonably priced, while for fans of 2-in-1s the Surface Pro-like Latitude 7210 provides both a tablet and a laptop in one.
In both cases you have high-end hardware capable of handling everything the modern workplace could throw at them, but also a companion for when you finish work and just want to kick back and watch a little Netflix.
A great all-rounder for the workplace
This is a good looking, well made, high-spec laptop for the workplace that's also extremely portable and not that expensive.
Surface for Work
A bit like a Surface Pro but designed for business
If you're a fan of 2-in-1s but also need something designed for work, then the excellent Latitude 5210 is a great buy.
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