Best Dell Laptops

Updated March 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
Bottom Line
Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

24 Models Considered
38 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
231 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best Dell laptops

Last Updated March 2019

When Dell first started marketing computers to consumers, the company wasn’t viewed as a threat to established manufacturers like HP, IBM, and Compaq. But a lot has changed since then. Dell has become the biggest name in PC hardware and the default choice for thousands of businesses around the world. Dell computers are powerful, affordable, and best of all, well-supported by the company.

Dell’s laptops are no exception to this rule. A wide variety of Dell laptops, each based around specific use cases — which is another way of saying that no matter what your needs are, there’s a Dell laptop that’s perfect for you.

Whether you’re replacing a dying machine or buying a new laptop for your next digital adventures, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know to find the right Dell laptop for you.

A low-resolution screen will make everything look blurry, while a high-resolution screen often requires adjustment. Dell laptops typically are built with one of three screen resolutions in mind: 1920x1080 (FHD), 2560x1440 (QHD), and 3840x2160 (UHD, also known as 4K).

Key considerations

Dell makes several lines of laptops, so it’s easy to get lost among them, especially when they all look so similar. Before you get started, consider these three questions so you can filter out all of the options that aren’t relevant.

  • Will you be using your Dell laptop for work or pleasure? Dell does a great job of tailoring machines for working professionals — their entire Latitude line is built for business, meaning that they’re slightly more durable, sport neutral designs, and include security measures like fingerprint readers. On the other hand, if you’re buying a Dell laptop for personal use, it doesn’t make sense to pay more for features you may not use. In this case, case we recommend saving a few bucks and opting for a laptop from the Inspiron or XPS line.

  • Are you a PC gamer? Dell makes two lines of laptops specifically for gamers: Alienware and the G Series. Alienware was originally an independent company that Dell later acquired, and Dell Alienware laptops are among the best (and most expensive) gaming laptops in the industry. If you’re a serious gamer, or want to be one, you’ll want an Alienware laptop. On the other hand, if you play games that aren’t graphically intensive or want a budget gaming system, the G Series may be a better fit. Dell’s G Series laptops are essentially a slight step down from their Alienware models, but for gamers who appreciate a bargain, they’re perfect.

  • Do you want a laptop with a touchscreen that can double as a tablet? Laptops with built-in touchscreens are technically in their own category — often referred to as 2-in-1s — but they’re still laptops. Laptops with touchscreens are useful for times when you prefer a tablet-based experience, and Windows 10 Tablet Mode makes practically any app touch-friendly. However, 2-in-1s are generally more expensive (to cover the cost of the touchscreen), so if you’re not a fan of tablets, you can save money by looking at other models.

Best tech on the block

Dell’s 15” gaming laptop is expensive, but it’s one of the most powerful laptops available, and it doesn’t spare any expense when it comes to technical riches. It’s got a 4K screen, a 4GB NVIDIA video card, and a whopping 32GB of RAM. To top it all off, it’s also rocking Intel’s most recent i9 processor. If you’re a gamer or you simply love having the best tech on the block, this is the Dell to get.

Core specifications to compare

Once you have a general idea of what you’ll be using your Dell laptop for, you can start comparing models and specifications. Here are the features that are most important to compare.

CPU: The central processing unit, or CPU, is your laptop’s brain, and it has the biggest influence over how it performs. When you’re looking at different Dell laptops, you’ll find mostly processors from Intel’s i3, i5, i7, and i9 series. Just be forewarned that as processor speed increases, so does cost.

Screen size: Dell laptops come in every size imaginable, from 11 inches to 18 inches. The size of your laptop screen defines both how much screen real estate you get and how big and heavy the laptop is overall. There’s no magic size that’s perfect for everyone, so you’ll need to pick the size that’s the best fit for your taste and your budget.

RAM: Random access memory (RAM) is the memory that computers use to manage multiple tasks, so even if you get the fastest processor available, it won’t really feel fast until you’ve got enough RAM to allow it to multitask. If you’re buying a Dell for casual use or basic office work, get one with at least 8GB of RAM. If you’re buying one for intense work or gaming, consider buying one with 16GB or 32GB of RAM.

Video hardware: One of the big differentiators between Dell laptops is the included video card. Video cards control all the graphics you see and every image that’s rendered, so if you’re doing anything that’s got intense visuals (like gaming or streaming 4K video), you’ll want one with a separate video card on board. If you’re not doing anything all that demanding graphics-wise, you can opt for one with integrated graphics (which really means that the CPU is handling the graphics).

EXPERT TIP

Many Dell laptops make it easy to swap in larger amounts of RAM, but not all of them do, so if you have any future upgrade plans, you’ll want to investigate this before you buy.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you’re buying a Dell laptop for gaming, pay close attention to how much memory different video cards have. Decent laptop video cards for casual gaming have 2GB of memory, while premium models for intense PC gaming have 4GB or more.


Staff  | BestReviews

Our favorite upgrades

In addition to the basics, Dell laptops also sometimes include a few unique and innovative features not found on other brand laptops. Here are a few of our favorites.

Chrome OS

Some Dell laptops are Chromebooks, which means instead of running Windows, they use Google’s Chrome OS as a platform. While the thought of a new operating system can be intimidating, Chrome OS is basically all based on Google’s Chrome browser, so if you’ve ever used Chrome to browse the web, you’ll feel right at home with a Chromebook.

Ryzen CPUs

Most Dell laptops include Intel CPUs inside, but a growing number of laptops are being manufactured with rival AMD’s Ryzen CPUs. Ryzen CPUs are generally comparable, if not faster, than Intel processors, but the real advantage is that Ryzen CPUs have more cores, so they can generally handle intense tasks (like video editing or gaming) better than their Intel equivalents can. If you need sheer horsepower, look into the Dell laptops with Ryzen CPUs.

eMMC storage

Extended multimedia controllers, or eMMCs, are small cards that connect directly to your laptop’s motherboard and connect flash storage. The advantage with eMMC cards is portability and cost, which is why you’ll find them mostly in Dell’s smaller budget laptops.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you’ll be using your Dell laptop with Microsoft applications like Word, Office, PowerPoint, or Excel, you’ll need to purchase the software separately.

Dell laptop prices

Between $200 and $500, you’ll find Dell’s entry-level laptops. Models in this range are a good value if you don’t need the fastest laptop available or if you’re buying a laptop that will only be doing basic tasks like web browsing.

The best values in Dell laptops are usually between $500 and $1,300. Laptops in this range have fast processors, plenty of RAM, and often include touchscreens. If you’re looking for a solid machine for work or school, plan on spending at least this much.

Between $1,300 and $3,000, you’ll encounter Dell’s best and brightest: laptops that have solid specs across the board and often feature niche conveniences like a fingerprint reader. If you need a machine that’s going to last several years, or one that needs to be fast enough for heavy-duty work, this is how much you’ll need to fork over.

A price you can live with

Dell’s most recent Inspiron offers some tempting compromises: it’s got an older, sixth-generation Intel CPU under the hood, but it pairs it with a touchscreen, a DVD drive, and a full 1TB hard drive. There are definitely faster laptops out there, but for this price, it’s hard to find a better value — especially if you need a disc drive, as those are slowly disappearing from the laptop market.

Tips

  • If you buy a Dell laptop with a touchscreen, keep a microfiber cloth handy, and wipe down the screen on a regular basis. Touchscreens get dirty, and one of the drawbacks of getting a laptop with a touchscreen is that your fingerprints can get in the way, especially when you’re using it as a laptop. Avoid using harsh substances like commercial cleaners or blunt cleaning products like paper towels. A microfiber cloth is all you need to keep everything nice and shiny.

  • If battery life is critical to you, get a Dell laptop that supports ExpressCharge. Dell’s proprietary battery technology, ExpressCharge, takes only an hour to fill up a battery to 80 percent. Most laptop batteries take several hours to recharge, so being able to recoup the majority of a full charge quickly means that your laptop can spend less time plugged into the wall and more time with you on the go.

  • As you compare laptops, keep track of how much each of them weighs. It’s easy to forget that laptops can be heavy — they’re so sleek, they often give the impression of being as light as air. In reality, Dell laptops can weigh anywhere from three to eight pounds, depending on factors like screen size. Consider how often you’ll be toting your Dell laptop around and plan accordingly, so you never feel like you’re stuck lugging around a brick.

Other products we considered

If you’re on a tight budget, it’s hard to go wrong with the Inspiron I3567. It cuts corners, but all the right ones, landing on a price that’s impressively low. It’s got an Intel i3 processor, a touchscreen, plenty of RAM, and a 128GB SSD, so it can keep up with most basic work and leaves you plenty of room for your personal files. If you need to get as much as you can out of a shoestring budget, this is the laptop to get.

If you need something a little faster that’s still easy on the wallet, be sure to check out the Dell Inspiron 5000. It’s got an eighth-generation Intel i7 CPU, a dual drive that’s both an SSD and a traditional hard drive (for the best of both worlds), and enough RAM to keep up with plenty of simultaneous tasks. It doesn’t have a touchscreen, and the 15-inch screen is limited to 1920x1080. However, given the price point and the features, it’s still a great deal.

Dell laptops are well-made with quality components, but like most laptops, their speakers aren’t amazing and sound fairly tinny. If you want your movies, music, and games to sound as good as they can, get a pair of powered speakers or a good set of headphones.

FAQ

Q. How long do Dell laptops typically last?

A. It depends on how much you use them. Dell laptops are well-built and designed to last for years, but like all laptops, their batteries start to show their age anywhere between 18 and 24 months after purchase.

Q. What are the differences between Dell’s G Series gaming laptops and their Alienware gaming laptops?

A. Dell offers two different gaming laptop lines: the G Series and the Alienware models. Alienware laptops have better video cards, and they’re several hundred dollars more expensive, but to many, the trade-off is worth it. If you love first-person shooters or the latest triple-A titles, your games will run more smoothly on an Alienware machine. If you’re not an avid gamer, or if you don’t mind playing games at lower resolutions, the G Series may be the smarter choice.

Q. Are refurbished Dell laptops a smart purchase?

A. It depends on who’s doing the refurbishing, but generally, refurbished laptops are a risk that we don’t recommend. If you’re considering buying a refurbished Dell laptop, make sure that Dell did the refurbishing themselves. Otherwise, there’s no guarantee that any work was done on the machine at all.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jaime
    Jaime
    Writer
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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