Dell’s laptop expertise means it makes great PCs for every kind of user. There are budget Dells, gaming Dells, 2-in-1 Dells and every other kind of Dell you can possibly imagine. That makes our guide to the best Dell laptops in 2021 a bit of a challenge: whether you’re looking for a gaming laptop, a business laptop or a back-to-school laptop there’s a huge choice.
We’ve narrowed our selection down to just 11 Dell laptops. We’ve found the best Dell laptop for school, the best Dell laptop for work and the best Dell laptop for gaming, and we’ve also included the Dell-owned Alienware brand of high performance gaming laptops. We’ve also gathered all the specifications, designs and prices so you can easily compare the different options.
It’s worth mentioning that the Dell laptop range is constantly being updated, so you might find that specifications differ slightly from what we’ve described here.
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- Dell XPS 13 vs Dell XPS 15: which of Dell's premium portables is better?
The best Dell laptops for 2021
The Dell XPS 13 series has consistently wowed us here at T3, and the latest version of the laptop continues that trend – it's powerful, supremely well built, and compact, so just about everything you could possibly want in your search for the best Dell laptop around at the moment.
With the latest 10th-gen Intel processors installed and up to 16GB of RAM installed, this is a portable computer that's going to be able to handle everything that you want to throw at it. From late-night Netflix to early-morning report writing, you'll find the Dell XPS 13 a highly capable and competent laptop.
It's that 13.4-inch display with the super-thin bezels that really makes the XPS 13 stand out though: if you want to, you can go all the way up to a 4K resolution, but the 1,920 x 1,080 resolution models still look fantastic (4K doesn't make a huge amount of difference on a laptop display this size).
The brand new Dell XPS 15 for 2020 has wowed us even more than previous versions of the flagship laptop, and if you've got enough money to be able to afford it, this is undoubtedly one of the best Dell laptops in the business – you pay a little bit extra than the XPS 13 for that 15.6-inch display, but we reckon that it's worth it.
We're pleased to see that display making use of the 16:10 aspect ratio: it doesn't work so well for widescreen movies, but it's perfect for working through documents and scrolling through websites. As you would expect from the XPS series, the whole laptop is beautifully built and a winner from an aesthetic point of view, whether it's open or closed.
You can trick out the Dell XPS 15 with some top-quality internal components as well: Intel Core i9 processors, some impressive graphics card solutions, and a maximum of 64GB of RAM (which should be enough for even your most advanced projects. Even at the higher price bracket, you get plenty of Dell laptop for your money.
Besides the premium, flagship laptops that Dell puts out, there are plenty of value-for-money models as well – the selection on Dell's website is so huge that you're bound to find something that fits your financial situation. The Inspiron line is a good place to start looking, and the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is particularly tempting.
The main highlight is an expensive 15.6-inch screen – large screens aren't always a given at lower price points, but the display attached to this particular Dell laptop gives your video streaming apps and your web browsers and anything else you want to run plenty of space to move around in.
You get some very decent specs to go alongside that screen, with SSD hard drives and AMD chipsets on offer on certain models. Shopping for the best Dell laptop at this end of the market means you'll have to forget about hardcore gaming or video editing, but for a good-looking computer that will take care of the everyday basics, this is ideal.
At this price, with these specs, and that sharp 17-inch screen, this is very much a Dell laptop aimed at business and power users – you'll have to spend a lot of money to get your hands on the Dell Precision 5750, but we don't think you're going to be disappointed with what you get in return, if you need a laptop that's capable of doing everything a desktop could but in a laptop form factor.
You really are getting top-tier components here – note the 10th-gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor and the Nvidia Quadro T2000 graphics card, as well as some of the most premium and reliable RAM sticks around – so it's not really one for the students or for casual use at the weekends.
Even with a 17-inch display attached, the Dell Precision 5750 still manages to be lightweight and easy to carry around during the day, with this model tipping the scales at 2.13 kg or 4.7 lbs. Connectivity options are good too, with no fewer than four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports and a full size SD card slot to make use of too. No matter what you need to do with your laptop, the Dell Precision 5750 will be up to the task.
If you want to game on your laptop but you don't want to go overboard in terms of size and price, get the Dell G5 15: it'll play all the latest Windows games very nicely indeed (ranking as "next-level gaming" on the official 3DMark benchmark score), and comes with a subtle lighting effect underneath that you can enable or disable as needed.
Dell has kept this down to a fantastic price considering the components you get inside, components that include a healthy 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB graphics card to keep those frame rates nice and smooth. The star of the show is the 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display though, with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz.
When you're not gaming, you can of course use the laptop for everything else as well – it's not so flamboyantly styled that you won't be able to get it out in the local coffee shop. We're impressed with the thermal management and the battery life of the Dell G5 15 as well – definitely one of the best Dell laptops for gamers.
The Dell G7 17 is a step up from the Dell G5 15 in almost every respect, from the size of the display, to the available graphics options, to the dramatic looks of the device – the display stands a little way above the rest of the chassis, so it's almost as if you're got a separate monitor in front of rather than a laptop screen.
With a 144Hz refresh rate and a 9ms response time, that 17.3-inch screen is guaranteed to show off your games in the best way possible, and it should give you an edge against opponents and enemies (either real or computer-generated). This is of course a relatively chunky laptop thanks to that screen, but you can still carry it around fairly easily.
This model was recently updated to offer 1TB of storage, which means more room for your games without having to rely on the cloud all the time, and you get the same subtle lighting effect options as on the Dell G5 15. Definitely a gem of a gaming laptop.
The Dell Latitude 9510 gets you MacBook Pro-style looks and performance in a Dell chassis that runs Windows: it's a fantastic-looking laptop with plenty of power under the hood, and while it's also on the expensive side, we'd say that it's worth the investment if you want one of the best Windows laptops and best Dell laptops currently available.
With one of the latest 10th-gen Intel CPUs and up to 16GB of RAM keeping everything running smoothly, the only tasks you won't be able to take on with this laptop are video editing and heavy gaming – Intel integrated graphics will do for web browsing, office tasks and image editing, but will struggle if you push them any further.
It's thin, it's light, and it comes with plenty of connectivity options as well, so take a look at the various configuration options and see which one suits you best – because of the number of different ways you can set up the Latitude 9510, the price can vary quite a bit too. The laptop is also available in a 2-in-1 form factor as well.
The 2-in-1 form factor gives you a whole lot of extra flexibility with your laptop, especially when you want to sit back and enjoy some content. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 is one of the best-value 2-in-1 laptops in the Dell range, with some impressive specs available at a very reasonable price, and it's worth getting down on your shortlist if you're on the look-out for the best Dell laptop.
The hinge lets you store a Dell stylus on the go, and you can fold this device right over and use it as a makeshift tablet if you need to. The benefit of using a 2-in-1 such as this over something like a Surface Pro or an iPad Pro is that you still get the full-sized keyboard and trackpad, plus all the power and performance of a proper computer.
Speaking of performance, the specs max out with a 10th-gen Intel i7 chip, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of internal SSD storage – enough to work through even the most demanding of laptop tasks, especially if you add in the option of a Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics card on top. There's even the option of a 4K display, but even the top-tier configuration comes in at a very reasonable price.
Our top pick for the best Dell laptop is also available in a 2-in-1 configuration, so you can prop it up to watch some movies or fold it right over and use it as a (thick) tablet – depending on your requirements and what you're going to be using your tablet for, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 might be an even better deal for you than the standard version.
You still get the excellent build quality and the top-level specs: some of the latest and greatest Intel processors around, plus a maximum of 32GB of RAM and 1TB of storage space (though the very best specs will of course cost you a hefty amount of money). On a laptop this size you can't expect too much in terms of graphics, but the integrated Iris Plus chipset will handle all the basics with ease.
There's even the option of a 4K resolution screen here, on what is already one of the brightest and best display panels in the business. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 isn't for everyone – those on a budget and those needing a more spacious screen will want to look elsewhere – but it certainly ticks a lot of important boxes.
With its futuristic looks, giant screen and cutting-edge performance the Alienware M17 gaming laptop is certainly worth a look for people who appreciate both style and power. Newly refreshed for 2020, the laptop is both one of the best Dell laptops around and one of the best gaming laptops around as well.
The processor configuration options here top out at a super-speedy Intel Core i9-10980HK, while the graphics card picks go all the way up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super 8GB – that's some desktop-level performance packed into a laptop you can pick up and carry around with you. You can also combine that with a maximum of 32GB of RAM and 512GB of built-in SSD storage as well.
The laptop is dominated by its sharp, vibrant 17.3-inch display, and there is the option of a 4K resolution on that as well. All the usual Alienware touches are included too, from the optimisation software to the advanced internal cooling. If you want the best frame rates possible, give the Alienware M17 a look.
If you want the power of a workstation without sacrificing style, the New Dell XPS 17 is absolutely stunning. Its 17-inch, 500-nit display can be configured as FHD+ or 3840 x 2400 UHD, and if you max out the options you can have 64MB of DDR4 RAM, a 2TB SSD and a 6GB GeForce RTX 2060 in a PC powered by an 8-core, 5.3GHz 10th Generation Intel Core i9. You don’t have to max out the options to get great performance, but it’s a lot of fun if you do.
This Dell is pretty as well as powerful. The XPS 17 (2020) has the same stunning looks as its smaller siblings, but despite its svelte case there are still plenty of expansion options thanks to four Thunderbolt 3 ports with power delivery and DisplayPort. The XPS also has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 for all your wireless needs. It’s a little on the heavy side at 2.11kg, but laptops of this size are usually bought as desktop replacements so that’s not a huge issue.
How to choose the best Dell laptop
Choosing the best Dell laptop works the same way as it does for any other laptop: decide where your own particular sweet spot is in terms of price and power, and make your choice accordingly. Paying more will usually get you better performance and more longevity of course.
There's a balance to be struck between power vs portability that's worth considering – not only are more powerful laptops more expensive, they're more difficult to lug around, and if you want the top-tier laptop components, you'll also need a bigger laptop fit them all into.
The Dell badge gives you a certain guarantee in terms of quality, so whichever laptop you opt for it's going to serve you well – you just need to decide the sort of specs you need, the price you can afford, and the amount of effort you want to put into carrying it around.