The best Dell laptops

Picking the best Dell laptop is no easy task as the company produces a number of great laptops every year, some of which are our favorite budget laptops, or even one of the best laptops overall. The XPS 13 — which packs an almost magical amount of power and functionality into one of the tiniest chassis of all — is a case in point, and our top pick.

There are some other great Dell laptops to consider though. We’ve tested almost everything the laptop giant has to offer, with hundreds of hours of hands-on time with each of them. Here are Dell’s best — as well as few great alternatives.

At a glance

Product
Rating
Dell XPS 13
5 out of 5
Dell XPS 15
4.5 out of 5
Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
3.5 out of 5
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming
3 out of 5
Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1
3 out of 5

The best

Dell XPS 13

Bill Roberson/Digital TrendsBill Roberson/Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s powerful, has fantastic battery life, and it’s a stylish trendsetter.

Who’s it for: Just about anyone but gamers.

What we thought about the XPS 13:

We’ve been big fans of the XPS 13 for years now, and the 2019 version is no exception. It iterates upon the classic design of the year before with the option for a new paint job, a new fabric feel, and improved weight distribution. It’s a little thinner and lighter than its predecessor, but the true reason we love this laptop more than any other is because of how strong a contender it is at its $1,000 entry-level price point.

Even the most affordable of the new XPS 13 includes a Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. It has a beautiful screen at either 1080p or 4K and though we miss the as-standard touch-screen functionality, the overall performance of this device, with workday-long battery life makes it our continued favorite laptop of them all — and that includes over the other Dells, too.

Read our Dell XPS 13 review.

The rest

Dell XPS 15

Why you should buy this: Its display is beautiful and all around performance is fantastic.

Who’s it for: Professionals who like to game in the off hours.

What we thought about the Dell XPS 15:

What the XPS 15 loses in portability with its larger form and increased weight over the above 13-inch laptops, it more than makes up for in hardware options and screen real estate. Built upon some solid components that promise excellent performance for productivity and gaming, the XPS 15 is one of the best full-size laptops around.

The latest XPS 15 was updated to include some new hardware inside. It still has an affordable starting price of $1,000, but you’ll have to bump it up to around $1,400 to get the beefy GTX 1050Ti and Core i7-8750H. If you plan to do any sort of gaming or video rendering, that’s a must-have upgrade and a big reason to opt for this laptop over even our favorite, the XPS 13. The larger display looks beautiful — and color accurate — in both 1080p and 4K, though the higher resolution option does bring battery life down quite a bit.

The XPS 15 is a bigger, badder version of the XPS 13 and although it might not be as cutting edge as some of the alternatives, it’s still one of the best Dell laptops out there.

Read our Dell XPS 15 review.

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Why you should buy this: It’s an XPS 15 with a 360-degree hinge and an interesting design.

Who’s it for: Those who want a great laptop and tablet in one package.

What we thought about the XPS 15 2-in-1:

The XPS 15 2-in-1 takes the XPS 15 design we know and love so well and adds a 360-degree hinge to it, making it also a functional tablet. It’s not as light in that format as something that can detach the keyboard entirely — like the Surface Book 2 — but it’s still a great lightweight tablet and laptop with some extra power under the hood.

The XPS 15 2-in-1 differs from the XPS 15 in two other important ways as well: The keyboard and the components. First off, the keyboard features a magnetic levitation, low-travel keyboard that is more similar to the MacBook Pro than the XPS 15. The low travel takes some time to get used to, and we noticed our fingers got tired quicker after a full day of typing.

The second is the chipset used, which is an 8th-gen G-Series Intel chip. The chip combines an Intel CPU with an AMD Vega graphics chip, providing some ample gaming power, especially in 1080p. It did perform well, but our review unit struggled a little when it came to battery life, especially compared to other laptops in the XPS lineup.

Read our XPS 15 2-in-1 review.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

Why you should buy this: It’s an affordable gaming laptop with real power.

Who’s it for: Gamers on a budget who want to play at high-detail.

What we thought about the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming:

If you want a great all-around Dell laptop with gaming power, you get an XPS 15. If you want a Dell gaming laptop at a reasonable price, the XPS 15 7000 is the laptop for you. Its hardware options are more limited than other entries on this list, but that’s only because the weaker choices aren’t available. It’s a Core i5 or i7 CPU. A GTX 1050, 1050 Ti or 1060. Nothing else.

Whatever configuration you opt for, performance is stellar, which is what’s most important about this laptop. The reason this much more capable laptop doesn’t dominate the other entries in this list though, is because to get all of that power under the hood and maintain a sub-$1,000 starting price, Dell did have to cut a few corners. It has a lot of extraneous plastic that gives it a unique, but bloated look.

That expanded body doesn’t mean stability either, with more flex in the frame than we would like to see and the display, with its chunky bezels, is far from what we expect from a true gaming machine. That said, the XPS 15 7000 has the most powerful graphics chip on this list by a long shot, making it a laptop that’s great for gaming, even if it’s not perfect.

Read our Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming review.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1

Why you should buy this: You want Dell quality without the XPS price tag.

Who’s it for: High-performance users who don’t stray too far from mains power.

What we thought about the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1:

Although not quite as premium as the XPS range of laptops, Dell’s Inspiron notebooks are far from budget portable systems and the Inspiron 13 7000 is a solid entry in this list of best Dell Laptops. Sporting an eighth-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU and up to 16GB of RAM, it has excellent performance at this price and its 1080p display is bright and colorful.

As a 2-in-1 this laptop can be flipped into a variety of configurations, letting you use it in tent mode for media viewing, or convert it entirely into a tablet for better touch-screen functionality. Despite that versatility, the Inspiron 13 7000 also sports great build quality — no unwanted flex here.

There’s a reason that this laptop sits at the bottom of the list of best Dell laptops though and that’s largely to do with battery life. It failed to last even a couple of hours in our most intensive test and is simply not going to be able to give you a full day’s worth of juice when working away from a charge point.

Still, its overall performance is solid, and it brings great functionality to a price bracket that’s much more accessible than the best of the bunch.

Read Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 review.

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