After doing your research, you’ve decided that you’re getting a Dell (congrats!), but which one, exactly? Is it going to be a jack-of-all-trades Inspiron, a more powerful and premium XPS or a business-focused Latitude?
We’re here to help you decide which Dell is right for you. Below, we explain the differences between the company’s laptop lines and point out the most important systems in each.
The Numbers Game
But before we get down to the wild and wonderful world of Dell naming conventions, let’s talk about series numbers. While Dell has several brands under its belt, some — like the Inspiron, Vostro and Latitude — are also broken down by series numbers such as 3000, 5000 and 7000. Systems in the 3000 series are typically entry-level devices with lower-end components and a price tag to match, while 5000-series laptops cover midtier configurations. Consumers who are in search of a high-end system will want to check out notebooks with 7000-series stamps, since they typically offer premium build materials as well as top-of-the line specs.
XPS: Best Overall (If Budget Allows)
The crème de la crème of Dell’s consumer laptops, the XPS line is all about high-end looks, with specs and pricing to match. Targeting power users and creative professionals alike, the XPS is Dell’s answer to Apple’s MacBook Pro, offering high-resolution displays and speedy performance — capabilities that are perfect for video or photo editing. The following are the best Dell XPS laptops:
- XPS 13: Our favorite consumer laptop of any kind, this attractive laptop is ideal for work or play, and it has plenty of battery life for both. Starting at $799, the XPS 13 weighs just 2.7 pounds, has a stunning screen and lasts close to 14 hours on a charge.
- XPS 15: The $999 XPS 15 is a high-end 15-inch laptop that offers 10 hours of battery life, strong performance, solid build and good looks. It delivers serious productivity as well the graphic oomph that serious artists need.
- XPS 12: This premium detachable offers extreme portability and versatility along with a vivid display and good performance.
Inspiron: Good for Mainstream Consumers on a Budget
Inspirons are the wide-ranging brand for Dell’s general-purpose consumer laptops, and they come in a variety of sizes, designs and price ranges. These laptops are definitely not made for business, nor do they have the premium features of the pricier XPS line. Here are some of the best Inspirons:
- Inspiron 17 7000 2-in-1: One of the largest 2-in-1s on the market, this bend-back behemoth is ideal for home users who like to do media consumption.
- Inspiron 13 and 15 7000 2-in-1: These premium 2-in-1s are more portable than the 17-inch device, but they still offer sharp screens and solid performance.
- Inspiron 15 7000: An attractive gaming PC that costs a lot less than the company’s Alienware laptops, the Inspiron 15 7000 is great for gamers who are on a budget.
MORE: Best Dell Laptops
Alienware: Good for Gamers
Featuring flashy customizable light shows, powerful specs and gorgeous displays, Alienware laptops are the gold standard for gaming. These systems are available in three main sizes that can be configured to your specific gaming needs. The best models are:
- Alienware 13 R3 OLED: The world’s smallest VR-ready laptop, the Alienware 13 is just as powerful as its bigger brethren, and it has a show-stopping OLED display to boot.
- Alienware 15 R3: Slimmer, lighter and VR ready, the Alienware 15 hits the gaming sweet spot, offering decent portability with midtier gaming and multitasking performance.
- Alienware 17: Need desktop-level power, but don’t have the space? This 17-inch monster can deliver all the power you need and then some, especially with the optional graphics amplifier.
Latitude: Good for Business
A true business line, Latitudes are available in different designs, sizes and price ranges. They are built to withstand the rigors of work, and most have some degree of rugged certification and a number of security features that include TPM, vPro and optional fingerprint readers. Some of the best Latitudes are:
- Latitude E7270: An ultraportable with powerful performance and a sharp, vivid display, this 12-inch laptop is ideal for mobile professionals.
- Latitude E7470: This highly durable 14-inch laptop is made for life on the road, with over 9 hours of battery life, solid performance and a comfy keyboard.
- Latitude E5570: A bit larger and heavier than the E7000 series, this semiconvertible laptop is ideal for people who are co-working on projects or giving presentations.
Precision: Good for Engineers, Architects and Designers
Outfitted with high-end components like Nvidia Quadro graphics and Intel Xeon CPUs, these pricey mobile workstations can handle the rigors of mechanical design, engineering simulations or animations without breaking a sweat. Some of the best Precisions are:
- Precision 5510: Remarkably svelte for a workstation, this premium notebook offers stellar performance with an optional 4K display.
- Precision 3510: A strong desktop replacement that’s ideal for designers, architects and engineers, this laptop is a powerful, capable workstation with battery life that will last through the workday.
- Precision 7510: Highly customizable, this premium laptop is great for banging out massive spreadsheets or running AutoCAD.
Focusing on affordability, Vostro laptops are aimed at small businesses that need a system that can handle the rigors of multitasking. Available in 14- and 15-inch models, these notebooks offer light security and durability features that should satisfy the needs of smaller companies. However, we consistently had poor experiences with this line, and we recommend checking out the Latitude brand instead.
- Vostro 15 3000: Designed for business professionals on a budget, this 15-inch notebook sticks to basics, offering an excellent keyboard, crisp display and decent battery life.
- Vostro 14 3000: This affordable laptop keeps bloatware to a minimum and offers middling performance. However, this 14-inch laptop is hampered by a dim panel and subpar battery life.
Chromebook: Good for Students, Business Professionals and Social Media Mavens
Education, business, multimedia — you name it and Dell probably has a Chromebook for it. Despite being limited to using Google’s Chrome OS, Chromebooks have found great success in classrooms and boardrooms because of their affordability, portability and ease of use. However, due to their affordability, Chromebooks are typically hamstrung by weak components.
- Chromebook 11: This system is MIL-STD-810G-tested to withstand drops and shocks, and it’s about as kid-proof as you can get. Thanks to over 10 hours of battery life, the laptop will last through the school day and a few extracurricular activities.
- Chromebook 13: Seated firmly in the upper echelon of Chromebooks, this 13-inch laptop sports a relatively powerful Intel Celeron CPU, bright HD display and over 13 hours of battery life in a sleek magnesium chassis.