Which Dell Is Right For You?
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 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 mid-tier 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 (check out our tips for getting the most usage and value out of your XPS 13). The following are the best Dell XPS laptops:
- XPS 13 (Buy): 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 13 2-in-1 (Buy): The 2-in-1 version of the XPS 13 has the same stunning screen, but flips around for use as a tablet. It starts at $979, but has a less powerful Y-series Intel CPU as opposed to the U-series processor found in the regular XPS 13.
- XPS 15 (Buy): 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.
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 (Buy): 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 (Buy): 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 (Buy): 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 (Buy): 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 (Buy): Slimmer, lighter and VR ready, the Alienware 15 hits the gaming sweet spot, offering decent portability with mid-tier gaming and multitasking performance.
- Alienware 17 R4 (Buy): 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 5480 (Buy): An ultraportable with speedy performance, almost 12 hours of battery life and a durable, chassis.
- Latitude 7280 (Buy): This highly durable 12-inch laptop is made for life on the road, with over 12 hours of battery life with an extended battery,, solid performance and a durable design.
- Latitude E5570 (Buy): 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 5520 (Buy): Remarkably svelte for a workstation, this premium notebook offers stellar performance with an optional 4K display.
- Precision 3520 (Buy): 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 (Buy): Highly customizable, this premium laptop is great for banging out massive spreadsheets or running AutoCAD.
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 (Buy) : 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 3189 Education 2-in-1 (Buy): This 11.6-inch convertible has a touch screen that’s perfect for interacting with Android apps. Its spill-proof keyboard and rubberized edges should keep it from getting too beat up at school.
Now that you know which Dell you want to buy, do you know the right time to purchase it? Research has revealed that PC manufacturers release new laptops at three specific times of the year including the upcoming back-to-school season.
But before you press the buy button on that shiny new Dell, be sure to check out our deals page to get discounts on everything from the XPS 13 to the Alienware 15.