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Which Dell Latitude or Precision is Right for You?

Whether you work for an organization that's committed to Dell as its sole PC provider or you're just looking for a great business laptop for yourself, you have a lot of choices with this company.

Dell offers an extremely diverse lineup of business laptops, from low-end Latitude 3000 series to powerful Precision mobile workstations. Which system you choose should depend on your budget, priorities and what you're using the machine for.

Dell Business Sub-Brands and Series

When you're shopping for a Dell, it helps to know what the naming conventions mean.

  • Latitude: This is the catchall sub-brand for most Dell business laptops, including both small- and large-business-oriented models.
  • Precision: Dell's workstation line, generally speaking, includes laptops that creative professionals or engineers might want, because of the advanced Nvidia Quadro graphics in these machines.
  • 3000, 5000 and 7000 Series: Latitudes or Precisions with 3000-series model numbers are on the low end, while 5000-series units are midrange and 7000s are top of the line.

MORE: Best Dell and Alienware Laptops

Best General Purpose: Dell Latitude 7280

For the best combination of portability, performance and usability, get the Dell Latitude 7280. Starting at $1,029, the 12.5-inch Latitude 7280 has a comfortable soft-touch design, snappy keyboard and bright display. Best of all, this 2.8-pound laptop lasts over 12 hours on a charge with its extended battery.

If you'd like something more portable, the nearly identical Latitude 7280 sports a 12.5-inch screen but sells for the same starting price.

Most Powerful

If you want the kind of raw power that will make you forget about buying a high-end desktop, go for one of Dell's Precision 7000 series laptops. Both the 15-inch Precision 5520 and the 17-inch Precision 7720 are available with 4K displays, speedy 7th Gen Intel Xeon CPUs and the latest Nvidia Quadro graphics.

Professional video editors, engineers and 3D modelers will have all the performance they need. However, these laptops aren't light, and they don't come cheap. The 7520 starts at $1,199 and weighs 6.6 pounds, while the 7720 starts at $1,599 and tips the scales at 7.5 pounds.

Most-Portable Latitudes

A number of Dell laptops weigh 3 pounds or less, including our top pick, the Latitude 7280 (2.8 pounds). Other lightweight Latitudes include the 5280 (3 pounds) and the 7480 (3 pounds). The Latitude 5285 detachable 2-in-1 is only 2.7 pounds, thanks to its svelte keyboard cover. Considering the size and high-end components of the 15-inch Dell Precision 5520, this laptop is extremely light, clocking in at 4.4 pounds.

If you can afford to spend well over $1,000 to get it with the right specs (1080p screen, at least Core i5, at least 256GB SSD), the 7280 or 7480 is your best bet for portability.

Best Latitude 2-in-1

Dell makes four different business 2-in-1s, with starting prices that range from $679 for the Latitude 3379 to $1,062 for the Latitude 7275. If you want a detachable 2-in-1, go for the Latitude 5285. It has a bright screen, good performance and attractive design but suffers from mediocre battery life, lasting just 5 hours and 49 minutes on our test (8 hours is average).

If you want to use your computer as a laptop first and a tablet second, get the bend-back Latitude 5289, which starts at $899, weighs just 2.97 pounds and promises up to 17 hours of battery life with the extended, 60-watt-hour battery.

Best Value

Whether you're trying to balance a personal budget or order a new system on your company's dime, you want to get the best bang for your buck. Dell's Latitude 3000 series laptops have the lowest starting prices, but these laptops generally use cheaper materials and end up costing about the same as the 5000 series when you configure them with the key specs you need.

For the best combination of price and performance, we recommend getting a Latitude 5480 or 5280. When you buy those laptops with strong specs —a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1080p screen and a 256GB SSD — they cost $1,180 and $1,250, respectively. A Latitude 3480 with similar components goes for $1,104, just $76 less. 

MORE: Best Laptops for College Students

The 5480 and 5280 have higher-capacity batteries (68 Whr vs. 56 Whr) and soft-touch polycarbonate decks that are much more comfortable on the wrists than the plastic palm rests on the 3000 series.

Best Design

Without a doubt, the best-looking Dell business laptop is the Precision 5520. This powerful 15-inch workstation uses the same chassis design as the consumer-oriented XPS 15. That means you get a luxurious aluminum lid and a carbon-fiber body that's just 0.44 inches thin and weighs just 4.4 pounds. The Precision 5520 starts at a hefty $1,399, and the minimum good config is $1,478.