The 8 Best Dell Laptops of 2021

Check out Dell's latest and greatest laptops

The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
The Ultimate Laptop Buying Guide
Introduction

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The Rundown
This laptop offers a luxurious keyboard perfect for typing, and its Infinity Edge display offers an immersive viewing experience.
Best for Business:
Dell Inspiron 15.6" at Amazon
This laptop offers 16GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage that will help keep you going for a long time.
The Dell Latitude 5420 Rugged laptop is built like a tank to withstand anything the outdoors might throw at it.
The Alienware M17 R4 is an absolute beast of a machine with an amazing GPU that will punch through gaming, editing, and more.
Best Budget Gaming:
Dell G3 15 at Amazon
This inexpensive gaming laptop offers good battery life and strong gaming performance in a slim package.
This versatile, lightweight laptop comes in at under 3 pounds, making it great to hold in tablet mode.
This laptop provides enough power to game or do some light editing in a package that's very transportable.
The Latitude 7420 has a great display, good battery life, and top-of-the line specifications in almost every category.

Dell is known for providing a wide range of different laptops suited to a variety of needs. However, finding the option that's right for you can be difficult. We've collected what we think are the best options available from the Dell repertoire for different situations. Whether you need a tough notebook that feels at home on a construction site or a budget-friendly college-bound option, Dell has something for everyone.   

But read on for our selections of the best Dell laptops you can buy today. Dell isn't very creative in their naming schemes and it can be hard to sort through the alphabet soup. That's why we've laid out our picks for you in a nice, neat list.

Best Overall: Dell XPS 13 9360

What We Like
  • Great keyboard

  • Great battery life

  • Beautiful design

What We Don't Like
  • Poorly placed webcam

Dell's XPS line has long been some of the best in the Dell laptop department, and the Dell XPS 13 9360 is a great example of that. Everything about the design is just gorgeous, especially with the Infinity Edge display that virtually eliminates the bezel on the top and side of the screen. It's a very immersive experience, but it also means the webcam is placed in the bottom bezel below the screen. The result is an unfortunate angle for video conferencing. Be sure to trim your nose hairs.

But beyond that, this laptop has a luxurious keyboard that's amazing for typing. The rest of the body is covered in a soft-touch carbon material that simply feels great. The laptop isn't too heavy, slipping in under 3 pounds, but it's also not the lightest out there. All the same, the great keyboard and screen really make this the best overall pick for a Dell laptop. They're just that good.

Best for Business: Dell Inspiron 15.6"

What We Like
  • Ample memory and SSD space

  • Lots of input/output

What We Don't Like
  • Intel Celeron

  • Window 10 S

The Dell Inspiron comes in a number of different configurations, but this one is particularly good for business. It's not terribly powerful, having a fairly low-end Intel Celeron processor and Windows 10S, but that can actually be good for business applications. Windows 10 S won't install apps from outside the Windows 10 app store which is flush with business applications. Windows 10 S is also resistant to a lot of different malware due to those restrictions. But the Celeron itself is underpowered and will really work only for some web surfing and document creation, which is perfect for business.

On the plus side, this laptop offers a lot of everything else. There are 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage that will keep you going for a long time. There are also several ports on this computer, including an SD card reader, HDMI output, three USB Type-A ports and a headphone jack. There's a lot to like here, but don't plan on doing anything more than the basics on this laptop.

Best Rugged: Dell Latitude 5420 Rugged Extreme Tablet

Dell Latitude 12 7212
What We Like
  • Bright display

  • Impact resistance

  • Built-in handle

What We Don't Like
  • Stylus is hard to access

  • Touch screen is not accurate

If you need a rugged laptop, the Dell Latitude 5420 Rugged laptop even has "rugged" in the name. It's built like a tank to withstand anything the outdoors might throw at it. It has built-in impact resistance and can withstand drops of up to 3 feet. Like any device designed to work outside, this laptop comes with a bright screen that you can read in direct sunlight. The keyboard has a great feel with nice pitch and 1.5 millimeters of travel.

The base configuration doesn't include a touchscreen, but a small upgrade gets you a multi-touch display. You might not want it, though, because the touchscreen is not terribly accurate. Adding to that headache, the stylus, which has its own bay in the body of the laptop, can be difficult to get out. These might fall under the category of first world problems, however. If you have the base model, or don't plan to use the touchscreen, this is a tough laptop with a built-in handle that's easy to carry and will stand up to the elements.

Best Gaming: Alienware m17 R4

Alienware m17 R4
What We Like
  • Fast performance

  • 360 Hz screen

What We Don't Like
  • Terrible battery life

  • Bottom firing speakers

Alienware is Dell's gaming line of laptops, and they come by their reputation honestly. The Alienware M17 R4 is an absolute beast of a machine with an amazing graphics processing unit (GPU) that will punch through gaming, video editing, and more. You can choose between NVidia's Geforce 3070 and 3080, either of which is more power than you'll know what to do with. All of this comes with a quick, smooth 360 Hz screen which will be next-level for gaming.

But with great power comes great battery depletion. This laptop won't last long when disconnected from the power cord—an unfortunate reality with these GPUs. Bottom firing speakers are also a choice I would not have made when designing this laptop. The sound gets muffled and a little distorted when the laptop is on a desk. You'll want to pack your gaming headphones along with this laptop.

Best Budget Gaming: Dell G3 15

Dell G3 15
What We Like
  • Good performance

  • Solid battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Dull display

  • Mid-range GPU

If you're a gamer on a budget, Dell has got you covered, too. The Dell G3 15 is an inexpensive gaming laptop with a mid-range GTX 1650 GPU. The plus side of this is that the laptop actually gets good battery life when you leave your cable at home. The laptop comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. Bear in mind, you might want to get an external hard drive if you plan to install a lot of games.

But overall, the Intel Core i5 and GPU will give you really good gaming performance in a pretty slim package. The display is a bit dull, though, so you might not get the best graphics for your gaming. It's a compromise that Dell made here. But if you can look past that, this will give you all the power you need to grind out some games when and where you need to.

Best 2-in-1: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Good battery life

  • Flips into tablet mode

What We Don't Like
  • Keyboard takes some getting used to

One of our favorite kinds of laptops is the 2-in-1 because you get both the laptop and the tablet experience. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a great example, with a great build that is very lightweight. It comes in at under 3 pounds which is great to hold in tablet mode. The keyboard takes some getting used to. It has a MagLev design, resulting in a 24 percent reduction in thickness.

But if you can get used to it, you'll have a great laptop with awesome performance and great battery life that can also turn into a tablet. All that is a pretty enticing package, which is why the XPS line is one of our favorites. It's a versatile and powerful laptop that will do anything you need it to. It's a good all-arounder.

"The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop is an impressive competitor in the laptop space. It’s nicely designed, lightweight, and packs a big, high-resolution touchscreen display." — Nick Jaynes, Product Tester

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop

Lifewire / Nick Jaynes

Best Budget: Dell Inspiron 15 3000

Dell Inspiron
What We Like
  • Very inexpensive

  • Enough power for gaming

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Keyboard is just OK

  • No USB Type-C

The Dell Latitude 15 3000 series is a nice mid-range laptop for a budget price. It's actually one of the better deals in this list because of how low the price is compared to the power it brings. The keyboard is just OK; it's a little more spread out than we generally like. There's also no USB Type-C port which is disappointing. But beyond those minor complaints, it's hard to look down on this laptop.

You get good battery life and enough power to game or even do some light editing, in a package that's very transportable. It even has a touchscreen, which is a nice plus for a laptop this inexpensive. Overall, this is a great budget-friendly option with just enough force to make the kid in all of us happy.

"We got this laptop for my son to game on and he hasn't stopped. That was three months ago. It doesn't quite have the horsepower for VR, but Fortnite, Minecraft, etc all work without a hitch." — Adam Doud, Tech Writer

Best Splurge: Dell Latitude 7420

Dell Latitude 7420 Laptop
What We Like
  • The best of everything

  • Great display

  • Lots of input/output

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy

  • Expensive

If you want the best of everything that Dell has to offer, this is the laptop for you. The Latitude 7420 has a great display, good battery life, and top-of-the-line specifications in almost every category. There's no discrete GPU, but the Intel Core i7 and 32 GB of RAM should be able to power through just about anything. Plus, the lack of GPU gives you better battery life, which is great. 

The laptop is on the heavier side, at least compared to competitors in the field, but it's not too bad.  It justifies every dollar of its almost $3,000 price tag, but it wouldn't be a “splurge” item if it wasn't expensive. Basically, if you want a laptop that can handle any peripheral you have without #donglelife, this is a solid option, and its power is unmatched.  This is a great laptop that will be great for years to come.

Final Verdict

The Dell XPS 13 9360 (view at Amazon) is an easy choice for best overall. You get a really great balance of power and price. This laptop will power through anything, including some light gaming at a price that won't break the bank. There are better laptops on this list, but this one offers the best quality for the best price. That's an easy call. 

If that laptop isn't for you, we can't say enough good things about our budget option. The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 series (view at Amazon) is a tremendous value for half the price of our best overall pick. It's not the most powerful laptop, but it has enough force to do some gaming or editing. If you're looking to push a VR headset, look elsewhere, but everything else will work just fine.

About Our Trusted Experts

Adam Doud has been writing in the tech space for almost a decade. He's used several Dell laptops and falls in love with them every time. Dude, he's got a Dell.

Nick Jaynes is a tech writer whose writing has been published by Mashable, Digital Trends, Cool Hunting, and Travel+Leisure, among other publications.

FAQs

Can you upgrade your laptop?
Sometimes. Laptops are usually harder to upgrade than desktop computers because of space. In order to have as slim a profile as possible, laptops are usually designed with specific components fitting in and around other specific components. Keeping space free for upgrades isn't a very space-efficient design. Usually, you'll want to get the highest specifications you can afford at the outset.

Why does your laptop get so hot?
Laptops rely on air cooling to keep them from overheating. One of the most common reasons a laptop will overheat is lack of air flow. This often happens when the laptop is set down on a bed or couch or other soft fabric surfaces that don't allow air to properly flow. A lap desk or cooling pad is a great solution to prevent this from happening.

What is Dell's warranty policy?
Dell covers all of its laptops with a 2-year limited warranty. That will generally cover you in terms of hardware failure that happens outside of damage resulting from misuse or abuse. If any parts fail, or you have software issues, Dell should have you covered.

Dell XPS 13 7390 2-in-1

Andy Zahn / Lifewire

What to Look For in a Dell Laptop

Battery Life

Battery life is critical in a laptop because of its portability. The last thing you want to do is lug around a charger along with your laptop and hunt for outlets at your local coffee shop. Battery life is usually measured in hours, and six hours is a median benchmark to look for, but obviously longer is better.

Screen Size

One component that cannot be upgraded is obviously the screen. Of course, the screen size will ultimately determine the size of the laptop itself, so you'll want to go as large as you're comfortable with, but not so large as to make the entire machine unwieldy. 13 to 15 inches is a good ballpark.

Dell XPS 13 7390 2-in-1

Andy Zahn / Lifewire

Specifications

The other specifications inside the laptop will ultimately determine its performance. You'll want to see high numbers for RAM, hard drive, battery capacity, etc. Since laptops can be hard to upgrade, you'll generally want to get as much as you can afford when you initially make your purchase.

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