Picking the best Dell laptop is no easy task, as the company produces several great laptops every year, some of which are the best budget laptops or even the best laptops overall. The affordable XPS 13 9315 — 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. But there are some other options to consider, depending on what you need it for. We've rounded them all up below in our definitive list of the best Dell laptops you can buy today.
Dell XPS 13 9315
One of the best XPS laptops is also the most affordable
- Aggressive price
- Very compact design
- Great battery life
- Comfortable keyboard
- Display is bright and high quality
- No headphone jack
- Performance is lacking
Why you should buy this: It's the most affordable XPS laptop.
Who's it for: Just about anyone except gamers.
What we thought about the XPS 13 9315:
We've been big fans of the XPS 13 for years now, and the 2022 version received a major update. The chassis lost the carbon and glass fiber palm rest options and converted to an all-aluminum design that's more modern but stands out less. The build quality remains excellent. The laptop also updated to Intel 12th-gen CPUs, specifically 9-watt versions of Intel's 12th-gen U-series CPUs.
Mainly, the new XPS 13 9315 competes directly with Apple's MacBook Air M2, offering an affordable machine with a 16:10 13.4-inch display and the same excellent keyboard and touchpad as previous models. The XPS 13 provides a solid mix of performance and battery life, making it a good choice for anyone wanting a great 13-inch laptop.
Ports include two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports but no 3.5mm audio jack, and Wi-Fi 6E support is also included.
Dell XPS 13 Plus
Innovations abound a well-built 13-inch laptop
- Irresistibly fresh design
- Great OLED screen
- Helpful performance modes
- Excellent haptic touchpad
- Webcam has been improved
- Gets warm on the bottom
- No headphone jack
Why you should buy this: It's powerful, has a spectacular display, and is the most innovative XPS yet.
Who's it for: Anyone who wants a high-tech 13-inch machine.
What we thought about the XPS 13 Plus:
Dell split the XPS 13 into two machines in its latest revision. The XPS 13 9315, featured above, is a more affordable option, while the XPS 13 Plus takes the iconic machine in some new directions.
The first XPS 13 Plus innovation is a haptic touchpad, a first for the XPS line. It's a solid implementation that lets users click anywhere on the touchpad's surface with a haptic engine that closely mimics physical buttons. The edge-to-edge keyboard is also a first, and it's shallower but offers precise, snappy switches and large keycaps. Finally, the LED touch function keys save thickness and offer a more modern look.
Where the XPS 13 9315 focuses on quiet, cool, and efficient performance with 9-watt CPUs, the XPS 13 Plus has more powerful 28-watt Intel 12th-gen P-series processors. That makes it significantly faster while being less efficient. The XPS 13 Plus also offers higher-resolution displays, including a 13.4-inch 16:10 OLED panel with spectacular colors and contrast.
Dell XPS 15 9520
A highly portable and powerful large-screen laptop
- Streamlined and solid build
- Aesthetically perfect
- Strong productivity and creative performance
- Above-average battery life
- Excellent keyboard and touchpad
- Superior OLED display
- Outstanding audio
- Performance ceiling limited by thin chassis
Why you should buy this: Its display is beautiful, and its all-around performance is fantastic for creators.
Who's it for: Creative professionals who crave portable power and panache.
What we thought about the Dell XPS 15:
What the XPS 15 loses in portability over the above 13-inch laptops, it more than makes up for it in performance 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.
There's some new hardware inside, including 45-watt Intel 12th-gen CPUs. It has an affordable starting price of $1,449 which bumps to $1,899 for a discrete GPU (the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050). The larger display looks beautiful – and color accurate – in both 1080p and 4K IPS with a 3.5K OLED panel that's drop-dead gorgeous.
Storage options range from 256GB to 4TB PCIe SSDs while RAM is upgradable to 64GB, and ports include two Thunderbolt 4, a USB-C, and a full-size SD card reader. This is a bigger, badder version of the XPS 13, and it remains one of the best Dell laptops out there. Dell has recently released a new model, the XPS 15 9530, that upgrades to 13th-gen Intel CPUs and offers the option of a faster RTX 4070 GPU. Once we've had a chance to review it, that model will likely take its place on this list.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000
An affordable business laptop
- Solid keyboard and touchpad
- Large display for multitasking
- Quality build
- Affordable price
- Full HD 16:9 display
- 11th-gen CPUs
Why you should buy this: You want Dell quality at a budget price.
Who's it for: Anyone who wants the latest Intel CPUs but doesn't want to spend a lot.
What we thought about the Dell Inspiron 15 3000:
Although not as premium as the XPS range of laptops, Dell's Inspiron notebooks are far from the budget-friendly portable systems of old. The newest Inspiron 15 3000 is a primary example, with incredibly affordable prices paired with good components for excellent value. That includes an 11th-gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD.
You won't get the same tiny bezels as on Dell's XPS line or all-metal construction. But even so, this is a well-built laptop with reasonable dimensions for the money. The laptop also incorporates several enhancements that are welcome at these prices, including enhanced thermals for better performance and a hinge that lifts the chassis bottom off the desktop for better airflow.
You'll likely suffer some consequences in display quality and battery life, but the Inspiron 15 3000 overall performance is solid.
Dell G15 Gaming Laptop
An affordable gaming machine
- Fast AMD processors
- Up to RTX 3070 Ti
- Fast refresh rates
- Solid build quality
- No per-key RGB lighting
- Below-average battery life
Why you should buy this: It's an affordable gaming laptop with real power.
Who's it for: Gamers on a (relative) budget who want to play at high detail.
What we thought about the Dell G15 Gaming Laptop:
The Dell G15 Gaming Laptop is a powerhouse gaming laptop at prices that are easier for gamers to accommodate. For example, the G15 Gaming Laptop can be configured with up to the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX CPU for the fastest processor performance.
But the real gaming power comes from the GPU options. Buyers can choose up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, which will run at 1080p with all features – such as ray tracing – turned on. Display options include up to a 165Hz panel that ensures tear-free gaming. Other options include up to 16GB of RAM and up to a 1TB PCIe SSD for optimal performance.
The G15 is also a solid choice for anyone who wants to do more than just game on their laptop. The keyboard is okay for productivity, and the battery life is okay given the components and the target market.
Dell offers a range of laptops, from the budget-oriented Inspiron lineup to the more expensive XPS line of consumer machines and Alienware gaming laptops. Dell also offers the Latitude line for businesses and Precision portable workstations for creators, scientists, engineers, and others with a need for particularly powerful laptops. You can spend under $500 on a Dell laptop or well over $5,000 depending on the model and configuration.
In all cases, you're likely to get good value no matter how much you spend. Inspiron machines tend to be well-equipped and well-built, even given their often budget-oriented prices, while the XPS line offers some of the best build quality and performance in laptops today, justifying their higher prices.
Yes, Dell sells more than just clamshell laptops. It offers convertible 2-in-1 laptops where the display swivels 360 degrees into tablet mode, such as the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 and detachable tablets like the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. One area where Dell hasn't delved into is dual-display laptops like the Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3.
Dell sells gaming units through two divisions. First, there's Dell proper, where you'll find laptops like the G15 Gaming Laptop that's on this list. Then, there's the Alienware brand, which offers a wide range of very high-performance and innovative gaming machines like the recently announced Alienware X14 R2 and X16.
While some vendors focus solely on gaming, such as Razer, Dell remains quite competitive in the space. You'll find Dell included in our best gaming laptops list, and given what it introduced at CES 2023, we expect to see more additions this year.
Dell has a couple of lines that are aimed at the commercial space. In fact, it's quite a focus for the company.
The Latitude line is aimed at the typical business user who's looking for a machine to fit into small and large organizations. The Latitude offers several features that appeal to the enterprise sector, such as Intel vPro processors that tap into enterprise security and management tools.
Precision laptops, on the other hand, are aimed at creative, engineering, and scientific users who need the most processing power and GPUs that are optimized for specialized applications. They're great choices for anyone who needs a specialty machine that can handle things like video editing, machine learning, and 3D cad software.
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