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The best Dell laptops in 2021

One of the best Dell laptops overlooking a city
(Image credit: Dell / Unsplash)

The best Dell laptops make several appearances on some of our other 'best of' lists, and for a good reason. Dell is a well-established manufacturer of computers, laptops and related equipment that targets a wide range of specialist needs so chances are if you need a laptop for a specific career or hobby, you'll find something that suits your needs.

Creatives may be keen to go for one of Dell's slick XPS 2-in-1 laptops, while avid gamers are huge fans of the Dell Alienware series. There are even budget and mid-range Dell laptops that'll satisfy users who need a reliable system for basic computing tasks and light media streaming.

When you’re in the market for a new laptop, there are plenty of good reasons to go for a Dell. However, with so many makes and models available it can be overwhelming to make a decision - which is why we've put together this list of the best Dell laptops to help you choose the right machine for your needs and budget. Our dedicated tool also checks the best prices on each laptop, so you're not paying over the odds. 

For anyone looking to save some cash, ask your employer or educational facility if they're eligible for a corporate discount on Dell products. Many companies can provide a discount coupon, which can save you a pretty penny on a new laptop, as well as essential peripherals like keyboards and mice.

If you can't find what you want in this list of the best Dell laptops, why not explore our guide to the best laptops for graphic designers? You can also look at our 10 best student laptops if you're seeking something more affordable. 

The best Dell laptops in 2021

Dell xps 13 2-in-1 against a solid white backgroundCB

(Image credit: Dell)

01. Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2021)

The best Dell laptop available right now

CPU: 11th gen Intel Core i5/i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics/Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB
Screen: 13.4-inch (1920 x 1200) HD+ WLED touch
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB
Reasons to buy
+Latest-gen Intel CPU+Solid battery life+Weighs less than 3 lbs.
Reasons to avoid
-Limited ports

The versatile Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2021) takes the top spot on our list of best Dell laptops. Released late last year, this iteration of the popular XPS 13 line features Intel's latest Tiger Lake processors and can be configured to include Intel Iris Xe graphics. 

With a 13.4-inch HD+ touchscreen, 1TB max onboard storage, and up to 14 hours of battery life, this 2-in-1 laptop is well worth the investment for anyone who wants a powerful system that's lightweight (under 3 lbs.) and compact enough to bring anywhere. 

You can make a few adjustments to further optimize it for your creative needs, such as bumping the 1080p display to a 4K UHD, and if you have some especially demanding applications to run then you can opt for 32GB of ultrafast DDR4 4267MHz RAM that will blaze through just about every task.

Also read: the best 2-in-1 laptops for creatives

The Dell XPS 15 against a solid white backdropCB endorsed

(Image credit: Dell)

02. Dell XPS 15 (2021)

The best Dell laptop for creative pros

CPU: 11th gen Intel i5/i7/i9
Graphics: Intel UHD/NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 / GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB/64GB
Screen: 15.6-inch 3.5K OLED
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB
Reasons to buy
+Remarkably powerful performance+Stunning 3.5K OLED display+Three Thunderbolt 3 ports and SD card slot
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life is disappointing-No USB-A-Too expensive for most budgets

The 2021 model of the Dell XPS 15 (also sometimes called the 'New' Dell XPS 15) is an absolute powerhouse of a laptop for creative professionals and hobbyists alike. Blending the best of business aesthetics and functionality with features that will benefit photographers, video editors and artists, this device is every bit worth its steep asking price.

You can get an OLED InfinityEdge display for crisps blacks and vivid color, 11th-generation Intel processors and the latest Nvidia RTX 3050 or 3050 Ti graphics cards, though Intel UHD is also an option for anyone looking to save some cash.

If you need a laptop with a 15-inch screen then this is pretty hard to beat, especially when it includes three Thunderbolt 4 ports and a built-in SD card slot, unlike some laptops which now require a separate dongle. You're losing the standard USB-A port which might make hooking up any peripherals like a graphics drawing tablet tricky, but there are Bluetooth options available and the Dell XPS 15 really is worth the effort.

The Dell XPS 17 against a solid white backgroundCB endorsed

(Image credit: Dell)

03. Dell XPS 17 (2021)

Powerful and large

CPU: 11th Generation Intel Core i5/i7/i9
Graphics: Intel UHD/NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 / GeForce RTX 3060
RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-3200MHz
Screen: 17.0" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 17.0" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit
Storage: Up to 4TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Great 17-inch display+Powerful configurations available+Up to 64GB of RAM
Reasons to avoid
-Below-average battery life-Could do with more ports

The Dell XPS 17 (2021) is currently one of the most powerful laptops you can buy right now, and its glorious 17-inch UHD display doesn't impact its ability to be lightweight and very portable.

As it remains an amazingly thin and light device, you can easily carry it around wherever you go alongside other heavier equipment like cameras or audio equipment which makes it an ideal powerful laptop for people who want to work remotely, or on the move.

This is the first laptop in the XPS range to have disappointed us regarding battery life, but you can still expect around 7 hours of usage before it needs a nap, so you don't have to worry about finding a plug socket too often.  its price isn't too bad either, and while it is expensive, it's worth every penny you pay.

The dell inspiron 15 3000 against a white backgroundCB endorsed

(Image credit: Dell)

04. Dell Inspiron 15 3000

The best budget Dell laptop

CPU: Intel Celeron/Pentium
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 605
Screen: 15.6-inch (1366 x 768) HD
Storage: 128GB
Reasons to buy
+Large 15.6-inch screen+Powerful enough for daily tasks+Decent amount of ports
Reasons to avoid
-Middling graphics-No USB-C

Not all of us need a workhorse of a laptop, especially for menial tasks like web browsing or report writing. That's where the entry-level Dell Inspiron 15 3000 comes in. It's equipped with an Intel dual- or quad-core processor, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and a 15.6-inch HD display. 

They're hardly world-shattering specs, but they're more than enough for students and work-from-home warriors if you're on a tight budget. This budget Dell laptop is also outfitted with various ports and slots including HDMI 1.4 so you can connect it to an external monitor or TV if you find the current display isn't up to your standards.

The Alienware m17 R4 against a solid white backdrop

(Image credit: Dell Alienware)

05. Alienware m17 R4 (2021)

The best Dell laptop for AAA gaming

CPU: 10th-gen Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 - 3080
RAM: 16GB – 32GB DDR4 2933MHz
Screen: 17.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) 144Hz 7ms 300-nits – 17.3" UHD (3840 x 2160) 60Hz 25ms 500-nits
Storage: 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD – 4TB RAID0 + 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
Reasons to buy
+Blazing fast performance+Powerful components+Stylish chassis with a ton of RGB
Reasons to avoid
-The battery life really sucks-Seriously expensive, even for a gaming laptop

Alienware is a member of the Dell product family, typically providing higher-spec gaming laptops and desktops than the Dell G-series. With that in mind, it's no wonder that the best choice for gamers looking to play the latest AAA titles is the Alienware m17 R4, a beast of a machine that features a choice of either Intel i7 or i9 10th-gen Intel processors, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 GPU and up to 32GB of RAM.

This breathtakingly powerful gaming laptop doesn’t compromise, tackling even the most demanding games without even breaking a sweat. If you like competitive titles then there are additional benefits too, such as the 144Hz display that could help give you the edge in a match. All of these specifications aren't limited to just gamers of course, and people in demanding creative fields like 3D artists and video editors can appreciate the near-workstation-like build.

There are a few caveats of course, one being that chassis. While we think it's cool and one of the more unique designs on the market (and very distinguishable an Alienware product), some folks won't like the RGB lighting and alien motifs. Additionally, the battery life is extremely poor, so make sure you don't wander too far from a power outlet if you want to grab an Alienware m17 R4 for yourself. 

The Dell G3 15 gaming laptop against a pure white background

(Image credit: Dell)

06. Dell G3 15

Professional style with some gaming power

CPU: 9th Generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 – 1660 Ti with Max-Q Design
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-glare LED Backlit Non-touch
Storage: 1TB HDD – 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Affordable for a gaming laptop+Anti-glare FHD LED display
Reasons to avoid
-Build is a tad flimsy-Design is rather uninspiring-Uses older hardware to keep costs low

When it comes to gaming, more often than not, you have to invest in premium parts to get that gaming edge you want. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to Alienware’s ultra-pricey gaming laptop range,  the Dell G3 15 is a fine alternative.

Among those few is the Dell G3 15 gaming laptop, Dell’s affordable answer for gamers who want solid performance without dropping a large stack of cash. Despite being comparatively priced, this is a very capable machine for casual gamers and people needing a laptop with a little more 'oomph' than a traditional device. You won't get any raytracing out of the Nvidia GTX GPU options, but it will give a nice boost to graphically demanding applications.

The Alienware M15 R3 displaying a Halo game, set against a white background

(Image credit: Dell Alienware)

07. Alienware M15 R3 (2020)

A brilliant Alienware 4K OLED gaming laptop

CPU: Up to 10th Generation Intel Core i9-10980HK
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
RAM: Up to 32GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) 144Hz 7ms 300-nits 72% NTSC – 15.6" OLED UHD (3840 x 2160) 60Hz 1ms 400-nits DCI-P3
Storage: Up to 4TB RAID0 + 512GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Sturdy build quality and flashy design+4K OLED display+Powerful top-end specifications
Reasons to avoid
-Eye wateringly expensive for a gaming laptop-RGB might not be for everyone

We've established that Alienware is a leading company when it comes to creating gaming devices, but the Alienware M15 R3 has a secret weapon up its sleeve that might make it better suited to creatives than gamers. The 4K OLED panel is totally overkill for most gaming laptops, but for any creatives professionals such as photographers and video editors, this could mean the Alienware M15 R3is the perfect hybrid of work and play.

As you can get this laptop with a raytracing-capable graphic card, you can also make use of a tonne of applications that utilize Nvidia RTX to boost performance, which is especially useful for 3D artists who use Maya, Blender and more.

The Dell Precision 5750 against a solid white background

(Image credit: Dell)

08. Dell Precision 5750

A truly portable workstation from Dell

CPU: Up to Intel Core Processor i7-11850H
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics – NVIDIA RTX A3000
RAM: Up to 32 GB DDR4 3200MHz
Screen: 17-inch WLED FHD+ Anti-Glare Non-touch display with 500 nits and 60 Hz
Storage: Up to 512 GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Impressive FHD WLED display+Sufficient power for most demanding applications+Modern, slim design
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life needs some improvement-Restrictive USB-C only ports-Expensive, even for a workstation

If you're looking for a portable workstation then the Dell Precision 5750 might be just what you need. It has plenty of power, an amazing display and a massive amount of available storage at the top available specifications. You'll find there's not much you can throw at the Dell Precision 5750 that it can't handle, making it perfect for running demanding applications or trying to render 4k video.

Sadly, this power does come at a very hefty cost, and while the beefy NVIDIA RTX A3000 GPU is impressive, there are better and newer graphics cards available that might have helped to justify the steep price. Still, if money is no object and you need a professional, portable workhorse, look no further.

The versatile Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 on a white background

(Image credit: Dell )

09. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1

The best 4K 2-in-1 from Dell

CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) – 15.6-inch UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife Touch Narrow Border WVA Display with Active Pen support
Storage: Intel Optane Memory H10 32 GB with 512 GB Solid-State Storage – 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Reasons to buy
+Competent performance to rival the XPS+Premium design is highly versatile
Reasons to avoid
-4K display option can be a battery drain

The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 might be slim, but this ultra-portable device is packing some serious power for a device of this size. The 4K display might be a big drain on the battery, but when used alongside a stylus, you've got a fantastic tablet to edit images or sketch on without needing to buy a dedicated graphics drawing tablet.

The speakers are fairly lackluster so you won't want to do much audio mixing, but given its other strengths, there's plenty to love about this premium 2-in-1 from Dell.

Why should I buy a Dell laptop?

Dell makes some of the best all-around laptops and 2-in-1 devices on the market, perfectly balancing the technical specs needed by most users across a wide range of budgets. The build quality across both Dell and Alienware is very respectable, so if you're looking for a powerful gaming laptop, buying from either brand is a safe bet.

If you have a price in mind and a particular area that needs to be optimized for your needs, Dell will have something that suits you, from 4K displays for photo editors, to beefy graphics cards and plentiful RAM for 3D artists and gamers.

What is the best Dell laptop?

How long is a piece of string? There's no right or wrong answer to this because everyone will have very different needs from a device. We love the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 for its portability and speedy components, but it won't appeal to those of you who need something with more power behind it for especially demanding applications.

For high-quality gaming, consider something from Alienware, a sub-brand of Dell that makes powerful gaming laptops, and for a real workhorse, look at the Precision range of portable workstation.

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Alison Barretta

Alison is a freelance writer and editor from Philadelphia, USA. She's been sharing buying advice and retail news for over a decade. When she isn't hunting for deals, Alison can be found teaching/training in martial arts, fawning over skincare, and indulging in her quarantine-borne hobby: cooking.