The best Dell laptops are surprisingly varied as, like most other laptop manufacturers, Dell creates devices to suit a range of different hobbies, professions and budgets (including students heading back to school). From the flagship XPS workstation laptops, through to the highly affordable Inspiron series that's often seen in schools and workplaces, it's almost certain that Dell produces a laptop that will cater to your own niche requirements.
Dell even makes gaming laptops, with a budget-friendly G-series that forgoes the usually flashy designs in favour of a look that would look more at home in an office environment, while the ultra-powerful Alienware sub-brand provides gaming hardware for those who need the best of the best.
These machines aren't just well-suited to gaming though – all that extra graphical power also makes them a great choice for creatives running demanding applications, and they typically come with plenty of ports to plug in everything you would need for a remote working setup, from mice to webcams.
Because there's so much choice, it's hard to pin down which of the many offerings could be considered the best Dell laptop. Of course, in every use case you'd want value for money, a good battery life and the right level of power – but variations on those features come down to what you're using it for. Luckily, we've rated our favourites and highlighted who they would be best suited for which should help to remove any confusion and help you make the right purchase.
If you can't find what you want in this list, why not explore our guide to the best laptops for graphic designers? You can also look at our best student laptops if you're seeking something more affordable, and our guide to the most powerful laptops if you're looking for high-end specs.
The best Dell laptops available today
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (2021) is one of the best 2-in-1 devices on the market, and while it's not the most powerful device, there are plenty of reasons why we selected this as the best Dell laptop that you can buy right now.
Featuring a 13.4-inch touchscreen, don't let its small size fool you - it's more than capable of running applications such as Adobe Photoshop, and its ability to fold into a tablet device also means you can pair it with a stylus to avoid requiring a graphics drawing tablet for tasks like photo editing or digital illustration.
Not only does it come equipped with a fast Intel processor, plenty of RAM and integrated graphics, but its hybrid design and wide range of configurations means it's well suited to almost every environment. Students can appreciate how lightweight it is for carrying around campus for example, while creative professionals such as graphic designers can utilize its touchscreen display for making quick edits on the go.
Speaking of creatives, don't let the 2-in-1 nature of this device fool you - there are a few adjustments you can make that will ensure the Dell XPS 13 is well suited to handling your requirements, such as upgrading from the standard 1080p display to a 4K UHD, and opting for the full 32GB of ultrafast DDR4 RAM.
It also has up to 1TB max onboard storage for saving large files like raw photographs, as well as up to 14 hours of battery life on a single charge, so you can bring it with you on the go without anxiously looking for a power outlet.
If this doesn't take your fancy, check out our guide to the best 2-in-1 laptops for creatives.
The Dell XPS 15 should be top of your list if you're on the market for something Windows-based that can rival a MacBook Pro. Not only does it provide incredible performance thanks to the latest generation of components powering this bad boy, but it's stylish and lightweight to boot - it even offers a few features that you won't currently find on any Apple laptops.
That is, of course, a glorious OLED InfinityEdge display for crisp blacks and vivid colours which is sure to win over any creative professional. Pair that with an 11th-generation Intel processor and the latest Nvidia RTX 3050 or 3050 Ti graphics cards, It's the ideal choice for photo editing, video editing and graphic design, all while also being a decent buy for everyday working professionals and students.
You can even configure this powerful, portable workstation to have up to 64GB of RAM to eat through every application you toss its way. This isn't just one of the best Dell laptops on the market, it's one of the best laptops period.
The Dell XPS 17 will be a better choice if you love all of the qualities of the 15-inch model above, but you enjoy using a larger screen, which makes it well suited for creatives who will appreciate the additional real-estate.
That's because that huge 17-inch 4K display is ideal for editing 4K video footage, touching up photos in Adobe Lightroom and graphic design. You can rest assured that the screen is high-quality too, with 500 nits of brightness and 100 per cent Adobe RGB and 94 per cent DCI-P3 colour gamut coverage available at your disposal.
That beautiful display needs some fantastic components to power it, and luckily, the Dell XPS 17 is highly configurable, with up to an 11th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM and a GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card available.
You can expect around seven hours of battery life on a single charge, which was our only real criticism of the laptop given most of the XPS range has a fairly impressive battery life, but so long as you stay near a power source it won't cause too much of an issue.
See our complete Dell XPS 17 review for more details.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is an incredible budget-friendly laptop for those who just need a way to get online, but can't be limited to using a Chromebook. In fact, it's likely you will have used an Inspiron device at some point thanks to their popularity across schools, colleges and workforces because of how affordable and reliable they are. This makes this model an excellent choice for students
There are a good few configurations available, from 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and a choice of Intel or AMD processor. That's clearly not going to be running 3D renders anytime soon, but it's a great choice for creative professionals with low hardware requirements, such as digital illustration programs like Clip Studio Paint, and you can always configure this with more powerful components.
The 15.6-inch HD display is pretty good for the price, and you're getting plenty of ports and slots. We would recommend this for students on a tight budget, but it's also well suited for those who are working from home.
The Alienware m17 R4 is, despite its name, a Dell-branded product after the two brands merged several years ago, and while it's marketed as a gaming laptop, there's plenty about it that creatives will love.
Price likely won't be one of them as something this powerful costs a lot of cash, but you're getting a lot of laptop for your money. The m17 R4 is equipped with 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, and those components make it well suited for 3D sculpting and game design.
The processor might be slightly older now that Intel has released its 12th-generation CPUs for laptops, but that doesn't make them any less capable. There are also very few dedicated creative laptops on the market, which makes gaming hardware a more accessible choice for folks wanting to use apps like Blender and Unreal Engine 5 on the go.
The trade-off is that the battery life is extremely poor, and the design is certainly going to be a deal-breaker for some, but overall, this is a great choice for creatives working with graphically demanding software.
The Dell G15 is another gaming laptop, though this model will appeal to you more than the Alienware above thanks to its more palatable price tag and modest looks, exchanging an RGB-infested, alien-branded chassis for something that would look more appropriate in an office of classroom.
There's plenty of configurations available for you to customize the device to your exact needs, though you won't be able to equip it with the most powerful hardware on the market. Still, the top-spec RTX 3060 model is very capable at running 3D applications. It's a great choice for creative professionals and students alike who want a laptop with a little more power under the hood for playing around in apps like Blender.
The caveat is going to be both fan noise and battery life, but if you're happy to stick near a power outlet and make sure it gets plenty of unrestricted airflow then this is a great choice for both work and play.
The Alienware x15 is another great option for creatives who need a powerful, portable workstation. Its dedicated graphics make it a good choice for those working in game development or 3D applications, and the configurations are top of the line, with 11th generation Intel processors that start from the i7 up to the workstation-ready i9, and a choice between either the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080.
There are even multiple options for the display, with a choice between either FHD or QHD resolution, with FHD having an sRGB 100% colour gamut rating and the QHD panel rocking 99% of the DCI-P3 colour gamut. There are even a few refresh rates to choose from starting from 165Hz, which could tempt some video editors.
As those high-end components might imply, this is a pricey product which is going to be a hard sell for those on a tight budget, and like most gaming laptops, the battery life can be lacklustre, but you have to accept some accommodations in exchange for all that power.
The Dell Precision 5760 is a true workstation rather than a gaming laptop, and that comes with a pinch of professionalism. What it lacks in flashy RGB lighting, it makes up for with raw power and performance.
You're getting a display that offers up to 100% Adobe RGB and 99% DCI-P3 coverage, as well as the powerful RTX A3000 graphics card that doesn't feature too often in laptops. This is the professional alternative to game-ready graphics cards, with equivalent performance to an RTX 3060, making this ideal for anyone looking for a portable solution while working with VFX.
As always, battery life on something with a discrete GPU is going to be a bit disappointing but if you're set on buying an actual workstation laptop over a gaming device then this is one of the best options on the market - providing you can stomach its hefty price tag.
The Dell Inspiron 15 2-in-1 will be a great choice for folks who don't have especially high hardware demands and instead, value utility and portability. Its tablet-inspired design means it's well equipped for use with a stylus, so graphic designers and other creative professionals can make quick adjustments to their work on the fly, without needing to lug around a graphics drawing tablet.
It doesn't have a dedicated graphics card so it won't cope well running games or 3D applications, but software like Clip Studio Paint or Adobe Photoshop will run just fine. Besides, you're getting a much slimmer machine than anything with a GPU crammed into it, which makes this a great choice for those who commute frequently or work on the go.
The 4K display can be a big drain on the battery, but overall the Inspiron 15 2-in-1 has plenty of flexibility advantage over other Inspiron laptops so we think its worth considering over a tablet or something running a Lite version of the Windows OS as this won't support all of the apps available on the full desktop version.
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.
Not only are they offer top-of-the-line components and features, but they look very classy and stylish to boot, competing for looks against well established devices like the Apple range of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops.
If you have a price in mind and a particular area that needs to be optimised 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's the best Dell laptop?
There's no one answer to the question of which is the best Dell laptop overall 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.
The Dell XPS 15 or 17 are well suited for those who need raw power and a high-quality display, but size could prove troublesome for anyone looking for portability. 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 workstations.
How should I choose the best Dell laptop?
When looking for the best Dell laptop, you'll need to consider your specific needs. Dell's range spans all types of laptop including 2-in-1, gaming and workstations. Each have their own merits, but won't all be the right fit for everyone. You should consider whether you're always out and about (and need good battery life and a lightweight machine) or mostly in one place so portability isn't a consideration.
Creative professionals are likely to need a laptop with good RAM, a powerful graphics card and a fast processor so the machine is capable of handling technical and demanding applications. A laptop named as a workstation has the power of a desktop. If this is what you need, then the Dell Precision 5760 is a good bet. The Dell XPS 17 (2021) is also super-powerful, with a giant screen. It also goes without saying (but we will anyway) that those working with video or images will want to prioritise the display.
Students may not need the power of a gaming laptop or a workstation (unless their specialism is in a creative discipline) so could look for something that proritises value for money over power, such as the Dell Inspiron 15 3000.
Need something in between tremendous power and simplicity? Our top pick straddles the gap, and is also a 2-in-1 laptop. 2-in-1 devices are usually less powerful but are gaining power all the time. Plus, you can edit high-res images using a stylus – a useful function for creatives.