There’s a Dell laptop for every kind of user, although there’s one we’d recommend above the rest. The Dell XPS 13 (9380) is the company’s flagship notebook in the 13-inch segment, sporting the latest components and premium design. While not the best value on the market, this Dell laptop will certainly put a smile on your face.
Best Overall: Dell XPS 13 (9380)
The Dell XPS 13 9380 (see our Dell XPS 13 9370 review) is an all-around fantastic laptop, but the things that really set it apart are its body design and display. In order to fit a 13.3-inch touch display into the undersized chassis, Dell removed nearly all of the bezel — the screen practically stretches from edge to edge. It’s a beautiful display to look at, especially with the 4K configuration.
The XPS 13 is now available in gold and white colors, but you can still get the classic dark look with the carbon fiber and silver combination. The new keyboard has the same key travel and backlight as before, but it’s using a new mechanism beneath, no doubt to help to fit into the smaller body. You’re still looking at a quality Precision touchpad that’s sized in proportion to the body, and there’s an IR camera for Windows Hello located above the display — yes, Dell finally moved it back.
All models come with either an 8th Gen Intel Core i3-8145U, i5-8265U, or Core i7-8565U CPU with up to four cores and a 15W thermal design point (TDP), offering extra power without sucking up more battery life. Although the battery is now smaller, improved thermals and efficient hardware should keep it running through a workday, even when opting for the 4K configuration. As expected, you can get up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM and a 1TB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD).
It’s well known by this point how much we love the Dell XPS line, and the updated XPS 13 9380 has the webcam back above the display.
Portable Gaming: Dell Alienware m15
When it comes to gaming laptops from Dell, you can look beyond the Alienware brand, which Dell owns, but you’ll be doing a disservice. Not only do they look great with a sleek design, but they rock all the latest tech from Intel and NVIDIA. Anything you play will look downright gorgeous on the Alienware m15’s 15.6-inch, 4K display, and the combination of up to an NVIDIA GTX 2080 GPU with 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM and up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM will be able to handle most games you throw at it.
It’s not the most powerful laptop Dell sells, but does offer ample performance for your money. The design, battery life, and available ports are also great. The only drawback is configuring the m15 with all the bells and whistles, which can bump the price up considerably. Still, if you want to game on your laptop, you’ll need to be prepared to part with some serious cash.
Being able to configure a laptop with an NVIDIA GTX 2080 GPU most certainly requires magic, but the result is something truly special.
Budget-friendly: Dell Inspiron 11 2-in-1 (3195)
When your available budget doesn’t cover the cost of more expensive options from Dell, the Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 PC is a great little package despite the low price you’ll pay. It comes with up to an AMD A9-9420e CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 500GB hard-disk drive (HDD). The display sits at 11.6 inches with a 1366×768 resolution, and it has full touch functionality to work with the convertible design — you can use the laptop in tent, stand, tablet, or standard notebook modes. For a bit of extra graphics power, there’s also an AMD Radeon R5 graphics chip (GPU).
What this all means is you’re getting an affordable laptop that’s also a 2-in-1 for you to use in in different modes. There’s also the dedicated GPU if you can spend a little more, but even then you’ll struggle to compete against other Dell laptops with more powerful Intel processors. For the price, however, this is a great deal if you don’t plan on doing too much. The only drawbacks here include the device being the performance and a little on the heavy side.
When the budget is at the forefront in your decision making, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 is a great option.
Best for Media Professionals: Dell XPS 15 (7590)
Dell’s refreshed XPS 15 is still the laptop you love, albeit with updated hardware inside. Get up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-9980HK CPU, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe SSD, plus there’s now the option to include an NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM.
Like with the previous Dell XPS 15 on this list, the webcam is back where it should be — above the display instead of embedded in the keyboard. Even with this move, the laptop still manages to have thin bezels for a sleek look.
Coupled with a 15.6-inch 4K touch display, this laptop is ideal for anyone who regularly works with media. It also still has a wide selection of ports, making it easy to connect your peripherals. There are two battery configurations, but with each you’ll still manage to get a full-days worth of charge (up to 14 hours by our own testing with the highest battery option, although using the 4K display will significantly reduce that number).
The XPS 15 has everything you need to be productive on the go, sporting a larger display than the XPS 13 for more screen real estate.
Business Laptop: Dell Latitude 2-in-1 (7390)
Dell has combined important security and business features ― like vPro CPU, LTE-A capability, fingerprint reader, and smart card reader ― to deliver one impressive 2-in-1 device. You can get up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U vPro CPU, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe SSD for ultimate performance. The 13.3-inch 1080p display is compatible with Dell’s Active Pen, and there are plenty of ports for seamless connectivity.
Dell could have made the touchpad a little bigger, however, and you’ll need to watch out for the protuding power button on the side.
Like the 2-in-1 model of the XPS 13 unveiled last year, there’s now a convertible version of the larger XPS 15. It still has the beautiful 15.6-inch touch display available with up to a 4K resolution, and it still has the excellent keyboard and touchpad. Get up to an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8705G CPU with a Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU with 4GB of HBM2 VRAM, and couple it with up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1TB PCIe SSD.
Ports are a bit more future-proof, with two Thunderbolt 3 (4x lanes of PCIe each), two USB-C 3.1, and a 3.5mm audio jack. If you want to go all out and upgrade to the 4K panel, be prepared to part with lots of money. The fans will also kick into overdrive when the system gets hot under load, which may irritate once you’ve recovered from shock at the sub-par battery life.
If the Precision 5530 and the XPS 15 were next to each other, you’d have a hard time telling them apart. The sleek chassis, the 4K touch display, the comfortable keyboard, and the Precision touchpad are all pretty much identical. But inside is where the difference can be found.
Available with up to an Intel Core i9-8950HK with up to a 2.90GHz clock speed, 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and an NVIDIA Quadro P2000 GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM, it’s clear that this laptop performs. The Dell Precision line is known for being full of powerhouse mobile workstations for business and professional users, and the Precision 15 here is no exception.
There aren’t many downsides to this laptop. There’s the price, of course, which can get high as you configure with the most powerful specs. There’s also the webcam, which isn’t in the keyboard, but is below the display.
If you need raw power, you’ll want to move up to the Precision range of notebooks from Dell.
The Dell XPS 13 (9380) remains the top Dell laptop choice for most people, though there are plenty of other options when it comes to specialized interests. This industry-leading 13-inch notebook is stunning, has more than enough performance, but can get a little pricey.
Dell is one of the leading laptop manufacturers out there for a reason — it has a laptop for just about everybody. If you’re looking to get in on this action, but want to save some money, don’t forget to have a look at our selection of the best Dell laptop deals available now.
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
Daniel Rubino is executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009 back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions.