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Best Dell laptop 2021: the top picks for work, school, and gaming

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Best Dell Laptop on an orange background with a Blue Dell laptop half open
(Image credit: Future)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

You can’t go wrong with the best Dell laptops 2021 has to offer. There’s a Dell portable to fit just about any need or desire, including some that rank among the best laptops on the market. From one of the best Ultrabooks and robust mobile workstations to excellent 2-in-1 laptops and gaming laptops, Dell has made something for just about every corner of the portable market. So, no matter your needs, there’s a Dell laptop that will fit the bill.

And, we’re not just talking about the company’s top-of-the-line models. It has created excellent notebooks for every budget, so it doesn’t matter if you’re looking to splurge or save some money, you’ll find one within your budget that won’t sacrifice on performance. Even extremely budget-minded shoppers will find a cheap one that can handle day-to-day computing tasks.

No matter what kind of device you’re searching for, there’s a Dell laptop that will be as good as the competition. But, since they have so many options, it can be tough figuring out which Dell laptop is the one you should purchase.

To help you figure out the right one for you, we’ve collected the top Dell laptops here, with options for every need and budget. We've even pulled out some of the best Dell laptop deals we've found on the web for Black Friday and Cyber Monday so you get the best price possible for your next laptop.

Dell often has brilliant Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in its online shop, so it’s definitely worth checking there, as we expect steep discounts on some of the best Dell laptops, including the XPS13 and XPS 15, which have had big discounts in previous years.

Our Top Picks for Best Dell Laptop 2021

Best Dell Laptop 2021

The stylish thin and light Dell XPS 15 on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

All-powerful laptop for creative students

Specifications
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
RAM: 8GB – 64GB
Screen: 15.6" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 15.6" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
Storage: 256GB – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Amazing speakers and beautiful display+Powerful enough for pretty much any workload
Reasons to avoid
-GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak

The Dell XPS 15 might be a bit pricey for regular students, but it’s easily one of the best laptops for students in the creative field. Combining staggering power in a stylish thin and light chassis, this laptop doesn’t hold back when it comes to internals and features that improve your computing experience overall, making this the best Dell laptop of 2021. 

Among those amazing features are a gorgeous bright display with 500 nits of brightness, an extremely comfortable keyboard, impressive speakers, and a terrific trackpad. Our coveted 5 out of 5 rating should speak for itself.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15

The Alienware M15 R3 (2020) in Dark Side of the Moon on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

A brilliant gaming beast that just got a little bit better

Specifications
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
+Great build quality+Sublime all-round performance
Reasons to avoid
-4K OLED panel not optimal for gaming

Dell’s Alienware gaming laptop line has established itself as among the very best on the market. But for 2021, one of the best Dell laptops is back and better than ever, rocking the best internals for gaming that money can buy. Of course, that means that its configurations cost a pretty penny, but if you have the money to spare, it’s certainly worth the splurge because of its sublime gaming performance. 

That’s without factoring in its quirky yet attractive design, excellent build quality and display with fast refresh rates. We’ve been fans of the line since its design overall a couple of years ago, and that hasn’t changed.

Read the full review: Alienware M15 R3 (2020)

The portable Dell XPS 13 (Late 2020) in Arctic White on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

Dell does it again

Specifications
CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1165G7
Graphics: Up to Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: Up to 32GB 4267MHz LPDDR4x
Screen: 13.4" FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 13.4" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display
Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Reasons to buy
+Stunning design with a gorgeous display+Excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Sound quality is just OK

At this point, we doubt that the Dell XPS line can do anything wrong. Its yearly updates have consistently made it to our best laptops list, and they’re only getting better. The Dell XPS 13 (2020) is not only a gorgeous piece of kit. It also comes, as expected, with excellent performance, a stunning display and long battery life, alongside a few others. 

Much like its predecessor, it’s a pricey investment – but that is barely reason enough for us to discourage Ultrabook fans. This is among the best Dell laptops of 2021, and it’s worth every penny.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 (2020) 

The breathtakingly powerful Alienware m17 R4 (2021) in Lunar Light on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

The best Dell laptop for gaming

Specifications
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+Stylish chassis with a ton of RGB
Reasons to avoid
-Basically no battery life

Dell’s best gaming portable is back for 2021 and better than ever, cementing its status as among the best gaming laptops out there. This breathtakingly powerful gaming laptop doesn’t compromise, tackling all the latest AAA games without even breaking a sweat. Those tired of the same dated "gamer" aesthetic will also appreciate its thicc yet attractive design decorated with lots of RGB lighting, which sets it apart from everything else out there. It’s a little on the pricier side and its battery life could use a boost, but if you want the best of the best, you’ll want this one.

Read the full review: Alienware m17 R4 (2021)

The 17-inch Dell XPS 17 (2021) on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

The best Dell laptop for creatives

Specifications
CPU: Up to 11th Generation Intel Core i9-11980HK
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6
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
+Enough power for creative workflows+Gorgeous, light and slim chassis
Reasons to avoid
-Port selection could be better

The Dell XPS 17 (2021) is pricey but for good reason. It comes with the kind of components that can get you through any task including up to an Intel Core i9 CPU, 64GB of RAM, and an Nvidia RTX GeForce 3060. The laptop also offers a beautiful screen and a design that will take your breath away. 

All of this fits into a 0.77 inch thin chassis that makes this among the most portable 17-inchers out there. We wish it came with more ports, but it is a nearly perfect laptop in every other way.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 17 (2021)

Dell Precision 5750 from the back with its cover partially down on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

A thin and light portable workstation

Specifications
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
+Elegant design with a stunning display+Decent processing performance
Reasons to avoid
-Poor battery life

Those looking for a capable mobile workstation that might be the envy of everyone in the office will love the Dell Precision 5750’s elegant design and stunning, incredibly bright display. It’s a classy option that delivers many performance features that power users appreciate, giving them that much-lauded Dell XPS design in a business-worthy package. 

To be clear, Dell could have made it more powerful with a high-end RTX 3000 card. However, many professionals don’t need that much power, and if you’re one of them, this won’t disappoint.

Read the full review: Dell Precision 5750

The powerful yet affordable Dell G5 15 SE (2020) on a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

Dell's best budget gaming laptop

Specifications
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4600H – 7 4800H
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5600M
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare LED Backlight Non-Touch Narrow Border WVA Display – 15.6 inch FHD(1920x1080) 300nits WVA Anti-Glare LED Backlit Display(non-touch), 144Hz refresh rate
Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Excellent CPU performance+Quick and vibrant display
Reasons to avoid
-Gets pretty hot under strain

Though Dell has its premium lines, it’s also been very good at building excellent budget machines. The Dell G5 15 SE (2020) is a very good example of that, touting impressive AMD specs, especially in the CPU department, to keep cost down without compromising performance. 

Here’s an affordable gaming laptop that delivers a staggering performance for the price, with a stunning display to boot. Of course, being a budget laptop, some sacrifices have been made – namely, its build and heat management. However, for the budget-minded, this is certainly among the best Dell laptops out there for gaming.

Read the full review: Dell G5 15 SE (2020)

The Alienware Area-51m gaming laptop on a white background

(Image credit: Alienware)

An out-of-this-world laptop with desktop-class hardware

Specifications
CPU: 9th-Generation Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 – 2080
RAM: 64GB
Storage: 2TB SSDs + 1TB (+8GB SSHD) Hybrid Drive
Reasons to buy
+Extremely powerful ideal for demanding games+Widely user upgradeable
Reasons to avoid
-Can get very hot and loud

Hands down, the Alienware Area-51m is a stunner of a gaming laptop, with a beautiful yet unique chassis and a comfortable keyboard to complement it. But it goes beyond looks; it’s also by far the most powerful gaming laptop on the market right now (and obviously, one of the best Dell laptops). 

Not that it’s perfect, as it does get really hot and its fans can get very loud. However, it’s a performance beast fitted with high-end processors and high-end graphics cards, and your gaming experience with it will be an absolute pressure.

Read the full review: Alienware Area-51m

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

(Image credit: Dell )

A step up for Inspiron

Specifications
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 is a versatile 2-in-1 with a lot going for it under the hood.  This premium laptop is more than just about its premium design; it also has high-end internals to compete with the likes of the more powerful Dell XPS 13. 

Rounding that out is a 4K display, and a clever stylus slot that makes us wonder whether they actually beat Microsoft to the idea. Granted, the display is a bit of a battery drain, and the speakers impressive, but this is still among the best Dell laptops out there.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1

Dell Chromebook 3100 11 against a white background

(Image credit: Dell)

10. Dell Chromebook 3100 11

Best cheap Dell laptop

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N4020 or N4000
Graphics: Integrated graphics
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 11.6-inch HD 1366 x 768 WVA 16:9 Touch
Storage: 32GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Extremely durable+Long battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Not very powerful

The Dell Chromebook 3100 11 is a diminutive little machine, perfect for a student to cart around from class to class. It’s also ideal for students because it can take a hit and keep on ticking. In fact, it’s tested to MIL-STD standards, meaning it can withstand the kind of abuse that only devices meant to be used in the field (or military) can take. It also has rubberized edges, a spill-resistant keyboard, and covered ports so the elements will not damage the computer.

While it may not be the most powerful computer, or even Chromebook, out there, it can easily handle useful apps like G Suite for Education. The battery life on this little 11-incher is also enough to get through a full day of school. It should be noted that we have yet to review the 3100, but for the price, we think it’s a solid pick for anyone needing a budget laptop for the classroom.

How to Shop for the Best Dell Laptop

Which Dell laptop series is best?

There isn't one best Dell laptop series, since different product lines emphasize and focus on different consumer bases. For enterprise-level workstations, you'll want to look at the Dell Precision and Inspiron lines, as those are the most likely to have the kind of security features that are absolute must-haves for a business laptop.

The XPS line is a bit of a dark horse here if you're looking for more portable options for productivity work, but it is also the most premium all-around laptop line Dell makes, competing directly with the MacBook Air in the ultraportable market.

When it comes to gaming, Dell's Alienware line includes some of the best gaming laptops out there, so should definitely be on any gamer's shortlist.

Are Dell laptops good quality?

Not only are the best Dell laptops industry-leading devices when it comes to design and quality, it's more budget offerings are also well build, powerful relative to their price, and well designed. Some sacrifices have to be made on the lower end, so there are some plastic chassis construction on budget offerings, but Dell usually makes up for this by featuring more impressive hardware.

Today's Best Dell Laptop Deals

Michelle Rae Uy

Michelle Rae Uy is a Los Angeles-based editor, writer and photographer with a bad case of wanderlust. She is a regular contributor for Thrillist, TravelAge West, HuffPo Travel, Paste Magazine, and Travel Pulse. She has written for publications like Nylon, Fodor's and SmarterTravel, and is also the contributing editor for MiniTime.com.