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The best Dell laptops to buy in 2020

Picking the best Dell laptop is no easy task, as the company produces a number of great laptops every year, some of which are the best budget laptops or even the best laptops overall. The XPS 13 — 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.

There are some other great Dell laptops to consider, though. We’ve tested almost everything the laptop giant has to offer, with hundreds of hours of hands-on time with each of them. Here are Dell’s best — as well as few great alternatives. You can also take a look at our list of laptop deals for the latest savings ahead of Cyber Monday.

Best Dell laptops

Best Dell laptop: Dell XPS 13 (2020)

Why you should buy this: It’s powerful, has a fantastic battery life, and is a stylish trendsetter.

Who’s it for: Just about anyone but gamers.

What we thought about the XPS 13:

We’ve been big fans of the XPS 13 for years now, and the updated 2020 version with Intel’s latest 10th-generation Ice Lake CPUs (start with the 10th-gen Core i3-1005G1) and a 13.4-inch display is no exception. It iterates upon the classic design of the year before with the option for a new paint job, a new fabric feel, and improved weight distribution. It’s a little thinner and lighter than its predecessor, but the true reason we love this laptop more than any other is because of how strong a contender it is at its $1,000 price.

Ports now include two Thunderbolt 3 connections, but there is one fewer USB-C port on the model compared to the previous version, which is our only real complaint with this excellent notebook.

Even the most affordable of the new XPS 13 includes a Core i3-10110U CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 256GB of solid-state drive storage. Dell offers a choice of displays, including beautiful 1080p panels with up to 500 nits of brightness. The overall performance of this device, with workday-long battery life, makes it our continued favorite laptop of them all — and that’s over the other Dells, too.

Read our full Dell XPS 13 review

Best budget Dell laptop: Dell Inspiron 13 5000

Dell Inspiron 13 5000

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 13 5000:

Although not quite as premium as the XPS range of laptops, Dell’s Inspiron notebooks are far from the budget-friendly portable systems of old. The Inspiron 13 5000 is a case in point: It offers the latest components and value-laden specs at very reasonable prices. In fact, you can purchase the Inspiron 13 5000 with Intel’s 10th-gen Comet Lake CPUs.

You won’t get the same tiny bezels as on Dell’s XPS line, nor all-metal and carbon fiber materials making up the chassis. But even so, the Inspiron 13 5000 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 13 5000’s overall performance is solid, and it brings a great deal of value at a very attractive price.

Read our full Dell Inspiron 13 5000

Best Dell 2-in-1: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review
Riley Young / Digital Trends

Why you should buy this: It’s an XPS 13 with a 360-degree hinge and a flexible design.

Who’s it for: Those who want a great laptop and tablet in one package.

What we thought about the XPS 13 2-in-1:

The XPS 13 2-in-1 hints at the XPS 13 design that we like enough to make it our pick for Dell’s best, and it adds a 360-degree hinge to it. That provides real flexibility, letting the laptop morph from a clamshell to a tablet with two useful modes — media and tent — in between. It’s not as light as a tablet or as something that can detach from the keyboard entirely — like the Surface Pro 7 — but it’s useful in a pinch, and the media mode, in particular, is awesome for bingeing Netflix.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 differs from the XPS 13 in some other important ways as well. First, it borrows the magnetic levitation (maglev) keyboard from its larger XPS 15 2-in-1 cousin but perfected it in its second generation. Second, the 2-in-1’s display comes in a 16:10 aspect ratio that’s a little taller than the clamshell’s more standard 16:9 aspect ratio.

Third, and maybe most important, the XPS 13 2-in-1 uses Intel’s 10th-gen Ice Lake CPUs, while the XPS 13 uses the Comet Lake version. That means that the 2-in-1 focuses more on doing more instructions per cycle and enjoying faster Iris Plus graphics, which the clamshell has a CPU with more brute force and extra cores (up to six).

Read our XPS 13 2-in-1 review

Best Dell laptop for photo and video editors: Dell XPS 15 (2020)

Why you should buy this: Its display is beautiful, and its all-around performance is fantastic for creatives of all types.

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 with its larger form and increased weight over the above 13-inch laptops, it more than makes up for it in hardware options 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.

The latest XPS 15 was recently updated to include some new hardware inside. It still has an affordable starting price of $1,175, but you’ll have to bump it up to around $1,700 to get the beefy GTX 1650 and 10th-gen Core i7-10750H processor. If you plan to do any sort of gaming or video rendering, that’s a must-have upgrade and a big reason to opt for this laptop over even our favorite, the XPS 13. The larger display looks beautiful — and color accurate — in both 1080p and 4K, including a new OLED panel that’s drop-dead gorgeous, though the higher resolution option does bring battery life down quite a bit.

Storage options range from a 256GB to a 1TB PCIe SSD, and ports include two Thunderbolt 3, a USB-C, and DisplayPort connectors. The XPS 15 is a bigger, badder version of the XPS 13, and although it might not be as cutting edge as some alternatives, it’s still one of the best Dell laptops out there.

Read our previous model Dell XPS 15 review

Best Dell gaming laptop: Dell G7 15 (2020)

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 G7 15:

The Dell G7 15 7590 is a powerhouse gaming laptop that offers some of the most powerful components available today at prices that are easier for gamers to accommodate. For example, the G7 15 can be configured with up to the 10th-gen Intel Core i9-10885H for the fastest processor performance and Intel Optane memory for speedier storage.

But the real gaming power comes from the GPU options. There, buyers can choose up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics, which will support the most advanced games on the market today with all features — such as ray tracing — turned on.

Gamers can also pick a display that can keep up, including up to 300Hz panel options that ensure the display can keep up with the GPU. Other options include up to 16GB of RAM and up to a 1TB PCIe SSD for optimal performance.

The G7 15 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 reasonable, given the components and the target market. Given that you can configure a powerful gaming laptop for around $1,300, that means that the G7 15 is also a great value.

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