Here’s what you need to know if you’re looking to buy a Dell laptop or notebook PC.
What’s the difference between Dell XPS, Dell Inspiron and Dell G-Series?
These days, Dell’s mainstream consumer lineup is broken out into three sub-brands: XPS, Inspiron and the G-Series. As you’d expect, each of these designations refers to a different target market and corresponds to a difference in specs, design, features and price-tag.
The XPS series includes the company’s best and most-premium laptops. Power users who want the best will want to look at this sub-brand.
By comparison, Inspiron devices are a little more mundane but affordable. They’re pitched at more everyday home and home office use cases.
Finally, the G-Series is aimed at gamers who want a gaming laptop but don’t want to shell out the premium that usually comes with a dedicated gaming brand like MSI and Razer.
The short version here is that the XPS series is usually where you'll find Dell's best designs, the G-Series is where you'll find the best graphical performance and the Inspirion range is the best bang-for-buck when it comes to budget-friendly value.
Wait, you forgot about Alienware!
Calm down. We didn’t forget about Alienware. They’ll get their own feature. For now, let’s just focus on the XPS, Inspiron and G-Series.
The perks you get as a Dell XPS customer don’t really change depending on which model you go for. It’s more about finding the size and form-factor that suits your needs and tastes. The four series of Dell XPS laptops are mainly differentiated by these qualities.
The XPS lineup breaks down into the following, with several spec-variants on offer for each:
The Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
The Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1
Regardless of whether you opt for 13 or 15-inch or whether you prefer a clam-shell design or a more-flexible 2-in-1, you still get a colorful and detailed Infinity Edge display, distinctive design and a top-of-the-line Intel CPU that make the Dell’s XPS laptops such a delight to use. You can read our full review of the Dell XPS 13 here.
If you opt for the larger XPS 15 or XPS 15 2-in-1, you’ll also have the option of equipping it with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card. While this optional add-on does provide the XPS with a significant boost in gaming potential, it shouldn't be seen as a viable alternative or substitute to the Ryzen-based or RTX-grade performance found in the G-Series.
The Inspiron range is split into three broader series of laptops: the Inspiron 3000, Inspiron 5000 and Inspiron 7000.
As a general rule, the higher the number, the better the specs and the pricier the Inspiron laptop. Like the XPS range, Dell sell some Inspiron laptops of both conventional form-factors and others with more-flexible 2-in-1 designs.
The Inspiron 3000 Series offers laptops equipped with both AMD and Intel CPUs and in sizes that go from 14-inches to 15.6-inches.
The Inspiron 5000 Series includes laptops of 13, 14, 15 and 17-inch sizes. An AMD version of the 15-inch model is also available.
The Inspiron 7000 Series emphasizes lighter builds and more premium materials. The range includes laptops of 13 and 15-inch sizings and is available with either Intel or AMD CPUs. You can read our full review of the Inspiron 7000 here.
The main drawback to the Inspiron series is that you’re mostly limited to the integrated Intel or AMD graphics and you don’t get any of the premium perks and snazzy features found in the XPS range.
For that reason, Inspiron laptops’s don’t usually make good gaming machines either. Depending on the game, you might be able to get away with the performance here but it's nothing to boast about. You do get a bit more for your dollar here than the more expensive options but that does come with some serious caveats.
The Dell Inspiron lineup breaks down into the following, with several spec-variants on offer for each:
Though better-known for its Alienware sub-brand within the gaming space, Dell has quietly been making headway when it comes to gaming laptops that fall under their own brand umbrella.
Their logic: not every customer looking for a gaming laptop needs the over the top, eye-grabbing aesthetics and features that come part and parcel with gaming brands like Alienware. Sometimes, you just want gaming-grade specs in a normal-looking laptop's body. That’s basically the pitch for the G-Series.
There are three series here: the G3, G5 and G6, with several spec-variants on offer for each:
The Dell G3 sits at the bottom of the lineup. It’s the cheapest option, but it’s only equipped with an Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti graphics card.
The Dell G5 is a little pricier but can be bought with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2060 graphics. The G5 also feature additional quality-of-life enhancements like a thin-bezel design. You can read our full review of the G5 here.
Finally, the Dell G7 is the beefiest option on the table. Compared to the G5 and G3, these laptops feature more RAM, and beefier CPU configurations that go all the way up to i9. Obviously, they’re also the most expensive.
Which Dell Laptop Should I Buy?
It might sound like a bit of a cop-out but the easy answer is that it’s usually best to go for the laptop that actually meets your needs.
To recap - If you’re the kind of person who wants the best or a power user who needs that little extra oomph, the Dell XPS range is the obvious choice. If you’re looking to play a lot of games on your new laptop, the G5 or the G7 is probably going to be the way to go. If you’re just looking for something that’ll handle the basics, the Inspiron range offers plenty of options.
This article was originally published in March 2019 and updated in November 2020.