Dell vs. HP: Which laptop brand is best for your needs?

Dell and HP are on our list of best laptop brands for a reason. In recent years, both of these laptop manufacturers have consistently produced some of the best-designed machines you can buy. So it’s understandable if you’re planning to buy a new laptop and are having trouble deciding between these two big, highly-rated brands. Both brands have a lot to offer and sifting through all the interesting features, price points and other factors you might want to consider before buying a laptop from either house is a must. This production can be overwhelming. Make sure to also check out the latest Dell XPS 13 deals and HP laptop Black Friday deals for discounts.

And if you need help choosing the right laptop brand for you, you’ve come to the right place. In this comparison guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about the differences between the best HP laptops and the best Dell laptops. Specifically, we’ll look at how they differ in design, respective features, price range, and which brand is best suited for certain use cases such as schools, businesses, video editing and gaming.


Laptop brands are defined based on their flagship products, so for HP in 2021 it’s the Elite Dragonfly and Specter x360 series. The Elite Dragonfly series are all incredibly light laptops (the Dragonfly Max weighs just 2.49 pounds) with sturdy magnesium alloy construction and displays with a combination of thick and thin bezels. But you also get a laptop with lots of cool features in an ultra-portable package; features such as: a webcam cover, a dedicated keyboard button for the microphone, a 5-megapixel high-resolution webcam, comfortably sized keycaps, and a port selection that includes Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI 2.0. The Specter x360 series also makes unique contributions to HP’s laptop design innovations. Looking at the HP Specter x360 14, you’ll notice that this laptop is equipped with features like an easy-to-open yet sturdy dual-zone hinge, a display with a 3:2 aspect ratio, an infrared camera, and a OLED screen.

But the Specter x360 14 also shares features with the Dragonfly series, including a fingerprint reader, spacious keyboard and touchpad, and dedicated shutter buttons and features for muting the microphone and covering the webcam. These 2-in-1 designs are also lightweight and portable, facilitating their use as a tablet when needed.

Dell’s most famous laptops are its XPS laptop line and gaming laptop products, such as the Alienware brand. With the XPS line, you can typically expect to see a sleek and streamlined aluminum chassis, ultra-thin bezels on all four sides of the display, a backlit keyboard, a port selection that includes Thunderbolt 3 or 4 and 16:10 ratio. show scale. There aren’t as many bells and whistles on the XPS laptop as you’d find on the HP laptops we mentioned earlier, but you can still get a great all-in-one laptop (XPS 13). or a video editing powerhouse (the XPS 17) from Dell, whose clean aesthetics and solid build quality make them Apple’s best competitors.

Dell’s Alienware brand offers heavy-duty, dedicated gaming laptops and comes with its own special features to optimize your gaming experience. Features like: Nvidia G-SYNC technology, dual fan design for better cooling, customizable lighting system called AlienFX, multiple connectivity ports (including Thundebolt 4, headphone jack and HDMI 2.1 ), magnesium alloy frame, programmable keyboard (for gaming shortcuts), and eye tracking tools.

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Both brands have laptops that top some of our best lists, with Dell outperforming HP in certain categories and HP outperforming Dell in others. In this sense, choosing the right laptop for yourself really depends on how you plan to use it.

There are all sorts of ways you can choose to use your new laptop, but let’s look at some of their most common uses, namely: for business and work, for school study, to create content (like video editing), or to play games.


HP Elite Dragonfly review photo.  An HP Elite Dragonfly laptop sits against a bright orange background.

With HP, you have four great business laptop options, including the HP Elite Dragonfly, HP ZBook Studio, HP Pro C640, and HP Envy x360. For Dell, the XPS line is a great alternative, but there aren’t that many options.

The HP Elite Dragonfly is currently the winner in the “best business laptop” category of our Best Laptops list. It’s perfect for remote workers and those who travel frequently for work. This laptop has a sleek, lightweight design, a 1080p display, a privacy screen that keeps you away from prying eyes, a quiet keyboard, a stylus, and a selection of office ports including USB- A, HDMI, USB-C 3.1, and Thunderbolt 3. At the time of our initial review, the Dragonfly was sporting an older 8th generation Intel processor, but HP has since announced it at CES 2021 that the two newer Dragonfly models will have the upgraded Tiger Lake, so the newer Dragonfly G2 and G2 max models are definitely worth exploring.

Our list of Best Business Laptops is also dominated by other HP laptops. The HP ZBook Studio, HP Pro C640, and HP Envy x360 all have this feature. If you need a powerful workstation that can perform tasks like video editing and 3D modeling, look no further than the HP ZBook Studio. If you still want the power of a Windows PC but still prefer the lighter and easier-to-use Chrome OS, HP’s Chromebook product, the Pro C640, may be the best choice for you. And rounding out our HP business laptop picks is the HP Envy x360, the best for those who need a 2-in-1 business laptop at a budget-friendly price. budget. With a six-core processor and 8GB of RAM, you won’t have to sacrifice power and speed for a cheaper business laptop. You really are getting the best of both worlds.

If you still want a Dell for your work, we have a recommendation: the Dell XPS 13. This isn’t a true “business laptop,” but it is one. Great all-in-one laptop, perfect for those who need portability above all else. Plus, because it’s designed for casual use, it can easily become a laptop that enhances your productivity and helps you relax at the end of the workday. (Especially when you have a display that features Dolby Vision.)


Like business, school laptops can be very diverse, depending on the type of work you want to do on them. Both HP and Dell have great laptops for all ages and abilities.

For college students, our favorite laptop is the Dell Inspiron 14. This is a 2-in-1 laptop with a large screen and tons of great features at a student-friendly price university. For under $750, the college student in your life will get a laptop with an 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) storage, 14-inch HD touchscreen, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, privacy camera shutter, and various ports. The Dell Inspiron 14 isn’t the most powerful laptop, but it has everything you need for schoolwork, browsing the internet, and streaming your favorite shows and movies.

For high school students, HP has a great option with the Chromebook 14. This is an extremely affordable laptop that is light and easy to use thanks to the simplicity of Chrome OS. If your high school student doesn’t require any non-Chrome OS and Android apps to complete assignments, access online classes, or collaborate with friends, the HP Chromebook 14 is a solid choice. . For just $300, your high school student will get a laptop with a 14-inch non-touch HD display, Intel Celeron N4000 processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC storage, HP Wide Vision webcam HD and Wi-Fi 5. Bluetooth connection 5.

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Dell XPS 17 laptop placed on a table with one hand touching its trackpad.

Video editing is an intensive task, so the Dell XPS 17 is our top pick because it combines a large screen with high-end hardware. This laptop has a large 17-inch display and features a 10th generation six-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM (upgradable up to 64GB), generous 512GB SSD storage (also can be upgraded to 2TB) and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650Ti video card. It also has a fingerprint reader, four Thunderbolt 3 ports, a full-size SD card reader, and Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity.

When we reviewed the XPS 17, we were particularly impressed with its “incredible” performance, “near-perfect display,” and “spacious and responsive touchpad.” We’d even go so far as to say that the XPS 17 outperforms Apple’s MacBook Pro 16.

If you still need a powerful laptop for video editing but want to stick with HP, a comparable choice would be the HP Envy 15. The Envy 15 is great for those who need strong performance at the lower price. When reviewing the HP Envy 15, our review unit was configured with a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 512GB SSD storage, 16GB RAM, 4K AMOLED display, and RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU. . Overall, this laptop received positive reviews from us as we praised its performance, build quality, and AMOLED display. The main drawbacks we found are that it’s heavy and doesn’t have a full-sized SD card slot.


Review photo of Dell G5 SE gaming laptop.  A Dell G5 SE gaming laptop sits on a wooden table.

Our current Best Gaming Laptops list doesn’t include a single HP laptop, which doesn’t mean you can’t game with them, but they don’t tick the same boxes as Dell does. Among those laptops, we especially like the Dell G5 SE and Alienware Area-51m R2.

The Dell G5 SE gaming laptop may not be the best gaming laptop you can buy (that honor goes to the Razer Blade 15), but it’s a solid entry-level choice for beginner gamers and gamers on a moderate budget. What it lacks in style, it makes up for in specs. The Dell G5 SE gaming laptop has an eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, AMD Radeon RX 5600M graphics card, and a 144Hz 1080p display. When we reviewed this laptop, we praised its 144Hz refresh rate as well as its gaming and CPU performance.

If you have a larger budget to work with, Dell’s Alienware Area-51m R2 gaming laptop is worth considering. In its lowest price configuration, it has a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super graphics card, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD storage, and a 17.3-inch FHD display. It’s a heavy gaming laptop in every sense of the word, including its actual weight: a little over 9 pounds. Think of it as an alternative to a desktop setup.

HP’s gaming laptops are also good, especially at lower price points. The HP Pavilion 17 and HP Omen 15 are both on our list of Best Gaming Laptops Under $1,000. Dell just has a stronger gaming pedigree overall, with great options at every price point, including the very high-end.

Editor’s recommendation

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