Dell: Best and Worst Laptop Brands 2015

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Dell saw a meteoric rise this year, going from fifth place to second. Despite being the third-most popular brand — with 12.8 percent market share, according to Gartner — the company hasn’t always fared so well on our evaluations. But 2015 looks different. Dell took first place in the innovation category, value and selection, as well as audio. And the company fared well in reviews and tech support.

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Reviews (14/20)

Dell offered a strong showing in the reviews category, delivering excellent and innovative notebooks such as the new XPS 13. The company offers a good portfolio of budget systems such as the Chromebook 11, as well as business and ruggedized systems. The only notebook that received a not-recommended rating of 2.5 stars was the Dell Inspiron 14 5000, which didn’t deliver enough for the money.

Tech Support (13/20)

Dell kept us on the phone longer than any other company during our undercover Tech Support Showdown, with an average of 27 minutes and 20 seconds. However, we found the company’s website and online chat system much improved. A helpful Twitter account was also a plus, especially since two of the brand’s phone reps couldn’t help us.

Design (13/15)

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The new XPS 13 (2015) is the first laptop we recommend over the MacBook Air, thanks to a barely there bezel and more compact design. The Alienware 13 and upcoming Alienware 15 also bring the sexy, with their trademark customizable backlighting and out-of-this world aesthetic.

MORE: Best Dell and Alienware Laptops

As pretty as Dell’s notebooks can be, the company also knows how to build them tough. The Dell Latitude 14 Rugged Extreme is a prime example.

Keyboard & Touchpad (13/15)

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Dell’s keyboards usually have good tactile feedback and large, accurate touchpads, but this year the company really stepped up its game. For example, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (2.2mm travel) and Precision m2800 (2.5mm travel) offer good key feel and snappy actuation force.

The company’s input device excellence cuts across all of its segments, from business Ultrabooks to gaming behemoths. Its Alienware brand is particularly impressive with keyboards that have 3mm of travel, huge touchpads and colorful custom backlighting. In addition to their comfy key feel, Dell’s business laptops feature highly accurate touchpads with discrete buttons and pointing sticks that let you navigate without moving your hands off the home row.

Display (7/10)

Dell offers brighter-than-average displays at 274 nits, but the range of colors (average 74 percent gamut) on some of its machines is not quite up to snuff. In terms of resolution, Dell offers some models with quad HD panels, such as the sharp and rich screen on the XPS 13 (3200 x 1800 pixels). The other Dell models with exceptional visuals tend to be its line of gamer-specific Alienware machines. On almost every other Dell were viewed, the verdict was the same: The screens look good, but not great.

Innovation (5/5)

If you need proof that Dell is committed to staying on the cutting edge, look no further than the Alienware 13. It looks and acts like a typical gaming laptop, but you can add a GPU amplifier that lets you experience beefy, desktop-grade graphics on a notebook. The XPS 13 has a striking bezel-free design that makes it look like an 11-incher.

MORE: 10 Laptops with the Longest Battery Life

The company’s Inspiron 15 keeps up with rivals like Acer and Asus by integrating Intel’s RealSense 3D camera.

Audio (4/5)

Although sometimes suffering from harshness, overall Dell’s notebooks produced quality audio with a brand average of 86 decibels. While it could fill a small room, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 produced strained audio with harsh midtones, measuring 82dB. Alienware laptops were the best of Dell’s bunch. The boisterous $1,499 Alienware 17’s Klipsch speakers notched 99dB, but also pumped out sound that was true and clear.

Value & Selection (5/5)

Dell has been a leader in price and selection for a while now, and this year is no different. Its website is streamlined, so finding the type of laptop you want is a cinch. With the ability to customize components directly, it’s easy to make sure you get the specs you want at a good price. Dell’s range of computers is among the best, ranging from inexpensive Chromebooks to its sleek XPS lines. It even has some of the toughest laptops on the market with its Rugged Extreme series.

MORE: Best Laptops

For value, Dell usually offers equal or lower prices than its cheapest competitor, with systems such as new XPS 13 leading the way. It features a gorgeous full HD, 13.3-inch Infinity display, 5th-Gen Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD for just $799. Dell’s Alienware gaming notebooks offer stylish looks and great performance without the markup of many other boutique notebook makers.

Software (2/5)

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Just like last year, Dell’s software offerings are underwhelming. There are no upgrades to its consumer programs this year — you’ll still get My Dell for tech support, Dell Audio to select sound profiles for music and movies and PocketCloud for storage and remote access. Business laptops do get a new set of programs in the Software and Client Command suites that keep your computers up to date with the latest programs and security features. The new Dell Data Protection (Cloud Edition) integrates with Dropbox to guard your work and personal data against security threats, while keeping your private and professional accounts separate.

Best & Worst Laptop Brands 2015

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  1. Frank Says:

    Dell has the worst customer service in the industry. It intentional drags along phone conversations from purchase to tech. issues with no intention of solving your problem. On top of that, if you purchase one of there computers, there warranty has the same affect. Worthless. I have never dealt with a company the required 4 days of emails, phone calls and chat lines to purchase a computer. What speaks for itself, is that one is not able to buy a computer on the Dell website. Almost impossible to believe! Just try to configure a custom computer and see how far you get. Dell is not your friend. The “support people” will make your life miserable and what is odd, is that they seem to enjoy non resolution, conflict and hanging up on customers. IT departments take notice as you will need to find another manufacture!!

  2. Cappy Says:

    I have owned 5 dell desktops. This was my first laptop and have had nothing but problems. I will never buy Dell again.

    To be specific, the fist dell laptop had HD go in 2 weeks. They replaced this with a refurb. model which was refurbished incorrectly, and parts of Windows did not work, nor the touchpad, nor some function keys.

    Finally, thought the third one was going to be okay and the screen went. No, did not drop it. It just went.

    Tech support is polite and pleasant but a huge waste of time, hugely frustrating, and they are not the company they once were. I’d never deal with them again.

    That being said, I wonder why you rate them so highly? I have heard they and HP are the bottom of the barrel. And people I know with Samsung love their lappies as to those who have ASUS and Lenovo. So why are your results so seemingly “off”?

  3. Michael Wallace Says:

    I TOTALLY AGREE with both Frank and Cappy. I bought a Latitude D800 in 2004 and it ran GREAT for 7 long years – even after dropping the thing on a hard floor in year 3 and busting it up somewhat. Two years ago I bought an XPS15z and after two months of problems they finally replaced it. Countless hours wasted on the phone with tech support. NOW in 2013 I was STUPID enough to buy an Inspiron 17R January 9th – problems problems problems and they replaced it in April and I am STILL wasting HOURS on the phone with tech support with no satisfactory resolution. Dell is NOT the quality company they used to be! Don’t waste money and TIME and energy in anger and frustration!

  4. Melissa Says:

    Dell does have the worst customer service. I have had my computer for less than 2 months and my screen is cracked all the way across. They will not replace the screen. Says it is not covered under warranty. I was on the phone with them for over 30 minutes last night and got transferred to 4 different depts.

  5. Nevershopatdellagain Says:

    I ended up getting a Desktop computer in 2002, and 2008. The tech service was the worst I have ever dealt with before. I could hardly understand what some would say as they would not speak clear enough. They pester you to try and buy another product when all you want is help with what you have now.

    The billing was the worst of all. I would send in my payment every month and most of the time they would claim my money never got to them and sent a late fee. Often they would purposely wait and send the bill past its due and charge me a late fee on top of the bill which kept raising the price. After several years of dealing with their horrible service, I am done. I will never purchase from Dell again.

  6. Blue Man Says:

    Well I never thought it would be me. Im a brand loyalty person, like American cars, but buy Sony tvs, and up to last year always bought Dells. I have a company with 7-12 employees and 12-16 computers and a server. Always told people to buy dells. Problems started 2 yrs ago wanted to replace my server, they totally never followed up on a potential 15k sale! Bought a different server. Put almost 4k down on a precision laptop M6600 with next day pro support since I don’t want down time on my personal computer. What a disappointment. Had resume and video card problems, they eventually sent a tech to replace the mother board. Problems again in about a year. THey note this time there was a known problem with compatibility with the AMD graphics, 2 tech days later, and another set of motherboard, processor and graphics card change, its off to the depot now. This time more delays as they investigate a “liquid spill” which apparently in two days of work the tech in my office and I saw no evidence of. TRiued to resolve this but after telling me this just today, they cant get the depot any communication till MOnday,

    Former extremely loyal Dell Customer, Buying an MSI tonight, whatever that is. Maybe I’ll be a future loyal MSI customer.

  7. Dan Says:

    How is it that an article dated 3/12/15 has comments nearly two years old?

    I’m the owner of an early 2014 XPS 15 and this machine is amazing: 3200 x 1800 resolution, NVidia graphics, i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, and a 500 GB SSD drive. I haven’t had a single problem since I’ve owned it and I use it daily.

  8. M Waseem Ilyas Says:

    Me and my lot of friends always use Dell Laptops and Dell desktop and never had problem. I always recommend Dell. I Love Dell products. In all Dell is the Best.

  9. Bryan Says:

    I added up the numbers on the scorecard and I get 76 out of 100. Am I missing something?

  10. grady harmon Says:

    The apple store is as good as it gets for service but their laptops are not. always you say the MBP with retina is the best for video editing. Maybe your not aware of the Dell M3800 I think it is. Your bias for Apple makes your reviews very suspect.

  11. Jim M Says:

    You have to wonder about a website that supposedly does precise reviews of laptops; and can’t get simple math correct before publishing.

    As far as Dell is concerned; tech support is pretty much useless but recently I spent some time chatting with a tech guy about a new machine and he was surprisingly knowledgeable and helpful. (I am considering a new Dell.)

  12. krishna Says:

    Dell laptops that they sell to large corporates are the worst thing.. They cannot even learn from Lenovo in terms of keyboard ergonomics let alone Mac. The surface edges are not rounded for a resting parm – corners can peel your skin. The Home delete keys are hidden away in the function key sequence – not prominently seperated. The key combination that lits the keyboard is not the two corner keys. To top it all, if you plugged in an ethernet cable that has the clip protector tabs, heck you cannot detach the cable without a mail opener to press the tab – thats how well they designed and tested the hinge that that bulges through out the frame of attachment between screen and base. Whole thing weighs like a brick. Private Equity at work. Putting lipstick on a pig.

  13. Pierre Says:

    I bought a DELL Studio 1749 in 2010 with an extra warranty. The power adapter went out after 2 years but it was replaced very quickly and for free thanks to the extra warranty. My computer still run good. I wonder if dell is still a good brand today, it seems expensive.

  14. Don't Buy Dell Says:

    DON’T BUY DELL – FAULTY PRODUCTS AND TERRIBLE SERVICE!!!
    4 months ago, I paid $5000 for a brand new Dell 3800 laptop and 3 weeks ago it failed. Sure, these things do occasionally happen and I was only slightly perturbed when I called Dell support, and I was almost relieved when I was told that, as per my “next business day” service option, a technician would promptly arrive and replace the motherboard.
    3 business days later, the first technician arrived and proceeded to try and remove the back cover. However, he was so inept that he completely stripped two of the screws – not just one, but two! “Not to worry”, he assured me. He would simply break the back cover to gain access. But, he would have to wait until Dell could send a replacement cover.
    6 business days – he returned to wrench the back cover free from the screws he destroyed and finally replaced the motherboard. However, this “new” motherboard didn’t work properly. The laptop started, but when he tried to turn it off, the keyboard stayed illuminated, the screen froze and there was no way of restarting. Then this supposed Dell technician actually asked me “Does this model normally do that?!?” Trying not to choke on my complete bewilderment, I said “No”.
    So, while I waited for yet another “new” motherboard, I decided to call Dell to lodge a complaint. I was told to put this in writing and send it to customer service, which I did, and I promptly received an automated reply stating that I would receive a response within 8 business hours… But, I never heard anything.
    9 business days – a second technician arrived to install yet another motherboard, which, thankfully, he managed to do without breaking anything else. However, Dell had sent the wrong screws to replace the ones stripped by the first technician.
    So, I sent another mail to customer service and, once again, got the automated “We will respond within 8 business hours”.
    12 business days – I finally heard from customer service. But, not to say sorry for the terrible service I’d been receiving and not to say that my replacement screws were on the way, but just to say that my service job would be closed within 24 hours. I replied rather promptly to ask what had become of my missing screws??
    To my surprise, this person had absolutely no knowledge of my screwed screws and asked me to supply photographic proof, which I duly did.
    20 business days – and still no reply…..
    Paying $5000 for a laptop that fails after just 4 months is bad enough, but to get this kind of terrible service is simply insulting. Unless you have a penchant for wasting money and time – DON”T BUY DELL!!!

  15. Iqbal Butt Says:

    I buy a brand new Dell laptop from HELL. The laptop hard drive was bad and the laptop take 10 minutes to boot up.
    I send the laptop to DELL and when I get it back there is a dent on the top. I send it back again and now they dont have a part.
    Please buy Lenova, Sony, ABC, XYZ but dont buy Dell=Hell.

  16. Ameen Says:

    Guys dont ever buy Dell Vostro14-3000 series. Its the worst laptop I have ever used.
    My first lappy was Toshiba with a 512 Ram and it was far better than i3 and 4gb Ram config by DELL.

    Its not with me but who ever using in my company has this problem.
    We recently started buying this becos of Nvidia but it is total pain…

  17. Edon Haziri Says:

    Hi i would like to ask u for a dell inspiron 15 3000 series cuz i have one its core i7 and its not working good i don know why or its only my notebook doing this defect ?

  18. A. mahmoud Says:

    i just have the dell inspiron 7000 brand new, and just found out that the hard drive is crashed and they have to send a person to replace the hard drive after 1 month having it, i ll never buy any dell product again

  19. Dibyasundar Deb Says:

    I want to buy a dell laptop…..range 25000 to 30000 Indian rupee…….please suggest me which one is best And windows7 is comfortable for me.

  20. dikshit rekhi Says:

    shit laptops!!problem problem and only problem….i wasted my money on dell inspiron 15 5000 series i will recommend not to buy this piece of crap, instead go for hp or sony. if not money problem go for apple…!!

  21. Valerie Inglis Says:

    i just acquired my first Dell – an Inspiron 14-3451. I found it extremely slow and the drive was chattering almost continuously. I called Tech Support (Philippines) and went through hours of troubleshooting – including a reset. The problems persisted so the tech sent a replacement drive THAT I HAD TO INSTALL. they also sent a thumb drive with the operating system. – FOR ME TO INSTALL. The laptop has no internet now nor does it have an Ethernet port. NOW WHAT DO THEY WANT ME TO DO!!!!!! I am awaiting the next email from them. I will never buy a Dell in the future and will recommend the same to anyone who will listen. SHAME ON DELL

  22. Marge Says:

    Made the mistake of buying a Dell laptop directly from Dell online. The monitor and other hardware failed within 3 months after only minimal use. I sent it back and the returned it to me “still broken”. Spent between 7PM and midnight on the phone with incredibly UN-knowledgeable tech support people who seemed to be trying to wear us down and giving us the run-around. We were patient and kind with them. We finally turned Dell in to both Federal and Local Government Consumer affairs for an investigation. In the mean time, $399 down the drain with a computer that is under a year old and supposedly still under warranty.

  23. John Hudon Says:

    Bought Dell for my wife on valentines day. As of July 30 the laptop has crashed 5 times and has inoperable for two months dealing with tech support. Laptop still does not work and Dell is saying the return period is up. I can’t believe Dell has back slid so much. I will never purchase another Dell product.

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