Dell gaming laptop buyer’s guide

The best Dell gaming laptops & Alienware gaming laptops for 2021

Dell Gaming Laptop
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If you’re in the market for a Dell gaming laptop then this is the page for you. We’ve selected the best of the lot, according to budget and user experience, to help you find the option that best fits your needs.

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Dell gaming laptops vs Alienware gaming laptops

Dell’s most premium range of gaming laptops are their own sub-brand known as Alienware. Whilst Dell do make ‘Dell brand’ gaming laptops, these tend to be budget to mid-range offerings, with the real high-end performers being the Alienware X17, Alienware Area 51m, and others besides. So whether you go with a Dell or Alienware branded gaming laptop really depends on your budget. We have options from both listed below.

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Our Top Picks

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WePC Awards Best In Class
A pricey but superbly designed slimline 17-inch gaming laptop
02
A solid mid-price Dell gaming laptop with powerful RTX 3060
03
An older gen, but still powerful 17.3” Alienware Dell gaming laptop

The best Dell gaming laptop in 2022

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In-depth Review

01
A pricey but superbly designed slimline 17-inch gaming laptop
WePC Awards Best In Class

Alienware X17 (360Hz, RTX 3080)

Alienware X17

CPU

Intel Core i7-11800H

Graphics

Nvidia RTX 3070/3080

RAM

16GB

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

17.3”

Max Refresh Rate

360Hz

Editor's Rating
4.0/5
Pros

good gaming performance

good speakers

good membrane keyboard with numpad

nice aesthetics

great color replication

good response time

microSD slot

Cons

still expensive unless you buy one on sale

massive powerbrick

300Hz option doesn’t come with G-Sync

Out of the new Alienware X15 and X17, we’ve gone for the larger X17 with its 17.3-inch display for our premium pick of the best Dell gaming laptops. This is not only because the larger display helps give greater immersion in games, but also as the size constraints of the X15 hamper its performance by comparison, whereas the larger X17 iteration manages to have a nice high TGP for its GPU options, as well as good power supply for the CPU.

This means that gaming performance for either the RTX 3070 version or the RTX 3080 version of this machine are great, particularly considering that this is a slimline laptop. Dell have managed to pull off a very impressive technical feat with the cooling in this beast, despite its thin size, keeping thermal throttling to a relative minimum. The one downside to this is the massive powerbrick that the laptop comes with to pump all those volts in, which does hamper the portability of the machine somewhat. Battery life however, in general non-gaming usage, comes in at around 5 hours for the RTX 3070 version, which, for an Alienware laptop is far better than usual, and puts it up there with the majority of the competition at this price point.

The display on this Alienware is predictably superb in terms of color replication, contrast, and brightness. All display options cover at least 100% of the sRGB space, making them ideal for color work / graphic design in this space. Of all the display options we’d strongly recommend that you go with the 1080p 360Hz option, as this is the only one with G-Sync, a MUX Switch to disable Optimus (vital for ensuring the best performance) and also a stated 1ms response time, making it by far the best gaming option.

The mechanical keyboard and trackpad of the X17 are both great to use (though it does lack a numpad) and it comes with a handy microSD card slot. The motherboard is of the flipped variety, making it more difficult to upgrade the GPU and CPU should you wish to, but at least the RAM can be upgraded.

Ultimately the biggest issue with this laptop is the very high price, but if you want a piece of laptop excellence and can afford it, this is one of the best around.

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A solid mid-price Dell gaming laptop with powerful RTX 3060

Dell G15 5515 (165Hz, RTX 3060)

Dell G15 5515

CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 5800H

Graphics

Nvidia RTX 3060 (110-125W)

RAM

16GB

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

15.6”

Max Refresh Rate

165Hz

Editor's Rating
3.5/5
Pros

High TGP RTX 3060 gives good gaming performance

superb battery life

decent color replication

good brightness & contrast

decent build quality

Cons

poor display response time

slow stock RAM

terrible internal software

The Dell G15 is a very worthy option for a mid-range Dell gaming laptop, coming as it does with some powerful core components capable of pushing those FPS in games. Though you can go with the cheaper all AMD option if you want (the Dell G15 5505), which comes with a Ryzen 5 4600H CPU and Radeon 5600M GPU, we’d recommend the option listed here, which combines a Ryzen 7 5800H processor and an Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card. The RTX 3060 GPU is a particularly powerful one, with a high TGP that means it can perform to the equal of many RTX 3070 laptops in game.

As with many laptops since the global silicon shortage began, the stock RAM of this laptop is on the slow side, and this causes performance bottlenecking, but this is thankfully upgradable.

The 1080p 165Hz display (which is a good refresh rate for the majority of users) has good color replication, coming in at around 99% sRGB (though if you opt for the 120Hz version it’s a lot closer to 60% sRGB, so avoid this one!). The response time of the screen is however disappointing, only having a stated 13ms grey-to-grey, which means the actual real world response time will probably be even slower.

This highly charged RTX 3060 does mean that the laptop runs hot in terms of internal temperature, but, unlike most Dell machines, you don’t really feel this under your hands when gaming. Again, unusually for Dell, the battery life on this G15 is superb, coming in around 10 hours in general usage, which is one of the best you’re likely to find in a machine with this amount of power. Unfortunately the standard of the internal software is very typical for Dell, in that it’s extremely poor and annoying to navigate.

The overall build quality of the laptop is good, though the keyboard and trackpad could be better. If you’re not committed to Dell solely, you may want to consider the Lenovo Legion 5 as an alternative, which performs similarly in game but has a superior keyboard, trackpad, and onboard software, though it does have a worse battery life and is more expensive than the Dell G15.

All told though, the Dell G15 5515 is a solid mid-range choice.

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An older gen, but still powerful 17.3” Alienware Dell gaming laptop

Alienware Area-51m R2 (300Hz, RTX 2080 SUPER)

Alienware Area 51m R2

CPU

Intel Core i9-10900K

Graphics

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super

RAM

16GB

Storage

1TB SSD

Screen Size

15.6”

Max Refresh Rate

300Hz

Editor's Rating
3.0/5
Pros

good gaming performancece

good speakers

good membrane keyboard with numpad

nice aesthetics

great color replication

good response time

microSD slot

Cons

still expensive unless you buy one on sale

massive powerbrick

300Hz option doesn’t come with G-Sync

The Alienware Area 51m r2 is essentially the predecessor of the Alienware X17 and so comes with the older gen Nvidia RTX 2080 Super graphics card, but it still packs a pretty mighty punch. The 10th gen Intel Core i9 10900K is actually of similar power to the 11th gen i7 11800H in the X17, and the overall gaming performance is around that of an RTX 3070 equipped X17, albeit with less impressive Ray Tracing support.

The display has the standard top-notch Alienware color replication, covering 100% of the sRGB space. The 300Hz version of the display has the best stated response time of 3ms, so that’s the one we’d recommend, although the 9ms 144Hz screen does come with G-Sync, whereas the former sadly doesn’t.

The Area 51m r2 is a chunkier and heavier customer than the slimline X17, but is of a reasonable size compared to most of the competition, not like the tank-sized Alienware machines of old, although it still comes with the standard weighty power brick.

The Area 51m r2 is a nicely designed machine overall, striking yet tasteful. The keyboard is membrane rather than mechanical but it is of a good standard, and comes with a numpad. The speakers on this machine are pretty good for a gaming laptop, superior to the X17, and the microSD slot is always a nice feature.

We can’t exactly claim that this laptop is cheap at full price, but as an older machine it is often on sale, so we’d try and snap one up if you see one reduced whilst stocks last, as this model has been discontinued from production.

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A budget Dell gaming laptop that's worth considering if you can find a good discount

Dell G3 15 (144Hz, GTX 1660 Ti)

Dell G3 15

CPU

Intel Core i7 10750H

Graphics

Nvidia GTX 1660Ti / RTX 2060

RAM

16GB

Storage

512GB SSD

Screen Size

15.6”

Max Refresh Rate

144Hz

Editor's Rating
2.0/5
Pros

144Hz display

decent battery life

Cons

overpriced at full price

color replication isn’t great

The Dell G3 15 comes available in different configurations at different price points. The two we’d recommend come with the previous generation RTX 2060 graphics card, or the previous previous gen GTX 1660 Ti. Both these GPUs will offer entry level gaming performance, though don’t expect to be playing the most demanding games on anything but the lowest of settings.

The 144Hz display gets the job done, though don’t expect much in the way of response time. Color replication is only around 50% of sRGB, and brightness and contrast could both be better, so this isn’t a machine for any form of color work or visual editing. Still, for budget gaming its quite sufficient in this area.

Build quality, the array of ports, webcam and microphone are all about what you’d expect in this price range (i.e. middling to low quality), though battery life is significantly above average, especially for an Intel powered machine.

The main caveat we have with regards to the Dell G3 15 is that you should only really pick one up if it’s on offer, as at full price there are better, newer, and more powerful options from other manufacturers that cost the same. Fortunately you will frequently find them on sale during the usual periods, for several hundred dollars off or equivalent.

Final Word

This has been our guide to the best Dell gaming laptop in 2022. We hope it has proved useful and helped you find the option which is right for you. If you want to check our more options from different brands, then see our various best gaming laptop guides for different price ranges under Custom Gaming PC > Gaming Laptop in the main site menu. Alternatively, you can have a look at our best gaming laptop page for our selections across all price ranges and brands.

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The Author Who Worked On This Article

Technology Writer
at
WePC
From halcyon days playing Sonic 2 on the Megadrive, to trying to work out how to make the ‘TOASTY!’ man appear on Mortal Kombat 3, many of Aaron’s fondest childhood memories are associated with gaming. He regrets nothing. First getting into PC gaming through exposure to Drug Lord 2.0 and then the original Half Life, he has been a fiend ever since. If you need to know anything about gaming laptops, he’s your guy.

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