Buying a laptop when you’re deciding among the best brands can be confusing and overwhelming enough, but what about after you’ve picked a brand, and it has a bunch of different lines of laptops to choose from?
If you’re shopping Dell laptops, you’re probably facing that very issue. In this guide, we’ll try to make your decision a little easier by comparing two of the laptop manufacturer’s main laptop lines: Latitude and Inspiron.
Both Inspiron and Latitude laptops offer a variety of device sizes to choose from, but Inspirons offer more size options overall. Latitude laptops come in three sizes: 13 inches, 14 inches, and 15 inches. Inspiron allows customers to choose from five options, from 13 inches all the way to 17 inches. The latest Inspiron laptops only come in two styles: Traditional clamshell laptops or 2-in-1s. The Latitude line offers a little more variety. You can get one of three styles: A detachable tablet-style PC, a clamshell, or a 2-in-1.
The features each Inspiron laptop has vary among its different sizes and styles. That said, as a whole, you can expect to see the following specs on some or all Inspiron laptops: Displays with narrow bezels (of varying thickness), edge-to-edge keyboards, aluminum chassis (or exterior shells), webcam privacy shutters, backlit keyboards, and Thunderbolt 4 ports. The 13-inch clamshell Inspiron laptop also has a power button that includes a fingerprint reader. Inspiron laptops are also pretty lightweight overall, but their weights vary widely — you’ll find that they range from 2.78 pounds to 5.36 pounds.
When it comes to Dell’s Latitude line, you can also expect its design to vary among its models. But here’s what to expect overall: Thunderbolt 4 ports (for the more expensive models), non-backlit and backlit keyboards, an aluminum or carbon fiber chassis, thin bezels (of varying thicknesses), a fingerprint reader/power button combo, IR cameras, camera shutters, edge-to-edge keyboards, microSD card slots, and noise-canceling microphones. Because the Latitude line includes detachable tablet-style PCs, clamshells, and 2-in-1s, this laptop series is particularly lightweight and ranges from 1.70 pounds to 3.36 pounds.
Latitude laptop displays tend to skew toward higher resolutions and include FHD, 4K, FHD+, HD, and QHD. Inspiron displays usually feature FHD, 3K, and QHD+ resolutions.
When it comes to Latitude and Inspiron laptops, their respective use cases are already pretty well-defined by their manufacturer. The Latitude line is clearly marketed as a line of business laptops, and the Inspiron line has been given the “for home” designation. And so, the short answer is: Latitudes are best for remote workers and those who travel for business. Inspirons are designed for “home” use, but that nebulous description does open Inspirons to a wider number of uses than Latitudes. More on that later.
For business: Choose Latitude
The emphasis on business use for Latitude laptops can be seen in its included features: Corning Gorilla glass displays for durability while traveling for work, SafeScreen features to keep your work private, Thunderbolt 4 and HDMI 2.0 ports, up to 32GB of RAM, up to 1TB of solid-state drive (SSD) storage, Windows 10 Pro, and four-core, 11th-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.
Dell also offers three other notable features that boost the Latitude’s reputation as a business laptop: ExpressConnect, ExpressSign-in, and “intelligent audio.” ExpressConnect automatically prioritizes connecting to the strongest wireless access point no matter where you are. ExpressSign-in features a proximity sensor that senses your presence and then will “instantly wake and log you in via the IR camera and Windows Hello.” If you’re away from your Latitude laptop, it will lock itself to secure your work. And “intelligent audio” is a feature that enhances your video conferencing experience by improving audio quality and decreasing background noise.
In 2019, when we reviewed the Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1, we called it the “the best business laptop — if you can afford it.” At the time, we particularly appreciated its battery life, build quality, and the fact that the ExpressSign-in feature worked well. The battery life was exceptional, and that’s a feature that many Latitude laptops share.
For home (and other uses): Choose Inspiron
The Inspiron line is somewhat vaguely described by Dell as “for home.” But that doesn’t mean using it at home is your only option or that personal use is the only appropriate use case for it. In fact, two of our “best laptops” shopping guides feature Inspiron laptops on them for different reasons.
Best (budget) business laptop
In our best laptops under $1,000 list, we actually named an Inspiron laptop as our pick for the best business laptop at that price: The 2020 Dell Inspiron 15 7000. This particular Inspiron laptop comes with a large 15.6-inch screen and HDMI and Thunderbolt 3 ports. When we reviewed it, we appreciated how upgradeable it was and liked its keyboard and touchpad.
Best for college students
There are two Dell laptops listed in our best laptops for college guide, and one of them is the Dell Inspiron 14. It was our pick for college students on a tight budget. At its lowest price configuration, the current version of the Inspiron 14 features an 11th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, Windows 10 Home in S Mode, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of SSD storage, and a 14-inch FHD non-touch display. An earlier version of the Inspiron 14 (featured in our college guide) was priced below $500, making it a great budget pick for students. The current version is only a little over $500.
Overall, if you’re looking at just affordability, Inspiron laptops win the price category easily. And it makes sense. Laptops that are marketed as “for home” don’t necessarily need to be loaded up with expensive specs and features. Inspirons tend to be best for students or those who just want a casual laptop for personal use.
The Inspiron line comes in five different sizes, and the price ranges in each size category do vary quite a bit, but generally speaking, for an Inspiron laptop, you could be spending anywhere from $389 to $1,800. And that’s not even including any discounts you might find or sale prices from other retailers.
The Latitude line is a line of business laptops. They’re designed for professional use and to be portable workstations. And as such, they’re priced accordingly. Laptops that are built to handle long work hours, have high-quality video conferencing capabilities, and have security and privacy tools tend to be outfitted with higher specs, more features, and, naturally, hefty price tags.
Latitude laptops only come in three sizes, but each size category has lots of different laptop model options to choose from, so the prices vary wildly in each size category. But generally speaking? You can expect to pay anywhere from $897 (for a laptop in the 13-inch size category) all the way up to $5,750 for a laptop in the 15-inch size category. With Latitude, you’re far more likely to spend more than $1,000 on a laptop. But you’re getting more features and more capacity in those higher price ranges. Again, these prices don’t take into account sales, discounts, or prices you’ll find from other retailers.
Inspiron clearly wins the price category because it just has more affordable options than the Latitude line of laptops.
In this comparison, there is no clear winner. It really all depends on how you’re planning on using your new laptop and your budget. If you need a true workstation for your work-from-home setup or small business, get a Latitude. You’ll spend a lot more, but the security features, productivity-optimizing tools, and long battery life usually make the hefty price tag worth it.
If you just need a budget-friendly, all-purpose laptop for school or home, get an Inspiron. The prices can’t be beat, and you can still get the latest Intel processors and FHD displays even when you spend less.