Dell vs. HP

If you’ve gone shopping for a laptop in the last, oh, decade, you’ve undoubtedly run into two behemoth manufacturers, Dell and Hewlett-Packard. They’re inescapable, omnipresent in any computer aisle outside of an Apple Store. They also make excellent laptops, with several Editors’ Choice systems between them. Collected here are ten choice laptops, across multiple categories. In some instances, both manufacturers make category-leading devices, and choosing between them is a question of price and what specifications meet your unique needs. We pit Dell vs. HP, comparing five great laptops from each, to see how the two laptop manufacturers stack up.
If you want business capability, you have both the HP EliteBook 8460p and the Dell Latitude E6430 ATG to choose from. Both offer first-class performance with a dash of rugged construction thrown in for those whose work takes them out of the office. The Latitude E6430 ATG holds the Editors’ Choice crown, but the EliteBook 8460p offers similar capabilities and less intense ruggedization for half the price.
Media laptops are also neck in neck, with both the Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition (7720) and the HP Envy 17 (2012) packing plenty of features into slick-looking 17-inch desktop replacements. The HP Envy 17 is a bit more expensive (by about $200), but it also is our Editors’ Choice with a Blu-ray player, Beats Audio, and a gorgeous 1,920-by-1,080 resolution display.
In other areas there are clear leaders, where either Dell or HP have carved out a niche and produced clear winners. For example, HP doesn’t have the dedicated gaming line-up that Dell has in the Alienware brand. Alienware may not be the only gaming system on the market, but the Alienware M17x R4 leads the category as an Editors’ Choice thanks to top performance scores and all the flashy extras a gamer could want.
If you want portability, HP’s line of ultrabooks boasts several of the best to come through the labs, like the stylish HP Envy 4-1043cl, the glass-covered HP Envy 14 Spectre, or the business-minded HP Folio 13-1020us (another Editors’ Choice winner). But while HP has made a strong play in the ultrabook category, Dell has continued to churn out excellent desktop replacements, like the Dell Inspiron 15R Special Edition (7520) and the Dell XPS 15 (Summer 2012).
No matter what you’re looking for in a laptop, HP and Dell have divided up the pie rather well, and between the two, there’s something for almost everyone.