I've owned 5 Dell Laptops and here is what I have found:
Dell CPx P3- Solid, great little performer, still works
Dell 9100- Brick, keyboard flexed, case creaked a bit
Dell 8600- Nice weight, creeking a bit on the armrests, overall a solid unit
Dell 9300- Nice quality, no creeking, very good unit
Dell XPS M140- Nice quality, no creeking, very solid unit for the size.
I would go with Dell is the cost/benefit ration is the bottom line. If you want cutting edge...