Dell is a great brand (I still have my old one), unlike my gateway laptops that died so stay away from any old/refurbished gateway laptops. However, I have not had an issue with Acer, the brand that bought them. Try checking them out.
Oh and don't count out refurbished laptops: you save a lot of money. Visit ubid for manufacturer refurbished laptops!
go for either MSI or ASUS laptop, there are a variety of those which are not really expensive and yet has a better specs for you to enjoy gaming and work. Asus has made a name for themselves by making good looking laptops, really premium look and finish, the specs are also a topnotch. I'm using an MSI ge620dx, really a great one