Dell Inspiron 15 5000 review
Processor: Dual-core 2GHz Intel Core i7-4510U, RAM: 8GB, Size: 380x259x21.8mm, Weight: 2.38kg, Screen size: 15.6in, Screen resolution: 1,366x768, Graphics adaptor: AMD Radeon HD R7 M265, Total storage: 1TB Hard disk
We're big fans of Dell Inspiron 15 5000 and it's now better value than ever, having recently received a £50 price drop. This means the top spec is now available for under £500, making it one of the best laptops you can buy today without breaking the bank. Its brushed aluminium chassis is particularly stunning and makes a refreshing change from the cheap plastic we normally see on laptops in this price range. With the lid closed, its profile is very flat compared to the raised curves of some of its rivals and its 21.5mm thick chassis keeps the Inspiron 15 feeling nice and thin. Reassuringly, the Inspiron 15’s chassis still feels tough and pleasant to the touch.
The interior is understated with matt black plastic used for the palm rest and around the keyboard. The screen’s bezel uses a slightly textured material and it was nice to see there are no lights or LEDs to cause any distractions or break up the clean design. The display’s hinge was also solid and felt like it could live up to the rigours of extended use.
The system’s footprint is slightly larger than some other 15in laptops but this means that there is a generously sized area for your palms and the touchpad is nice and tall, leaving your more room for gestures and swiping. The extra size also means the Inspiron 15 has reasonable connectivity options.
There are three USB ports, two of which are USB3, a multi-card reader that supports SDHC cards, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a headset jack and an HDMI output for an external display. Unfortunately there’s no VGA connection, which could be a problem if you have an older display.
The Inspiron 15 is well specified, making it a good performer in both light gaming and application performance. It uses a dual-core Intel i7-4510U processor that runs at 2GHz but can boost up to a considerable 3.1GHz under the right thermal conditions. There’s also a total of 8GB of RAM installed across two memory slots. The motherboard supports up to 16GB but you’ll need to swap out both existing sticks if you want to install the maximum.
In our 2D application benchmarks the Inspiron 15 scored a very respectable 50 in our tests that look at a system’s image editing, video transcoding and multitasking capabilities. This shows the Inspiron 15 shouldn’t have any problems handling most computing tasks you might throw at it.
We were happy to see that Dell has also equipped the system with a dedicated graphics card, which isn’t always the case for laptops at this price. The Inspiron 15 uses an AMD Radeon HD R7 M265 with 2GB of memory. It did reasonably well in our Dirt Showdown test. At 1,280x720 resolution, 4x anti-aliasing and High graphics we managed to get a solid 32.3fps. Even when set to the display’s native resolution of 1,366x768 we saw 30.8fps, which is still smooth enough to have an enjoyable gaming experience.
You should be able to do some light to moderate gaming on the system but you will likely have to turn the graphics quality down on any newer, more graphically intensive games. Annoyingly, during gaming or under load, the fans spin up to an audible rate that proved rather distracting.
The Inspiron 15 has a keyboard that is generally comfortable to use with all of the keys sensibly spaced out. The only minor annoyance is the Return key, which is very thin and proved easy to miss when touch-typing. There’s a numberic keypad on the right that has skinny keys, but these are still perfectly comfortable to use. We would like a little more travel in the keys but otherwise we were happy with the keyboard and had no real issues building up to a decent typing speed.
The touchpad is slightly offset from the centre and was reasonably responsive. As mentioned, it’s nice and large and the integrated mouse buttons don’t require a lot of pressure to operate. We never encountered any major problems with general responsiveness but smaller swipes were sometimes not as accurate as we would have liked. The matt material was at least smooth enough to glide a finger across without any issues. It supports the usual multi-touch gestures, such as pinching and zooming, that made navigating around the operating system a breeze.
There is a pair of downward-firing stereo speakers on the front and we found these sounded rather tinny without any real bass presence. They were quite loud, however, and will be adequate for watching films.
The Inspiron 15 has a 15.6in display with a 1,366x768 resolution. In our subjective tests, our test images looked a little washed out and lacking contrast. What should have been vibrant reds appeared more like a pastel shade at times. There was also some slightly uneven backlighting from the bottom of the display but it wasn’t the worst we’ve seen.
Our scientific calibration tests showed the display had a contrast ratio of 480:1, which is reasonable for a laptop at this price. The display’s black levels were also decent at 0.43cd/m2 but coverage of the sRGB colour gamut was a little below average at 54.5 per cent. If you’re looking to conduct any colour sensitive work, such as photo editing, you will struggle with accurate colours from this display but it was fine for watching movies and general use.
Battery life was a decent 6 hours and 20 minutes, which is shy of all-day battery but still respectable. Overall, the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 is an attractive, well-built laptop that offers a good balance of both application and gaming performance. It’s a great choice for an all-round laptop without breaking the bank and offers excellent performance for a laptop at this price with decent battery life. It wins a Best Buy award.