Its build quality and battery life wasn't the best we had seen, but the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 once offered decent value
Update: Dell Inspiron 15 5558 no longer on sale
Chances are if you’re reading this review you’re at least semi-interested in buying Dell’s Inspiron 15 5558 laptop. That, or you have an unhealthy obsession with ancient tech. Well, if the former is the case I’m afraid I have some bad news: the Inspiron 15 5558 is no longer on sale.
And it hasn’t been available for some time. Sure, you may be able to purchase Dell’s once great Inspiron laptop, but you’ll likely have to buy a used model through a third-party seller. In that case, I ought to recommend a more modern alternative.
For roughly the same price as this model originally launched at (£599) you can pick up an Inspiron 15 5000 with an eight-generation Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB of RAM and 1TB of HDD storage. There’s also a 15.6in Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution display.
That said, you can relive the pinnacle of 2015’s laptops by reading Michael’s review, below.
Dell Inspiron 15 5558 review
Dell’s Inspiron laptops have always been hard to beat in terms of pure value, thanks to their mid-range processors and modest dedicated graphics cards at reasonable prices. Last year’s Dell Inspiron 5000 won a Best Buy award, thanks to its bargain price, great performance and decent battery life, so I was keen to have a look at this year’s model.
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Dell has gone back to the drawing board with this general-purpose laptop, keeping similarly powerful components but completely redesigning the chassis and installing a new screen. There are several Inspiron 15 5000-series models available; our review unit is the second-most powerful model, with an Intel Core i5 processor and dedicated graphics. A Core i7-powered version with dedicated graphics tops the range. There are two less powerful machines, with Core i5 and Core i3 variants, both without dedicated graphics.
In place of the 1,366×768 screen used on last year’s model, the new Inspiron now has a 1,920×1,080 panel, which finally suits the high-spec components you’ll find elsewhere on the laptop. Overall image quality is acceptable, although you shouldn’t expect accurate colours from an sRGB coverage figure of just 58%. I’d much rather have a slightly-drab Full HD screen than a better but cramped 1,366 x 768 panel, though, although some buyers may disagree.
It’s not a particularly bright display, with our calibrator only measuring a maximum 210cd/m2 white level at the screen’s brightest setting. This is offset slightly by the screen’s matte coating, which means bright overhead lighting and sunlight don’t affect the panel as badly as they would a glossy display.
The laptop doesn’t feel quite as solid as last year’s. The new model is a couple of millimetres thicker at 22mm with the lid closed, which bucks the trend of laptops getting thinner. This makes room for the DVD drive, which was omitted from last year’s model. The whole device weighs around 60g less, though, at a little over 2.3kg. It’s not light then, so you might want to look elsewhere if you tout your laptop about everyday.
The laptop’s lid will divide opinion, with a textured silver plastic that gives the effect of a robust build, but it doesn’t look as good as last year’s smooth, faux metal coating. The silver plastic used for the rest of the chassis doesn’t feel like quality stuff, either, and there’s a small gap between the palm rest and the keyboard tray, making a happy home for crumbs and hair. All in all, last year’s model felt a lot better built, which is a surprising change in form for Dell.
Windows 10 feels silky smooth on this laptop thanks to a combination of the dual-core Intel Core i5-5200U processor and the responsive touchpad, which works seamlessly with swipes, taps, clicks and two-fingered scrolling. The laptop managed an overall score of 35 in our benchmarks, including an impressive 58 in the single-threaded image-editing test. You’ll want to keep the fairly chunky 300g charger with you at all times, though, as the laptop’s battery life is mediocre. I saw just 3h 28m from a single charge in our moderate usage test; you’ll need to ramp up the power saving settings to get the most out of it.
The laptop’s Nvidia GeForce 920M graphics chip provides a fair amount of graphical grunt, with 4GB of dedicated memory. It’s by no means a fast card and is, in fact, the lowest-spec card in Nvidia’s current range, but its ability to handle multimedia and games should not be underestimated. I was able to coax it to 26fps in the Dirt Showdown 720p benchmark at High settings. You’ll be able to play 3D games on this laptop and lower detail levels, and titles such as Minecraft are within easy reach. More demanding games will require a significant tinkering with graphics settings, with both a resolution and overall detail reduction, but it’s a huge improvement over the graphics built into most laptop processors.
There’s a single USB 3 port on the left of the laptop, with a further two USB2 ports on the right side, leaving plenty of room for your peripherals. There’s also an SD card reader that accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC cards, and a 3.5mm headset jack on the right side of the chassis. You won’t always feel an immediate need to don your headphones, though, as the built-in speakers are loud without becoming distorted, faithfully handling dialogue and music in a well-balanced manner. There’s no bass to speak of, but considering it’s a mid-range laptop, I was impressed with the speakers.
Dell Inspiron 15 5558 review: Verdict
In a few ways, this year’s Dell Inspiron 15 5000 series is a step down from last year’s model. Build quality and battery life have both dipped, which is not something I’d typically expect from Dell. However, the compromises the company has made has allowed it to reinstate the DVD drive, which some users will be happy about, install a Full HD screen and bolster both the processing and graphics performance of this mid-range laptop. While it’s lost some of its desirability, the Inspiron 15 5000 is still good value, although the Acer Aspire V3-574G is only £40 more and has significantly better 3D performance.
|Dual-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U
|Memory slots (free)
|3.5mm headset port
|Nvidia GeForce 920M
|1TB hard disk
|Optical drive type
|Ports and expansion
|1x USB3, 2x USB2
|802.11ac Wi-Fi, gigabit Ethernet
|Memory card reader
|Windows 8.1 (free upgrade to Windows 10)
|Operating system restore option
|Parts and labour warranty
|One year collect and return
|Price inc VAT