Dell Inspiron 15z review

Katharine Byrne
7 Jun 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

It’s rather large and heavy for an Ultrabook, but its responsive touchscreen and powerful hardware make it a Best Buy



15.6 in 1,366x768 display, 2.2kg, 2GHz Intel Core i7-3537U, 8.00GB RAM, 500GB disk, Windows 8

The Dell Inspiron 15z is a slimmed down version of Dell’s entry-level Inspiron 15 laptop, allowing it to sneak into the Ultrabook category. Despite this moniker, it’s a whole world away from Dell’s other flagship Ultrabook, the convertible XPS 12. This just goes to show just how far laptops have come in recent years, where once an Ultrabook was a top-end object of desire (and some still are), you can now pick up the 15z for as little as £500 - with a far lesser spec than the one we tested here.

Dell Inspiron 15z

It's one of the bulkier Ultrabooks we’ve tested in recent months, with a weight of 2.16kg and a maximum height of 23mm, it’s certainly pushing the limits of what we’ve come to expect from Intel’s rigid standard. In fact it only sneaks in thanks to Intel allowing an extra 2mm (up from 21mm normally) for touch-screen equipped designs.

The main highlight is its 15.6in touchscreen. The only other touchscreen Ultrabook we’ve seen with similar specs in this price range is the Best Buy-winning Asus VivoBook S400, so we were keen to see how it compared. It has a 1,366x768 maximum resolution, which is unremarkable, but the touchscreen itself is incredibly responsive. We had no trouble displaying the Windows 8 Charms bar or swiping between individual windows. We could tap individual files and pinch-zoom accurately and precisely.

Dell Inspiron 15z

The screen isn’t particularly bright, but when we put it side by side with the S400, the Inspiron 15z’s screen looked better. Colours looked more vibrant and whites and blacks were much deeper and truer. Our high contrast test images also showed very good levels of detail in both the light and dark areas of each photo. Unfortunately, its glossy finish did make it quite reflective.

The model we reviewed had an Intel Core i7-3537U processor running at 2GHz and 8GB of RAM. It scored 51 overall in our multimedia benchmarks, which means you’ll be able to run multiple programs at once and comfortably use fairly complex applications such as video and image editors.

The Inspiron 15z’s 2GB Nvidia GeForce GT630M graphics chipset will also appeal to those who enjoy gaming. It’s not the most powerful laptop graphics processor, but it still managed a smooth 32fps in our Dirt Showdown test at a resolution of 1,280x720 with graphics quality set to High and 4x anti-aliasing. Unfortunately, the Inspiron 15z only just passed our Crysis 2 benchmark, scoring 15fps at a resolution of 1,366x768 and Ultra quality. However, reducing the resolution to 1,280x720 and the graphics settings to High produced a much smoother 31fps, which is fairly impressive for a non-gaming laptop.

Dell Inspiron 15z

We were a little disappointed with the Chiclet-style keyboard. It was comfortable to type on, but the keys weren’t particularly bouncy and we noticed a lot of flex in the keyboard tray. The keys were also prone to picking up fingerprints, which made it look slightly messy and less appealing than other Ultrabooks we’ve tested. We liked its three utility buttons at the very top of the keyboard, though, as these give you instant access to the Windows Mobility Centre, Dell’s instant launch manager, and the Wave Maxx Sense control panel.

Its touchpad buttons were another weak point. The touchpad itself was very responsive and we had no trouble using Windows 8 shortcuts or pinch-zooming, but its buttons felt quite flimsy. As with the keyboard, these were very small irritations overall and certainly didn’t stop us using the laptop on a daily basis.

The Inspiron 15z has a wide range of connection ports. There are four USB3 ports, one of which can charge USB devices even when the laptop’s turned off. It also has an HDMI output, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an 8-in-1 card reader, a combined headphone and microphone jack and a re-writable DVD drive.

Dell Inspiron 15z

It has a passable battery life, managing five hours and 28 minutes in our light use battery test. We’d obviously prefer longer, but given the hardware inside, this is a decent result.

The Dell Inspiron 15z may not be the most visually exciting Ultrabook ever made, in fact you'd be hard pushed to persuade most people it was one, but it’s certainly excellent value. The Core i7-based Asus Vivobook S400 is cheaper, but the Inspiron 15z more than makes up for this imbalance with its superior screen and wider range of ports. It wins a Best Buy award.

If this specification is a little rich for your wallet, then the 15Z is available at numerous prices. The most basic model going to press used a Core i3 processor and ditched the touchscreen for £500, touchscreen models start from £579.

Basic Specifications

ProcessorIntel Core i7-3537U
Processor clock speed2GHz
Memory slots2
Memory slots free0
Maximum memory8GB
SoundRealtek HD Audio
Pointing devicetouchpad and touchscreen


Viewable size15.6 in
Native resolution1,366x768
Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce GT 630M
Graphics/video portsHDMI
Graphics Memory2,048MB


Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports4
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11b/g/n
PC Card slotsN/A
Supported memory cardsSD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC, MMC+, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MSXC
Other portsheadphone out


Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 8
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedN/A
Optional extrasN/A

Buying Information

Warrantyone year onsite, next business day