Dell Inspiron 15 7000 series: Built like a tank

Price

67,790

Tech2 Rating

6.5

Compare Item

0
By Roydon Cerejo /  31 Dec 2013 , 13:06:56

Dell’s Inspiron series has been synonymous with the term ‘budget notebook’ for a while now and every year, we get a refreshed version of the series to keep up with the times. This year, Dell aims at expanding the Inspiron’s portfolio to include a more classy and professional series of notebooks, which were earlier reserved for their Vostro and XPS series. The new Inspiron 7000 series comes in 14-inch and 15-inch screen sizes and today, we’ll be reviewing the base model of the latter series. With prices starting at Rs 68,990, we’re expecting a premium notebook with good specifications to back it up.

Design and build
The 7000 series has very distinctive looks and cannot be mistaken for any other Dell notebook. In fact, the beveled edges and aluminium chassis remind us a lot of the MacBook Pro. The lid is extremely sturdy with very little flex and applying pressure on it doesn’t warp the display too much either. The hinge has a reassuring stiffness when you open and close it however, there’s still that annoying wobble which can be a nuisance if you’re using it while travelling. The display supports 10-finger touch input and is also protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass. The glossy finish of the display is quite reflective but thankfully, this can be countered with the high 300-nit brightness level of the screen. The base model unfortunately, is fitted with a 1366 x 768 resolution display, which has poor viewing angles and colour reproduction. There’s a very narrow sweet-spot where everything looks good but view it from any other angle and the quality goes for a toss. A nice addition is a rubber gasket that lines the inner edge of the display to prevent dust settling in when closed.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000

The industrial design and build quality is top notch

The Inspiron 15 is quite a sizeable notebook and isn’t designed for portability. At 2.6kg, it’s not easy lugging it around in your backpack either. The beveled edges are a sort of theme and can be seen around the base of the notebook and the insides of the keyboard and trackpad as well. There’s plenty of room for the palm rest area and the generously sized trackpad works very well. You also get a host of multi-finger gesture for navigating through Windows 8. You also get a full-sized keyboard with support for two-stage backlighting.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000

The backlighting isn’t even across keys

We were surprised to find that even the 15-inch version lacked an optical drive. The rest of the ports include a total of 4 USB 3.0 ports with support for PowerShare on one of them. We also get a headphone/mic combo port, card reader, HDMI and a Gigabit LAN jack.The notebook is propped up by two thick rubber strips underneath, which gives it enough elevation for cool air to enter the vents. The exhaust opens up just before the hinge, so you don’t have to deal with heat from the notebook. As most of Dell’s recent offerings, the battery is non-removable. However, the base cover can be opened quite easily to swap out the RAM.

Overall, the Inspiron 15 7000 series feels incredibly well built and sturdy enough to last a lifetime. We’re not happy about the lacklustre display in the base version and typing on the keyboard is quite literally, a painful experience, which we’ll elaborate in a bit. As far as aesthetics and build goes however, we give it two thumbs up.

Features
Apart from the luxurious industrial design, the new Inspiron 7000 series packs in the latest hardware as well. We get a Haswell Intel Core i5-4200U, 6GB RAM, 500GB hard drive and Nvidia GT 750M for graphics. Windows 8 64-bit is also bundled along. If you opt for the Core i7 version, then you get more RAM, a larger hard drive and some SSD storage for caching. However, this variant is priced at Rs 80,000. Dell also bundles their usual suite of apps like McAfee, Dell Backup and Recovery, Dell Update, etc. The speakers get Waves MaxxAudio sound enhancements, which we’ll talk more about in a bit.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000

Plenty of connectivity options


Performance
Let’s begin with some numbers. The Inspiron 15 7000 series we just tested has the same Haswell CPU that we first saw on the Sony VAIO Pro 13. Naturally, we got very similar numbers for the CPU intensive tasks like SiSoft Sandra 2011 and Cinebench R11.5. This dual-core, hyper-threaded CPU packs in quite a punch even at 1.6GHz and isn’t too far behind the i7-4500U found in the more expensive model. Gaming is one area where the 7000 series really excels. the 15-inch model comes with a GT 750M in both CPU variants, which is more than adequate for running the latest 3D games. The new GPU from Nvidia is based on the Kepler architecture and packs in 2GB of video memory for loading heavy textures with ease. We managed to get a healthy 70FPS in Sleeping Dogs at the native resolution and medium settings. Bioshock Infinite delivered much better frames of 40 and above, with ‘Ultra’ settings. Clearly, the low resolution helps you bump up the eye-candy in current games without sacrificing frame rate but there’s no excuse for the poor quality of the display.

Model

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 – 7537

Sony Vaio Pro 13 (SVP1321WSNB)

Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro

Price

Rs 68,990

Rs. 74,990

Rs. 75, 490

Weight

2.6 kg

1.06 kg

1.6 kg

CPU

Intel Core i5-4200U, 1.6GHz

Intel Core i5-4200U, 1.6GHz

Intel Core i5-3317U, 1.7GHz

RAM

6 GB

4 GB

2 GB

Storage

500 GB HDD

128GB SSD

128GB SSD

Graphics Processor

Nvidia GT 750M

Intel HD 4400

Intel HD 4000

Display

15.6-inch, 1366 x 768

13.3-inch 1920×1080

11.6-inch 1366×768

OS

Windows 8

Windows 8

Windows 8

 Synthetic Performance (Higher is better)

SiSoft Sandra 2013

Processor Multimedia (Mpix/s)

117

95.28

82.8

Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)

13.5

13.54

9.79

PCMark 7 Overall

2817

4216

4117

Cinebench R11.5

2.16

2.36

2.41

(multi-core)

Crystal Disk Mark (seq read / write) (in MB/s)

97.6/92.6

509.9/130.9

439/247

Battery Eater Pro

210

347

153

(Classic Test) in mins

Real World (lower is better)

File compression: 100 MB files to 7zip @ultra, Bzip2

84

79

83

Video encoding: 1 min MPEG to H.264 (2nd pass)

80.7

76

68

Ray tracing: POVRay (800×600, AA 0.3)

39

41

46

Gaming

Sleeping Dogs (1366 x 768, Medium)

70FPS

NA

NA

Bioshock Infinite (1366 x 768, Ultra)

42FPS

NA

NA

The speakers on the notebook are really loud and the audio quality is good enough for enjoying a movie with a bunch of friends. The speaker slits are placed along the front edge, facing downwards so they don’t get blocked even if you use it on your lap. You won’t be doing too much of the latter bit since the notebook is bulky and it isn’t the most comfortable experience.

Speaking of discomfort, Dell has completely missed the mark when it comes to the keyboard. The keys aren’t sculpted, so it’s difficult to type on without making an error. The tactile feel is almost non-existent as well which means you’re never confident that you’ve hit the key, even if it is the right one. After a while, you’re fingers start to hurt as there’s hardly any travel and it feels like you’re typing on a slab of granite.

Battery Life
The Inspiron 15 is fitted with a 58WHr battery, which lasted 3-hours and 30-minutes on Battery Eater Pro. For everyday use, you can expect around 6-7 hours of battery life, which is very good for a notebook with a dedicated GPU.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000

Swapping out battery, RAM and hard drive is very easy

Verdict and Price in India
The new Dell Inspiron 15 7000 series will set you back a cool Rs 68,990, which is quite expensive for what’s on offer. We say this, because the HP Envy Touchsmart 15 has the exact same configuration but with more RAM (8GB) and storage (1TB) for Rs 64,000. It’s also quite a bit lighter as well at 2.1kg. The Dell 7000 does make a good case for itself with an excellent build and industrial design, good gaming performance, decent audio and long battery life. However, all of this is moot when you look at the lacklustre display and the non-ergonomic keyboard. We can’t vouch for the higher end variant, which has a Full HD display, but we recommend you skip the base model and have a look at the HP Envy Touchsmart 15 for a better configuration at a lesser price or the Apple MacBook Air, as a more portable option.


Tags: , , ,

LAPTOPS Reviews

Subscribe to our newsletter GO
FOLLOW US ON

CAMERA Reviews

SMARTPHONE Reviews