Dell Inspiron 7000 Review

Dell’s latest 15 inch notebook is a solid office machine that looks strikingly like just about every other current laptop.

Dell Inspiron 7000: On the plus side

The Dell Inspiron 7000’s design reminds me of something. Unfortunately, that something is “every other laptop that wants to look like a Macbook Pro”.
I’m not going to say that the Macbook Pro is the pinnacle of design — because it’s not — and I totally get why silver aluminium style designs are the current fashion, because as a business you’d want to make laptops people would buy. At the same time, it gives it a business style, but not much in the way of visual fun. That’s totally an aesthetic observation, of course.
It is very nicely built, with smooth rounded corners on the display screen and a keyboard with solid travel characteristics and a full number pad embedded. The tradeoff for that is — as it so often is — that the cursor keys are shrunk down to a very small size.

Silver is not -- or should not be -- the only colour.
Silver is not — or should not be — the only colour.

As with all other things Dell branded, there are any number of configurations available for the Dell Inspiron 7000. The model I tested with was relatively high end within Dell’s configuration matrix, with an Intel Core i7-4500U 1.8GHz processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and an NVIDIA Geforce GT 750M 2GB handling graphics duties.
The Dell Inspiron 7000 I tested with features a touchscreen, so it’s fully Windows 8 compatible, but here you have to be a little careful, as Dell sells an awful lot of laptops under the “Inspiron” brand. It does at least make it clear when ordering which screens have touch and which don’t, but it would be wise to accurately check what you’re getting against what you expect.
I’d love to present some benchmarks for the Dell Inspiron 7000 here, but throughout my testing with 3DMark and PCMark, one thing remained constant.
The Dell Inspiron 7000 doesn’t like benchmarks much at all. It crashed PCMark multiple times. It crashed 3DMark multiple times, although that at least I could scrape some scores out of. Neither benchmark liked Dell’s own graphics drivers much, which is probably the root cause.
On the 3DMark front, it benchmarked in line with what you’d expect out of an office PC, scoring 17780 in Ice Storm, 3067 in Cloud Gate and 429 in Fire Strike. Nothing truly stunning there, but then Dell has Alienware for the gaming crowd, and this isn’t a play in that market.
Given the internal specifications of the model I reviewed it should be a speedy office performer, but direct comparison is a difficult thing.
One benchmark that did impress me with the Dell Inspiron 7000 was its battery stamina. I ran it with full brightness and volume looping a video track, and left it to fully exhaust. Larger laptops are typically not that great when it comes to preserving power, because it takes more power to light up the display screen. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 managed to chug along for an impressive seven hours and twenty six minutes before sputtering to a stop.

Dell Inspiron 7000: On the minus side

The Dell Inspiron 7000 has many of the drawbacks inherent in a larger laptop. It’s large, in other words, and in a world of ultrabooks and easy carrying weights, hefting around its 2.6kg carrying weight very quickly becomes a chore. It’s impressive that it can last a full day of work without too much trouble, but I’m not convinced that too many mobile office workers will appreciate the shoulder strain along the way.
The Dell Inspiron 7000 is touchscreen enabled, but in my testing I hit more than a few instances where touch commands weren’t properly recognised. It was nothing that couldn’t be solved with a quick swipe across the touchpad, but that’s not exactly optimal.

Touchpads should be in the dead centre of every laptop. This should be THE LAW.
Touchpads should be in the dead centre of every laptop. This should be THE LAW.

It’s a personal quirk all the way, but I’m not a big fan of laptops with offset touchpads. I always — and I mean always — tap for the wrong spot, because my brain says that the touchpad should be in the middle of the laptop body.

Dell Inspiron 7000: Pricing

Quoting pricing on Dell gear is a tricky business, because the build-to-order model of the business, combined with specials makes pinning an exact price down quite a tricky affair. At the time of writing, the configuration I tested was selling at $1199 with a suggested “regular” price of $1499.
I’ve never seen a Dell product at full RRP, and if you’re tempted, I’d certainly suggest holding out for a special that either cuts the price or adds extra features — typically memory or storage — before plunking your money down.

Dell Inspiron 7000: Fat Duck verdict

The Dell Inspiron 7000 is exactly what it looks like; a solid and reliable enough workhorse with just a little bit of graphics grunt on the side. It’s certainly no gaming laptop, and I’d strongly advise anyone interested to make sure that they hit Dell up when there’s a decent special offer going — which is almost 99 per cent of the time, as far as I can see.

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