The Inspiron range is a long-standing pillar of Dell's laptop line, so we're pleased to see a new model updated with the latest Intel hardware. It's a good-looking bit of kit, too, with a brushed metal finish across the lid.
The metallic lid and smart Dell logo get this machine off to a good start, and the look continues to the sides and base, where more metal is layered over the Dell's plastic skeleton to add a bit of sheen.
This isn't a particularly expensive notebook, though, so don't expect metal draped over every surface. The underside of the base is only covered in metal on areas where it'll be visible, and the keyboard, wrist-rest and screen bezel are all finished with underwhelming matte black plastic.
Build quality is a little more consistent. The wrist-rest barely budges, the screen feels sturdy, and the underside has a little give – but all of the components inside are well-protected. We'd have no qualms about slinging the Inspiron inside a backpack and expecting it to survive the rigours of the road, and you'll only need to use a protective sleeve if you're concerned about aesthetic damage.
The port selection throws up no surprises, with a trio of USB connections, an HDMI output and Gigabit Ethernet alongside an SD card reader. Interior access is decent: the base panel lifts away after just two screws are removed, and the memory, hard disk, battery, processor and wireless card are all easily accessible. That's good, although there isn't any room for additional hardware.
This isn't an Ultrabook or a convertible machine, which means it's chunkier than both of its main rivals. At 0.9in (23mm) thick it's a tad broader than the 0.78in (20mm) Lenovo ThinkPad X250 and the 0.86in (22mm) Asus Transformer Book Flip TP300LA, and it tips the scales at 4.4lbs (2kg) – almost 2lb more than the Lenovo and around half a pound more than the Asus.
The Scrabble-tile keyboard has a numberpad, which is a boon for productivity, and its layout is mostly fine – we're not thrilled to a see a single-height Return key, but that's our only quibble.
It's a reasonable start, but the keys themselves don't lend themselves to serious typing. The base isn't firm enough, and the keys don't have enough travel – a combination of symptoms that makes the keyboard unsatisfying, without the movement and conviction of better, pricier machines. It's fine for browsing, instant messaging and typing out emails, but that's about it.
The trackpad is initially too sensitive, which can be fixed in the Control Panel, and it's fine elsewhere – the surface is smooth and responsive, and the buttons are light and consistent.
Here's the spec sheet for the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 as provided to TechRadar:
- CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 3GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: AMD Radeon R7 M265
- RAM: 8GB DDR3
- Screen: 15.6-inches, 1,366 x 768, non-touch
- Storage: 1TB HDD 5,400RPM
- Optical drive: No
- Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, Combo audio jack, HDMI, SD card reader
- Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless – AC 7260, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.0
- Camera: 720p Webcam
- Weight: 4.4 pounds (2kg)
- Size: 0.9 x 13.6 x 9.6-inches, 23 x 345 x 243mm (H x W x D)