Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 (2015) review

A solid laptop and sharp tablet in one attractive package

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Size-wise, the Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition measures approximately 13 inches (330mm) wide and 8.7 inches (222mm) deep – a nice, compact footprint. At 0.75 inches (19mm) thick, it isn't unreasonably bulky, but it isn't quite as slim as other, comparable convertible notebooks. The HP Spectre x360, for instance, is only 0.63 inches (16mm) thick.

At 3.68 pounds (1.67kg), this laptop is also slightly heavier than its 2-in-1 peers. It doesn't feel too hefty in hand, but it's a little weighty compared to the 3.26-pound (1.47kg) Spectre x360 and the 3.5-pound (1.58kg) Lenovo Yoga 3 14. The Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition may be just slightly overweight for a convertible notebook, but compared to standalone tablets – most of which weigh under two pounds – this Inspiron is downright clunky.

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Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Here is the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

Spec sheet

  • CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1,600MHz)
  • Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD IPS touchscreen
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0; HDMI, SD/MMC card reader, headphone/microphone combo
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: 720p front-facing webcam; built-in dual digital microphones
  • Weight: 3.68 pounds (1.67kg)
  • Size: 12.99 x 8.74 x 0.75 inches (W x D x H; 330 x 222 x 19mm)

This Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition, as configured above, costs $999 (about £635, AU$1,294). Spec-wise, it's comparable to the similarly priced $999 (£899, AU$1,899) Spectre x360 and $949 (£799, AU$1,899) Yoga 3 14 models, except the Inspiron comes with a Core i7-5500 as opposed to the Core i5-5200 inside its rivals. Any of these offer great values, but the Inspiron has a slight edge based on its more powerful CPU.

The Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition starts at $749, but it is not available in Australia or the UK. The standard Inspiron 13 7000 lineup is available overseas, however, and it starts at $529 (£429, AU$1,299).

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Performance

The notebook's beefy CPU provides plenty of power for most tasks. And in day-to day use, I notice no real lag or slowdown.

The Inspiron 13 7000 performed as follows in our benchmark testing:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 4,749; Sky Diver: 2,490; Fire Strike: 630
  • Cinebench CPU: 273 points; Graphics: 25 fps
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,352 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 12 minutes

The Inspiron 13 7000 put up benchmark scores similar to the HP Spectre x360, a comparable, though slimmer, 13-inch convertible notebook that put up impressive numbers. However, the Spectre and its Core i5 CPU actually edged out the Inspiron on a few of the tests. The Inspiron topped the Spectre on the Cinebench CPU test (273 points to 257) and the 3DMark tests, while the Spectre has the Dell beat in the PCMark 8 Home Test (2,424 points to 2,352).

That said, these numbers are so close that they could very well be flukes.

The Inspiron 13 handily beat the Yoga 3 14's CPU scores across the board, easily outclassing that machine's 2,199 PCMark 8 score, and its 203-point showing in the Cinebench CPU test.

While not necessarily a gaming powerhouse, the Inspiron 13 7000 – with its Intel HD 5500 graphics chipset – can hold its own. It edged out the Spectre x360 in all three of the 3DMark gaming benchmarks, and its Fire Strike score of 630 was higher than both the Spectre x360 and Lenovo's laptop, which lagged behind with a score of 572.

The Inspiron edged out the Yoga in the Cinebench graphics test, achieving a score of 25 frames per second (fps) compared to the Yoga's 23 fps, but the Spectre achieved 30 fps in the same test. You won't want to run resource-intensive 3D games, but for more casual gaming, the Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition has you covered.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Half-day battery

According to Dell, the 43-watt-hour, 3-cell battery will run up to 9 hours between charges. But generally, I get around 5 hours of continuous use mostly while browsing the web, writing, and streaming music.

The PCMark 8 Battery Benchmark (a veritable battery torture test) rated the Inspiron 13 7000 at 3 hours and 12 minutes – considerably worse than the Yoga 3 14 (3:40) and the HP Spectre x360 (4:38). If you're looking for all-day battery life, this isn't the machine for you.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Decent display and multimedia features

The whole unit is built around the 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080-pixel multi-touch display. Text and photos look crisp and sharp, and I'm generally satisfied with its contrast and color saturation. It isn't the brightest screen I've used, but it's bright enough for indoor use.

I find it difficult to use in direct sunlight, however, due to the relatively limited screen brightness and reflective glass covering the display. Fingerprints from using the tablet features don't help the display's glossy finish, either.

The downward facing speakers on the Inspiron 13 7000 are decent. They don't have the richest audio quality, but they're clear and loud. That's about all you can ask for from the built-in audio on a notebook. Rounding out the multimedia features is a built-in 720p webcam, located right above the screen: It records fuzzy images, but it handles low light situations reasonably well.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Bundled software

Dell bundled a handful of apps with the Inspiron 13 7000, such as Skype, McAfee's LiveSafe security package (with a one-year subscription), and Dell's customary support and system recovery tools. The notebook also comes with a one-year subscription to Dropbox's 20GB cloud storage plan.

Dell's system tools popped up a few times during my time with the Inspiron 13 7000, as did McAfee's software, but the machine is otherwise blissfully free of bloatware, toolbars and unwanted notifications.