Dell Inspiron 15R review

Dell's entry-level Inspiron range gets a comprehensive overhaul

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Down to business with components. Gone are Intel's Celeron, Pentium and Core 2 Duo processors, with the Inspiron 15R featuring a powerful Intel Core i5 430M chip. Boasting Intel's hyper-threading and overclocking technologies, this is a seriously powerful chip.

By way of a quick explanation, hyper-threading allows you to multi-task a much greater variety of tasks than older chip technologies, while the processor can also overclock itself from a speed of 2.26GHz to 2.533GHz.

This allows for better power consumption, and also enhanced performance exactly when and where you need it. The Inspiron 15R also features 4GB of memory, and the combination of this and the Core i5 processor means excellent performance.

The Inspiron 15R took a little while to start-up, but once it got going applications ran swiftly with no problems. We loaded powerful audio-editing software onto the laptop, as well as photo-editing software, all of which it ran concurrently without a problem.

As a result the Inspiron 15R is an incredibly versatile laptop that's great for the whole family, or simply someone after a machine with a great deal of futureproofing, as the components ensure the notebook will boast cutting edge power for quite a while to come.

Even the odd bit of gaming is possible courtesy of the mid-range ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics card, supported by 1GB of dedicated video memory. Realistically the Inspiron15R isn't going to dispatch with Crysis in the same flawless style an Alienware M17x will, but we ran Assasins Creed 2 with settings as high as the display would take and were extremely impressed by the performance the Inspiron 15R offered.

Naturally, this also means the laptop is suited to video editing, with benchmarking and our own trials confirming the Inspiron 15R will have no problem editing HD movies. It's a shame there isn't a Firewire port to rapidly import data from a video camera, therefore.

All this power does come at a price. The high-powered Intel Core i5 processor creates quite a bit of heat, and the fan system Dell has implemented to deal with this creates a significant amount of noise. So much so that if you're unfortunate enough to be listening to music through the Inspiron 15R's speakers, the sound will be drowned out every time you launch a resource intensive application.

Nonetheless, the system does work, as the Inspiron 15R stays cool to the touch even after hours of working with it, unlike the HP Envy 15 – which you could happily fry an egg on.

Another negative impact of the Inspiron 15R's power is a relatively poor battery life of only 186 minutes. The processor and bright screen suck the life out of the battery fairly quickly, and while there's enough for the crawl into work, regular travellers might want something that provides a little more in the way of portability, the incredible Asus UL30A for example offers nearly 13 hours of power between charges.

Having said that, at 2.7Kg the Inspiron 15R's weight is definitely manageable, and the machine is only 37mm at its thickest, so you won't have any problems slipping it into a bag or rucksack.

A 500GB hard drive, spinning at the standard 5400rpm, offers comprehensive storage for your files, folders and multimedia libraries.

The sheer size of the drive will also provide a good deal of future-proofing, and unless you have the most ferocious appetite for data you won't fill it up for a good few years.

As mentioned above, a DVD drive means that you can burn data to (dual-layer) discs as well as read them and provides another back-up option should you not favour an external hard drive.