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Dell has impressed us lately with a great range of laptops to suit all users, and the Inspiron 15r N5110 is no exception. It's quite expensive for a mid-range laptop, but still offers great value for money, thanks to its excellent performance.
That extra cash buys you the latest Intel Core i5 2410M processor, which is a step above the Core i3 processors found in most of the other machines at this price. While other laptops can comfortably run all of your applications, the Dell provides an extra bit of future-proofing and won't need replacing any time soon. Even the most demanding software loads quickly and runs smoothly.
You also get a powerful dedicated Nvidia GT 525M graphics card, while most other laptops make do with basic integrated graphics, where the processor also has to handle image rendering. The result is much better multimedia performance. High-definition (HD) movies run perfectly, you can comfortably edit all of your media, and gamers can play the latest titles without sacrificing graphics quality for a smooth frame rate.
Battery Eater '05: 166 minutes
3DMark 2006: 18,968
If you enjoy kicking back with action games after a tough day of studying, this is the laptop for you.
The 15.6-inch screen is bright, although the Packard Bell EasyNote NS44 HR-033UK compact screen is sharper. However, we found the Dell's screen was vibrant enough to fully enjoy our photos and films, with decent viewing angles.
The built-in SRS speakers are some of the most powerful, making them good for music and movies, although audiophiles will prefer a dedicated external pair.
While the Dell offers good performance, it's by no means the most portable. We didn't quite get three hours of use from the battery when watching films, although this isn't a bad result, and if you're simply typing out an essay or doing some other light work, you can expect to get another hour or so out of the battery.
At 2.7kg it's quite heavy for a laptop, which also limits portability. Still, it can be carried around if needed and the body isn't too chunky to be a pain when you have to cram it into your backpack.
This laptop might not be perfectly portable, but it's certainly attractive. The dark brushed-metal finish looks slick, with only a little flex around the edges, and our model came with one of Dell's swappable SWITCH lids. You get a choice of over twenty colourful designs, which make a refreshing change from the standard plain efforts. If you get sick of one design, just order a new one from Dell and they'll ship it out.
Like many of the laptops here, an isolation-style keyboard has been used. The keys are well spaced, but we found the board to be spongy, with considerable flex in the middle when typing. It's not a serious issue and you soon get used to it, but we expected better.
Connections are plentiful, with VGA and HDMI ports for hooking up external displays and even an eSATA port for attaching external hard drives. With 500GB of built-in storage, you'll most likely only need an external drive when backing up your important files.
If you need the extra power and have the cash to spare, the Inspiron 15r is a great student laptop that will last you for a few years. However, portability and usability aren't as strong as we would have liked.
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