Dell Inspiron 15 5000 review

A powerful all-rounder hampered by its keyboard and screen

TODO alt text

Our Verdict

The Core i7 processor and AMD graphics make this a powerful all-rounder, and it's got good looks and reasonable build quality. The keyboard isn't great, though, and the Inspiron's screen lacks resolution and quality.

For

  • Core i7 processor
  • Dedicated AMD graphics
  • Smart exterior design
  • Decent build quality

Against

  • Low screen resolution and quality
  • Middling battery life
  • Mediocre keyboard

In the past, Dell’s Inspiron line of laptops has been everywhere, so it really was about time that it got updated with the latest and greatest Intel hardware. It’s an attractive computer, too, with a brushed metal finish across the lid. We can’t wait to see this show up among the Black Friday laptop deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2018.

Design

Immediately, the metallic lid and attractive Dell logo give a first good impression, and the aesthetic spreads to the sides and base, where more metal is layered over the Dell’s plastic skeleton to add a bit of sheen.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 rear

The brushed metal finish on the rear is definitely a nice touch
Spec sheet

Here is the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 configuration sent to TechRadar for review: 

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)

Build quality is very consistent, too. The wrist-rest barely budges, the screen feels sturdy, and the underside has a little give – but all the components inside are well protected. We wouldn’t really have a problem with slinging the Dell Inspiron 15 inside a backpack and expecting it to survive our travels. You’ll only need to use a protective sleeve if you’re concerned about aesthetic damage.

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.

The port situation is pretty standard here, too, with a trio of USB connections, a HDMI output and Gigabit Ethernet alongside an SD card reader. Interior access is decent: the base panel lifts away after just two screws have been removed, and the memory, hard drive, battery, processor and wireless card are all easily reachable. That’s great news for anyone that wants to be able to repair or upgrade their own laptop.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 ports

There's a typical selection of ports

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.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 angle

The Inspiron 15 is heavier than some rivals

Ergonomics

The Scrabble-tile keyboard has a number pad, 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 decent jumping off point, but the keys themselves aren’t great for serious typing. The base isn’t firm enough, and the keys don’t have enough travel – a combination of issues that can make the keyboard feel unsatisfying, without the movement and conviction of better, more expensive laptops. It’s perfect for browsing, instant messaging and the occasional email, but that’s really it.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 keyboard

The keyboard isn't designed for serious work

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.

  • Bill Thomas has also contributed to this review