Dell Inspiron 15R (Core i3) £599
25th Feb 2011 | 11:00
Aggressive performance and usability, combined with a great design
Dell has been on a good run of form recently, releasing a wealth of great laptops. The Inspiron 15R is such a machine and, although portability is poor, its strong performance, design and usability still make this a great choice.
The Intel Core i3 430M processor is the most powerful in the Core i3 line-up, consequently, produces solid performance. This makes this laptop ideal for those after a machine which will run resource-intensive programs with ease and happily multi-task everyday programs without showing any signs of system lag.
It's also worth mentioning that there is another Dell Insprion 15R equipped with a Core i5 processor for a bit more performance grunt.
The dedicated ATi HD 5470 graphics card is identical to that used in the Acer Aspire 5741G-354G32Mnsk, but its 1024MB of video memory squeezes that little bit more performance from the card. As a result, the Dell is ideally suited to those with multimedia aspirations or those looking for strong all-round performance.
Battery life: 166 minutes
MobileMark 2007: 242
3D Mark 2003: 10,011
The 15.6-inch screen is fantastically bright, crisp and clear and you'll be impressed by how good your photos and movies look. The panel also boasts a good viewing angle and the screen is very readable, even when not looking at it from front on. However, the Super-TFT screen coating creates distracting reflections in bright light.
The keyboard is good, but feels a little cramped compared to the Acer Aspire 5741G-354G32Mnsk and even the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11-inch. Nevertheless, we were more than happy typing on it for hours at a time. A dedicated numeric keypad is included for inputting data.
Build quality is good and the faux brushed-aluminium interior looks great. Dell claims the palmrest to be smudge-resistant and we certainly found it hard to mark, meaning less cleaning is needed.
Portability is a little dubious and the 166-minute battery life is unfortunately poor, largely thanks to the powerful components on board. Similarly, the 2.7kg weight is not the easiest to carry around. This means this laptop isn't ideally suited to a life on the road, and those looking for a portable partner would do well to consider the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 11-inch.
A healthy batch of features include an HDMI out port for connecting the laptop to an external monitor, and even an eSATA port for transferring data to and from compatible external hard drives at high speed.
The 250GB internal hard drive is disappointing, however, especially compared to the value offered by the Toshiba Satellite Pro C660-171 and MSI CX623-258UK. Those with a lot of content could quickly run out of space.
Overall, however, we were very impressed by the Dell Inspiron 15R. The excellent power and great usability on offer make this a laptop that is very easy to recommend and it will especially suit those with families, thanks to its allround versatility.
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