Dell Inspiron 14z review

£579
Price when reviewed

That sturdy build pays dividends elsewhere. We weren’t impressed with the keyboards on Dell’s recent Inspiron series, but the 14z is much better. There’s none of the flex of those models here. Its Scrabble-tile keys are all segregated by nice wide channels and feel positive under the finger. The multitouch touchpad worked well, too, although we weren’t too keen on its overly stiff buttons.

It is possible to build the Inspiron 14z to a tight budget. In fact, you can go as low as a 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M processor. Our model (E-Value code: N00NZ421) came with the fastest available CPU in the range, and in our benchmarks, the Core i5-2430M and 4GB of RAM delivered a result of 0.66 – more than fast enough for most needs.

The absence of dedicated graphics makes for modest gaming performance, but the GPU built into Intel’s Core i5 CPU is far from useless: an average frame rate of 29fps in our Low quality Crysis test proves that there’s enough grunt for light gaming.

Dell Inspiron 14z - front

The Inspiron 14z isn’t just quick, however. Thanks to the six-cell battery at the rear, that Core i5 performance comes with serious reserves of stamina. It lasted 8hrs 36mins in our light-use test before finally limping back to the mains socket.

The Dell’s glossy 14in 1,366 x 768 display is the only major let-down. Colour reproduction is reasonably accurate, if a little pale, and the Inspiron 14z’s panel made a good fist of our test images. It isn’t perfect, however, with greyish blacks robbing images of solidity and depth, and blotting out detail in darker scenes. Our X-Rite colorimeter proved as much. The backlight peaks at a dim 203cd/m[sup]2[/sup] – significantly lower than we’d expect – and the contrast ratio of 195:1 is mediocre.

It might not set the world on fire, but the latest addition to the Dell Inspiron range still has much to offer. Good build quality matches up with speed and stamina, and if you can find it in your heart to overlook that not-too-impressive screen, the 14z is a bit of a bargain. If you’re looking for power and portability on the cheap, it might be just the ticket.

Warranty

Warranty1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions346 x 246 x 26mm (WDH)
Weight2.030kg
Travelling weight2.4kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-2430M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM55 Express
RAM capacity4.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size14.0in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 3000
Graphics card RAMN/A
VGA (D-SUB) outputs0
HDMI outputs1
S-Video outputs0
DVI-I outputs0
DVI-D outputs0
DisplayPort outputs1

Drives

Capacity640GB
Hard disk usable capacity598GB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Internal disk interfaceSATA/300
Hard diskWestern Digital Scorpio Blue
Optical disc technologyDVD writer
Optical driveHL-DT-ST GU40N
Battery capacity5,700mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

Wired adapter speed1,000Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switchno
Wireless key-combination switchyes
Modemno
ExpressCard34 slots0
ExpressCard54 slots0
PC Card slots0
USB ports (downstream)1
FireWire ports0
PS/2 mouse portno
9-pin serial ports0
Parallel ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
Memory Stick readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Smart Media readerno
Compact Flash readerno
xD-card readerno
Pointing device typeTouchpad
Audio chipsetRealtek HD Audio
Speaker locationFront edge
Hardware volume control?no
Integrated microphone?yes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.0mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno
Carry caseno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use8hr 36min
3D performance (crysis) low settings29fps
3D performance settingLow
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.66
Responsiveness score0.75
Media score0.69
Multitasking score0.54

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition

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