The Bottom Line
May 26 2011 - Dell's first major update to the Inspiron 15R has both good and bad aspects to it. For the most part, performance has been improved thanks to the new Intel Core 2011 processors. In addition, the graphics system is beneficial for those that do lots of video encoding work. On the downside, the 3D performance is not as strong as a dedicated graphics part and Dell has reduced the number of customization options beyond the lid even further. If it matches your needs, then its a good option with a reasonable price tag but it may leave others wanting more.
- Good Performance From 2011 Core i5 Processor
- Larger Hard Drive
- 6GB of DDR3 Memory
- Lacks Dedicated Graphics Processor
- Extremely Limited Customization Options
- Lots Of Adware
- Intel Core i5-2410M Dual Core Mobile Processor
- 6GB PC3-10600 DDR3 Memory
- 640GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Burner
- 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1.0 Megapixel Webcam
- Intel HD 3000 Integrated Graphics
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth
- Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, eSATA (shared), HDMI, VGA, 8-in-1 Card Reader
- 14.8" x 10.3" x 1.3" @ 5.8 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, McAfee Security Center
Guide Review - Dell 2011 Inspiron 15R 15.6-inch Thin And Light Laptop PC
May 26 2011 - Dell's Inspiron 15R hasn't been on the market for very long but it has already received a major update thanks to the new Intel 2011 Core processors. For the higher end versions of the 2nd generation Inspiron 15R, the Core i5-2410M dual core processor is used. This is the lowest of the new Core i5 model but the performance is actually quite good and much improved over the first generation's Core i5-460M. One nice aspect of this model is the inclusion of 6GB of DDR3 memory over the more traditional 4GB that allows the system to perform better at multitasking.
Like the system's memory, Dell offers a slightly above average 640GB hard drive that gives it roughly 25 percent more space for applications, data and media files than laptops that use 500GB drives. The drive does spin at the more traditional 5400rpm spin rate so it won't be as fast as smaller drives that use the 7200rpm desktop rate. A standard dual layer DVD burner handles playback and recording of CDs and DVDs. Dell does offer a version with a Blu-ray drive but they reduce the base system memory to 4GB and hard drive to 500GB without options to upgrade those features.
One of the big changes with the new Intel processors is the new integrated graphics processor that resides on the system processor. Past Intel integrated graphics have lacked some serious performance but this has changed a bit with the new Intel HD 3000 graphics. It still isn't something that can be used for 3D gaming beyond low resolution casual gaming, something past Intel graphics couldn't do, but it does have a few other advantages. Those looking to do a lot of video work will get acceleration with compatible applications that will shorten the time it takes to encode video. Those wanting more 3D performance do have the option of adding in a Radeon HD 6470 processor with 512MB of memory but frankly this is still a relatively low level 3D graphics processor.
The battery pack for the 2011 refresh of the Inspiron 15R remains the same with a standard six-cell with a 48WHr capacity rating. With the use of just internal graphics on the processor, the power draw has improved a bit with the latest model. In DVD playback tests, the laptop was able to run two and three quarter hours before going into standby mode. More typical usage should yield roughly another hour of running time.
One disappointment is that Dell doesn't offer as wide of a range of internal customization to their computers now. Users are pigeon holed into specific configurations that offer a few minor options but not much of real substance. The only difference with the Inspiron 15R is that consumers have a bit more option on their exterior look. Now customers can by swappable lids that go on the back side of the display. The range from some affordable plain colors to a wide range of specialized art that costs $60.
Like past Dell Inspiron 15R modems, the software dock that is similar to the feature in the Mac OS X is included. This makes it useful for quickly accessing applications but Dell fills the bar up with quick links to many trial and ad support applications that is quite annoying. Thankfully the dock is customizable so uses can remove these applications. It would just have been nice to see Dell not go down the road that many other computer companies are by loading these applications.