Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (3551)

15.6-inch Budget Laptop System Measuring Under an Inch Thick

Inspiron 15 3000 (3551) Budget Laptop
Inspiron 15 3551. ©Dell

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The Bottom Line

Apr 6 2015 - Dell's new Inspiron 15 3551 does make an impression thanks to its thinner profile and its surprisingly long warranty. Running times are also better than most of the competition. These features are help back slightly by its performance that is not any better with its quad core processor or the fact that it does not come with a DVD drive. Still, for some buyers size and running times may be enough to make it a solid choice.

Pros

  • Thinner Than Most 15-inch Budget Laptops
  • Good Battery Life
  • Two Year Warranty

Cons

  • Quad Core Processor Does Not Provide Improved Performance
  • No Optical Drive

Description

  • Intel Pentium N3540 Quad Core Mobile Processor
  • 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
  • 500GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • 15.6" WXGA (1366x768) Display with 720p Webcam
  • Intel HD Graphics Integrated Graphics
  • Fast Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
  • One USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, 6-in-1 Card Reader
  • 14.9" x 10.24" x .85" @ 4.71 lbs.
  • Windows 8.1

Review - Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Non-Touch (3551)

Apr 6 2015 - Dell's latest Inspiron 15 3000 (technically the 3551) Non-Touch laptop is one of the thinnest full sized laptops that it has produced. It measures just ,85-inches thick which is much thinner than its competition that typically measures over an inch. While it may be thinner, the system still has some heft to it weighing in at 4.71 lbs. This is lighter than most of the 15-inch budget laptops but not as light as some more compact 14-inch systems such as the ASUS K450CA.

One way it really distinguishes itself is that it offers a two year warranty compared to most others that just offer one.

Rather than using the Intel Core processors for the Inspiron 15 3551, it uses the Pentium processors. The N3540 is a quad core processors compared to the dual core models used by most but this runs a different architecture.

For instance, even it it comes with 1600MHz DDR3 memory, it only runs at 1333MHz. The result is that it does not really offer much more performance than what you would find for a non-N version Pentium or a Core i3 processor. It is still sufficient for many peoples needs as the typical uses are just web browsing, streaming media and some productivity software. The multiple cores are also limited by the 4GB of DDR3 memory that is matched up with the processor which does impact multitasking where extra cores can really make a difference.

Like all budget class laptops, storage is handled by a traditional hard drive with a 500GB capacity which is typical for this price range. While it provides a good amount of storage, the performance of course suffers against more expensive laptops that are beginning to feature more solid state drives. Just don't expect it to boot into the operating system fast or load applications immediately. If you need additional space, there is a single USB 3.0 port for use with high speed external hard drives. One big thing to note here is that the system does not feature a DVD burner at all. This war removed in order to get the thinner profile and to likely help reduce the overall cost of the system.

The display uses a 15.6-inch panel with TN technology which is common for just about every budget system. They are affordable and offer fast response times. The downside is that they generally offer mediocre color and narrower viewing angles. It uses a 1366x768 native resolution which is standard for a budget system but fairly low when you compare it to the average tablet computer these days. The graphics are handled by the Intel HD Graphics built into the Pentium processor. Once again, this is a lesser version than the HD Graphics found in the Core i series processors. This is not suitable for 3D graphics unless it is for older PC games at low resolution and detail levels.

It also does not offer as much performance improvements when encoding media with Quick Sync compatible applications.

The keyboard layout for the Inspiron 15 3551 uses a design that is common to many other Dell systems. It features an isolated key design with a full numeric keypad. The keys themselves are fairly flat and smooth which may bother some people. Overall, the typing experience is decent with a fair amount of travel and good accuracy. The touchpad is a nice large size that is flush with the keyboard deck. It uses integrated buttons which some people like but can have accuracy problems at times with left and right mouse clicks. Overall, it tracked well for both single and multitouch gestures.

Dell claims that the Inspiron 15 3551 can run for up to six hours. The system features a relatively average 40Whr capacity battery pack but the Pentium N3540 is a very low wattage processor that uses even less power than many Core i3 ultra-low voltage models. In digital video playback testing, this results in just over four and a half hours before going into standby mode. This is certainly above average for this class of system but not the longest out there. For instance, the Aspire E5-5571 uses a Core i3 but has a larger 48WHr to get slightly longer running times. If battery life is of course a primary need and you don't mind performance or software compatibility, than many Chromebooks can be found with twice as long of running times.

Now the starting price for the Intel Inspiron 15 3551 is just $299 but that is for a lesser model using a Celeron N2840 dual core processor but with otherwise similar specs to the $429 model in this review. One big different though is that it only has a one year warranty. If you are doing the basics of just browsing the web and media streaming, then that version may work well enough. In terms of competition, the HP 15-g200 is probably the closest in that it uses an AMD A6-5000 quad core processor with similar memory and storage features. It does have a few advantages including a DVD burner and improved 3D graphics. The downside is that it has less battery life and is over an inch thick. The Lenovo G50-70 is the next closest in size but is still just under an inch thick but it offers much higher performance from a Core i3 processor and a DVD burner as well. Once again, battery life is significantly lower.

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