by luckmc11, New York USA
note to readers: this is the 3rd published review of the Inspiron 9300 on this site, previous reviews can be seen here:
Overview and Introduction:
Dell Inspiron 9300 in the box (view larger image)
I purchased the Dell Inspiron 9300 last month, it is mainly a desktop replacement, but it is portable enough that I am able to move it around my house sometimes and will even take it to my friends' houses now and again. Following are the specs for the Inspiron 9300 as I configured it for purchase:
Dell Inspiron 9300 (view larger image)
Reasons for Buying:
I needed a computer that I could take with me away from my desk, but I didn't want to sacrifice the performance and price advantage of a desktop -- so basically I wanted a very powerful machine with a good price. I looked at almost every customizable laptop available on the internet. You name a notebook website and I am 99% sure that I have already looked at that site to customize a laptop. Dell was my last choice because of the problems that I have had with the Dell desktops in the past, but now that I have ordered and received the Dell 9300 laptop I am happy and kind of regret not just going there in the first place to look before.
Where and How Purchased:
I made my purchase at the Dell.com website. The total price of the Inspiron 9300 as I configured it came to $1,401 after using a $750 off coupon, and with tax (which is bad as I live in NY!), the total came out to around $1508. My budget was around $1550, and I think I got a good deal for the specs on this particular machine.
Build & Design:
I have to be honest and say that I think the Dell Inspiron 9300 looks pretty ugly, the white "bumpers" on the sides just don't look all that great next to the rest of the silver colored laptop case. I have to admit the overall build is pretty sturdy though. It actually doesn't feel as heavy as I thought it would be, and I can carry it fairly easily, but I don't carry it for long distances by any means and am not lugging it around a college campus or anything. I do use it on my lap and find that's quite doable even given the size.
Dell Inspiron 9300 top view (view larger image)
Dell Inspiron 9300 right side (view larger image)
Dell Inspiron 9300 left side (view larger image)
Dell 9300 right back side (view larger image)
Dell 9300 left back side (view larger image)
Dell 9300 QuickPlay buttons (view larger image)
I got the XGA screen and not the Dell UXGA TrueLife screen option because I did not feel the need to pay an extra $125 for that feature. The screen is a 17" widescreen LCD and it is actually much brighter than a desktop 17" CRT monitor that I have, and also brighter than my other desktop 17" flat-screen LCD monitor. So yes, the 9300 screen is brighter than I expected it to be, and that's definitely a good thing. Upon investigating the 9300 LCD panel I found out that it was one manufactured by Samsung. It has NO dead pixels whatsoever, happy days! I can barely see any leakage of light at all; even when it is dark the screen appears to be quite evenly lit.
Dell Inspiron 9300 screen (view larger image)
The Dell 9300 has two speakers at the front, and one "subwoofer" on the bottom. I am amazed at how loud the volume of these speakers can go. It is even louder than my desktop speakers that also have a subwoofer! If you don't want to disturb anyone, then I suggest using headphones. There really is no need to get external speakers, even for watching movies or gaming, because I do both, and the speakers that are built in are more than enough.
Processor and Performance:
The processor I have configured in the 9300 is very fast and more than ample for my needs. I have the Pentium M 750 1.86 GHz processor (Sonoma family). Booting to the Windows logon screen is fast, which is also helped by the 5400 RPM hard drive I have. The hard drive size is 80 GB. A faster than 4200 RPM hard drive will do wonders for boot up and overall performance. I only have 512 MB of dual RAM for right now, and having 1GB of RAM would likely help performance quite a bit . Having said that though, I play a lot of games and I can play them all at the highest settings without any lag.
Below are the results from calcuating Pi to 2 million digits of accuracy using the program Super Pi:
|Notebook||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|Dell Inspiron 9300 (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 50s|
|IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M)||1m 45s|
|IBM ThinkPad T41 (1.6GHz Banias Pentium M)||2m 23s|
|Compaq R3000T (Celeron 2.8GHz)||3m 3s|
|Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M)||2m 10s|
|Dell Inspiron 8600 (1.7GHz Banias Pentium M)||2m 28s|
HD Tune benchmark results (view larger image)
Keyboard and Touchpad:
I love the Inspiron 9300 keyboard. It is so easy to use -- easier to use than my desktop keyboard even. I find the keys are easy to press and don't require much force to register a key-strike. I find I'm able to type faster with the light touch keys than the more rigid keys for my desktop keyboard. The only thing I do not like about the keyboard on this laptop is that Dell did not provide a number pad to the right, like you would get on a regular desktop keyboard, and if you look you'll see that this laptop has more than enough space to fit a number pad. Instead of a number pad you get some ugly white "bumpers" over their on the sides. I really have no clue what those "bumpers" are there for, can you tell by now that I don't like them? Back to the keyboard, there is no excessive flex on this keyboard. The touchpad is fine, but I am too used to using a regular mouse, and so decided to get an external wireless mouse for input purposes. I got the Logitech wireless mediaplay mouse.
Dell Inspiron 9300 keyboard and touchpad (view larger image)
Input and Output Ports:
There is a very generous count of 6 USB 2.0 input ports on the 9300. Two are on the left side and four located on the back. There is an SD card reader at the right side and a 1394 port on the right side as well. On the right side there is a jack to plug in headphones or external speakers and a jack to plug in a microphone. With a video connector, you can output video from the laptop to a TV via a port on the. There is one LAN port for an Ethernet cord and a modem port as well.
This laptop came with the Intel PRO/Wireless 2200 Internal Wireless (802.11 b/g, 54Mbps) card. It works very well -- no complaints and I have never had problems using wireless within my house. The 9300 does not have Bluetooth built-in, and this is one thing I wish it had.
I can easily get over 2 hours and 35 minutes of use from the battery if I'm not playing games and if I dim the screen a little bit and keep on the wifi. I am very happy with battery performance, but it's really quite irrelevant to me as I'm in high school and don't travel everywhere with it, the 9300 really is just meant as mainly a desktop replacement and so the assumption is you'll be close to a power outlet anyway.
Operating System and Software
The 9300 I purchased came with Windows XP Home edition. Dell only provided the WordPerfect Corel Productivity CD, and on a piece of paper, it said that if I needed to get the XP reformatting CD that I would have to burn it on a CD-R myself. You can also call or request the XP CD from within 30-days of purchase from Dell (supposedly). I uninstalled most of the software that was useless to me. The 9300 comes with Norton Antivirus as a free trial and also some Dell Photoshop application that I uninstalled and then installed Adobe Photoshop instead as it's more robust and works better.
Customer Support: Ever since getting this laptop there has been no need for me to call or contact Customer Support. If I did have to contact Dell, I know you can call, e-mail, or use the chat that is provided on their website to contact Customer Support technicians.
None as of yet. I am very happy with this system!
I really like the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Go graphics card. It is an excellent video processor and very important to me -- remember I to play a lot of games so this might not be as important an aspect to me as it is others. Also, in a way I'll save money in the long run because next year when the Playstation 3 comes out at $450+ I'll be just as happy sticking with my Dell 9300 as a gaming machine!
I appreciate the fact that the fans are very quiet, and while they do kick in when I'm playing games, I can never hear them (hey, the sound from the games is more than enough to drown out any fan). I like the Dell Quickplay multimedia buttons on the front. It is much convenient to use these buttons while watching movies or listening to music than navigating a mouse. I absolutely love the speakers and the screen. They are much better than I thought or hoped them to be. Also, I think the price for what I is very good.
Well, this laptop is going to last me a few years, and the specs I configured it with should make sure of that I think. I recommend the Inspiron 9300 to anyone who is on a budget, or isn't on a tight budget because everyone wants good value right? Well, if you really want a laptop that can be used for gaming and are on a budget then it is definitely a great laptop to look at. And even if you don't play games, it's worth looking at as a desktop replacement because it's a laptop that will be future proofed with its performance offerings, won't be obsolete a year from now, and won't cost you a mint right now.
Final Rating: 9.4 out of 10
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