The performance of the Inspiron 14z with an Intel Core 2 Duo CULV SU7300 processor and Intel X4500HD integrated graphics is good enough for typical daily activities (browsing the web, typing documents in Microsoft Office, or making simple edits to your digital photos or videos) but this laptop certainly won't win any awards for performance.
As previously mentioned, the Inspiron 14z gets its "z" designation from the use of the Intel CULV processors ... in this case, the 1.3GHz SU7300. This gives the Inspiron 14z the advantage of better battery life at the expense of overall performance. In fact, the Inspiron 14z falls somewhere between a budget netbook with an Intel Atom processor and a typical full-featured notebook using a standard Intel Core 2 Duo processor. In other words, the Inspiron 14z has enough power to serve your basic needs as a family PC, but don't expect to play the newest 3D games or run the latest photo and video editing applications at extremely fast speeds. The only thing that might seem a little odd about this level of performance is the price.
In fact, the $799 starting price for the Inspiron 14z exceeds the $699 starting price of the Studio 14z. Considering that the Studio 14z provides superior performance it's hard to justify the price tag of this Inspiron. You can buy a netbook that has better battery life for less money! True, the Inspiron 14z offers better performance than your average netbook, but it's downright odd that Dell is trying to sell this for more than the cost of a superior laptop.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures video and gaming performance (higher scores mean better performance):
All of the 3DMark06 scores for all of the systems listed above were run at 1280 x 800 resolution (for 16:10 ratio screens) or 1280 x 768 resolution (for 16:9 ratio screens).
The 6-cell 48.8 WHr battery does a pretty good job overall. With the screen brightness set to 70%, wireless active, and the Windows 7 power profile set to "Balanced" the Inspiron 14z stayed on for 5 hours and 54 minutes. For use in the classroom or on your lap in front of the TV this amount of battery life was fine, but it isn't quite as impressive as we expected based on Dell's marketing of "66% better battery life." That said, it's worth mentioning that the default "balanced" power profile under Windows 7 will automatically dim the screen after a short period of inactivity ... which will extend the battery life even more compared to keeping the screen set to 70% brightness.
Heat and Noise
The cooling system does a reasonably impressive job keeping the external temperatures down. After extended periods of use the keyboard and touchpad areas get warm, but temperatures remain well below 100 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. The temperature readings below were taken after stressing the system with performance benchmarks and web browsing for 60 minutes.
Noise levels are fairly quiet when running on battery as the fan produces a constant weak "hum" as hot air is pushed out. The fan gets louder when the laptop is stressed running benchmarks and plugged into the AC adapter, but the fan should only be noticeable by others in a very, VERY quiet room.
Conclusion The fact that the Inspiron 14z includes an optical drive while many CULV-equipped laptops do not provides some justification for buying this notebook. However, if performance is more important to you than battery life then the Inspiron 14z probably shouldn't be at the top of your shopping list. Still, if you want a notebook with more power than a netbook and better battery life than the average notebook then the Inspiron 14z is worth a look. Pros: Cons:
The Dell Inspiron 14z is a basic 14-inch notebook that delivers good battery life at the expense of performace. If your child or your family is looking for a convenient laptop for general use then the Inspiron 14z can handle daily tasks with ease. That said, the overall price/performance ratio is a little hard to justify when the Dell Studio 14z offers better performance at a lower price.
The fact that the Inspiron 14z includes an optical drive while many CULV-equipped laptops do not provides some justification for buying this notebook. However, if performance is more important to you than battery life then the Inspiron 14z probably shouldn't be at the top of your shopping list. Still, if you want a notebook with more power than a netbook and better battery life than the average notebook then the Inspiron 14z is worth a look.
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