The Dell Studio 15 arrived last year and since then has spent plenty of time on our Most Popular list. This Dell laptop remains popular in large part to a starting price of $599. Our official review praised the Studio 15 for excellent design and build quality. The Studio 15 offers optional ATI Radeon Mobility 3450 graphics, a slot-loading optical drive, a 15-inch display with WXGA to WUXGA resolutions, up to 8GB of RAM, and a base configuration starting with the Intel 2.0GHz T4200 processor that can be bumped to a 2.66GHz T9550 if the user needs something faster.
Right now user opinions are mixed, but most consumers lean towards the positive side with a 64/36 split. Some users comment on the speakers popping under moderate volume load; but fixed it with a BIOS update. Bloatware comments are also noted, but few manufacturers offer completely “clean” systems these days. If you yearn for bloatware-free notebook regardless of the manufacturer, check out our bloatware cleaning guide to get an idea of what you can do to improve your new notebook straight out of the box.
Overall, reading through the comments it appears most users enjoy the Dell Studio 15, even though it has some quirks that may require some attention. Take a look at what these owners have to say about the Dell Studio 15.
Submitted by Paul on 12/19/2008 10:42:32 PM
Pros: Attractive laptop; easily upgradeable, good battery life. Do yourself a favor and trick it out. I upgraded the T5750 processor to a T8100; the WD 5400rpm drive to a Seagate 7200rpm; 2GB RAM to 4GB RAM. Effect? battery life approaching 4 hrs, zippy performance, rarely hear cooling fan run.
Cons: As others note, sound and video is anemic; this is not an audiophile or gamer’s platform. It is however, a great mainstream 15 inch laptop, but, and I emphasize this, only after sufficient upgrades of processor, hard drive and ram. Be sure to pay for what you need. If you cheap this one out, you’ll barely get adequate performance. I bought mine off Ebay for $530, but then turned around and spent $200 on upgrades to achieve worthwhile performance. By the way, there’s a new bios upgrade that takes care of the “clicking” and sound drops. Make sure you get it, it makes a difference.
Overall Score: 8/10
Good Laptop, Dodgy CD Drive
Submitted by dougie on 3/29/2009 11:42:03 AM
Pros: Good Design, Good Graphics if you get the ATI Graphics option (avoid anything Intel based for graphics), Decent sound card, Good Build Quality, Decent Price, Large HDD, Cheap RAM,
Cons: Dodgy DVD Drive: The DVD Slot loading thing is very badly implemented, if there is a read error, the DVD drive hangs, and won’t let me eject the CD that’s in it, and its really fussy it won’t read some brand new DVDs and gets seemingly random read errors. A slightly minor thing, the computer came preloaded with loads of junk, seriously it first booted with about 70 processes on bootup!! It also ships with some useless Dell media direct stuff that seems to replace Windows Media Centre (why?)
Overall Score: 8/10
2 Non-working units in a row. Same problem on each
Submitted by Kslagerman on 2/15/2009 5:43:02 PM
Pros: Simple Design. Good price for specs. Decent battery performance.
Cons: Horrible speakers that overload and pop easily with moderate volume set. Don’t care for the touchpad or the recessed touchpad buttons. Quirky Vista problem like frozen busy cursor out of the box. Laptop had blue screen of death on bootup within 10 minutes being out of the box making the computer unusable. Happened after Windows Update downloaded first updates. Something is incompatible with a driver(s) or software on the computer. Factory image restore does not solve the problem. This happened to my first Studio 15 bought at Best Buy online, then I returned it for the same mode in an actual store, and the second Studio 15 did the same thing. Manual OS reinstall went ok, but BSOD persists after installing Dell’s drivers and software. I think its either the Intel chipset drivers or the Intel display driver. Dell and Best Buy refuse to admit that there may be a problem with the current stock. This can not be a coincidence.
Overall Score: 4/10
Excellent, really, with quirks…
Submitted by SZ on 1/27/2009 10:17:34 PM
Pros: Clear and bright, super quiet, runs very cool, super long battery life (9-cell) five hours, nice design, super strong wireless reception, solid construction, pretty blazing fast with 4 GB and Vista64, touch-controls for media is a nice feature. For the price (at Best Buy, $700) a great deal. Get the backlit keyboard. Mine was not, and I spent more to buy one to install.
Cons: Noticeably heavier than the 15.1 superlight Gateway I had. You must go to dell.com and update the bios and drivers! I eventually got rid of the speaker crackling noise. There are sound controllers (EQ) in the system but it’s not obvious. You can get decent sound. Search through all the installed applications (look at all the folders) you’ll find it… and other things too. Turn off the face recognition software and Dell Dock. Learn to use MSCONFIG to disable starting apps you don’t want to run but may want to keep installed. The touchpad is not super smooth, only Vaio is really nice. Try to adjust all the touchpad settings to super sensitive and fast. It’s a little weird. I like that there are no ports or jacks on the front, but wish several were on the back (there are none).
Overall Score: 7/10