The quad-core Intel Pentium N3540 tucked inside this machine has a 2.16GHz clock with four threads and a 2.66GHz burst frequency, along with Intel HD graphics. It launched in late 2014, so it’s not the newest chip on the block, but it’s plenty capable of handling day-to-day tasks in Windows 10. In fact, Windows 10 runs much better on machines in this class since its major update in November 2015, which squashed many bugs and improved overall performance.
Our review unit came with 4GB of RAM, while less expensive configurations ship with 2GB. At this point, it’s worth springing for the extra RAM. Two GB is the bare minimum for 64-bit Windows 10. Compared side by side, users will notice the difference RAM makes more than any of the processors Dell offers for this machine.
Heat and noise are not a problem with this machine, given its low-power processor. It did get a bit warm running benchmarks, but that’s expected.
Windows 10 does a great job transitioning the OS from notebook to tablet mode. The Dell works well here, turning off the trackpad and disabling the keys when the display extends about 180 degrees. It worked consistently during our time with it.
This unit ships with 500GB storage, of which about 470GB is available. Dell thankfully went easy on the crapware, sticking us with only Candy Crush Soda Saga, McAfee Live Safe, Dropbox, and a few other Dell apps. To be clear, that’s still too much, and the constant McAfee popups are grating, but we’ve seen much worse on other Windows 10 devices.
Finally, the .9-megapixel camera that rests centered atop the display bezel is really lousy. It will function for Skype or video chat, but don’t expect much in terms of image quality, or even proper exposure.
wPrime processor comparisons (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskmark storage drive performance test:
The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has a 43 WHr 3-cell integrated battery. We ran Netflix over Wi-Fi with the display brightness maxed out to get a sense of the absolute minimum a user can expect from it in a common scenario — like stranded at an airport or on a flight. The Dell 2-in-1 lasted 3 hours and 30 minutes. That’s not a great result. The thinner and lighter Surface 3 lasted about as long, while the Core i5 Surface Pro 3 lasted more than 5 hours.
In other words, don’t leave your charger at home. The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 will struggle to last a full workday on a single charge.
Price & Configurations
As of this writing, Dell sells this configuration for $449 through its sales channel, but we’ve seen it for as little as $365 elsewhere, in particular Amazon. The less powerful Celeron-powered versions start at $330 with a 32GB hard drive and 2GB RAM, and $400 for 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. The most expensive sports the Pentium N3700, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD for $500. All prices are from Dell, but like our review unit, you’ll likely find a better deal if you hunt around third-party retailers.
All ship with 64-bit Windows 10 Home, but Dell will bump up all but the middle models to Windows 10 Pro for an extra $50. It’s close to certain that you don’t need it.
Looking at all the configurations, it’s also close to certain you don’t need an SSD on this machine, nor should you spend $500 on it. Other devices in this class typically cost around $350 as of this writing, while budget Windows 10 devices that are just a step below hover around $200, with some starting to flirt with $150. You’ll likely be stuck with a pure laptop or tablet at that price, but that’s ok. The 2-in-1 design is not worth a $150 or $200 premium.