Dell Inspiron 11z Performance, Benchmarks, and Conclusion

August 31, 2009 by Kevin O'Brien Reads (326,354)

Performance and Benchmarks
We had very high hopes coming into this review that the Inspiron 11z would finally be the netbook that wouldn’t be as limited in processing power. While the Atom is fine for some tasks, multimedia is not its strong suit. Flash video tends to bog it down, and HD streaming video is impossible to watch. Right out of the box we navigated to YouTube to see how well the 11z would perform. Sadly it still gets a very high processor load watching SD flash video, and lags severely watching HD flash video. Hulu showed the same problems, as well as a few we haven’t seen before. While loading a Hulu video, if you scroll up and down quickly on the touchpad and release, the computer continues to scroll up and down for 5-10 seconds.

Turning to benchmarks to find out how the Celeron 723 compared to the N270 and N280 Atom, we found that it was actually running slower than expected. wPrime, which just tests the processor, was actually giving results slower than both Atom processors. Running PCMark05, the Celeron and X4500 graphics combo was able to come out about 100 points above the fastest Atom machine, but still not a huge improvement. The main area the 11z was able to flex its muscles was in 3D performance, scoring well above another netbooks in 3DMark06.

In our HD video tests the 11z was able to play all of our video trailers. The 480p and 720p videos played with no problems at all, and after some minor tweaking the 1080p trailer would play smoothly. Playing 1080p video puts it above other netbooks we have tested, but in the real world most users won’t be watching 1080p video on a netbook that is barely above 720p in its native resolution.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Laptop Score
Hp Pavilion dv2z 103.521
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 114.749
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 116.03
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 116.421
Dell Inspiron 11z 128.81

 

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

 

3DMark06 comparison results against notebooks @ 1024 x 768 resolution:

Heat and Noise
Temperatures stayed within reasonable levels when the 11z wasn’t being stressed out. As soon as you started performing more processor intensive activities, the chassis did form a few hot spots, which were centralized around the exhaust outlet.
Noise levels from the heatsink were minimal, and only noticed if you put your ear up to the exhaust outlet. The only annoying noise the 11z produced was a high pitch whine when it was fully turned on or in its sleep mode.

The external temperature readings shown below are listed in degrees Fahrenheit:

Battery Life
The included battery with the 11z is fairly small, with a rated capacity of 28Wh. This is almost half the size of most netbook batteries today, as many manufacturers go with 6-cell models for extended battery life. In our test with the screen brightness set to 70%, Windows Vista set to the balanced power profile, and wireless active the 11z stayed on for 3 hours and 32 minutes. Users looking to get all-day performance won’t find it from this configuration, but may have better luck with an extended battery when Dell makes it an option.

Conclusion
The Dell Inspiron 11z was one of those notebooks that looks like it could be the perfect machine on paper, but once you get it in person you find out it has some fatal flaw. The build quality was great in terms of the overall construction of the netbook, but lacked in its cosmetic condition out of the box. The processing power of the Celeron performed  below our expectations, being slower than the Atom processor. The strength of the 11z came mostly from its much better GS45 chipset, including the X4500 integrated graphics which excelled compared to the GMA950.

With all of the stuff listed above the 11z would be a slightly better than average netbook, offered at a reasonable price, with an excellent 11.6″ WXGA screen. Unfortunately, once you include the flawed touchpad, it turns into a netbook that is very hard to recommend to anyone without a massive overhaul of the hardware and driver support. I can honestly say that before we received our Inspiron 11z, multiple editors in our office were considering purchasing it for a travel notebook. Now we are waiting for the next machine, or updated 11z which has the same or better features with a functional touchpad.

Pros:

  • X4500 integrated graphics with HDMI out
  • Perfect screen size and resolution for a netbook
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons:

  • Worst … Touchpad … Ever
  • Small stock battery
  • Weak performance from the Celeron 723
  • CPU whine when off and in sleep mode


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