Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Review

by Reads (13,385)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 6
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 6
      • Usability
      • 6
      • Design
      • 7
      • Performance
      • 8
      • Features
      • 8
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 9
      • Total Score:
      • 7.14
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Excellent value
    • Simple, lightweight design
    • Solid build quality
    • Standard USB and USB Type-C
  • Cons

    • Mirror-like glossy display
    • Poor placement of power button
    • 2-in-1 without built-in pen
    • Keyboard movement feels shallow

The traditional 13-inch laptop PC has almost vanished during 2016 as more and more manufacturers deliver 13-inch 2-in-1 designs that allow customers to use the device as either a laptop or a tablet. Unfortunately, most 2-in-1 devices are a compromise between the functionality of a traditional notebook and the convenience of a tablet. This is where the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition might make an impact. While another 2-in-1 with a 13.3-inch display is nothing new, this Dell promises to deliver solid build quality and excellent overall performance in a relatively lightweight package for an affordable price.

Read our Dell Inspiron 13 7000 review to see if this device makes the ideal student laptop/tablet hybrid. 

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 review unit

The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition runs Windows 10.

Build and Design

The Inspiron line has always been Dell’s budget line of consumer PC products and that usually means heavy use of plastics and generally weaker build quality than Dell’s XPS line. That being said, we were pleasantly surprised by the design and overall build quality of the Inspiron 13 7000. The chassis feels sturdy in our hands thanks to the use of aluminum alloy throughout the chassis and screen lid. This 2-in-1 weighs in at just over 3.5 pounds and measures only three quarters of an inch thick when closed.

While this isn’t the thinnest and lightest 2-in-1 on the market, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition packs plenty of hardware for a full PC experience and a wide variety of ports (more on that later). One of Dell’s oddest design choices was the location of the power button. It’s located on the right side of the Inspiron 13 7000 at the front corner … arguably too close to where many people grab a laptop when they pick it up. The location of the power button forces you to either learn to pick up the notebook at the rear corners near the screen hinges or risk accidentally shutting down your PC.

DSC03782Granted, the power button location makes sense if you’re using the Inspiron 13 7000 as a tablet, but Dell engineers could have made the power button rest flush with the surface of the chassis to prevent accidental shut down. Speaking of tablet mode, this 2-in-1 doesn’t include a pen for taking notes on the screen … unlike the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga, Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 460, or VAIO Z Canvas. Sure, you can buy a pen separately but that’s just one more purchase that a student (or a student’s family) has to make before this 2-in-1 can be used in the classroom.

Ports and Features

In addition to the Intel dual-band wireless AC-3165 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 wireless connectivity, the available ports on the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition put the Apple MacBook to shame. The left side of the chassis includes the power jack, a single USB Type-C port (which includes support for DisplayPort), a full-size HDMI port, a standard USB 3.0 port and the headset/headphone/mic combo audio jack. The right side of the notebook features the previously-mentioned power button, a volume rocker button, full-size SD card slot, standard USB 3.0 port and a cable lock slot.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition ports Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition USB port and SD card slot

Screen and Speakers

While the 13.3-inch display looks impressive at first glance thanks to the nearly edge-to-edge polished glass surface, that extremely glossy screen surface creates mirror-like reflections. Glossy screens aren’t always the end of the world if you have a display with a strong backlight that can overpower the reflections on the surface of the screen. Unfortunately, the display in our Dell Inspiron 13 7000 review unit was far too weak (just 213 nits) to deliver a pleasant viewing experience. The reflections on the screen surface combined with the dim backlight cause eye strain under bright indoor lighting or when using the device outdoors even on a cloudy day.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition display Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition screen
DSC03800 DSC03801

At the maximum brightness setting the contrast ratio is still less than 650:1 and that means colors appear washed out unless you’re using the Inspiron 13 7000 in a dark room. The IPS display panel provides good viewing angles in dark environments but once again the mirror-like screen reflections get in the way when viewing the screen under normal indoor lighting. The full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution means you get 166 pixels per inch; good … but not the highest pixel density for a 2-in-1 device.

The built-in stereo speakers are downward-firing and located on the bottom edges of the chassis near the front corners. Audio sounds muffled when using the Inspiron 13 7000 as a “laptop” because the placement of the speakers means the sound is directed at your legs. On the bright side, the audio quality is much better when you flip the device into tablet mode since the speakers are then pointed directly at the user’s face. The speakers produce clear sound with plenty of mid range and minimal distortion in the highs and lows until you reach maximum volume. These aren’t high-end speakers for audiophiles but they get the job done and there’s a headset jack if you want to use headphones or external speakers.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 review unit keyboard and touchpadKeyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard almost inevitably forces the designers of 2-in-1 laptops to face a dilemma; make the keyboard flat with limited physical feedback during each keystroke or deliver a more traditional typing experience at the expense of making the device thicker and more difficult to hold as a tablet. Unfortunately, the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition doesn’t have a magic solution to this dilemma. Each of the LED-backlit keys has a very shallow travel of just 1.2 millimeters from unpressed to fully pressed. That’s certainly better than any on-screen keyboard and better than most 2-in-1 devices with detachable keyboards like the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S, but if you’re used to typing on a traditional laptop keyboard or desktop keyboard you’ll find this keyboard just feels “flat.”

The “buttonless” touchpad is adequately sized at 4.1 x 2.6 inches. The left and right click buttons are integrated beneath the surface of  the touchpad and the touchpad surface responds normally to the standard multi-touch gestures. Cursor movement is accurate with no obvious stutter or lag issues.

Performance

DSC03788Our rDell Inspiron 13 7000 review unit comes equipped with a 6th generation Intel Core i5-6200U dual-core processor. This CPU delivers more than adequate performance for standard productivity tasks in school or a typical workplace environment. The integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 mean that the Inspiron 13 7000 can play a wide variety of games at low detail settings and at a lower resolution (1366 x 768) but frame rates drop to almost unplayable levels with newer games at full 1080p resolution. Those integrated graphics are fine for transcoding videos for YouTube or streaming Netflix.

The 256GB SanDisk Z400s M.2 SSD provides generous built-in storage space for files and the overall performance is “adequate” … faster than a traditional spinning hard drive but slower than the latest PCIe SSDs found inside higher-priced 2-in-1 devices.

Overall, we can’t criticize Dell too much for the choices in hardware given that this 2-in-1 generally retails for $799 or less.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 review unit specifications:

  • Microsoft Windows 10 Home
  • 13.3-inch IPS FHD (1920 x 1080) touch display
  • Intel Core i5-6200U processor (2.30GHz with Turbo Boost up to 2.80GHz and 3MB Cache)
  • Intel HD Graphics 520
  • 8GB of DDR3L (1600 MHz)
  • 256GB SanDisk Z400s M.2 SSD
  • Intel dual-band wireless AC-3165 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1
  • 1280 x 720 webcam
  • MSRP: $799.99

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):
inspiron137000wprime32chart

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):
inspiron137000pc8homechart

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance for a variety of general and complex office productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
inspiron137000pc8workchart

3DMark11 measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
inspiron1370003d11chart

3DMark Fire Strike is a newer benchmark measuring overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
inspiron133dfirestrikechart

Geekbench 3 is a cross-platform benchmark that measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
inspiron137000geekbenchchart

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
inspiron13cdm

Battery Life

When it comes to battery life, this machine does a fine job comparable to most 13-inch notebooks and 2-in-1 devices. Our Dell Inspiron 13 7000 review unit delivered slightly better battery life than the more expensive Dell XPS 13, but this was most likely due to the weaker display panel inside the Inspiron consuming less power.

Powermark battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better battery life):
inspiron13powerchart

Heat and Noise

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 review unit underside

There are a few hot spots on the bottom of the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition.

Dell’s engineers did a commendable job managing the thermal output from the Inspiron 13 7000. There is a fair amount of hardware packed inside this relatively thin chassis and all those components generate heat that has to go somewhere. This 2-in-1 is essentially silent while idle but the cooling fan turns on and maintains a barely audible hum when the notebook is in use (even if you’re just browsing the web). External chassis temperatures never exceeded 105 degrees Fahrenheit during our benchmark tests but there are a few hot spots on the bottom of the chassis close to the rear of the notebook that can get uncomfortably warm if you’re using the Inspiron 13 as a laptop more more than a few hours.

Conclusion

The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2016 edition is an affordable 2-in-1 PC that aims to strike the delicate balance between the features and functionality of a traditional laptop PC and the convenience and portability of a tablet. For the most part, Dell has found that ideal balance.

Still, there are a number of issues that we want Dell to address in future Inspiron 2-in-1 devices. For starters, the power button either needs to be moved or made flush with the chassis to prevent accidental shutdown. The screen should either be less glossy or needs a much stronger backlight to prevent the mirror-like reflections from ruining the viewing experience. While the keyboard isn’t the best we’ve used, Dell is going to have a hard time improving the physical typing experience without making the device feel too thick or heavy in tablet mode. Speaking of which, if you’re going to buy a 2-in-1 and use it as a tablet then you’re going to want to have a pen … so we really hope Dell finds a way to integrate built-in pen storage on the next version of the Inspiron 13 series.

At the end of the day Dell managed to deliver a quality 2-in-1 with excellent value for your dollars. If you can live with the minor compromises we mentioned then this makes a great convertible laptop and tablet.

DSC03798Pros:

  • Excellent value
  • Simple, lightweight design
  • Solid build quality
  • Standard USB and USB Type-C

Cons:

  • Mirror-like glossy display
  • Poor placement of power button
  • 2-in-1 without built-in pen
  • Keyboard movement feels shallow



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