- Excellent gaming performance for the money
- Good Full HD display
- Nice keyboard
- Slow boot and application launch times
- Plastic construction
- A bit too heavy
The latest iteration of the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 series is perhaps Dell’s best multi-purpose 15-inch notebook designed to meet the needs of the widest possible variety of customers. This is a true desktop replacement or primary computer thanks to a 6th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics with 4GB of GDDR5, and a massive 1TB hard drive and 8GB M.2 SSD cache for storing all your files. Combine those impressive specs with a price of just $799 and it’s hard not to recommend this laptop. Sure, you can find cheaper 15-inch laptops with weaker specs but, when you can buy this much hardware for $800 or less, the Inspiron 15-7559 proves to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Build and Design
Let’s face facts: When you ask most people to think about today’s cutting-edge computer technology they probably won’t picture a Dell laptop with a 15-inch screen. That’s unfortunate because the Inspiron 15-7559 delivers high value within its thick plastic chassis.
All that matte black plastic is both a good and bad thing; the good is that the plastic (in addition to being less expensive) doesn’t conduct heat the way that metal does and that allows Dell to pack this laptop with a powerful processor and even more powerful graphics without setting your lap on fire. The bad side of all this plastic is that the Inspiron 15 feels like a cheap laptop in your hands; the screen lid has noticeable flex, the hinges wobble, and you can hear plastic creaking if you apply pressure to opposite corners of the chassis.
Older generations of the Inspiron 15 had a solid-feeling aluminum body reminiscent of a Macbook Pro, but the move to thick plastics is probably a big part of what allows Dell to squeeze this much hardware inside the notebook at a modest price. That being said, you should keep the screen flex and hinge wobble in mind if you plan to pay extra at the time of purchase to upgrade the display to a 4K touchscreen … we suspect that movement will be pretty annoying if you’re constantly touching the screen.
The long rubber grips on the bottom of the Inspiron 15 plus its 5.67 lbs of mass mean the rest of this notebook will remain stable on your table. If you’re interested in upgrading the RAM, wireless card or hard drive after purchase, then you’ll be happy to know that the entire bottom panel can be removed after loosening a single Philips head screw. This type of easy access to the internal hardware is a rare thing to find on most 15-inch laptops today; we’re glad to see that Dell is thinking about the needs of customers even after they’ve purchased the notebook.
Ports and Connectivity
The Inspiron 15’s port selection covers a wide range of connectivity options. The left side of the notebook features the power jack, one of the heat vents, two USB 3.0 ports, and a combo headset/headphone/microphone audio jack. The right side on the Inspiron 15 includes a full-size SD card reader, one additional USB 3.0 port, a full-size HDMI port, Ethernet jack and a Kensington lock slot. Observant readers may notice that the Inspiron 15 has lost one USB port compared to previous generations, but we aren’t too concerned given the rest of the specs.
When it comes to wireless capabilities, this computer has both 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi for high speed internet access and Bluetooth 4.0 for connecting external keyboards, mice wireless headsets or any number of other Bluetooth accessories.
Display and Speakers
The 15.6-inch 1080p IPS display delivers fabulously wide viewing angles and good color accuracy. As previously mentioned, Dell offers an upgrade option that allows you to select a 15.6-inch UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife LED-backlit Touch Display at the time of purchase, but the higher resolution and touchscreen surface also comes at the expense of battery life.
The anti-glare or matte display surface on the 1080p screen in our review unit means that reflections from external light sources aren’t a problem and the backlight was bright enough to allow us to use the notebook outdoors under direct sunlight. Although the screen bezel is quite wide, you’ll find a wide-angle 720p webcam with dual microphones located above the screen and we found the video quality to be more than adequate for HD video calls.
The Inspiron 15 features Waves MaxxAudio Pro processing software driving a pair of stereo speakers located above the keyboard as well as a built-in subwoofer located under the notebook. The speakers are quite good for a notebook priced below $1000. The audio is clear with a wide range of tones that are largely free of distortion until you reach the maximum volume setting. Don’t expect to feel thumpin’ bass notes from the small integrated subwoofer, but it does help to dramatically improve the “fullness” of sound coming from the Inspiron 15.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Inspiron 15’s keyboard feels noticeably better than the one in the previous generation of Inspiron 15 7000 series notebooks. The island-style (Chiclet-style) keys are made of a same matte black plastic as the rest of the notebook and have a flat surface with adequate spacing between each of the main keys (with the exception of the cramped up and down arrow keys). Key travel or throw is relatively shallow but not as bad as the cheap Bluetooth keyboards you see at so many coffee shops. Feedback, on the other hand is quite soft or mushy, so touch typists might not immediately feel when a key has moved back to its original position.
The keys feature LED backlighting with two brightness settings plus and “off” setting controlled by the FN + F10 keys. The dedicated number pad is a nice feature for quick data entry but, with the gap between the number pad and the rest of the keyboard the same size as that between any other two keys, we accidentally pressed the Num Lock when trying to delete text on more than one occasion.
The oversized touchpad is a “buttonless” Clickpad with fully-clickable buttons beneath the surface. As with most Clickpads, we found that cursor movement is quick and accurate but the gesture recognition is hit-or-miss and the touchpad sometimes struggles to correctly identify between a left click and a right click. In addition, the large touchpad surface helps facilitate accidental wrist input; meaning you might find your cursor has unexpectedly moved as you’re typing.