The Inspiron 14z’s 1.3-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 CPU, integrated Intel graphics chip, and 5,400-rpm hard drive combined to give the system performance that’s good enough for everyday use, but weak when it comes to intense tasks such as transcoding video. In anecdotal testing, the system was responsive and pleasant to use for navigating around the desktop, surfing the Web, editing documents in Word, and watching videos.
In PCMark Vantage, a benchmark that measures overall system performance, the Inspiron 14z returned a score of 2,655, which is about 450 points below the thin-and-light notebook category average of 3,101, but on a par with such Intel ULV-powered laptops as the ASUS UL30A (2,442) and Acer Aspire Timeline 3810T (2,678). The Dell Studio 14z, which features a faster 2.1-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU and discrete graphics, returned a much stronger score of 3,544.
The system took a pokey 15 minutes and 15 seconds to transcode a 114MB MPEG-4 to AVI using HandBrake. The ASUS UL30A completed the test in 10:55, while the much faster Studio 14z completed the same task in 7:30. Among its competitors, only the Timeline 3810T was slower (22:18).
The Inspiron 14z’s 5,400-rpm, 250GB Western Digital hard drive booted Windows 7 Home Premium in a reasonable 54 seconds. It also took 4 minutes and 6 seconds to complete the LAPTOP Transfer Test, in which we copy 4.97GB folder of mixed media files from one area of the hard drive to another. That’s a rate of 20.7 MBps, which is about equal with the category average (20.8 MBps) and ahead of the Studio 14z (18.5 MBps), but slightly behind the UL30A (23.2 MBps) and the Timeline 3810T (24.8 MBps).
The Inspiron 14z’s integrated GMA 4500MHD graphics provided adequate performance. In anecdotal testing, we had no problems watching DVDs and 720p Web videos. Using Google Earth’s flight simulator and zoom-in function, we were able to fly over Manhattan without jerkiness or delays.
However, on 3DMark06, a benchmark that measures overall graphics prowess, the system scored a measly 807, which is a little better than half the category average of 1,467. However, the ASUS UL30A and Acer Aspire Timeline 3810T weren’t any better, scoring 760 and 698, respectively. Due to its discrete graphics, the Dell Studio 14z returned an above-average score of 2,101.
Don’t even think about playing demanding games on the Inspiron 14z. When attempting to play Far Cry 2, we managed a slideshow-like frame rate of 5 frames per second at 1024 x 768 resolution. The Studio 14z, however, managed a playable 26 fps at the same resolution.