Dell has consolidated its notebook lineup, and the result is an increased focus on quality. Case in point: The Inspiron 15 7537, which boasts a gorgeous aluminum design; a 15-inch, 1080p display; a Core i7 processor; and Nvidia graphics. Starting at $749 ($1,149 as configured), is this the affordable version of the MacBook Pro?
The Inspiron 15 7537 is a high-powered variant of the Inspiron 15 7000 we reviewed back in October, so it sports the exact same look and feel as its sibling. That's not a bad thing. From its aluminum exterior to its diamond-cut edges, this is one attractive 15-inch laptop.
The Inspiron's lid features a simple, polished Dell logo. Pop its top, and you'll find the same elegant, silver aluminum on the Inspiron's keyboard deck and wrist rest. Details, such as the polished aluminum framing its keyboard and touchpad, only add to the notebook's beautiful design.
Measuring 14.9 x 10 x 0.9 inches, the Inspiron 15 7537 is roughly the same size as HP's 14.9 x 9.9 x 1.1-inch Envy TouchSmart 15. ASUS' N550JV is a bit beefier, measuring 15.1 x 10 x 1.1 inches. All three notebooks weigh a somewhat hefty 5.6 pounds.
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Our Inspiron 15 7537 sports a 1920 x 1080-pixel WLED TrueLife touch-screen display that offered razor-sharp visuals. In a trailer for "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," Spidey's red-and-blue suit looked absolutely electric, and the white parts of the costume covering his eyes popped.
Based on our tests using a Spyder4 colorimeter, the Inspiron is capable of displaying 103 percent of the sRGB gamut. That's much better than the average mainstream notebook, which is capable of showing just 87.3 percent. The Latitude's color reproduction, however, was somewhat inaccurate, with a Delta-E score of 11.9. A Delta-E of 0 is perfect.
Unfortunately, at 212 lux, the Inspiron 15 7537's display is dimmer than the mainstream notebook average of 225 lux. Still, that's brighter than the HP Envy TouchSmart 15 (184 lux). ASUS' N550JV, on the other hand, reached a much higher 275 lux.
The two speakers mounted just below the Inspiron's front lip pushed out relatively flat audio. While listening to Outkast's "B.O.B.," we noted a distinct lack of bass, and high notes sounded fairly hollow. Even with the onboard MaxxAudio Pro audio software enabled, music and movies sounded dull and tinny. Turn off MaxxAudio, however, and the laptop's maximum volume drops precipitously.
On the Laptop Mag Audio Test, the Inspiron 15 7537 pumped out 83 decibels of sound. That's lower than the 87-dB category average, as well as the HP Envy TouchSmart 15's 85 decibels. The ASUS N550JV offered the loudest speakers, reaching an impressive 94 dB.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Like many 15-inch notebooks, the Dell Inspiron 15 7537 comes equipped with a full-size keyboard complete with a number pad. The backlit, island-style keys are evenly spaced, and nothing felt too small. Unfortunately, like the Inspiron 15 7000 we reviewed late last year, key presses felt soft, which made typing for long periods slightly uncomfortable.
That said, overall key travel measured 1.5mm, which is average for a mainstream notebook. On the Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor test, we recorded an average of 80 words per minute with an error rate of 1 percent, which is on a par with our usual average.
The Inspiron 15 7537's 4.25 x 3.25-inch touchpad proved accurate and comfortable during our testing. Multitouch gestures -- including two-finger scrolling and twist-to-rotate -- worked well, as did Windows 8 gestures.
After streaming a 15-minute full-screen Hulu clip, the Inspiron 15 7537's keyboard reached 92 degrees Fahrenheit. The touchpad was considerably cooler, topping out at a mild 80 degrees. Underneath, the Inspiron was on the toasty side, reaching 98 degrees. We consider temperatures of 95 degrees or lower to be comfortable.
Ports and Webcam
Need a lot of ports? The Inspiron 15 7537's got you covered. This Dell offers four USB 3.0 ports -- two on each side. On the right edge, you also get an HDMI port, Ethernet jack, combination headphone and microphone jack, and 8-in-1 card reader. You'll find the notebook's power port on its left side.
Windows 8 laptops just can't seem to get webcams right. As with many of its ilk, the Inspiron 15's 720p camera captured dim, grainy images. Fine details, such as the lines on our face, were obscured, and colors were far too dull.
Our Inspiron 15 7537 review unit features a 1.8-GHz dual-core Intel Core i7-5400U processor with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB, 5,400-rpm hybrid drive with 8GB of flash storage. Throw in Nvidia's GeForce GT 750M with 2GB of RAM and Optimus Technology, and you've got one beefy multimedia machine. We ran a full virus scan using McAfee LiveSafe while streaming Hulu videos (with 10 tabs open in Chrome), and we didn't notice a hint of slowdown.
On PCMark7, a synthetic benchmark that tests a laptop's overall system performance, the Inspiron 15 scored 4,075. That's better than the mainstream notebook category average of 3,734. The ASUS N550JV and its quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and 1TB HDD scored a slightly lower 3,546. The HP Envy TouchSmart 15 and its quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and dual 1TB HDD and 24GB SSD hit a higher 5,363.
Though its 1TB HDD runs at just 5,400 rpm, an additional 8GB of flash storage helped the Inspiron 15 7357 boot Windows 8.1 in just 18 seconds. That's faster than the 20-second category average, as well as the HP Envy TouchSmart's 19 seconds. The ASUS N550JV, however, came to life in only 16 seconds.
On our Laptop Mag File Transfer Test, the Inspiron copied 4.97GB of mixed media files in 1 minute and 9 seconds. That equals a rate of 73.8 MBps, which is just shy of the mainstream notebook category average of 75 MBps. The HP Envy TouchSmart's and ASUS N550JV's drives we're both much slower, coming in at 28 MBps.
The Inspiron took 4 minutes and 39 seconds to complete our OpenOffice macro benchmark, which involves matching 20,000 names to their respective addresses. While that's nearly a minute faster than the category average of 5:29, it's a bit slower than the HP Envy TouchSmart 15's time of 4:00. The ASUS N550JV beat that time by a hair, with 3:58.
With its Nvidia GeForce GT 750M graphics chip with Optimus Technology, the Inspiron 15 7537 is more than capable of running many of your favorite games, just not the most resource-intensive ones. On the 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme benchmark, the Inspiron scored 883. That's well above the category average of 577 and blows away the HP Envy TouchSmart 15's score of 533.
When playing "World of Warcraft" with the graphics set to Low and the resolution at 1366 x 768 pixels, the Inspiron managed a frame rate of 104 fps. Bump up the resolution to 1080p, and the frame rate dips to 94 fps. Crank up the graphics to 11, and the frame rate drops to a still-smooth 51 fps. That's on a par with the GeForce GT 750M-powered ASUS N550JV's 52 fps, and significantly better than the GeForce GT 740M-equipped HP Envy TouchSmart 15's 33 fps. However, the average laptop hit 54 fps.
On the more demanding "BioShock Infinite," we saw an average frame rate of 76 fps with the graphics on Low and the resolution at 1366 x 768p. Frame rates were still solid at 1080p, hitting 49 fps. When we boosted the graphics to High and set the resolution to 1366 x 768p, the frame rate fell to a playable 35 fps. That's slightly better than the category average of 31 fps. The ASUS N550JV averaged 24 fps, while the HP Envy TouchSmart 15 averaged 17 fps.
Jump to 1080p, though, and frame rates drop to an unplayable 22 fps on this title. That said, the Inspiron did manage to perform better than the category average (19 fps), and the ASUS N550JV and HP Envy TouchSmart, which registered 14 fps and 9 fps, respectively.
The Inspiron 15 7537 lasted an impressive 6 hours and 13 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi with the screen brightness set to 100 nits. That's better than the category average of 5:34.
On our previous battery test, which involved continuous Web surfing with the display brightness set to a more forgiving 40 percent, the ASUS N550JV lasted just 4:52, whereas the HP Envy TouchSmart 15 lasted 4:54.
It's worth noting that the cheaper Inspiron 15 7000 lasted a marathon 9:26. However, that system has a slower Core i5 processor, integrated graphics and a lower-res 1366 x 768p display.
Software and Warranty
Dell went extremely light on the preinstalled software with the Inspiron 15 7537, loading Microsoft's Windows 8 apps and a few third-party offerings. The most noteworthy programs include a one-year subscription to McAfee's LiveSafe security suite and Nvidia's GeForce Experience, which lets users download graphics drivers and access Nvidia-specific features with ease. The included My Dell app provides access to driver updates, system information, notifications and additional options.
Dell provides Inspiron 15 7537 customers with 90 days of premium phone support and a one-year in-home service guarantee after a diagnostic phone call.
Our $1,149 Inspiron 15 7537 review unit features a 1.8-GHz dual-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD and an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M graphics chip.
However, the Inspiron 15 7000 starts at just $749; for that, you get an Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of RAM, integrated HD Graphics 4400, a 1366 x 768-pixel display and a 500GB HDD.
With its sexy design, strong performance and above-average battery life, the Inspiron 15 7537 has all the makings of a quality multimedia laptop. The graphics performance is particularly strong for this class of system. For the price, though, we would have liked a brighter screen and a less-mushy keyboard.
If you're looking for a similarly priced 15-inch notebook with more gaming power, check out the $1,049 Lenovo Y510p. That system offers a powerful Core i7 processor, dual Nvidia GeForce GT 750M graphics and a 1TB HDD with a 24GB secondary SSD. However, that machine offers only about half the battery life as the Dell. Overall, the Dell Inspiron 15 7537 is a multimedia laptop that looks good and performs well.