Positioned between Dell's uninspired budget laptops and the acclaimed XPS lineup, this year's Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 ($899 starting; $1,359 as reviewed) has a sleek aluminum design and gorgeous optional 4K display. Combining those features with strong performance and discrete Nvidia graphics, the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 is a solid machine for people who want a large convertible with a high-resolution display.
However, the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1's poor battery life, dim display, and shallow and stiff keyboard make it hard to recommend ahead of other premium competitors.
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Cost and Configuration Options
The $859 base model of the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 (7586) comes in a platinum silver color and sports a 1080p display. On the inside is an Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
The 4K display is available only on the Abyss Black model of the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1. The premium SKU we reviewed starts at $1,359, and along with a UHD panel, it comes with a Core i7-8565 CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The top-of-the-line model bumps the storage capacity up to 512GB, with that version selling for $1,459.
"This is an Inspiron laptop?" I said with a satisfied smirk when I first opened up the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1. Unlike its cheaper siblings, the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 feels like a genuinely premium piece of machinery. That's thanks to its substantial aluminum material and the rigid hinge that holds up the laptop's flexible display.
However, compared to more-premium laptops, like the Dell XPS 15 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, the Inspiron's design is fairly pedestrian. The dark-gray metal enveloping the laptop is interrupted only by a shiny Dell logo and some chrome trim around the touchpad and fingerprint sensor/power button. There is the gentlest of slopes on the deck of the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1, between the touchpad and keyboard. The understated chassis, with its dark color scheme, has a suave, stealthy appearance, albeit one without any remarkable design elements.
It's nice to see this Inspiron laptop adopt the edge-to-edge display made famous by Dell's very own XPS products. While such a display is a fairly common feature at this point, the thin bezels on the Inspiron 15 7000 do wonders for the 4K screen, appropriately shining a spotlight on the centerpiece of this laptop.
At 14.2 x 9.5 x 0.7 inches and 4.5 pounds, the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 isn't much larger than some of the most compact 15.6-inch convertibles. In fact, the 15-inch HP Spectre x360 (14.1 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches, 4.6 pounds) has an even larger footprint and weighs more than the Inspiron. The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 (13.9 x 9.2 x 0.6 inches, 4.4 pounds) is thinner and lighter than the Inspiron 15 7000, but not by much. Of course, the 14-inch Asus ZenBook Flip 14 (12.9 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches, 3.3 pounds) is the smallest and lightest of the bunch.
The Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 has fewer ports than most 15-inch laptops, but there is a decent variety that will meet most use cases.
On the left side, next to a power connector, is an HDMI, a USB Type-C port and a headphone/mic jack combo. Two USB 3.1 Type-A ports and an SD card reader make up the right side of the laptop.
I'm pretty bummed that there isn't a single Thunderbolt 3 port on a laptop in this price range. And while it's often the sacrificial lamb for reducing the size of a laptop, previous versions of the Inspiron 15 featured an Ethernet port.
Dell's jack-of-all-trades laptop can be configured with a 4K (UHD) display along with a traditional 1080p option. Our review unit rocked the pixel-packed panel, and I was pleased by this display's quality. The 15.6-inch, 4K touch-screen display is exceptionally sharp and vibrant, though I wish it were brighter.
Packed to the bezels with pixels, this crisp display didn't leave out a single detail when I watched the trailer for the upcoming DC Comics film Aquaman. The tattoos covering Jason Momoa's hulking body were easily discernible, and I could see every notch in an elaborate ancient cipher. When Black Manta makes his brief appearance in the trailer, the supervillain's blood red eyes burst with rage against his matte-black shell.
White balance was a tad warm on this display when I visited some of my favorite websites, but saturated colors and crisp text made internet browsing a joy. I had no issues using the touch screen to navigate the web or doodle a primitive drawing in Paint 3D.
According to our colorimeter, the Inspiron 15 7000's display reproduces 122 percent of the sRGB color gamut, making this screen more colorful than those on the Spectre x360 (119 percent) and the ZenBook Flip 14 (115 percent). The Inspiron also beat the premium laptop average (116 percent). As expected, the more-premium (and pricier) XPS 15 2-in-1 (160 percent) has an even more vivid panel.
It's a shame that the potential of this rich panel is stunted by a low maximum brightness. At just 243 nits, the Inspiron's screen is considerably dimmer than the displays on the Spectre x360 (340 nits), ZenBook Flip 14 (274 nits) and XPS 15 2-in-1 (387 nits). The average premium laptop illuminates to 320 nits.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Inspiron 15 7000's keyboard is just OK.
The keys are relatively shallow -- at just 1.2 millimeters (below our 1.5mm preference) -- and stiff, but a nice tactile bump and 64 grams of actuation force keep the typing experience snappy.
There is plenty of room between each backlit key, but the caps are annoyingly flat and somewhat small -- issues that are hard to excuse on a 15-inch laptop that lacks a numpad. Also, the spacebar feels mushy and shallower than the other keys.
I typed at a rate of 113 words per minute with an accuracy of 94 percent on the 10fastfingers.com typing test. Both scores are slightly below my averages of 119 wpm at 95 percent accuracy.
A subtle rough texture on the 4.1 x 3.1-inch touchpad provided some welcome resistance when I navigated across multiple Google Chrome tabs. I had no problems using the large chrome-trimmed surface to perform Windows 10 gestures, including pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe to switch apps.
The bottom-firing stereo speakers on the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 played Ben Howard's live track "Empty Corridors" loud enough to fill a medium-size conference room. However, audio quality is poor at maximum volume; vocals were hollow, and the acoustic guitar sounds were shrill and distorted.
The sound cleaned up considerably when I dialed the volume down to 75 percent. At a more comfortable listening level, the speakers put out clear and crisp sound. Keep in mind that the audio produced by the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 is treble-heavy, so bass heads might want to buy a Bluetooth speaker.
The Intel Core i7-8565U CPU and 16GB of RAM in the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 didn't flinch in our real-world performance testing. I watched a 1080p YouTube video in full screen with 20 other tabs open in the background and didn't encounter a single hiccup. Determined to find this machine's breaking point, I then loaded a few 1080p Twitch streams and two more full-HD videos, but the Inspiron 15 7000 powered through in impressive fashion.
Our high-end review unit scored 13,070 on the Geekbench 4 overall-performance benchmark, beating the ZenBook Flip 14 (12,799) and the premium category average (12,240). However, the Inspiron 15 was no match for the Spectre x360 (15,340) or XPS 15 2-in-1 (15,040), both of which offer much better performance.
The 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD in the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 is pretty quick. It duplicated 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 16 seconds in our File Transfer Test, for a rate of 318.1 megabytes per second. That matches the speed of the ZenBook Flip 14 (PCIe SSD, 318.1 MBps) and tops the Spectre x360's result (512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, 221 MBps); however, the XPS 15 (1TB NVMe PCIe SSD, 392 MBps) and average premium laptop (496 MBps) completed the task at a much faster rate.
In our Excel Macro test, the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 needed 1 minute and 23 seconds to match 65,000 names to their corresponding addresses.The XPS 15 2-in-1 (0:58) tops the competition again, alongside the Spectre x360 (0:57). The ZenBook Flip 14 (1:40) lagged behind on this test, falling short of even the premium laptop average (1:35).
We saw similar results in the HandBrake video-editing test, which involves converting a 4K video into 1080p resolution. It took the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 21 minutes and 31 seconds to complete the process, while the XPS 15 2-in-1 (14:10) and Spectre x360 (15:01) finished the task in three-quarters of that time. The Inspiron may have fallen just short of the premium laptop average (21:24), but it trounced the ZenBook Flip 14 (25:04).
The Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU in the Inspiron 15 7000 is a definite step up from the Intel UHD integrated graphics found in other slim laptops. You shouldn't have any problems playing modern games at low settings on this machine.
The Inspiron scored a 98,821 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test. That's a solid result but worse than what the competition achieved. For instance, the ZenBook Flip 14 (GeForce MX150) notched a 110,792, while the Spectre x360 (147,606, Radeon RX Vega M GL) and XPS 15 2-in-1 (150,257, Radeon RX Vega M GL) performed even better.
The Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 has the same GPU as the ZenBook Flip 14 (122 fps), so it's no wonder that Dell's laptop played the racing game Dirt 3 at about the same frame rate, at 126 fps. The more powerful GPUs in the Spectre x360 (182 fps) and XPS 15 2-in-1 (186 fps) paid off with smoother gaming sessions. The average premium laptop plays at 74 fps, which is still well above our 30-fps playability threshold.
A thin chassis and a 4K display add up to a recipe for battery life trouble. Sure enough, the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 won't stay powered for long after you disconnect it from an outlet. With a runtime of just 5 hours and 37 minutes, the Inspiron fell short of the XPS 15 2-in-1 (6:28) and just barely beat out the short-lived Spectre x360 (5:20). If you want longer endurance, we'd opt for a 1080p display.
While it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, the 9 hours and 27 minutes of battery life achieved by the ZenBook Flip 14 (1080p) illustrates just how much a 4K display can affect endurance. The premium laptop category average for battery life (8:14) is more than 3 hours longer than the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1's time.
We've hit out at Dell in the past for repositioning its laptop's webcams below the display to accommodate thin bezels. Fortunately, Dell seems to have figured how to get the best of both worlds. The 720p lens on the Inspiron 15 7000 is located on the thin bezel above the display. That already puts this camera miles ahead of the webcams on the XPS 13 and XPS 15.
Now, regarding image quality, the camera takes decent enough photos, but frequent video-conferencers should opt for an external webcam. When I took a selfie in our dimly lit office, the natural red hue of my face was exaggerated to tomato-red levels. Combined with the bright yellow of what should actually be dirty blonde hair, I looked a bit like Ronald McDonald. At least the selfie cam captured a good amount of detail -- like individual strands of hair -- albeit, with a lot of visual noise.
The Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 heated to uncomfortable levels when we played a 15-minute HD video in full screen, but the laptop never reached egregious temperatures. The touchpad remained well below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees Fahrenheit, staying at a lukewarm 86 degrees. The center of the keyboard, however, heated to 98.5 degrees, while the underside of the laptop (103 degrees) and the area near the hinge (106 degrees) both breached 100 degrees.
Software and Warranty
Dell brings a suite of pre-installed apps to the Inspiron 15 7000, some of which are more useful than others. Dell CinemaColor is a super simple way to adjust color temperature by choosing from among four presets: Movie, Evening, Sports and Animation. The Dell Customer Connect app showed me a blue screen that told me that it'd let me know when a new survey is available, so feel free to uninstall that app.
Conversely, Dell Update is an important application that keeps your computer up to date with the latest software releases. You might also give Dell Mobile Connect a try if you want to link your smartphone to your laptop.
Taking up more space on your hard drive are the applications that Microsoft insists on including with every Windows 10 Home PC. Those include Netflix, Sticky Note, Minecraft and a few kids games, like Hidden Temple and Candy Crush.
With the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1, you get a crisp, vivid 4K display and a sleek, premium aluminum chassis at a relatively low price. Artists and students who prefer to take notes by hand will appreciate the laptop's flexible design and large, responsive touch screen. Unfortunately, the problems we encountered with last year's Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 haven't been resolved. This latest model has short battery life, at less than 6 hours, and its display, while vivid and crisp, doesn't get bright enough.
If you can spare a few hundred dollars, we recommend splurging on the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 ($1,499 to start), which has (slightly) longer battery life, a more compact design and a class-leading display. The HP Spectre x360 ($1,490 to start) is another great option, with its attractive design, fast performance and vivid 4K screen.
At the right price, the Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 is a good buy. However, if you can, we recommend spending a bit more on competing laptops that make fewer compromises.
Credit: Laptop Mag