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Dell Inspiron 15 5000 (2016) Review

Our Verdict

Dell's Inspiron 15 5000 is a strong performer with a solid and comfy soft-touch design, but its display doesn't wow.

For

  • Good battery life
  • Strong performance
  • Comfy soft-touch deck
  • Plenty of storage

Against

  • Bland, low-res display
  • Shallow keyboard

The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 combines strong performance with a comfortable and colorful soft-touch design, but is that enough? For $600, you get a roomy 1TB hard drive, a 6th Generation Core i5 Processor and 8GB of RAM. However, a dull and low-res display and stiff keyboard hold this laptop back.

Design

Our review unit of the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 was an industrial silver-and-black machine that looks like it's meant to do a job. Dell.com allows you to select some vibrant colors, however, including red, blue and gold. The silver lid on our unit features Dell's logo in black and has a gritty texture that makes the system easy to grip and carry. Inside, the deck is a dark gray with a soft-touch coating that felt comfortable against our wrists and a black, island-style keyboard. The 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display is surrounded by a black bezel that isn't as horribly thick as we've seen on some other notebooks.

At 14.9 x 10.25 x .94 inches, the Inspiron has a slightly smaller footprint than its rivals, including the Asus F555LA (15 x 10.1 x 1 inches) and the Lenovo Ideapad 500 (15.12 x 10.43 x 0.97 inches), and is about the same size as the Toshiba Satellite L55-C5340 (14.96 x 10.2 x 0.89 inches). The Inspiron has some heft, though; at 5.4 pounds, it's the heaviest of the bunch.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Size
Weight5.4 pounds
Dimensions14.9 x 10.25 x .94 inches

Keyboard and Touchpad

With just 1.3 mm of travel, the backlit keyboard on the Inspiron 15 5000 Is shallow, and though the keys require a strong 70 grams of force to press, I could still feel them bottoming out rather easily. On the bright side, your wrists won't get sore when you place them against the soft-touch palm rest.

When I used the keyboard, I typed 96 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is a little lower than my average range of 100 to 110 wpm, but my 1 percent average error rate remained unchanged. Dell claims that the keyboard is spill-proof, which should save your laptop from the occasional small spill. Excel masters will be thrilled to learn that this notebook features a full number pad.

The touchpad is accurate and comfortable to use; the pointer went exactly where I wanted it to go as my finger glided over the smooth surface. At 4.1 x 3.1 inches, the touchpad has plenty of room for navigating as well as accurate gestures like clearing the desktop, summoning Cortana and scrolling with two fingers.

Display

The 15.6-inch display on the Inspiron 15 5000 doesn't impress and is a noticeable downgrade from the panel on the 2015 model we reviewed last August. I found colors to be inaccurate and bland. I also wish the resolution were higher than just 1366 x 768 pixels; competing notebooks in this price range offer full-HD, 1080p screens.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Display: Test Results
BenchmarkScoreHow it Compares
Brightness239 nitsAverage
Color Gamut (sRGB)59 percentWeak
Color Accuracy (Delta e)3.8Average

When I watched a trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, nothing on this screen popped -- not even the brightest colors. When the Batmobile's headlights pointed directly at the yellow and red insignia on Superman's chest, the colors were washed out, while they were bright and clear on other displays. The relatively low-res panel left out detail in the character's faces, and the screen had a slight blue tint that threw off skin tones.

The Inspiron 15 5000's display has an average brightness of 239 nits, which is darker than the mainstream category average of 253, but still brighter than its rivals; the Lenovo Ideapad 500 has a brightness of 219 nits, but the Asus F555LA and Toshiba Satellite L55-C5340 didn't even break 200.

The screen produces only 58.9 percent of the sRGB color gamut and has a Delta-E color accuracy score of 3.81 (the closer to zero, the better).. By comparison, last year's model reproduced a solid 71 percent of the gamut, though it was a bit dimmer at 177 nits, and the ASUS F555LA managed a full 70.4 percent

Audio

The Dell's Waves MaxxAudio speakers performed well while on a desk -- the vocals in Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar's "No More Parties in L.A." were crisp, though the mids didn't stand out the way they should. With the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 on my lap, the sound was a bit more muddled and vocals were less clear.

The Dell Audio software allows for some speaker calibration. There are plenty of equalizers to choose from, and the Hip-Hop ones made the sound a little richer. I found that leaving it on the MaxxSense preset provided the best sound.

Performance

Our review configuration of the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 came with an Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD, which should be plenty for the average day of Web browsing, video watching and word processing. While streaming HD video from YouTube, I had eight tabs open and was typing in Notepad before I saw noticeable lag.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 (Core i5 / 8GB / 1TB HDD): Performance Tests
BenchmarkScoreHow it Compares
Geekbench 36331Strong
Spreadsheet Macro Test4:30Strong
File Transfer Test 31.93 MBpsComparable to Competitors

The Inspiron 15 achieved a score of 6,331 on Geekbench 3, a synthetic test of overall performance. The Toshiba Satellite L55-C and its Core i5-5200U processor (5,564), and the Asus F555LA's Core i3-5010 with  4GB of RAM (2,080) all notched lower scores. The Inspiron even beat the Lenovo Ideapad 500 and its Core i7-6500U processor (6,128), even though that system costs $150 more (as tested).

In terms of productivity performance, the Inspiron fared quite well, taking 4 minutes and 30 seconds to match 20,000 names and addresses in OpenOffice. While the Satellite L55-C took 5:10 and the Asus F555LA took 6:31, only the Lenovo was faster at 4:04. 

MORE: The Best Laptops for Every Need

It took 2 minutes and 44 seconds for us to copy 4.97GB of mixed-media files to the Inspiron 15 5000 -- a rate of 31.93 MBps. That result was in line with the rest of the field: the Toshiba Satellite L55-C transferred at 28.4 MBps, the Ideapad 500 notched 31.42 MBps and the Asus F555LA achieved a rate of 32.2 MBps.

You won't be using your Inspiron 15 5000 and its integrated Intel HD 520 graphics for any heavy gaming (think more Words With Friends and less Assassin's Creed).

Ports and Webcam

The wide variety of ports on the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 provide more than enough flexibility for everyday multimedia and productivity use. The left side of the laptop features the power port, Ethernet jack, HDMI port, USB 3.0 port and an SD card reader, while the right side is home to the headphone and mic combination jack, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVD drive and a Kensington lock slot.

The 720p webcam took an OK selfie with mostly accurate colors, though highlights were blown out. Some details in my face, hair and shirt were lost and the photo is a little grainy, but the picture is fairly standard for a modern, built-in webcam.

Battery Life

The Inspiron 15 5000 survived longer on the Laptop Mag Battery Test than its foes. The notebook lasted for 6 hours and 22 minutes of continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi, higher than the category average of 5:45. The Asus F555LA was just under the average at 5:44, while the Toshiba Satellite L55-C5430 ran for 5:44 and the Lenovo Ideapad 500 sputtered along at 3:43. 

LaptopBattery Life
Dell Inspiron 15 50006:22
Category Average5:45

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Heat

Don't worry about the Inspiron 15 5000 getting too hot to handle -- after we streamed 15 minutes of HD video from Hulu, the touchpad reached 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the middle of the keyboard hit 81 degrees and the underside was 87 degrees. These are all below our comfort threshold of 95 degrees.

Software and Warranty

The Inspiron 15 5000 doesn't come with a ton of preloaded software, but the third-party apps it has are a mixed bag.

There is some bloatware, including the ever-present Candy Crush Soda Saga, CyberLink Media Suite Essentials, Flipboard and Twitter. You'll find some useful stuff, though, including 20GB of free Dropbox storage for one year, the aforementioned Dell Audio app, and Dell's Update and Power Manager program, which help you keep your laptop on the latest software and customize your battery settings.

Dell includes a one-year limited warranty with the notebook and offers accidental-damage service starting at $29 for one year.

Configurations

Our test configuration of the Inspiron 15 5000, which costs $599.99, features a 6th Generation Intel Core i5 Processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB HDD and a 1366 x 768 display. 

For $649.99, you can get a laptop with identical specs, but with a touch screen and Intel RealSense Camera. The best possible config is probably the $699 model, which has a 1080p display and a Core i7 CPU. Other more expensive options offer 8 or 12GB of memory, Core i7 processors and 1080p displays. A line of Inspiron 15 5000 series laptops with AMD processors starts at $549.99.

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Cost By Configuration
ConfigScreenCPURAM / HDDPrice
Base Model1366 x 768Core i3-6100U6GB / 1TB$549.99
Recommended1920 x 1080Core i7-6500U8GB / 1TB$749.99
Review Model1366 x 768Core i5-6200U8GB / 1TB$599.99

Tech Specs

BluetoothBluetooth 4.0
BrandDell
CPU2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-6200U
Card SlotsSD memory reader
Company Websitehttp://www.dell.com/
Display Size15.6
Graphics CardIntel HD Graphics 520
Hard Drive Size1 TB
Hard Drive Speed5,400rpm
Hard Drive TypeSATA Hard Drive
Native Resolution1366x678
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Optical DriveCD Burner/DVD Combo Drive
Ports (excluding USB)Headphone/Mic, Kensington Lock, SD card slot, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Ethernet, HDMI
RAM8GB
Size14.9 x 10.25 x .94 inches
Touchpad Size4.1 x 3.1 inches
Warranty/Support1-year limited warranty
Weight5.4 pounds
Wi-Fi802.11ac
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