With a starting price of $499 ($729 as configured), the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 is a reasonably affordable convertible with solid build quality and a 1080p screen standard. However, Dell cuts a lot of corners on this laptop, from using an uncomfortably stiff keyboard to employing a very slow solid-state drive. For these reasons, it's not one of the best laptops. If you're willing to spend $70 to $100 more, you can get a much higher-quality consumer 2-in-1, but if the price is paramount, the Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 is worth considering.
The Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 has a functional, but unimpressive design. Made of gunmetal-gray, matte plastic, the Inspiron at least is a slightly different color than Dell's many silver Inspirons. The screen area has a thick black bezel with oddly rounded corners that don't match up with the square lid. This results in an area at the upper left and upper right of the screen where you see the gray plastic layer behind the bezel.
Though the Inspiron looks boring, it feels pretty solid and well-made. The body never buckled or creeked when I held it, and the hinges, which allow you to bend the screen back into tablet and tent modes, are nice and tight. However, I did notice a creaking sound on the right side of the chassis when I pressed down on the underside of the unit near the SD card slot.
At 3.45 pounds and 12.76 x 8.85 x 0.8 inches, the Inspiron isn't particularly thin or light for its size class. Lenovo's Yoga 720 13-inch is a mere 2.8 pounds and 0.6 inches thick, while Dell's own Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 is 3.4 pounds, but 0.61 inches thick.
Display and Audio
The 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen isn't very bright or vibrant, but it provides sharp images and fairly accurate colors. When I watched a trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, fine details like the lines in the Vision's brow or the squares on Spider-Man's suit were prominent. Colors, such as the red in Iron Man's suit, which appeared somewhat brownish, or the bland blue in Doctor Strange's costume, seemed believable but dull.
According to our colorimeter, the Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1's panel can reproduce a mere 71 percent of the sRGB color gamut. That's 32 percent less than the ultraportable category average, over 50 percent less than the score from the $799 Lenovo Yoga 720 (15-inch) and nearly 40 percent behind the $849 Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1's showing.
At just 188 nits on our light meter, the Inspiron is around 100 points behind the category average and the scores from the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 and Lenovo Yoga 720 (13-inch). However, viewing angles were pretty decent, as colors stayed true at up to 45 degrees to the left and right and faded only slightly at wider points.
The Inspiron 13 outputs audio that's reasonably accurate and loud enough to fill a midsize room. When I listened to AC/DC's "For Those About to Rock," the guitars and drums were only a little tinny, not horribly distorted like they are on many other laptops. If you want to tweak the sound, the Waves MaxxAudio app gives you different sound profiles and the ability to manually adjust the equalizer.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1's keyboard is one of the stiffest and least comfortable I've tested this year. Laptops with chassis this thick normally have plenty of key travel (1.5 to 2 millimeters), but Dell's keys provide only a shallow 1.1mm. Though we sometimes find low-travel laptops that provide good tactile feedback, the Inspiron isn't one of them.
As I pounded the keys, I kept bottoming out or hitting the base with a lot of force. By the time I'd finished the 10FastFingers.com typing test, I had sore fingers and a 13 percent error rate with a speed of only 87 words per minute. My typical scores are between 95 and 105 wpm with a 2 to 4 percent error rate.
The 4.1 x 2.6-inch buttonless touchpad provided accurate navigation around the desktop in our tests. It also responded accurately to multitouch gestures such as pinch to zoom and three-finger swipe. However, the pad is just as stiff as the keyboard, making it unpleasant to click.
The Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 has a decent selection of ports.
The right side contains an SD card reader, a USB 2.0 port and a Noble lock slot. The left side houses two USB 3.0 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack and HDMI-out.
The laptop scored a strong mark of 12,041 on Geekbench 4, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance. That score is more than 50 percent better than the category average and the showing from the Core i5-7200U-powered Lenovo Yoga 720. The Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1, which has the same Core i5-8250U CPU, scored about 8 percent higher.
The Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 took just 3 minutes and 45 seconds to complete our spreadsheet test, a result that's nearly 2 minutes faster than the category average. That showing is nearly identical to the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1's time and a full 17 seconds quicker than the Yoga 720's.
The machine's 256GB SSD is very slow for a solid-state drive, taking 42 seconds to copy 4.97GB of mixed files, for a rate of 121 MBps. That's 46 percent behind the category average and 62 percent behind the Yoga 720.
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With its integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics, the Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 is quick enough to play videos and run some casual games, but forget about demanding titles. Dell's 2-in-1 scored a modest 58,043 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, a result that's 3 percent less than the category average. However, the Yoga 720 and Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 were 18 and 39 percent quicker.
When we fired up racing game Dirt 3, the Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 managed a very-playable 47 frames per second, which is about 15 percent above the category average and within 5 frames of scores from the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 and Yoga 720.
The Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 lasted a mediocre 7 hours and 1 minute on the Laptop Mag Battery test, which involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi. That's over an hour behind the ultraportable category average, but it's within minutes of the Lenovo Yoga 720's time and an hour and a half longer than the Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1's result.
The top surface of the Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 stayed comfortably cool throughout our tests, but the bottom got a little warm. After the machine streamed video for 15 minutes, the touchpad measured 77 degrees Fahrenheit and the keyboard hit 92 degrees Fahrenheit, both under our 95-degree comfort threshold. However, the bottom inched up to 98 degrees.
The Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1's 720p webcam is pretty accurate compared to most built-in cameras.
A selfie I took under the flourescent lights of our office had reasonably accurate colors -- my beige shirt looked a little gray -- and there was a small but palatable amount of visual noise in the background.
Software and Warranty
The Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 comes with a few useful Dell utilities and more than its fair share of bloatware. Dell Help & Support allows you to register, check your warranty or connect to support. Dell Power Manager Lite allows you to check the battery health and set it to charge your laptop in ways that increase the number of years your battery will last.
Dell also packs on Dropbox, which comes with a free 20GB of storage for new users, and Netflix, which most people probably have anyway. There's also a free trial of McAfee Security, which you need to uninstall if you want to stick with Windows Defender or install the antivirus app of your choosing. As with all Windows 10 laptops, there's plenty of Microsoft-chosen bloat, including Candy Crush Soda Saga, Bubblewitch Saga, Keeper Password Manager and a link to download the Drawboard PDF editor.
The Dell Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 starts at $499. For that price, you get a 1080p screen, but are stuck with a sluggish Intel Pentium 4415U processor, just 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. Our $729 review configuration features a Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
You can pay a full $999 to get a model with a Core i7-8550U CPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, but that's a big price to pay for a laptop with this kind of budget chassis, screen and keyboard. For the best balance between performance and price, we recommend our review model.
The best description for the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1 is "meh." It has decent performance, a dim but usable display and a plastic chassis that's functional if not attractive. Picky typists, however, will probably want to steer clear because of the stiff, uncomfortable keyboard. If you can pay just a $100 more, you'll get a lot more style and a better keyboard and screen from Lenovo's Yoga 720 or Dell's own Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1, but if this is all you can spend, you should consider the Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag