Dell Inspiron 15R-5521 review

It’s hard to find fault with this recently updated version of Dell’s Inspiron 15R laptop. It’s competitively priced, smart and well built, and provides good all-round performance and battery life. See also: Group test: what's the best budget laptop?

Available in several different colours, including pink, red, silver and a rather fetching metallic blue, the Inspiron 15R certainly doesn’t look like a budget laptop. It doesn’t feel like one either – the case is plastic, but solidly built with a large trackpad and a firm, comfortable keyboard. It’ll be a good choice if you need to type up a long report or do a bit of number-crunching in Excel.

The 15.6 inch screen is bright and clear, and has the standard 1366x768 resolution. We can’t really complain about a lack of a Full HD display at this price.

The speakers sound a bit thin, with very little bass, but that’s a minor criticism in an otherwise well-constructed laptop. It’s a little hefty at 2.3Kg, but just about portable enough to carry around in a backpack or briefcase.

There are cheaper versions of the 15R, with prices starting at £399 for a model with an i3 processor. The model reviewed here has the same chassis, screen and keyboard but is fitted with a dual-core i5 running at 1.7GHz (2.6GHz with Turboboost), a healthy 8GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive.

This combination managed a score of 2834 in the PCMark 7 suite. The 15R-5521 will take web browsing and office work in its stride, and the extra memory and storage space makes it a decent choice for more demanding tasks such as video-editing too.

It can even handle a spot of casual gaming – as long as you’re not too fussy about having all the latest graphical eye-candy. Running Stalker at 1366x768 with high graphics settings produced a speed of 23fps, and dropping that to 1280x720 and low graphics allowed it to run at 35fps.

Battery life proved a pleasant surprise. The 65Wh battery pack managed an impressive six hours of streaming video from BBC iPlayer via Wi-Fi. You should get a close to a full day out of it if you're simply running Microsoft Office (which isn't included).

Dell picks up some extra kudos for its warranty which includes ‘in-home’ repair.

Dell Inspiron 15R-5521: Specs

  • Processor: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U (dual-core, 2.6GHz Turbo)
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4000
  • Display size and type: 15.6in, glossy (1366x768) LCD
  • Operating system: Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • Storage: 1TB HD, 5400rpm
  • Memory: 8GB DDR3, 1600MHz
  • Optical drive: 8X DVD±RW
  • Video out: HDMI
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
  • Webcam: 0.9MP
  • Speakers: stereo speakers
  • USB: 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0
  • Card slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC/MS
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 376x259x31.3mm
  • Weight: 2.3Kg
  • Processor: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U (dual-core, 2.6GHz Turbo)
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4000
  • Display size and type: 15.6in, glossy (1366x768) LCD
  • Operating system: Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • Storage: 1TB HD, 5400rpm
  • Memory: 8GB DDR3, 1600MHz
  • Optical drive: 8X DVD±RW
  • Video out: HDMI
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0
  • Webcam: 0.9MP
  • Speakers: stereo speakers
  • USB: 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0
  • Card slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC/MS
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 376x259x31.3mm
  • Weight: 2.3Kg

OUR VERDICT

Dell hardly puts a foot wrong with the Inspiron 15R, providing a well-built laptop with good performance and an attractive screen for just under £500. Battery life is a particular strength too, and ensures that the Inspiron 15R will earn its keep for both work and play.

Find the best price