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Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series review: One of the most attractive budget laptops on the market

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 18, 2015
I have to hand it to Dell: In the category of "$500 laptops," the veteran manufacturer came pretty close to nailing a well-rounded machine with few major compromises.

I wish I could say the same about the trackpad. Quite a few manufacturers nowadays are moving to eliminate separate physical buttons from the laptop mouse, Apple-style. Instead, it's just a trackpad that "clicks" if you need it, but which you'll typically just tap on to select things.

What these manufacturers miss is that Apple's trackpads are good. They are extremely sensitive, accurate, and well-tuned. The trackpad on this Inspiron 15 5000 is none of those things, resulting in missed swipes and (even more annoying) phantom-clicks. This also makes it damn near impossible to click-and-drag, because the trackpad is determined not to register your finger when you want it to and then spuriously click things you had no desire to click. Hook up a mouse, if you have the luxury of a surface to set it on. (Though as a side note, the Inspiron 15 5000's trackpad is nowhere near the worst in this set of reviews. Stay tuned.)

As for ports, the Inspiron 15 5000 has power, SD card, a single USB, Ethernet, and HDMI slots on the left, plus two more USB ports and a headphone jack on the right. Oh, and it has an optical drive for whatever reason. Why? Despite "everyone saying" they don't use them, every PC maker has told PCWorld they get complaints when it's not there.

The specs

The interior of the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 isn't quite as glitzy as the exterior, but it'll get the job done. Under the blue hood we're packing an Intel Core i3-5005U clocked at 2GHz, Intel HD 5500 integrated graphics, 6GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB 5,400 RPM hard drive.

That hard drive won't set any speed records, but it ties the Toshiba Satellite C55-C for the most storage space in this set of reviews. If you plan to keep a ton of files on your computer, this here's your best shot.

And 6GB of RAM isn't shabby either. Most of these low-end machines have 4GB if you're lucky, 2GB if you aren't. That 6GB helps make up for the slower CPU and hard drive...a little. The Core i3-5005U is still very middle-of-the-pack, but hey--at least it's a real Core i3 and you're not stuck with an Atom processor.

So how'd it perform? Not too bad, honestly. Only the Toshiba Satellite C55-C consistently outperformed the Inspiron 15 5000, and I'd still say the design of the Dell is polished enough to potentially edge it out on top. The HP 15t Touch is nipping at its heels, though.

In PCMark's Home Conventional test, the Inspiron 15 5000 scored 2,210, as compared to Toshiba's 2,527 and HP's 2,159.

 

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