The latest in Dell’s Inspiron lineup, the Inspiron 15 7000, introduces a powerful new six-core CPU which makes it a capable laptop for intense creativity and media delivery. And somehow, it manages to offer this at a wallet-friendly price of $1,049.99.
How was this achieved? Its RAM and storage specifications are modest, seemingly as part of Dell’s cost-saving effort. But these things can be easily upgraded with low-cost components that are simple to install.
It’s the perfect solution for those who don’t mind a little tweaking. But the question is, are you willing to take a screwdriver to your new $1,000 laptop?
For this review, we went ahead and performed upgrades to the memory and storage, and evaluated the laptop with both the original and modified versions in mind.
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Specifications
- Intel Core i7-9750H (six cores)
- GTX 1050 3GB VRAM
- 15.6 inch IPS-type display
- 1920×1080 resolution
- 60Hz refresh rate
- 8GB RAM
- 512GB NVMe SSD
- Fingerprint reader (Windows Hello)
- 720p Webcam
- 56Whr Battery
- Weight: 4.12 lbs (1.87kg)
- Ports: HDMI 2.0, 3x USB 3.1, Thunderbolt 3 (DP/PowerDelivery) Type-C, Headphone/Microphone jack
Solid Build Quality
At this point, Dell has a fairly well-established baseline for quality on its laptop range, which means you don’t necessarily need to invest in a fancy XPS to enjoy a polished design.
The Inspiron 15 7000’s aluminum chassis boasts clean looks and solid build quality, while being relatively thin and light. The keyboard and touchpad are comfortable and function well. And the number crunchers will welcome the inclusion of a full number pad on the right. The power button also doubles up as a fingerprint reader, which provides instant secure login via Windows Hello.
A full suite of ports, including HDMI, USB Type-A and SD ports are included. It’s also particularly nice to see the inclusion of a USB-C (Thunderbolt) port that supports data, video out and power delivery, making for a very utilitarian home office laptop.
The matte-finish 1080p screen performs well out of the box, with strong color reproduction and decent vibrance at around 350 nits. This is surrounded by a thin bezel with a competent 720p camera embedded up top (where you’d expect it to be) for video calls and Windows.
Battery life is decent at around eight to 10 hours for light web and work use. Meanwhile, Dell’s typical suite of software rounds out the package with things like Dell Mobile Connect, which lets you accept texts and calls via your PC, and adaptive performance software that knows when the device is on your desk or in your lap, boosting or lowering performance accordingly to manage heat and avoid cooked thighs.
Six Cores Means Fast
The Inspiron 15 7000’s 9th generation, Intel Core i7 CPU is a real standout component. With six cores (12 effective) and a peak speed of 4.5GHz, it presents a lot of processing power for a laptop in this price range. And if you don’t know what any of that means, just know that this is one fast, highly capable CPU that can handle not only common office work, but will also crunch through more demanding tasks.
The NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card is a modest inclusion, but will help deal with high-resolution video and photo editing, while breezing through entertainment media such as 4K video streams. Light gaming is possible — popular games like Fortnite and Minecraft are doable — but more complex games will struggle.
It would have been nice to see a slightly better graphics card, like the GTX 1650 in there, but that may have bumped the price another $100 or so. And this is the real crux of this laptop. Its build quality and processor are excellent for the $1000 price bracket, but achieving this has brought about some compromises.
A Little Bit of Give and Take
One of the main compromises made in the pursuit of value is system memory. As standard, you only get 8GB of RAM, which is notably half that of the cheaper models in the Inspiron 7000 range. While 8GBs of RAM is fine for the most basic of tasks, in this day and age, it will really hinder progress during heavier workloads and multitasking. It will also prevent you from getting the best out of that capable CPU.
Another slight shortfall is the lack of storage. The included 512GB SSD (solid-state drive) is fast, but this may leave you wanting for space if you’re handling large files, especially 4K video.
This results in a rather lopsided specs list, but Dell’s solution is to engineer the laptop to be highly upgradeable. Additional RAM and storage can be easily added thanks to a generous number of easy-access slots on the Inspiron’s motherboard. Removing the underside panel reveals one empty RAM slot, an M.2 slot for a second NVMe (storage) drive, and even space for another 2.5inch drive.
These are relatively cheap upgrades. A matching 8GB RAM module can be purchased for around $30, and a second hard drive for under $80. We installed an extra M.2 SSD (480GB) and an 8GB stick of RAM courtesy of Corsair. (Read the full guide on how to do so here.) With these upgrades, the end product is a full-featured laptop that’s very capable for a total cost of around $1,160.
But while the install process is easy, this proposition doesn’t appear to align with the convenience-first sensibilities of most Inspiron users. I’d question whether the average Inspiron user is someone who wants to deal with opening up their laptop to install custom components. This may prove to be a turn-off for the less tech-savvy.
Should You Buy the New Dell Inspiron 15 7000?
The Inspiron 15 7000 is an interesting value proposition. It packs the most important components of a very strong laptop — the CPU, chassis and screen are all great — while seemingly holding back on some other areas like RAM and storage in order to achieve that attractive price.
The pitch is that these components are cheap and easy to upgrade. For around $100 of added components you’d have a very fast laptop. This is true for even mildly tech-savvy people, who could follow a simple guide and be up and running in no time. If that’s you, go for it.
But this idea also appears contradictory to the Inspiron brand, which is marketed for its out-of-the-box convenience and simplicity. It’s meant for those that just want a great computing experience without unnecessary complexity.
Those are people who, I’d suspect, don’t want to deal with matching RAM standards, hard drive initialization procedures and taking screwdrivers to computers. For those people, the Inspiron 15 7000’s slightly lopsided spec is less ideal, and they might consider one of the cheaper (but more well-rounded) models in the Inspiron 15 7000 range.
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