Review: Dell's Inspiron 11 Comes Through In The End


Dell Inspirion 11



The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 didn't inspire us much with its benchmark performance or relentless nagware, but its clever design, long battery life and ample I/O eventually won us over. And its starting price of $399 could be music to the ears of cash-strapped college students, travelers and small-business owners.

When its rounded front and rear edges, Dell's three-pound, 11-inch laptop when closed looks more like a pair of thick metallic magazines than a clamshell-style notebook. Open the lid and a bright 1,366 x 768 IPS touch-panel display appears surrounded by an inch-wide black bezel that complements a handsome black keyboard. A super-wide touchpad occupies about one-third of the space that's otherwise occupied by wrist rests. The screen can, of course, revolve all the way around to create a tablet, or stop anywhere in between. 

To test battery performance, testers cranked the screen to full brightness, disabled dimming, removed all nagware, left the Wi-Fi radio enabled and ran a digital media file continuously until the battery died. The three-cell, 43 wHr battery on the Inspirion 11 lasted one minute shy of six hours, giving us confidence that it would easily outlast its eight-hour rating. To test system performance, we set Windows properties for maximum performance and ran the 64-bit version of Geekbench 2.3. The benchmark reported a high score of 4,577.

Despite its lackluster benchmark, the quad-core Intel Pentium N3530 at 2.16GHz delivered adequate performance when running the 64-bit Windows 8.1 on 4-GB DDR3 RAM that came preinstalled on the test unit's 500-GB 5,400-rpm SATA hard disk. Also inside this 8 x 11.6 x by .75-of-an-inch device is a high-speed Wi-Fi AC radio, a Bluetooth 4.0 radio and an SD card slot. Straddling that slot on the right-hand edge are a USB 2.0 port and Kensington lock slot. Also on the right edge are a volume rocker and power switch. The left-hand edge is home to a full-size HDMI output port, headset jack, power input and two USB ports, one of which supports USB 3.0 transfer rates.

With its 11-inch IPS touch screen, ample RAM and hard drive, SD card slot, high-speed USB, full-size HDMI port, Windows 8.1 and a starting price of $399, the CRN Test Center believes the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 provides solid value for budget-conscious execs, travelers and college students. 

PUBLISHED AUG. 25, 2014