Dell Inspiron 14 7000 Series: a ultra-portable 14-inch PC
The 7000 Series is the top of the top in the Inspiron family. It accommodates a 14 inch laptop and a 15 inch laptop. They are distinguished by different sizes but place versatility at the heart of their concerns. The Inspiron 14 that we are testing here is the perfect example since its technical sheet announces a solid processor, plenty of memory, an SSD and even a dedicated graphics section. All for a price of 1120 euros on the Dell site (excluding any promotion).It’s funny how Dell’s Inspiron 14 7000 Series reminds us of last year’s Dell XPS 13. Three of the four edges of the matte 14-inch screen are very thin, the case is slightly profiled towards the front, and adopts almost the same dimensions as many competing 13.3-inch PCs (32 x 1.8 x 20 cm) . Just like their weight elsewhere, here 1.15 kg. Light, this beautiful devil! No doubt, there is a bit of XPS in this Inspiron 14 and we do not shy away from our pleasure.
It is just the materials that make up the case that are not the same. No carbon, fiberglass or magnesium alloy ultralight and resistant on this Inspiron 14 And do not be fooled by the silver finish of the back of the screen, it is not aluminum at all. On the Inspiron 14, plastic – which remains very good – dominates, with some magnesium fibers to reinforce the keyboard tray. In short, from a distance, this little machine gives the illusion that it could play in the big leagues. Up close, the Inspiron 14 Serie 7000 continues its seduction and illusion operation. The palm rests are wide, the hands quickly find their place. As for your fingers, they will tap on a keyboard with separate keys, backlit and … slightly tilted.
The comfort of the keys is good, but not extraordinary. Ouch. Dell has accustomed us to better. In addition, the plastic coating did not please us at all; all this is not worthy of a PC over 1000 euros.
Most observers will notice that the Enter key takes a rectangular shape and is positioned vertically, without the usual return to the inside of the keyboard. It did not miss: in the first hours of typing, we hit the “*” key on the little finger several times instead of its neighbor. It annoyed us quite a bit, we have to admit.
Note that the power button, located at the top right, also acts as a fingerprint reader and is compatible with Windows Hello. For session or data security, this is more than necessary.
Let’s finish with a word on the large touchpad. It offers a beautiful sliding surface, fully clickable and having good resistance when pressed. Another advantage of this pointing device, you can execute the whole arsenal of gestures with several fingers supported by Windows 10, without feeling cramped or leaving the sensitive area.
Almost full cardboard on the connectors
The thickness of the internal tray allows Dell to place a classic and full format connection. We note the presence of two USB 3 sockets on the right, in addition to a headphone jack.
On the left, it’s more varied. There is a USB Type-C compatible Thunderbolt 3 plug which will, in addition, allow to recharge the battery. We also note the presence of an HDMI video output and, finally, a microSD slot. Convenient to expand the storage capacity of the machine without having to open it for example.
The only regrettable absence: that of the wired network socket. We would have appreciated if Dell had found a way to place one right after the USB Type-C. A jaw model would have been … perfect. The Texan is however trying to be forgiven by betting on advanced wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 (Intel AX201D) and Bluetooth 5.0.
Brightness is lacking on the 14 inch screen
Dell often manages to pull out of the game when the screens of its creations pass the colorimetric probe. Unfortunately, the Inspiron 14 7000 Series Full HD 14 inch matte (non-touch) panel will not be able to claim a rain of congratulations.
The brightness of this small 14 inch is very disappointing. Compared to all the other ultraportable machines that have passed through our hands in recent months, the value is low, and the Inspiron 14 lands at the back of the pack. We noted a maximum average of 261 cd / m² with a peak of 282 cd / m² in the center. The average is around 405 cd / m² currently.
Without bright light, the contrast ratio is good. It is highest and in the center it is highest and, on average maximum, we reach 1651: 1.
The uniformity and fidelity of the colors allow the Inspiron 14 not to take a red card. The calculated homogeneity is 0.019 (the closer we are to absolute 0 the better) which means that the slab does not experience significant differences in rendering of blacks and whites depending on the zones.
In terms of colorimetry, the Delta E of this small Dell tops out at 2. This is excellent, especially for a machine whose screen is not calibrated in the factory. Note, however, a slight predominance of red over green and blue. The yellow hues are sometimes a little distorted as well. But nothing dramatic.
Lovers of precision photo editing, also know that the color temperature is more at 6900K than usual 6500K and that the gamma exceeds 2.2 as soon as the intensity of the whites is too high.
Good for everything, even for occasional play
We mentioned in the introduction, the version of the Inspiron 14 Series 7000 that we had in test was rather well equipped. It has an Intel Core i7-10510U processor, 16 GB of DDR4 memory (soldered), a 512 GB SSD in M.2 NVMe small format format (removable) and finally a dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics card .
This is the 25 watt model of the MX250 which is found in the version of the Inspiron 14 that we have in our hands (see box below). However, we did not manage to know if the cheaper models also had this declination of the GPU or the less powerful which carries the same reference.
GeForce MX250: the same reference for two very different chips
The GeForce MX250 is, in reality, a slightly revamped version of the aging GeForce MX150. It therefore does not take advantage of the Turing architecture of the GTX 16 or RTX 20 chips. It retains the old mold, named Pascal. In addition, it comes in two versions, both equipped with 2 GB of dedicated GDDR5. But they consume either 10 or 25 watts. How to differentiate them? Impossible at first glance, you must have access to the Nvidia Control Panel installed on the PC to have the technical identifier of the chip. If it’s the 1D13 model, it’s 25 watts. And if it’s a 1D25, it’s 10 watts. The difference in power between the two? 10% maximum in the best case but the memory does not spin at the same speed.So be careful when buying a laptop with this graphics card, be aware that there is a 50/50 chance of not having the most efficient model.
After passing our battery of usage tests, the Inspiron 14 7000 Series has established itself as one of the best 14-inch ultraportable PCs at the moment.
In PC Mark 10 , it almost always dominates its direct competitors whether they are the same size or in a similar price range. The latest 13-inch Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – equipped with one of the latest Intel processors engraved in 10 nm (compared to 14 nm for that of the Inspiron and a different architecture), is never far away. But, in the end, our 14 inch still manages to impose itself. Office, multimedia, surfing the Internet and even creating digital content, he is comfortable.And it is partly because Dell is cheating a little that the Inspiron 14 manages to achieve such great benefits. The Texan has chosen to increase the power supply of the Core i7 processor from 15 to 25 watts as Intel allows. So, instead of spinning at 1.8 GHz, the four cores spin at 2.3 GHz. On the flip side, the Turbo mode of the chip rises lower (4.2 GHz against 4.9 GHz normally) when all the hearts are not requested by an application.
Between the processor that spins faster than normal and the dedicated graphics card, it is normal for the Inspiron 14 to do quite well on games. On the condition of not asking him for prowess in the matter.
Quite logically the MX250 manages to impose itself on the integrated graphics of recent AMD Ryzen and Intel processors, on one of the most common tests of 3D Mark. The latter uses the CPU as much as the GPU. Only the score obtained by the graphical part is taken into account in the graph below. The MX250 is therefore clearly not a monster but stands out from the integrated controllers. And fortunately.
In games, what is the MX 250 from Nvidia worth, coupled with a low-consumption Core i7? In Dirt 3 , in Full HD, and by pushing almost all the details, the platform manages to display more than 75 frames per second in DirectX 11. In titles in DirectX 9, we managed to flirt with the 80 -90 fps, putting all the settings fully. Lovers of retro games will love it.
However, as soon as we launched Overwatch or even The Witcher 3 on this Inspiron, it started to make faces. And U.S. too. In Full HD, to manage to keep a number of images between 30 and 60, we had to (at best) resolve to lower the level of detail to Medium. Same for DoTA 2 , Counter-Strike and it will be the same for Fortnite , Apex and others, more greedy than CS.
Rotate AAA titles with even more recent and complex textures, with tesselation? Impossible in Full HD. The best is to pass the definition in HD, to cut all the dynamic lights and shadows and the greedy graphic effects. There, we find a correct playability and a frame rate which oscillates between 20 and 35 on average. In any case, the Inspiron 14 is not a real gaming machine. If you ask too much, it will let you know immediately.
A little throttling and some noise
In case of large mobilization of components, be warned, the Intel processor will be a victim of throttle. It will lower its frequencies to protect itself from a possible heat stroke. Already that the speed of the hearts has been boosted by Dell as we explained above, if you launch a 4K encoding, the processor risks making the soup with grimace and counter-attack by lowering quickly its frequencies by 2,3 at 1.6 GHz. Then, it will vary them between 1.2 and 1.6 GHz … not to mention that the fan will also give voice.
When you surf or watch a movie, the ventilation makes no noise. As soon as you launch heavy apps, the decibels increase to 39.1 dB. And as the fan is a small model, as much to say that it rotates very very quickly to maintain its small world in acceptable thermal ranges, therefore the noise is quickly annoying.
On the temperature side, the values measured below the machine do not exceed 45 ° C maximum, the main part of the heater being concentrated on the top, near the hinge of the screen, where the exhaust vents are located of air. On top, the mercury reaches 29.5 ° C on the palm rest, then climbs to more than 30 ° C on the keyboard and peaks at 48.1 ° C at the top, right, at the hinge of the ‘screen.
Best endurance in its class
Before talking about “autonomy”, let’s talk about “battery”. As shown in the image above, it occupies more than half of the internal space of the case. It recharges with USB Type-C, which is very good. Dell, however, maintains a conventional block-shaped AC charger format, with one cable on each side. We would have preferred that it favors a model like a large outlet, like Apple on Macs.
Note that the battery fills up in 2 hours 30 minutes but recharges to 50% in less than 50 minutes, which is in the current standard. But it is unlikely that you will need to recharge it several times during the day. Even if it is full.
Subject to our two usual endurance tests, the Inspiron 14 (in blue) takes 12 h 27 in versatile autonomy! And 9:25 a.m. in an uninterrupted 1080p video streaming scenario. These are quite simply the two best times recorded on classic ultraportable PCs, general public (and a fortiori 14 inches), these last 12 months. Well done Dell.
The only one that manages to keep it in check, for now, is the HP Elite Dragonfly. It does not cost the same price, does not offer the same generation of Intel platform at all. It is not besides gamer at all. However, today it remains the most enduring 13.3-inch ultraportable / hybrid on the market, according to our evaluation criteria.