As the high-end member of Dell's Inspiron laptop family, the Inspiron 7000 series is built around a difficult question: Can a laptop be premium and mainstream at the same time? While the 7000s are not without their limitations, Dell's emphasis on the fundamentals for a dependable mainstream laptop earn the series the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
Benchmark data from our colleagues at Laptop Mag was collected from an Inspiron 7000 built with an Intel Core i5 processor, 6GB of memory, an Intel HD Graphics 4400 graphics unit and a 750GB hard disk drive.
In Laptop Magazine's evaluations, this configuration fell into the expected range for comparably built laptops. During performance-speed test Geekbench 3, the Inspiron 7000 produced a score of 5033. By comparison, competing Intel Core i5-based laptops had an average score of 5000. While the Inspiron could boot Windows 8 in a speedy 10 seconds, its hard drive was a bottleneck in other evaluations. During Laptop Mag's transfer test, it took the laptop 2 minutes and 46 seconds to transfer 4.97GB of data. This transfer rate of 30.7 MBps was below Laptop Mag's category average rate of 44 MBps for competing laptops.
The Inspiron 7000's Intel graphics unit can power basic games and videos, but like most integrated graphics cards, it has minimal processing upside. Running 2004's "World of Warcraft," Laptop Mag found that the Inspiron produced an in-game frame rate of 43 frames per second on automated graphics quality settings at a resolution of 1366 x 768. Games typically need to run at a frame rate of 30 frames per second in order to be playable. On maximum graphics settings, though, the Inspiron quickly fell to 18 frames per second.
Among the Inspiron 7000's various configurations, Dell doesn't offer component-level customization, but a respectable number of higher-end options are available. Alternative 7000s can be equipped with parts ranging from solid-state hard drives to dedicated graphics cards for faster performance.
Externally, the 7000s sports respectable specifications. With 15-inch model dimensions of 14.9 x 10 x 0.8 inches, the laptop series is designed to be a slim-looking device. At a starting weight of 5.6 pounds, though, the series occupies the heftier end of the spectrum for 15-inch laptops.
However, Dell does make up for this mixed bag with superb battery life. In Laptop Mag's battery test, where a laptop loops through webpages at a constant brightness level until it powers down, the Inspiron 7000 ran for 9 hours and 26 minutes. This mark was among the best we've seen for a mainstream Windows 8 laptop. Dell's build quality on the 7000's aluminum-based chassis was also equally consistent. After playing full-screen video for 15 minutes, Laptop Mag recorded a temperature reading of 96 degrees on the Inspiron's underside. Laptop Mag considers a laptop external temperature of above 95 degrees to be uncomfortable.
Among the Inspiron 7000's models, Dell offers 14-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch configurations with optional touchscreen support. Display options are similarly run-of-the-mill, with models touting screens with resolutions from 1366 x 768 to 1920 x 1080. In Laptop Mag's hands-on display testing, they found that the Inspiron 7000's display handled touch gestures and day-to-day tasks without major performance issues. The screen's only faults came from subpar brightness levels and mediocre viewing angles.
Dell includes a one-year warranty, along with 90 days of premium phone assistance coverage. The company can provide technical support via phone, live chat, social media and through its website. During their in-person customer support survey, Laptop Mag found much to be impressed by from Dell's help staff. Online support response times were relatively quick and phone agents were knowledgeable about ways to troubleshoot computing issues.
Dell includes the usual connection standard standbys such as HDMI out and an SD card reader on the 7000s with few significant surprises. Notably, the entire Inspiron 7000 family relies exclusively on USB 3.0 and drops USB 2.0 ports entirely. Optical drives are available on the 17-inch Inspiron 7000s, although they only feature support for CDs and DVDs.
Externally and internally, the Dell Inspiron 7000 series gets the basics right. The laptop's sleek appearance is backed by equally solid configuration options and phenomenal battery life. While the series lacks the highest ceiling for processing speed, its superbly consistent performance makes the Inspiron 7000 series the ideal Windows 8-based mid-range laptop.
The Inspiron 7000 features exceptional battery life for a mainstream laptop.
Dell's Inspiron 7000 displays feature average performance and resolution options.
Thanks to consistent performance and portability, the series is a reliable choice for a mainstream laptop.