- Review Date: 06.23.14
- Bottom line:
The touch-screen Dell Inspiron 15 (7537) ultrabook is aimed at power users who absolutely need premium components for heavy multitasking.
Large touch screen. Numeric keypad. Full set of I/O ports. 16GB of memory. Speedy boot time.
Flimsy screen hinge. Keyboard takes time to master. No 5GHz Wi-Fi.
The Dell Inspiron 15 (7537) ($1,149 as tested) is a high-end ultrabook with a premium aluminum and glass construction. It's worth considering if you need discrete graphics for multimedia creation or moderate gameplay. While it is a solid power user's system, it doesn't do enough to distinguish itself from the pack.
Design and Features
The Inspiron 15 (7537) is made of aluminum and Corning Gorilla Glass NBT, which makes for a very slim 15.6-inch laptop. At 0.9 by 15 by 10 inches (HWD), the system is similar in size to rivals like the Acer Aspire V5-573PG-9610 and Asus N550JV-DB72T. At 5.61 pounds, it's slightly lighter than the 5.68-pound Asus system. However, the Acer V5-573PG-9610 is noticeably lighter (4.85 pounds).
I/O ports are plentiful, including an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, a headset jack, an SD card reader, and four USB 3.0 ports. For wireless connectivity you get 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz (not 5GHz) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
The display has a 1,920-by-1,080 resolution, which means you'll be able to view 1080p videos natively, as well as edit high-resolution photos easily. That's much better than the 1,366-by-768 resolution of the Asus N550JV, but pales in comparison to our premium ultrabook Editors' Choice, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus, which packs a 3,200-by-1,800 QuadHD+ resolution screen into a 13.3-inch laptop. The Inspiron 15's screen is very thin, thanks to the aluminum and Gorilla Glass construction, but it isn't as solid-feeling as the Samsung Book 9 Plus or the Acer Aspire V7-582P-6673. A bit of screen bounce can be a drag if you're a constant touch-screen user.
While the numeric keypad is a plus, its
inclusion means that some keys like the Enter and Backspace are a shorter and more cramped than on a standard laptop keyboard. I often found myself hitting the Number Lock key instead of Backspace, and the 4 key on the keypad when I meant to press Enter. It's not insurmountable, but takes some getting used to.
Our review unit shipped with a 1TB hard drive with 8GB cache solid-state drive (SSD). The supplementary cache SSD helps the system boot up in a quick 14 to 15 seconds, and come out from sleep even faster. The hard drive has plenty of free space, since there are few preloaded apps. I like the fact that Dell includes a one-year subscription to McAfee's LiveSafe Internet security suite with the system. This matches the one-year warranty on the laptop.
The 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-4500U processor, 16GB of memory, and 8GB cache SSD helped overall performance in our tests. The Inspiron 15's score of 4,133 points on PCMark 7 was better than most of its rivals, but still lagged behind the HP Envy TouchSmark 15t-j100 Quad Edition (5,521 points), which has a faster-clocked Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor. The Gigabyte U24T-CF1, which has a similar CPU and GPU, came in second with 4,992 points, and the Samsung Book 9 Plus and its slower 1.6GHz Core i5-4200U placed third (4,907 points).
Thanks to its Nvidia GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics, the Inspiron 15 performed well on our 3D gaming tests, showing playable scores at medium quality settings (45 frames per second at Aliens vs. Predator; 39fps at Heaven). The Gigabyte U24T-CF1 was a smidge better than the Inpiron 15 (7537) on the Heaven test at both medium (44fps) and max (33fps) quality settings. That's because the Gigabyte system's native display resolution is 1,366 by 768, which is far easier to process than the 1,920-by-1,080 resolution of the Inspiron 15's screen.
At 6 hours 12 minutes on our rundown test, battery life is good, almost matching the Gigabyte U24T-CF1 (6:19). The Acer V5-573PG-9610 (7:17), Acer 573PG-9610 (9:17), and the Samsung Book 9 Plus (8:15) all lasted longer, however.
The Dell Inspiron 15 (7537) is the equivalent of a utility player in baseball. It's solid, and will work well, but it doesn't quite distinguish itself in the crowd. Sure, it plays games better than rivals, but if that's important to you, there are plenty of faster gaming laptops to choose from. With its flashy aluminum exterior, you might expect The Inspiron 15 to stand out on battery life, performance, and weight, but it just doesn't. The Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus remains our high-end ultrabook Editors' Choice, due to its QuadHD+ screen, speedier SSD-only configuration, and more stable screen hinge.