- Review Date: 07/6/11
- Bottom line:
The Dell Inspiron i14RN4110-7616DBK offers the latest Core-13 technology and has a good selection of wireless options and I/O ports, but its performance is only so-so.
Solid feature set. Second generation Core i3 CPU. Large hard drive.
Spongy keyboard. Small touchpad. Lackluster performance.
Equipped with a second-generation Intel Core-i3 processor, the Dell Inspiron i14RN4110-7616DBK ($649.99 list at Best Buy) offers some nice connectivity and wireless features and a sizable hard drive at a reasonable price. However, its performance is mediocre at best, and the keyboard and touchpad could use a makeover.
The i14RN4110-7616DBK uses the same chassis as the Dell Inspiron 14R-1296PBL ($579.99 list, 3 stars), and it employs the same hinge forward design. This time around the sports a subdued Diamond Black lid rather than the more colorful Peacock Blue color used on the 14R-1296PBL, but the shiny Dell logo remains in the center of the lid. At 5.2 pounds it's a tad heavier than most 14-inch laptops including the 4.9-pound Toshiba Satellite M645-S4118X ($1,099 direct, 4 stars) and the 4.7-pound MSI FX420-001US ($800 street, 4 stars).
It sports a full sized keyboard and a bright 14-inch display. The chiclet-style keyboard has a bit too much flex to it and feels slightly mushy when typing, but the keys are evenly spaced, and there's plenty of typing room. The touchpad is responsive and provides generally good cursor control but it is smaller than it needs to be; if you have big hands the pad will feel a bit cramped. The dual mouse buttons are also responsive and emit a barely audible click when pressed. At the top of the keyboard deck are a power button and two hot keys that launch the Windows Mobility Center and the Dell Support Center. The Support Center features a handful of useful apps designed to keep the Inspiron up and running and includes PC Checkup, driver downloads, and troubleshooting utilities.
The 14-inch screen has a resolution of 1366-by-768 and is covered with a glossy anti-glare coating. Image quality is good and the screen is plenty bright, but the panel loses its luster (and color fidelity) when viewed from an off angle. The glossy coating is reflective but it does help deliver more vibrant colors than screens with matte finishes.
The i14RN4110-7616DBK is well stocked with features. On the left side of the chassis are VGA and HDMI video outputs, an eSATA/USB 2.0 combo port, one USB 2.0 port, and an 8-in-1 card reader. On the right side are two audio jacks (headphone and microphone), a speedy USB 3.0 port, and a DVD multi-drive. Around back are a second USB 3.0 port and an Ethernet port. There's a 1-megapixel webcam embedded in the display's upper bezel and a nice assortment of wireless features, including Intel Centrino WiMAX 6150 for broadband, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth networking.
Storage is plentiful, thanks to a 500GB hard drive. The 5,400rpm drive is preloaded with Windows 7 Home Premium and Dell's Stage software suite which includes photo editing and movie playing apps, as well as a music player and file organizer. You also get Roxio Creator Starter burning software, Dell's webcam utility, Dell DataSafe Local Backup software, and a trial version of McAfee Security Center.
The i14RN4110-7616DBK comes with a standard one-year manufacturer's warranty that covers parts and labor, and you can opt for Best Buy's two-year protection plan with Geek Squad support for an additional $139.99.
Unlike the Dell 14R-1296PBL, the i14RN4110-7616DBK makes use of Intel's second-generation Core technology. It is outfitted with a 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M CPU, and is populated with 4GB of system memory. Graphics comes by way of the integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 chip. Performance was less than stellar across the board. Its score of 1,809 on our PCMark 7 test was more than 400 points behind our current Editors' Choice, the U46E-BAL5, and 226 points lower than the Toshiba Satellite L745-S4210. On our CineBench R11.5 processor test, its score of 1.99 lagged the field, coming in behind the Toshiba L745-S4210 (2.03), Asus U46E-BAL5 (2.59), and Samsung QX411-W01 (2.56). It needed 5 minutes 42 seconds to render our Photoshop CS5 image tests, which was a good deal faster than the Toshiba L745-S4210 (6:35) but around a minute-and-a-half slower than the Asus U46E-BAL5 (4:10).
Graphics performance was typical of an embedded solution. While the Intel HD Graphics 3000 on-chip solution is certainly an improvement over earlier integrated solutions it is still not ideal for rendering 3D games and other graphics intensive content. It managed only 14.4 fps on our Crysis gaming test and 14.7 fps on Lost Planet 2, both of which were run in low resolution (1024-by-768) mode. You'll need closer to 30 fps for smooth game play.
Battery life was much improved this time around but still not where it should be. The i14RN4110-7616DBK's MobileMark 2007 score of 5 hours 9 minutes was almost a full hour longer than its predecessor, the Dell 14R-1296PBL (4:10) but compared with the Asus U46E-BAL5 (7:19), Samsung QX411-W01 (8:48), and Toshiba L745-S4210. (6:37), the i14RN4110-7616DBK still has a long way to go to catch up to the competition.
The Dell Inspiron i14RN4110-7616DBK is a capable 14-inch laptop with a relatively affordable price tag and a solid feature set, but performance and battery life are not its strong suit. It'll handle the basic home productivity tasks, but there are better performing laptops in this price range. For $100 more, the Asus U46E-BAL gets you Core i5 processing power, a bigger hard drive, more memory, and 2 hours more of battery life.