There's no doubt that Dell offers a lot of laptops in its lineup. At the top is the all-expensive XPS, for businesses there is the Latitude series, and then there are gaming laptops from the Alienware lineup. But if you're a student or parent or someone just wants a no-nonsense laptop that takes a little bit from all three lineups but without going too over the top, then the Inspiron series is what you want to look at.
Inspiron laptops are designed with budgets in mind, and the new Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is no different. With an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U processor under the hood and a slim-bezel screen, this laptop is perfect as a general day-to-day machine for web browsing, light photo editing, and your daily Teams or Zoom calls. We were provided one for review, and after using it, here's why we think it's a well-performing laptop for students, or anyone else.
Specs & Price
Our review unit comes configured with the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. It also has a 14-inch touch screen, coming in at the resolution of 1920 x 1080. Our specific configuration is one of the higher-end models. It retails for $1,059. Without our upgrades, you can get a base model with the Ryzen 5 5500U, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD for $860. When on sale, the difference in upgrading is just $100, making this an interesting buy.
All AMD Ryzen units also come in the "Mist Blue" color. Dell is using sustainable waterborne paint to get that color, and it helps make the device environmentally responsible.
Any laptop intended for school and prolonged use needs to be tough, and the Inspiron doesn't disappoint there. This device sports an aluminum and plastic design, which feels very premium. The lid barely flexes, and the keyboard deck is very strong. Combined with the "Mist Blue" color, it also looks very appealing to the eyes, setting it apart from the gray or black 2-in-1s that usually dominate the market. Note that there's also an Intel version of this, too, but it comes in silver.
Since this is a 2-in1, I also will mention the hinges. In a cycle of opening, closing, and moving the Inspiron around into its four modes, it stayed strong with each one of my movements. The hinge supports the laptop at all the angles I tested it at. Like most other devices in this class, the base of the laptop will also lift up when the lid is opened up, to raise the keyboard up to a comfortable angle.
That base has some ventilation holes, and there are also some hidden vent grills in the rear of the keyboard portion (that's the side facing the screen.) Dell also mentioned to me that it tested the hinges by opening up the device and closing it up to 20,000 times. This is a device that's bound to last.
In terms of weight, the Inspiron is manageable. It comes in at close to 3 pounds, and measures just under half an inch thick. This is common for laptops in this price range, as is the "sloped" design, where the laptop is thick ad the rear and thin to the front. Dell though rounds off the corners on the laptop to make it look a bit more unique. It says this can help you move the device more easily.
Ports & Security
These days it seems like laptop makers take away ports rather than add them. But on the Inspiron line, Dell doesn't. This Inspiron 14 2-in-1 has every port you might need as a student, parent, or worker. The ports include an HDMI port, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. There's even a microSD card reader on board, too.
Since this is an AMD system. there is no Thunderbolt support. But the USB-C port can be used for juicing up the laptop with the stock charger. It's nice to see this feature, as most other laptop makers might bundle in a barrelled charger instead of USB-C. Note that the USB-C port can also be used for external displays if you prefer it over HDMI.
As far as security, the Inspiron takes inspiration (pun intended) from Lenovo. You can slide a shutter over the webcam to cover it when not in use. It's a nice little trick that should be useful for students who are always using sticky notes to cover that webcam. There's also a fingerprint reader built into the power button, so you can secure your account and go passwordless in Windows 10.
Display & Webcam
Looking at the display, for general web browsing, and multimedia, the Inspiron makes the grade. The brightness can get up to 270 nits in our testing. It also comes in with 63% of the sRGB spectrum, and 44% Adobe RGB coverage. Compared to an XPS, these aren't great numbers, but you'll have to remember that this is a budget-oriented laptop. Yes, the screen could be brighter and more vivid, but for basic day-to-day use, it's just fine. Again, the numbers are close to what you get in other budget laptops, like the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5.
In one situation, I used my Inspiron to watch walkthrough guides on YouTube for the game Night in the Woods. This is a dark-looking game, but at 70% brightness the Inspiron well represented the red in Mae's eyes, and the black in her fur. For work, meanwhile, I stacked my browser windows side by side.
The Inspiron has some slim side bezels, which means you get a little more vertical space. This takes inspiration from the XPS lineup, but do note it's not a true bezel-less experience as you'll still get thick bezels on the bottom. But those bezels help you use the device in tablet mode, where you might want some space to grip onto something.
And about this, my review unit does work with a pen! I used the Dell Active Pen from my XPS 13 2-in-1, and the display registered it just fine. Dell tells me that it does mention pen support on the Inspiron 14 product page, so if you need it, you can buy it as an extra.
I'll end this section by touching on the webcam. The webcam is 720p, which is fine for most situations. However, considering that most laptop makers have moved to 1080p in 2021, I do hope that can change in next year's model. 720p is fine for my web calls and my colleagues didn't say I looked like a potato when I used the Inspiron's webcam, but 1080p adds extra details that make a huge difference.
We've talked about the AMD vs Intel rivalry before, and since this is an AMD system, you should expect some amazing performance on the Inspiron 14 2-in-1. The AMD Ryzen 7 5700U is no joke. And the Ryzen 5 option isn't either. With 8 cores and 16 threads, this Ryzen 7 can push the Inspiron quite far.
In our tests, the Inspiron came home with an 1139 Single-Core score, and a 5985 Multi-Core Score. I also used the Inspiron for light video editing and putting together my "tour of WIndows 11" video, and it finished encoding the 10-minute 1080p movie in Filmora in about 8 minutes, which isn't all too bad considering the integrated graphics.
As for gaming, Fortnite played just fine on the system at low settings, netting around 30 frames, and closer to 20 on medium. GTA V, meanwhile, played close to 23 on high settings, and 30 on medium settings. You could get some light gaming down on this device, but I wouldn't bet too much on it. Settings would need to be tuned down. This is more of a productivity laptop.
Outside of those demanding tasks, the Inspiron does well for web browsing and day-to-day work. My usual workflow of 10+ tabs in Edge didn't cause the device to cough, and tabs never froze or reloaded. This really is a well-performing laptop for the fundamentals.
Keyboard & Trackpad
Since this laptop is going to be used by students or at home by parents, then a strong keyboard and trackpad are a must, and this is where the Inspiron excels. Dell says this new Inspiron offers a full-sized keyboard with 9% larger keys than the previous generation.
I like the bigger keys as they give my fingers more room to glide as I speed type. I also liked how quiet the keyboard is, as it's one of the softest and quietest I've ever typed on. As for the trackpad, it feels pretty thin, but it is pretty smooth. It's also well-sized and supports all the Windows 10 gestures. I wish it felt a bit more solid, but that's just me.
I love laptops where the battery can last the entire day, and this one can be added to that mix. From my 8 AM-4 PM workday, the Latitude went from 100% close to 30% battery with brightness set at medium, and the battery slide on recommended. In the video streaming test, where I lopped the same video, it went on for about 11 hours on the same settings. That said, you easily can expect to get around 8-11 hours of battery life on the Latitude.
Dell's Inspiron laptops come pre-installed with some extra Dell software. You'll get Dell Mobile Connect, and Dell Cinema Color all pre-installed (just to name a few.) Dell Mobile Connect can help connect your phone to your PC so you can get text photos, and more on your PC. Cinema Color, meanwhile, tweaks the display for various multimedia. I like this extra software, as it adds value to your PC.
Worth it for the price
Priced at just under $1,000, the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is a good all-rounder laptop. With AMD Ryzen chips under the hood, it works great as a general day-to-day machine for web browsing, light photo editing, and your daily Teams or Zoom calls.