Since we’ve already reviewed the17" Inspiron, we can deduce that all of the notebooks in the 7000 series sport a similar chassis and design, one made of brushed aluminum and that’s quite thin without being anorexic. The 15-inch model is just 0.74-inches thick and weighs a chunky 4.8 pounds. For context, the Dell XPS 15, which is the company’s flagship notebook, weighs just 4.4 pounds.Like all of the Inspiron models, the 15-inch is a 2-in-1 running Windows 10. As such, it has a 360-degree hinge. You can flip the display all the way back to “convert” the notebook into a tablet at will. It makes for a rather hefty tablet, mind you, given this laptop’s almost 5-pound weight. It’s also a bit strange that when in tablet mode, the two parts aren’t totally aligned—the section holding the display juts out a bit further. That slight annoyance aside, the display is touch-enabled, so you can swipe and tap to your heart’s content.The display itself runs at 1920x1080p using the integrated Intel HD 520 graphics, so don’t expect to use this laptop for gaming. The display looks quite sharp, and true to Dell’s marketing ptich, it has “wide viewing angles,” indeed making it “IPS like.” The panel is glossy, however, so know that glare can be an issue.The laptop’s CPU is a Skylake chip and runs at 2.3GHz, with boost potential up to 2.8GHz under load. It’s paired with 8GB of DDR4 2,133MHz memory in the form of dual 4GB SO-DIMMs. You can upgrade these if you’d like by simply popping off the rear panel, but 8GB of memory should be sufficient as long as you’re not editing photos or big videos. You can also upgrade or swap the M.2 SSD and Wi-Fi card, as both are easily accessible. Unfortunately, Dell no longer puts these parts behind their own tiny panels on the bottom of the laptop, which required removing just one or two screws. All the parts are under one giant panel, held into place with 10 screws. Still, that’s a pretty minor downside to this much upgrada
Ports, keyboard, trackpad, and audio
For connectivity, the right side of the notebook features a tiny power button at the leading edge, which is the absolute last place we’d choose to put this button, as most right-handers will be apt to pick up the notebook at this spot. We never shut it off accidentally, however. Next to that button is a volume rocker switch, a nice alternative to the Fn-key variant. The right side also sports an SD card reader, one USB 3.0 port, and a lock port. The left side features a headphone jack, one more USB 3.0 port, a USB C port, HDMI, and the power plug.The keyboard is spacious but does not include a number pad despite there being enough room for one. We don’t mind, however, as that keeps the keyboard from being shifted to the left, and off-center. The keys are quite firm with nice travel, and should please mechanical-keyboard fans. The keyboard also features a pleasant white backlight that looks great and even makes typing at night kind of fun.
Dell’s spec sheet says this notebook can achieve eight hours of battery life using a test called Mobile Mark, but we don’t run that test. Instead we loop a 4K video at 250-nits screen brightness and with all wireless radios turned off until the laptop dies. We then look at the notebook’s battery log to find out when the test began and when it shut down, which typically occurs when the battery reaches five percent charge. In this test, the Inspiron’s smallish 42Whr battery was only able to achieve 293 minutes on average, or about five hours. That’s not too shabby in general, but obviously far short of “all day” battery life, or the eight hours Dell says the laptop can achieve. Granted, you could certainly eke out more time with just light web browsing, but we don’t test for that. Most of the other laptops in this class also scored around five hours, so the Dell is in good company. But one laptop the Inspiron 15 couldn’t touch is the Dell XPS 13, which lasted over eight hours in this test. Of course, the XPS is a flagship product, so we need to keep our expectations in check here.