Dell Inspiron 14 5000 review: Too cheap for your own good?
"The Dell Inspiron 14 5000 is a cheap laptop that feels and works like one."
Decent productivity performance
The touchpad works reliably
Poor build quality
The battery life is terrible
Budget laptops are experiencing a renaissance. The latest models were slimmer, faster, and more durable than ever – in some cases, they competed with premium laptops.
If you need some examples, just check out laptops like the Lenovo Yoga C640, the Lenovo Flex 5 14, and the Acer Swift 3 with Ryzen. From performance to design, it's hard to overstate how good these laptops have gotten.
I looked at the Inspiron 14 5000 from Dell to see if it was in line with the trend. My test device was equipped with a 10th generation Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, 8 GB RAM, a 256 GB solid-state drive (SSD) and a 14-inch 1080p display. This configuration of the Inspiron 14 5000 costs $ 650, but is currently available for $ 580.
This is a very attractive price, but can the Inspiron 14 5000 exceed the bar set by other current inexpensive laptops?
Sometimes a laptop is made of plastic, but doesn't feel like it. It is very rigid and exudes a high quality feel – the Lenovo Flex 5 14 is a prime example (yes, I will mention this laptop in this review). Then there is the Inspiron 14 5000, a plastic laptop that looks and feels.
The cover, the keyboard cover and the case base are bent and bent far too much. A year ago I might have written it off because of the price. Today, the Inspiron just feels cheap. Even opening the hinge looked cheap – the hinge is quite stiff and you have to open it with two hands. And yet the screen wobbled during use.
The Inspiron 14 5000 is similar to many laptops in this price range.
The Inspiron 14 5000 is also quite chunky at 0.83 inches thick and 3.63 pounds. These dimensions are fairly close to the 0.82 inches and 3.3 pounds of the Flex 5 14. However, the Flex 5 14 always felt that it had the build quality to justify the extra bulk. The Inspiron 14 5000, on the other hand, simply feels like an old-school budget laptop that's too big just because the technical costs weren't spent on downsizing it.
Another Ryzen-based Swift 3 from Acer, another 14-inch clamshell laptop, costs just 0.63 inches and 2.65 pounds and costs just $ 650. If there is really a new wave of high-quality budget laptops on the go, the Dell doesn't fit.
The Inspiron 14 5000 is similar to many laptops in this price range. It has a silver chassis with a few chrome accents here and there. The dark bezels don't add to the look, and even though they're thin enough on the sides, the massive chin is unsightly.
Once again, the Inspiron 14 5000 looks like an inexpensive old school laptop and not like one of the newer machines that should cost more in this case. The Lenovo Yoga C640 and Flex 5 14 are examples of better designed budget devices.
The expandability is an advantage of the Inspiron 14 5000 over its competitors.
The expandability is an advantage of the Inspiron 14 5000 over its competitors. You can configure two drives, up to a 2 TB hard disk drive (HDD) and up to an SSD with 512 GB at the same time. This is an advantage for anyone who has to carry around a lot of files.
Dell also used the larger case to equip some ports. There are two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a USB-A 2.0 port, a full-size HDMI port, an Ethernet drop-jaw port, and a full-size SD card reader. If you choose to configure with a discrete GPU, you will also get a USB-C 3.1 port.
Overall, Thunderbolt 3 is missing, but it's an impressive collection of ports. The wireless connection is Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0.
The Inspiron 14 5000 uses a 10th generation Intel Core i5-1035G1 CPU, a midrange processor from the core series that promises solid quad-core performance. The Inspiron delivered that – good performance that does justice to the CPU, but nothing special. The challenge for Dell is that two of the other competitors we've named, the Flex 5 14 and Swift 3, use AMD's Ryzen 4000 processors that shred Intel's offering at this price.
In Geekbench 5, the Inspiron scored 1,169 points in the single-core test and 3,197 points in the multi-core test. This is comparable to another laptop with the same CPU, the Acer Spin 3, which scored 1,215 and 3,615 points. However, this is not the real story as the Flex 5 14 reached 1,096 and 4,543 and the Swift 3 reached 1,120 and 4,831. It is clear that the AMD chips can use their additional cores for significantly better performance and at the same basic price.
The same goes for our more realistic handbrake test, which converts a 420MB file to H.265. Here, the Inspiron took just over 4.6 minutes to complete the test, compared to the Spin 3 with just over four minutes, which means that the Inspiron even lagged behind its most direct competitor. The Flex 5 14 took only 2.7 minutes and the Swift 3 in 2.5 minutes. This shows how much faster the AMD processors are for demanding tasks.
Don't get me wrong – the Inspiron 14 5000 does the work for productivity tasks, surfing the Internet, consuming media, and the like. Laptops like the Flex 5 14 and the Swift 3, which use the excellent new silicon from AMD, are however facing strong competition.
Display and speakers
Some inexpensive laptops make up for other shortcomings by equipping a nice display, such as the Yoga C640, which has a display that competes with laptops that cost more than twice as much. Unfortunately, this is not the Inspiron 14 5000 – its display lies far behind the curve and shows the kind of poor quality that we once thought we would see with laptops in this price range.
First of all, it suffers from a very low brightness, namely 195 nits, which is significantly below our preferred 300 nits and has a real influence on working on the laptop, displaying images and watching videos. It's an anti-glare display, and that helps a little. But as you can see in the photos above, it is still a little difficult to read with any significant ambient lighting. The Yoga C640 and Flex 5 14 both achieved more reasonable 242 nits in comparison.
The display is another area in which the Inspiron 14 5000 cannot stand out from the competition.
The contrast is low at 720: 1, and we want to see 1,000: 1 or more. Admittedly, not many inexpensive laptops offer nearly this contrast. The Yoga C640 was an exception to 1040: 1. The Flex 5 14 was more like the Inspiron with 770: 1.
With only 64% of sRGB and 48% of AdobeRGB, the color depth was also missing. The Yoga C640 reached 96% of sRGB and 73% of AdobeRGB, a much stronger value, while the Flex 5 14 was also bad at 63% and 47%, respectively. However, the Inspiron's color accuracy was decent at 1.74 (below 1.0 is considered excellent).
The Inspiron 14 5000 display guides you easily through your productivity tasks, but you won't love the experience. Ultimately, it is another area where the Inspiron 14 5000 cannot stand out from some of its competitors.
The audio was mixed similarly. The speakers offer a lot of volume, but some distortion when things get louder. The bass was missing and mids and highs were not pleasant, which made this a disappointing sound system. You will undoubtedly want to connect headphones or use an external Bluetooth speaker if you do more than just watch YouTube videos occasionally.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Inspiron 14 5000 is not equipped with the excellent keyboard that you find in the more expensive XPS series, but instead uses a version with smaller keycaps and less distance, which gives a somewhat cramped feeling. The mechanism is fine, with good travel and a precise click that doesn't fall uncomfortably on the ground. If you are a typist with a quick touch, this keyboard may not reach your maximum speed, but you are not too far away.
The touchpad is equally sufficient. It is a Microsoft Precision touchpad that reliably supports the multi-touch gestures of Windows 10. The surface is comfortable and offers good tactile feedback. There is no touch display here, which may or may not be important to you. I prefer laptops with touch displays, but I may be a minority there.
Windows 10 Hello is provided by a fingerprint reader that is integrated into the unmarked power button. I was able to log in quickly and accurately without ever needing my PIN or password.
Another measure of an inexpensive old school laptop is the battery life, which is rather poor because the battery capacity is sacrificed in the name of cost. The Inspiron 14 5000 suffers from a poor 42.5-watt-hour battery, which is significantly less than the 52.5-watt-hour in the Lenovo Flex 5 14. For a laptop with a core CPU and 14-inch battery, that's not much Juice display. My battery tests have only confirmed this.
First, the Inspiron 14 5000 only took an hour and a half in our demanding Basemark web benchmark test. This is a poor score that typically applies to gaming laptops that run fast CPUs at full throttle. The Flex 5 14, which we did not rate well for the battery life, lasted almost four hours and the Yoga C640 over 3.5 hours. Simply put, the Dell won't last long if you press the CPU.
The next step was our web browsing test, in which the Inspiron achieved 4.7 hours. This is also a bad result: the Flex 5 14 lasts eight hours, the Yoga C640 10.5 hours and the Acer Swift 3 with Ryzen almost eight hours. With the Inspiron 14 50oo, you are unlikely to spend more than half a day doing light productivity and web browsing tasks.
Finally, we ran our local Full HD movie trailer until the battery ran out and the Inspiron 14 5000 didn't make it to six hours. The Flex 5 14 did 11 hours, the Yoga C640 23 hours (pretty bizarre) and the Swift 3 10 hours.
The bottom line is that the Inspiron 14 5000 has a poorer battery life, which is disappointing despite the price – and especially compared to some other current affordable laptops.
The Dell Inspiron 14 5000 is an affordable, old-school notebook that cuts corners everywhere, making it a little difficult to check it out so soon after checking out the Lenovo Flex 5 14 and Yoga C640. The Inspiron's display is boring, the performance is affected by Ryzen 4000 laptops and the battery life is terrible.
Budget laptops are getting better and the Inspiron 14 5000 has been left behind.
Are there alternatives?
This test shows that there are better alternatives than the Inspiron 14 5000. The most important of which is the Lenovo Flex 5 14 for $ 600, which offers a similarly poor display, but which Dell outperforms in terms of performance, battery life, durability and overall good performance. It's also a 2-in-1 game, which is a nice advantage.
You can also opt for the Acer Swift 3, another 14-inch clamshell that is faster and has better battery life. And it costs the same as Dell's retail price and is worth the $ 80 premium at the Inspiron's retail price.
How long it will take?
The Inspiron 14 5000 does not inspire as much confidence in its durability. It will probably make a few falls, but I don't want to abuse it. As usual, the one-year guarantee is standard and disappointing.
Should you buy it
No. The Inspiron 14 5000 may have been attractive at a price a few months ago, but there are many much cheaper laptops today.