Dell Inspiron 14 7000 review: Capable, but not uncompromising
A high-performance laptop that packs staggering battery life, but beware the sacrifices elsewhere
In a way, your choice of whether to buy the Inspiron 14 7000 or not is simple. If, like certain of our political leaders, you crave power on a tight budget, this may be the machine for you. With a tenth-generation Intel Core processor married to GeForce MX250 graphics, it tore through most of our benchmarks. But you will make sacrifices along the way.
Let’s start with what you’re losing. First, style. This is no Dell XPS range, despite the fact that the bulk of the chassis is made with a magnesium alloy. You also sacrifice convenience. The Inspiron 14 7000 supports Modern Standby, but with no Windows Hello-compatible webcam you’ll either need to enter your PIN or use the optional fingerprint reader.
Dell also makes a couple of subtle ergonomic sacrifices. The keyboard isn’t as pleasant to use as that of the XPS range, with a curtailed stroke and severely shortened cursor keys; you’ll have to be careful when using these, as they blend into each other. And, while it’s a precision touchpad, which means it supports all of Windows 10’s gestures, there’s no smooth glass top here. It’s fine, but nothing special.
Then there’s the 14in, 1,920 x 1,080 screen. In terms of passing technical tests, it’s excellent. It covers almost 100% of the sRGB gamut, averaged a phenomenal 0.25 in our Delta E tests for colour accuracy, and a measured contrast ratio of 1,583:1 tells you everything you need to know about watching films: this is a great vehicle for Netflix. Nevertheless, we don’t like it. Dell has done little to block reflections on the glossy screen, and we found the contrast dropped off in distracting fashion whenever we moved our head away from the perfect head-on angle.
We freely admit we’re being fussy – this is still a fine screen – but it’s one of the reasons why we wouldn’t buy the Inspiron ourselves. And we also miss the ability to navigate by touch; this has become second nature when using our laptop on the move. Compared to premium laptops, the audio is poor, too. Don’t expect any detail to come through, and naturally you can forget about bass.
All of these foibles are a shame because there’s so much else to love. Intel’s tenth-gen Core processors already look set to be a great hit. An overall score of 106 is a tremendous result, and in truth this is a lightweight powerhouse.
That’s especially true when you take into account the Nvidia GeForce graphics. The MX250 chip has just enough power to make demanding games playable, although you will have to drop resolution and settings for more recent releases. Still, it scored an excellent 72.4fps average in Dirt: Showdown and even managed 55.4fps in Metro: Last Light (we tested both games at 1080p with High settings).
It also offers extraordinary battery life. A time of almost 14 hours in our video-rundown test is exceptional, and all the more so when you consider it weighs 1.15kg (this is on our scales; Dell claims 1.1kg). It’s also a compact chassis: you might find the Inspiron 14 7000 is both slimmer and has a smaller footprint than any 13in ultraportables you have lying around.
More reasons to like the Inspiron? How about the inclusion of 802.11ax Wi-Fi rather than the slower 802.11ac you’ll find in most laptops? Or the fact that it packs in a generous number of ports: Thunderbolt 3, HDMI and a microSD card reader on the left, two USB 3 ports and a combo jack on the right.
You can also save some money if you don’t need, say, Nvidia graphics. Dell offers a base model (£969 inc VAT) with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. As always with Dell, it’s worth looking out for discounts or haggling with a sales advisor, too.
If you can negotiate the price down to around 15% less, and you’ll take daily advantage of the power and portability it offers, there are reasons to consider the Inspiron 14 7000 over the less powerful HP Envy 13 and the more expensive Dell XPS 13. However, if you’re fussy about screens and keyboards, we suggest you steer clear.
Dell Inspiron 14 7000 specifications
Quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-1051OU processor
16GB 2,133MHz LPDDR3 RAM
Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics
512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
Screen size (in)
1,920 x 1,080
Memory card slot
3.5mm audio jack
USB-C 3.1 (with charging and DisplayPort support), HDMI 2
2 x USB 3.1
720p HD webcam
2x2 802.11ax Wi-Fi
Dimensions, mm (WDH)
320 x 206 x 14.9-18mm
Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable
Battery size (Wh)
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