When it comes to laptops and computers in general, Dell needs no introduction. The company got its start back in 1984 when Michael Dell started PC’s Limited. In today’s review, I took a look at Dell’s Inspiron 15 3000, specifically model 3576.
Packing an Intel Core i3-8130U and 8 GB of DDR4 2400 MHz memory, it definitely qualifies as entry-level. However, it is still a step up from Intel Celeron N and Pentium N series laptops, so for this review, I will take a deeper look at the performance of a $320 laptop before taxes can provide with an SSD upgrade, which makes for a total of just under $400.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Build Quality & Design
- The top of the unit is plain for all but the Dell logo front and center, with the plastic shell having some texture for an improved grip. The bottom of the unit is smooth and features no access hatches, which would have been nice. That said, unlike other laptops I have tested, which require complete disassembly to remove or replace the battery, at least the battery can be removed with ease on this model.
- For airflow to the heatsink, a few vents are in the bottom as well. There is a dust filter of sorts, which is very dense and therefore very restrictive. Cooling performance can be improved by removing these filters, but that also means more dust will get inside the system. I left the filters in place on this model since it did not seem to impact cooling enough to make the trade-off worthwhile.
- The keyboard is nothing to write home about; it has no LED backlighting and feels extremely mushy with a bit of bounce in the middle. It does the job but is not the most comfortable to use over extended periods of time.
- The trackpad also has a bit more flex than I would like with the bottom left and right corners feeling quite flimsy. When pressing down to activate left or right clicks near their very corners, the buttons will depress twice as far as the dividing middle line on the trackpad.
- This leaves it feeling exceptionally cheap and in dire need of improvement. As for the power button, it is in the top right above the keyboard and recessed into the case, which is nice as it makes it difficult to bump into or depress unless done so intentionally.
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Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Performance
- Honestly, as cheap as the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 feels, I still actually like the system when equipped with an SSD. Sure, it’s not going to be great for gaming with its Intel UHD Graphics 620, and yes, memory is limited to single-channel because of one 8 GB DDR4 SODIMM, but so what?
- For a daily work system, you can certainly do a lot worse for $375. The plastic shell is quite sturdy, while the hinges feel nice and stiff, which means you won’t be opening the lid with a single finger. While this has no bearing on hinge quality, the stiffness will leave the impression that whatever angle you set the display to, it is going to stay there. Still, let’s not mince words: there is nothing premium anywhere on this unit. Granted, that should be expected; however, what it does offer is value.
- For instance, the Intel Core i3-8130U 2c/4t processor is weak by today’s desktop standards, but for a mobile system, it is a decent performer for Powerpoint, Excel, and general office work, especially with the SSD giving the system some extra zip.
- For home use, anyone watching Netflix, Youtube, or DVDs will have a decent experience as well with no stutter of hiccups. Overall, it is a very affordable laptop that proves itself to be a dependable daily driver with a single-user upgrade.
- The 8 GB SODIMM allows for a large number of browser tabs even though it is obviously single-channel, all while performing other tasks with little effort. Even light multi-tasking was no problem;
- The display is an area in which Dell cut costs; it is a 1366×768 TN panel with average viewing angles but has muted colors. Going into this review, I will admit I was expecting something far worse but instead got a serviceable if bland display that gets the job done. Just don’t expect to do any serious photo editing on this system. Even if you had no other alternative, I would search again.
- The display is excellent for office work, web browsing, etc., but content creation? Not even close! Out of the box, the display needed some manual tweaking to be somewhat presentable. Even now, the picture feels a bit washed out. You can also forget about using the laptop in bright sunlight; you will need to be inside to read anything on this screen unless you are somewhere extremely shady.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Specifications
- The Dell Inspiron 15 3576 is a solid entry-level laptop that offers surprising performance and battery life considering its humble origins. The 8 GB of DDR4 memory is adequate, and a second SODIMM slot is available for a future memory upgrade if needed.
- Meanwhile, the swap to an SSD leaves the system feeling quick and responsive-without the long boot times and application load times we have come to expect from mechanical drives. Even better, the system’s low power consumption of 25 watts at idle and 44 watts with the display at maximum brightness under excessive load leave it incredibly power efficient for the performance on offer.
- It even stays fairly quiet with the fans ramping up only under heavy load, and even then, the system remains below 42 dBA at a distance of 1 foot/30 cm. The only downside is the BIOS update it takes for maximum performance as Dell shipped the unit with the older BIOS which has no Turbo option.
- This limits performance and causes some oddities depending on the test. A BIOS flash resolved all performance issues, resulting in a great system without serious thermal throttling during testing.
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Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Battery Life
- This laptop has the battery life necessary to last the majority of a work/school day in those situations. For example, watching Ted looped, the system nearly reached 5 hours of run time. Doing a multitude of different tasks had the unit last a full 3 hours and 19 minutes. Further reducing display brightness, along with enabling more power saving options, would likely extend battery life by a healthy amount, into the 4–6 hour range depending on workload.
- Battery life is tested in a few ways. First, I test by running a DVD version of Ted looped via VLC until the battery dies. NVIDIA’s forced use of GeForce Experience tends to limit frames per second to 30 by default via its Battery Boost function. As such, I test with the frame rate limited to 30 and 60 FPS.
- While this may not have an impact on all units, those with high-end mobile GPUs or dual GPU setups will show a marked difference. For the gaming battery tests, I use Unigine Valley, which is set to run at 1920×1080 with high settings and no anti-aliasing. The final test is PCMark 8 Home Conventional, which measures battery life with the benchmark in a loop.
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Overall, the Dell Inspiron 15 3576 is a solid entry-level offering that just needed a bit of enthusiast tinkering to shine. It won’t wow you with high-performance graphics and is not going to let you render out 4K footage or do real content creation.
However, what it will do is let you watch YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, browse the web and perform basic tasks with more than enough performance left on tap to keep the system feeling snappy and responsive. Just remember to swap the HDD out for an SSD for maximum benefit.