PROS / Its convertible design offers two-in-one flexibility.
CONS / A chunky chassis and mediocre display mar the system’s better attributes.
VERDICT / The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series 2-in-1 proves that performance isn’t everything. It produced solid test results but has a thick and heavy design that’s hard to get past.
Dell has more than one ultrabook on the market, but the Inspiron 13 7000 Series is its convertible option in the 13-inch ultrabook space. With a display that folds around for tablet functionality, it has some hands-on appeal that the Dell XPS 13 does not, but that’s not enough for it to lead the competitive ultrabook category.
Our review unit came configured with an Intel Core i7-5500U processor and 8GB of memory. A 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) provides storage on par with the competition. You can also get the system configured with a slightly cheaper and less-powerful Intel Core i5-5200U processor, with otherwise identical specs.
In testing by our colleagues at Laptop Mag, the Inspiron 13 offered very good performance, with a Geekbench 3 score of 6,085 points, indicating strong general performance. It completed Laptop’s spreadsheet performance speed test in four minutes and 32 seconds – not the fastest of the bunch, but not the slowest performer either. Neither of those scores are category leading, but it’s respectable performance nonetheless.
Graphics performance was less impressive, with a less-than-playable frame rate of 26 frames per second in World of Warcraft and relatively low 3DMark scores. This ultrabook is adequate for web browsing and media streaming, but gaming and graphics-heavy applications struggle to run smoothly.
The real disappointment of the Inspiron 13 is its clunky design. While the use of a 360-degree hinge offers two-in-one functionality, the hinges themselves don’t open easily, making it a bit of hassle to change the laptop to tablet mode. It’s also a bit too big for comfortable tablet use, measuring 13 x 8.7 x 0.75 inches and weighing 3.63 pounds. That makes it one of the thickest and heaviest systems we reviewed. The system’s eight and a half-hour battery life isn’t bad, but it’s not enough to offset the heavy weight of the system.
The system’s 13.3-inch touchscreen has only 1920 x 1080 resolution, the lowest acceptable resolution for the category. While Laptop Mag’s testing found good color accuracy and brightness, its testers also saw a distinct yellow tint on the display, which we also found in our hands-on time with the system.
The Inspiron 13 is outfitted with two USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port, but without the helpful blue color usually found on the faster 3.0 ports, it’s easy to confuse them. The two-in-one ultrabook also has full-size HDMI for video output and SD card support. Standard wireless features include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
The Dell Inspiron 13 is covered with a standard one-year warranty, though extended coverage can be purchased from Dell. In Laptop Mag’s independent testing, Dell ranked seventh out of 10 for quality of tech support, with helpful support materials and live chat online but unhelpful phone support.
The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series 2-in-1 has some things going for it, like solid performance and a convertible design, but the design is hampered with an awkward size and a heavier weight than is comfortable for two-in-one functionality. With so many ultrabooks offering beautiful high-resolution screens, it's particularly hard to look past the sub-par display.