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
Bad build quality
The battery life is terrible
Budget laptops are experiencing a renaissance. The latest models were slimmer, faster, and more durable than ever before – in some cases they competed with premium laptops.
If you need some examples, just take a look at 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 to be.
I took a look at Dell’s Inspiron 14 5000 to see if it was on 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.
That’s a very affordable price, but can the Inspiron 14 5000 exceed the bar set by other current budget laptops?
Sometimes a laptop is made of plastic, but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s very rigid and has a premium feel – the Lenovo Flex 5 14 is a prime example (yes, I’ll mention this laptop in this review). Then there is the Inspiron 14 5000, a plastic laptop that looks and feels.
The lid, the keyboard deck and the bottom of the case are bent and bent too much. A year ago I might have written that off because of the price. Today the Inspiron just feels cheap. Even opening the hinge gave the impression of cheapness – 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 weighing 3.63 pounds. These dimensions are pretty close to the 0.82 inches and 3.3 pounds of the Flex 5 14. However, the Flex 5 14 always felt like it had the build quality to justify the added bulk. The Inspiron 14 5000, on the other hand, just feels like an old-school budget laptop that’s too big just because the tech costs weren’t spent on shrinking it.
Acer’s Ryzen-based Swift 3, 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 way, the Dell won’t fit it.
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 while 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 rather than one of the newer machines, which in this case should be more expensive. The Lenovo Yoga C640 and Flex 5 14 are examples of better designed budget devices.
Expandability is an advantage of the Inspiron 14 5000 over its competitors.
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 a 512 GB SSD 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 it with a discrete GPU, you also get a USB-C 3.1 port.
Overall, Thunderbolt 3 is lacking, 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. This is what the Inspiron delivered – a good performance that does justice to the CPU, but nothing special. The challenge for Dell is that two of the other named competitors, the Flex 5 14 and the Swift 3, are using AMD’s Ryzen 4000 processors, which makes Intel’s offering a mince at this price point.
In Geekbench 5, the Inspiron achieved 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, respectively. However, this is not the real story as the Flex 5 14 hit 1,096 and 4,543 and the Swift 3 hit 1,120 and 4,831. It’s clear that the AMD chips can leverage their additional cores for significantly better performance and for the same base price.
The same goes for our more realistic handbrake test, which converts a 420MB file to H.265. Here, the Inspiron took a little over 4.6 minutes to complete the test compared to the Spin 3, which took a little over four minutes, meaning the Inspiron fell short of even its most direct competitor. The Flex 5 14 took just 2.7 minutes and the Swift 3 in 2.5 minutes. This shows how much faster the AMD processors are when it comes to demanding tasks.
Don’t get me wrong – the Inspiron 14 5000 gets the job done for productivity tasks, web browsing, media consumption, and the like. However, laptops like the Flex 5 14 and Swift 3, which use AMD’s excellent new silicon, face stiff competition.
Display and speakers
Some budget laptops make up for other shortcomings by adding a nice display, such as the Yoga C640, which has a display that can rival laptops that cost more than twice as much. Unfortunately, this isn’t the Inspiron 14 5000 – its display is way behind the curve and shows the kind of poor quality we once thought we’d see with laptops in this price range.
First of all, it suffers from a very low brightness, namely 195 nits, which is well below our preferred 300 nits and has a real impact on working on the laptop, displaying pictures 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 in any significant ambient lighting. The Yoga C640 and Flex 5 14 both achieved a 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, although we would like to see 1,000: 1 or more. Granted, not many budget laptops come close to this contrast. The Yoga C640 was an exception at 1040: 1. The Flex 5 14 was more like the Inspiron at 770: 1.
With only 64% of sRGB and 48% of AdobeRGB, the color depth was also missing. The Yoga C640 scored 96% of sRGB and 73% of AdobeRGB, a much stronger score, 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’s display easily guides you through your productivity tasks, but you won’t love the experience. Ultimately, it’s another area where the Inspiron 14 5000 can’t stand out from some of its competitors.
The audio was similarly mixed. The speakers offer a lot of volume, but some distortion when things get louder. The bass was missing and the mids and highs weren’t comfortable making this a disappointing sound system. You’ll no doubt want to plug in headphones or use an external bluetooth speaker if you’re doing more than just occasionally watching YouTube videos.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Inspiron 14 5000 doesn’t come with the great keyboard you’ll find in the more expensive XPS range, but instead uses a version with smaller keycaps and less spacing, which makes for a slightly cramped feel. The mechanism is fine, with good travel and a precise click that doesn’t hit the floor uncomfortably. If you’re a fast-touch typist, this keyboard may not get you up to your maximum speed, but it’s not too far off.
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 matter to you. I prefer laptops with touch displays, but I may be in the minority there.
Windows 10 Hello is provided by a fingerprint reader built 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 battery life, which is rather poor as battery capacity is sacrificed in the name of cost. The Inspiron 14 5000 suffers from a meager 42.5 watt hour battery, which is significantly less than the 52.5 watt hour in the Lenovo Flex 5 14. That is not much for a laptop with a Core CPU and 14 inch battery Juice advert. My battery tests only confirmed this.
First, the Inspiron 14 5000 only lasted an hour and a half in our demanding Basemark web benchmark test. This is a poor score that usually applies to gaming laptops that run fast CPUs at full throttle. The Flex 5 14, which we didn’t rate well for battery life, lasted almost four hours and the Yoga C640 over 3.5 hours. Simply put, the Dell won’t last long if you hit the CPU.
Next up was our web browsing test, in which the Inspiron achieved 4.7 hours. This is also a bad result: The Flex 5 14 takes eight hours, the Yoga C640 10.5 hours and the Acer Swift 3 with Ryzen just under eight hours. You probably won’t spend more than half a day doing light productivity and web browsing tasks with the Inspiron 14 50oo.
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 managed 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 poorer battery life, which is disappointing despite the price – and especially when compared to some other current budget laptops.
The Dell Inspiron 14 5000 is an affordable old-school notebook that is cutting corners everywhere, so it’s a little difficult to review so soon after checking out the Lenovo Flex 5 14 and Yoga C640. The Inspiron’s display is dull, Ryzen 4000 laptops slow down performance, and battery life is terrible.
Budget laptops keep 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 these is the $ 600 Lenovo Flex 5 14, which has a similarly poor display but which Dell looks to outperform in terms of performance, battery life, durability, and overall good performance. Plus, it’s a 2-in-1 game which is a nice perk.
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 well worth the $ 80 premium on the Inspiron’s retail price.
How long it will take?
The Inspiron 14 5000 does not inspire so much confidence in its durability. It will probably make a couple of falls, but I don’t want to abuse it. As usual, the one-year warranty is standard and disappointing.
Should you buy it
No. The Inspiron 14 5000 may have been attractive for its price a few months ago, but there are many far cheaper laptops available today.