"The Inspiron 15 7000 is nothing special, but its expandability distinguishes this midrange laptop."
Solid productivity performance
Good keyboard and touchpad
The color accuracy of the screen is deactivated
Uses older graphics card
Laptops are nowhere near as upgradeable as they used to be. Whether it's battery, storage, or storage, you stick with everything you buy.
There are some rare exceptions to this trend. One of them is the latest Inspiron 15 7000 model from Dell. This Inspiron is not soldered on, but has easily accessible RAM slots and additional connections for a second PCIe M.2 SSD and even a 2.5-inch drive.
It starts at just $ 800, although the 7591 we tested was a bit more powerful. This special configuration for $ 1,050 includes a Core i7-9750H, the GTX 1050, 8 GB RAM, a PCIe SSD with 512 GB and a full HD non-touch display (1,920 x 1,080). That's a very attractive price for a 15-inch laptop with so much performance.
Is the upgradeability of this laptop different from the crowded field of excellent 15 inch laptops?
The Inspiron 15 7000 is a "midrange" laptop, but that doesn't mean it isn't built well. The model I checked is made from stamped aluminum. This is a nice improvement over the 7590, which uses a magnesium alloy. Thus, the 7591 is solidly built for a laptop of this price, without the lid, the keyboard deck or the case bending or bending significantly.
This is important for a laptop that you want to open. The option to expand is not just a function for hobbyists. You can save money by updating it yourself, and you can even extend the lifespan – as long as you're ready to dig a little.
Turn the laptop over and you will find standard Phillips screws (no hex screws that require special tools). Remove them (the back three can easily be detached and left in the case), and you can gently break the cover off and reveal the inside.
You can save money by updating it yourself, and you can even extend its lifespan.
There you will find two RAM slots, a second M.2 PCIe slot for an SSD and a 2.5-inch bay for a third drive. If you have installed a single RAM stick, you will run in single-channel memory mode. This has a significant impact on performance. Connect a second customized module and switch to two-channel mode to significantly accelerate storage performance.
If you add a second M.2 SSD, you can configure RAID 0 (striping) or RAID 1 (mirroring) for either better performance and more storage space, or redundancy and more reliability. Finally, you can add a third 2.5-inch drive for additional storage.
As mentioned earlier, this is an unusual level of access and upgradeability for an Ultrabook. You'll need to switch to an expensive premium laptop like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 to find a laptop that can add a second SSD with RAID support. Some other laptops, such as the Dell XPS 15, allow you to swap RAM and (single) SSD. However, the Inspiron is the only notebook in its class that lets you add up to two additional drives.
Surprisingly, although the Inspiron 15 7000 is uniquely expandable, it's not overly large or heavy. It's 4.12 pounds, which is lighter than the 4.5 pounds of the XPS 15, but heavier than the 3.76 pounds of the ThinkPad. At 0.78 inches thick, the Inspiron is a bit thicker than some of the premium models, but not much. You don't have to lug around a bulky laptop to improve upgradeability.
The connectivity, which also affects how well you can equip a laptop, is very good. You get three USB-A ports, a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support, a full-size HDMI 2.0 port and a microSD card reader. Connect it to a Thunderbolt 3 dock and you can connect to multiple 4K displays and a variety of other peripherals. However, wireless connectivity was a step back as only Wi-Fi 5 was used instead of the newer Wi-Fi 6 standard for Bluetooth 5.0.
I ran our usual performance benchmarks before adding a second 8 GB RAM module and the performance was disappointing as expected.
Before adding the additional RAM, the Inspiron achieved, for example, 1,071 in Geekbench 5 in single-core mode and 3,864 in multi-core mode. After adding the RAM, these numbers were shifted to 1,124 and 4,695. Compare this to the Lenovo Yoga C940 15 with the same CPU and dual channel RAM at 1,106 and 5,117.
The upgrade had less impact on our more realistic tests. In Handbrake I encoded a 420 MB video in H.265 to test the content creation performance. Before the upgrade, the Inspiron took a full 3 minutes to complete the test. After that it took two minutes and 50 seconds. The Lenovo C940 lasted 2 minutes and 17 seconds.
By adding the second RAM module and switching to two-channel mode, Geekbench performance was increased by 12% and the laptop was updated with the competition. The increase in the handbrake test was only around 6%. The memory I bought was from Crucial, a single stick with 8 GB DDR4-2666 MHz RAM that only cost about $ 30. This is one of the more cost-effective performance improvements I've seen for some time.
I didn't notice any difference in the SSD performance compared to the RAM upgrade. The Western Digital PCIe offered an average performance, which is the Intel Optane equipped SSD in the Lenovo Yoga C940 and far behind the much faster SSDs in the XPS 15 and ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2.
However, if you add a second SSD and configure RAID 0, storage speeds will increase significantly. This is another performance boost that is quite unusual for ultrabooks and that only Lenovo matches.
Design and display
Upgradability is good, but the Inspiron still needs to work well as a laptop. The good news is that it is a solid offering in many ways.
The keyboard is comfortable, with plenty of travel and a snappy mechanism. It doesn't quite match the keyboard level of expensive laptops like the XPS 15 and HP Specter x360 15 or the Magic Keyboard of the new MacBook Pro 16, but is good enough for fast typing.
The touchpad is also above average and offers a lot of space for a Windows 10 touchpad (but not like the massive version on the MacBook) as well as support for Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers. Windows 10 multi-touch gestures work fine and it's a pleasure to use them.
Next is the ad. At 15.6 inches, Full HD is a little less sharp than I prefer. For me, 1440p or 4K is a very preferred resolution for these larger panels. The screen that Dell chose for the Inspiron doesn't bother you in everyday use. It's pretty bright at 323 nits, although the contrast only reaches 820: 1. That is below the 1000: 1 threshold that we like to see.
The color gamut was average at 74% of AdobeRGB and 98% of sRGB, but color accuracy was unsatisfactory at 4.52 (1.0 and below is considered excellent). You shouldn't rely on this laptop to make precise photo edits.
The Lenovo Yoga C940's panel was similar, with better contrast and color accuracy, but slightly less impressive color accuracy. If you want a fine-tuned swatch, you'll need to upgrade to a laptop like the Dell XPS 15 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme.
After all, battery life also plays a role. Here you make a real compromise for the additional storage option. If you choose the 2.5-inch drive bay, you're limited to a 56-watt-hour battery – like in my test device. If you give up this slot, you can use a 97-watt-hour battery, similar to the XPS 15.
This had a negative impact on the battery life. For example, the Inspiron fell behind the Lenovo Yoga C940 by about 6 hours in our web browser test and by almost 10 hours in our video loop test. However, the Inspiron did surprisingly well in our demanding Basemark web benchmark test with 4 hours and 40 minutes, well over an hour longer than yoga.
My test device was equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 instead of the GTX 1650, which is an optional upgrade. The GTX 1050 was only very popular a year or two ago and offers a passable experience when playing casual games and modern titles with lower resolutions and graphic details.
I ran our usual set of gaming benchmarks and the Inspiron was run in accordance with other laptops with the GTX 1050. Fortnite displayed 52 frames per second (FPS) with 1080p and high graphic details and Epic 41 FPS. In the meantime, the Inspiron managed 77 FPS in Civilization VI at 1080p and medium details and 40 FPS at Ultra.
This is not a dedicated gaming laptop. So be prepared to reduce the resolution and graphic details.
In a heavier game like Assassin's Creed Odyssey, the Inspiron achieved 32 FPS at 1080p and High Detail and dropped to unplayable 17 FPS at Ultra High Detail. Overall, these results are on average 10-15 FPS lower than those of laptops equipped with the newer GTX 1650, including the Dell XPS 15 and Asus ZenBook 15 UX534. If you want to play more on this laptop, you want to upgrade to this faster card.
The Inspirion 15 7591 is suitable for casual games and even comes out in modern titles. However, this is not a dedicated gaming laptop. So be ready to reduce the resolution and graphic details to get the best experience possible.
The Inspiron 15 7000 is a unique upgradeable ultrabook. The ability to add two storage drives is more than almost any other laptop I've tested. Do-it-yourselfers will love it from a conceptual level, but it's a throwback to a time when laptops can last longer than just a few years.
Unfortunately, Dell's configurations are confusing. The 7591 I tested only came with a single RAM module, and the older GTX 1050 is a bottleneck when gaming. You can opt for the 7590 with its GTX 1650, but you can only add one additional drive.
Whether you choose the $ 800 base model or something with discrete graphics, the Inspiron 15 7000 is a balanced mid-tier laptop.
Are there alternatives?
Yes, there are several 15-inch alternatives, although there aren't many in this price range. The HP Envy 15 is outdated, as is the ZenBook 15 from Asus. The 15-inch Surface Laptop 3 uses weaker quad-core processors, as does the LG Gram 15.
The XPS 15 from Dell offers a more stable case, faster performance options and a better screen. With the same specs, it's around $ 300 more expensive, although the XPS can be configured much higher. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 almost corresponds to the expandability of the Inspiron and can also be significantly faster, but is twice as expensive.
If you want to consider a 2-in-1 device, the Lenovo Yoga C940 15 is a good option. It's a bit faster to play than the Inspiron and around $ 500 more expensive. The expandability of Dell is also not possible.
How long it will take?
The Inspiron 15 7000 is well built and should last as long as you need it. With the ability to easily open the case and update components, you can add more RAM and memory as your needs grow. That means the Inspiron lasts a little longer than your average laptop.
The 1-year warranty is industry standard and, as always, is disappointing.
Should you buy it
Yes. It's a solid laptop for the price, and the expandability features are a plus.