Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
RRP $ 1,000.00
"The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is a good laptop with a poor display."
Mostly solid build quality
Good keyboard and mouse
Strong battery life
Ad is inferior
Too expensive considering the display
The 14 inch laptop is becoming increasingly popular. It has a larger display than 13-inch laptops, but a much smaller body than 15-inch devices. It's also gaining popularity with convertible 2-in-1 devices, again offering more screen real estate for things like digital sharing, while far less of a hassle than 15-inch 2-in-1 devices. Dell understands that, and its latest Inspiron 14 2-in-1 fits in perfectly.
I tested the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 with an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U CPU and a 16: 9 Full HD display. It carries a price tag of $ 1,000, which is by no means on budget – it actually borders on premium territory. And while 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of solid state drive (SSD) make things a little easier, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 has a lot to offer. While it performed well and had impressive battery life, it holds back its display – which makes its price point a challenging hurdle.
The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 consists of a mix of aluminum in the lid and plastic in the chassis and its materiality gives it a largely robust feel. The lid flexes just a little under pressure and there is some display distortion – never a good thing – but the keyboard deck and lower case are solid. It's built well enough for the price, and it's significantly better than the Asus VivoBook Flip 14, which costs about $ 300 less (with a lower-priced Ryzen 5 CPU and half the RAM). The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 for $ 735 was just as well made, proving that you don't have to spend more for solid build quality, while the Clamshell Acer Swift X for $ 1,100 had more flexibility in the lid and keyboard deck. Imagine that. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1's hinge was stiff and required two hands to open, but it held the display firmly in its four positions – clamshell, tent, media, and tablet – and supports the keyboard deck for a comfortable typing angle and additional airflow.
Aesthetically, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is available in the AMD configuration in two colors, Pebble Green and Mist Blue, and only in Platinum Silver in its Intel version. My test device was Mist Blue, and that's a bit of a mistake – the laptop is actually two-tone, with the Mist Blue covering the lid and a dark gray (or brown with some lighting) covering the lower chassis. The top and bottom display and the front and rear edges of the case are rounded, but the angles are simple, which gives the laptop a minimalist look that is attractive enough without attracting attention. The display bezels aren't as small at the top and bottom as I would like, but they're not overly large and don't detract too much from a modern look. The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i are similarly cautious. The HP Specter x360 14 is much more complex, but it is also much more expensive.
In terms of size, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is thin enough at 0.64 to 0.71 inches depending on where you measure, and it's right in the ballpark for 14-inch convertible 2-in-1s at 3.43 pounds. The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 comes in at 0.72 inches and 3.31 pounds, while the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is much thicker at 0.82 inches and almost as heavy at 3.3 pounds. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is a little deeper than it could be, given the somewhat large bezels, but overall it's a comfortable size. There is nothing to complain about here.
Connectivity is a mixed bag. On the left is a full-size HDMI port, a USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, and a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port, plus another USB A 3.2 Gen 1 port. 1 port, a 3.5 mm audio jack and a microSD card reader on the right. The problem with this configuration is that the laptop charges via USB-C (and, given the AMD chipset, doesn't support Thunderbolt 4). Device and connect it to USB-C devices. Legacy support is strong, however. The usual Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 take over wireless tasks.
AMD's Ryzen 5000 CPU series continues to dominate against Intel's 11th generation Core U-series processors that you can find in thin and light laptops. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is equipped with either the 6-core / 12-thread Ryzen 5 5500U or the 8-core / 16-thread Ryzen 7 5700U that powered my test device. What's interesting is that the Ryzen 5 version with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD costs $ 200 less, which makes it an interesting alternative.
There are reasons to question the price of the Inspiron 14 2-in-1, but performance is not one of them.
The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 performed well in our benchmark suite and is just behind the Ryzen 7 5800U and ahead of the Ryzen 5 5500U. It was particularly strong in our Handbrake test, which converts a 420 MB video to H.265 and completes it in 116 seconds, compared to the HP Pavilion Aero 13 with the faster Ryzen 7 chip, which is only four seconds faster . The Inspiron also does well in Cinebench R23, another CPU-intensive test, and is behind the faster laptops, but not by much. PCMark 10 Complete went as expected with a score of 5,411, and its points for Essentials, Productivity, and Content Creation were in line with the competition.
There is nothing to complain about in terms of performance. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 will burn its way through your more demanding productivity workflows and is even suitable for a thin and light device with no separate GPU for your creative tasks. There are reasons to question the price of the Inspiron 14 2-in-1, but performance is not one of them.
|Geekbench (single / multiple)||Handbrake
|Cinebench R23 (single / multiple)||PCMark 10||3DMark time spy|
|Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (Ryzen7 5700U)||1184/6281||116||1287/8013||5411||1247|
|Acer Swift X (Ryzen7 5800U)||1287/6663||99||1437/10135||6247||4073|
|HP Pavilion Aero 13
|Asus VivoBook Flip 14
(Ryzen 5 5500U)
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 (Core i5-1135G7)||1397/4301||213||1325/4411||4550||1025|
|HP Specter x360 14 (Core i7-1165G7)||1214/4117||236||1389/3941||4728||1457|
Gaming isn't the Inspiron 14 2-in-1's forte. Its Radeon Graphics scored only 1,247 points in the 3DMark Time Spy test, slightly behind the Intel Iris Xe graphics in the HP Specter x360 14. In Fortnite, it only achieved 27 frames per second (fps) at 1080p and high graphics, which is in line with the class but not an impressive feat. You can play some games on the Inspiron 14 2-in-1, just be prepared to turn the graphics down way.
There is a certain display standard that laptops should meet if they cost $ 1,000 or more. This is especially true for a laptop that has the power to meet the entry-level needs of creative types – the display should be at least average in every way.
While the Inspiron 14 2-in-1's display seemed fine during my tests, we don't do anything that takes a lot of color. Our review process is productivity oriented unless we review laptops with even faster CPUs and separate GPUs aimed at developers. While I thought the brightness was a little low and didn't like the old school 16: 9 aspect ratio (I love the trend towards higher aspect ratios of 16:10 and 3: 2), I didn't have any other major complaints.
The Inspiron 14 2-in-1's display was the most disappointing aspect of the device.
However, my colorimeter was not impressed. First, the brightness was actually low at just 238 nits, well below our preferred 300 nits, which ensures a display is bright enough for all indoor conditions. Contrast was good at 1,090: 1, beating our 1,000: 1 threshold for premium displays, but the low brightness still limited how much black text popped against a white background.
When I looked at the colors of the display, I was disappointed. The panel had narrow colors at just 52% of AdobeRGB and 69% of sRGB, although they were fairly accurate with a DeltaE of 1.81 (less than 1.0 is considered excellent). Premium laptops (or near-premium laptops) typically have 72% or more AdobeRGB and 95% or more sRGB. The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 and Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i had similarly poor colors and brightness, with less contrast, making them slightly worse than the Inspiron 14 2-in-1. But here, too, they are significantly less money.
The Inspiron 14 2-in-1's display was the most disappointing aspect of the device. It's unfortunate that Dell hasn't put a better panel in, because then it would truly live up to its promise of an affordable machine for creatives to do their lighter work. As it is, it's only okay for basic productivity tasks, and even then, you'll be disappointed with your photos and videos.
The sound was loud enough at maximum volume, but there was significant distortion – most of what I've heard on a laptop for a while. The mids and highs were therefore broken, which, together with the lack of bass, made for an unpleasant experience. Headphones are a must for anything but system sounds.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Inspiron 14 2-in-1's keyboard was wide and roomy, with large keycaps, attractive lettering, and usable three-level backlighting. The buttons had a lot of leeway and the switches had a light, snappy feel. My only complaint is that they may have been too light which made the ground movement seem abrupt. Still, I would rate it as a good keyboard, if not in the same class as Dell's XPS or HP's Specter lines.
The touchpad was large with a comfortable surface and supported Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers (which, interestingly, are listed as an option on Dell's datasheet). I found it to provide precise and reliable support for Windows 10's full suite of multitouch gestures. As with all 2-in-1 devices, the display is touch-enabled and supports the Active Pen from Dell. The pen is optional and was not included in my test device; It really should be included at that price.
Windows 10 Hello support is provided through a fingerprint reader built into the power button, just like on the latest Dell XPS devices. It worked fine, with just a push of the power button the laptop wakes up and you are logged in. For privacy, there is a physical lock that slides over the webcam.
With the Inspiron 14 2-in-1, you can choose between a 41-watt-hour or a 54-watt-hour battery, although my test device was equipped with the latter. That's decent performance for a 14-inch laptop with a Full HD display, and I expected good, if not great, battery life.
What I got was impressive. In our web browsing test, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 lasted for almost 13 hours, a very strong score that knocks the nine hours of the Asus VivoBook Flip 14 and the paltry 7.25 hours of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i. In our video test, which repeats a local Full HD Avengers trailer, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 achieved 16 hours, another strong score compared to the VivoBook Flip 14 with 12 hours and the IdeaPad Flex 5i with 11.5 Hours. Unfortunately, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 would not complete the PCMark 10 Applications or gaming battery tests, and so I am unable to share these results.
Overall, the battery life was a real strength of the Inspiron 14 2-in-1. It will get you through a full day of work and a lot more, so you can binge Netflix in the evening before plugging in.
The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is a difficult notebook to evaluate. It's well built and looks great, and it has great performance and long battery life. These are good enough to justify the $ 1,000 price tag, just barely. The ad is a disappointment, however, and that creates a dilemma.
If your productivity workflow is demanding and you are not interested in wide colors, then the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 will meet your needs in an exemplary manner. The problem is, you can spend the same or less and find laptops with similar performance and better displays. I'll mention at least one in the following section. I recommend the Inspiron 14 2-in-1, but with some serious caveats.
Are there alternatives?
The Asus ZenBook 13 OLED UM325UA is a laptop that offers an outstanding display with outstanding performance and battery life. It's not a 2-in-1, but it's about the same price for a color-accurate OLED display, a faster AMD Ryzen 7 5800U CPU, and a 1TB PCIe SSD.
The Asus VivoBook Flex 14 is almost as fast as the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 and has a similar display but costs $ 300 less. Build quality isn't quite as good and it has half the memory and storage, but if you want to save some money but still have a powerful workhorse for productivity, then the VivoBook is a great option.
How long it will take?
The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is built well enough to expect years of productive service. The same goes for its components, which are modern enough to keep Windows 10 (and Windows 11) running for long periods of time. (Thunderbolt 4 is also missing, however.) As usual, the one-year warranty is disappointing, but the industry standard.
Should you buy it?
Yes sir. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is fast and energy efficient, but the poor brightness and colors of the display limit its usefulness for creative people. If broad colors aren't your thing, it works well as a productivity machine with no creative ambitions.