Dell Inspiron 13z review:

Dell Inspiron 13z

The 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U CPU is a low-voltage version of the third-gen Core i5 found in so many $600 to $1,000 laptops. Similar low-voltage Core i5 chips power most ultrabooks, even much more expensive ones, so it's no surprise that the Inspiron 13z performed nearly exactly like competing systems such as the Asus Zenbook UX31A or the Samsung Series 9. In those more expensive systems, you're paying for design and materials, and maybe SSD storage, rather than processing power.

Even though the 13z offers great application performance for $699, it has only Intel's integrated HD 4000 graphics for gaming. Our Street Fighter IV test ran at the native resolution at 26.6 frames per second, which means newer games will need to be played at lower resolutions and detail settings to get acceptable performance, if they'll play at all.

Battery life is another area in which the 13z offers a mixed bag. The system ran for 5 hours and 1 minute on our video playback battery drain test, which is a decent number, and acceptable given the price, but it was also well behind ultrabooks such as the Samsung Series 9, Asus Zenbook UX31A, Acer Timeline M5, and Sony Vaio T. Spending more, you could easily get 2 or more hours of extra battery life from a higher-end laptop.

Dell's XPS laptops include extras such as accidental damage protection and LoJack service. The more basic Inspiron plan does include on-site service, which is welcome, but only 90 days of what Dell calls premium phone support, which it claims means shorter wait times. A three-year plan (including the upgraded phone support) is $149.

Despite my qualms about some of the fit and finish details of the Inspiron 13z, this is still a reasonably slim and attractive 13-incher that offers comparable performance to more-expensive ultrabooks. That said, the slightly bigger 14-inch Inspiron 14z has better construction and features, starting at around the same price.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Avg watts (load test)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Dell Inspiron 13z
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB ADATA XM11 SSD

Sony Vaio T13112FXS
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Lenovo IdeaPad U310
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Samsung 5,400rpm

Acer Aspire TimelineU M5-481TG-6814
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE / 128MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Samsung Series 9 NP900X3C (13-inch, 2012)
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 64MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 128GB SanDisk SSD

What you'll pay

    Visit manufacturer site for details.

    Editors' Top PicksSee All

     

    Discuss: Dell Inspiron 13z Laptop Computer- 3rd Generation...

    Conversation powered by Livefyre