If your spending budget doesn’t extend to the £888 this 13in-screen design has now been generously reduced to (from £1199 when we reviewed it), Dell has a lot more affordable versions available, including this 15in-screen Studio 15 – now sporting a brand-new Intel Core i5 dual-core processor.
Note that specs and prices of Dell computers could be something of a moving target. In fact our review of this Studio 15 laptop computer had to undergo major rewriting to accomodate a change from a 2.1GHz Intel dual-core sample, at just £479, to this design with fresher 2.4GHz Core i5.
At time of press this version is £579, but be prepared to see more spec and cost revisions on Dell’s ever-evolving web market.
In addition to HDMI and VGA video outputs, there are three USB ports – two on the left, one on the right – with one from the left-hand USBs doubling as an eSATA connector. There’s even a mini FireWire 400 port. And complementing the SD card reader about the right is an ExpressCard 34 slot for further expansion possibilities.
We were also impressed by the Dell Studio 15’s keyboard and trackpad. While the keyboard is often a touch clankier in action than our memory of the Studio XPS recalls, it was still comfortable in use. The touchpad meanwhile was incredible silky and responsive, a little small but one of the greatest at any price, when so numerous manufacturers cut corners by fitting cheaper low-grade devices here.
Dell pre-installs its Dell Dock (courtesy of developer Stardock) presents itself the Windows 7 desktop. We wonder if this cheeky clone 1s really a tacit hint to Microsoft from Dell that Windows 7 didn’t go very far sufficient in copying Mac OS X’s interface.
Display high quality was much better than average, a glossy widescreen panel of 1366×768 resolution, with crisp definition. Given the high construct quality and excellent trackpad we were nearly inclined to overlook the usual eye-strain posed by this glaring reflective screen.
Our final model from the very came with an Intel Core i5-520M CPU running at 2.4GHz. Intel’s built-in Turboboost feature soups this as much as 2.93GHz when conditions permit.
But it’s simple enough to configure as your taste and spending budget allows, up to some Core i7-820QM apparently. Other options include Bluetooth for another £30, or a full-HD widescreen panel, and wireless-n networking.
And if you feel like sprucing up a lot more than the internal components, Dell also offers dozens of colourful patterns to customise the lid back.
The Core i5-equipped Studio 15 proved a very quick machine, logging a sterling score of 103 points in our WorldBench 6 speed check. For context, that’s quicker than this month’s Best Buy in the £500 Top 5 Charts. We did notice the Core i5 version seemed to run just a little hotter, with the fan kicking in a lot more frequently.
Battery life of this Dell Studio 15 suffered a little from the new chip. Our first dual-core sample stretched to 260 mins within the MobileMark 2007 Productivity test. With a Core i5 onboard, this figure dropped to 225 mins – or 3hrs 45mins. A 9-cell battery is an option which ought to break the five-hour barrier.
Thanks to a true discrete ATI graphics card, the Dell Studio 15 was very up to playing modern 3D games. The Mobility Radeon HD 4570 includes 512MB of dedicated video RAM, helping it along to some smooth 36 frames per second in our top-spec FEAR game check.
Dell’s design of Studio chassis is a sound foundation for building a solid laptop computer. Dell has managed to equip the very latest Studio 15 with sufficient performance and ports to restore an outstanding notebook in the key areas of comfort, longevity and outright speed. Its a little heavier than the competition but it feels like its built to last.