Back in March, when we reviewed the Dell Inspiron 15 5515, we were impressed by its overall performance. The laptop was speedy and reliable, and we were particularly impressed by its AMD Radeon Vega graphics performance. Unfortunately, because the laptop is a few years old now, its price has increased drastically. So, how does the Dell Inspiron 15 5515 stand up against the latest AMD Ryzen 7 2700U?
The Inspiron 15 5515 is one of the first devices of AMD’s new Ryzen 7 2nd generation of processors, and the first one to be released to the masses. The new model has a lot in common with last years model, the Inspiron 15 5517, but that version was designed for gamers, whereas this one has been designed for the average user. The device has a 15.6 inch LED backlit 1080p IPS display, alongside 8GB of RAM and 512GB of Storage. The device runs on Windows 10, and if you’re looking for a cheap laptop that can cope with everyday tasks, then this is the one for you.When I was looking for a new laptop for my wife, I found a good deal on the Dell Inspiron 15 5515. Since his current laptop is broken, I chose something cheaper in case it happens again.
I was impressed with the last Dell Inspiron laptop I reviewed in 2017. The thing still works fine on my mother-in-law, believe it or not, all I had to do was replace the SSD once. This has made this Inspiron 2023 a more attractive option, especially with the improved specs.
After using it for a few days, this laptop is not ideal for my wife’s needs, but still a good choice for a budget laptop. I don’t think this device is for everyone, but if you’re looking for a cheap laptop for light tasks, but don’t want to upgrade to a Chromebook, it may be of interest to you.
To put it bluntly: I don’t often write reviews of laptops like this. I may be critical in places, but I promise to summarize and grade at the end based on the overall value of the car. Also note that I have literally only spent a few days with this car. I ran it through the standard tests and printed out a report. That’s all.
Technical specifications as tested – Dell Inspiron 15
|Dell Inspiron 15, 5515|
|Screen||15.4-inch, 1920×1080, IPS equivalent, 60 Hz, touch screen, matte surface|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 7 5700U, 8C/16T, base clock 1.8GHz, upgraded to 4.3GHz|
|Video||AMD Radeon graphics|
|Storage||512GB M.2 PCIe|
|Link||Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2|
|Ports||2x USB-A 3.2 gen1, 1x USB-C 3.2 gen1 with DP and PD, 1 HDMI 1.4b|
|Battery||54Wh, 65W charger|
|Size||356 mm or 14.02 (W) x 229 mm or 9.01 (D) x 18 mm or .71 (H)|
|Weight||1.64 kg (3.62 lbs)|
|Extras||SD card reader, power adapter, headset/microphone, fingerprint reader, HD webcam, stereo speakers|
Design and construction
As for the overall design, this is a typical thin laptop. Nothing fantastic, but surprisingly good considering the price. It’s thin, light, has decent build quality and only has a few easily correctable flaws.
The cover and wrist rest are made of anodized aluminum. The color is charcoal black, so it will leave fingerprints over time. The bottom of the device is made of plastic, which is housed in a stamped aluminum body.
As for the cover, it’s pretty simple. It features a simple Dell logo embossed. The lid can sometimes be lifted with a finger. The laptop is lightweight, making it easier to hang from the bottom when opened.
The hinge, like laptops in general, is pretty solid. However, there is a slight lag that you will notice, especially if you plan to use the touchscreen often. Honestly, I don’t think it’s that bad, but don’t expect it to be as robust as your high-end 2-in-1 laptops.
It should be noted that the foot cushions are integrated into the upholstery. When rotated, it lifts the laptop a few millimeters, presumably to improve airflow. Since the foot pads under the laptop are small, this is probably very necessary.
When the cover is open, you have a full-size keyboard and trackpad, which we’ll talk about in a moment. On top is a 15.4-inch touchscreen surrounded by plastic frames. The right and left edges are very small, the top and bottom edges are about twice as wide. For a budget laptop, this is a good choice.
Being a touchscreen model, I was quite surprised by the plastic edges. Especially since we expect seamless edges in touchscreen models. This makes scrolling left and right a little awkward, but it still works well.
For inputs and outputs, this model has a decent selection of connections. On the right side, you’ll find a single USB-A port, a full-size SD card reader, and a combined headphone/microphone jack. By the way, the SD slot is twice as small, so your SD card sticks out when you use it.
On the left side you’ll find the power port, HDMI 1.4 port, another USB-A port and a USB-C port. This USB-C does not support Thunderbolt, but it does support DisplayPort and PD charging.
The background is pretty simple. There is what appears to be a very long slot, but in fact more than half of it is covered. This is probably a common design on other laptop models that may have a second fan. As already mentioned, the feet are quite small. If you use this notebook in a closed position, lying on a table, air circulation may be insufficient.
There are also two small cutouts for the speakers on the bottom. They are quite far away and close to the surface the laptop is sitting on, which I don’t think is the most ideal position. In the next chapter, however, I’ll take a closer look at sound quality.
All that said, I think it’s a pretty good design for this laptop. For the price Dell is asking, the build quality is pretty good and I think it’s durable enough to last more than a few years if properly maintained. The features and input/output are also pretty good considering what this laptop is meant for.
Keyboard and touch pad
This Dell Inspiron has a decent keyboard. It has backlighting, the buttons are well placed and have good feedback. The line is average for a notebook of this thickness.
Honestly, I had no problems typing. I usually leave this part for last when writing a review, and I can say that I had almost no problems getting used to it.
The basic lighting is white only, and there are three brightness levels that can be controlled with Fn-F5. These are the subtle strengths that I appreciate. During the day you probably won’t notice it, but in a dark room it works very well.
The keyboard layout is largely conventional. A full set of multimedia keys are located on the top panel, giving you virtually all operating options. Actually Dell couldn’t find anything to add to f9 and left it empty …..
This is a full keyboard layout, which means that the Numpad is included. Windows computer users should be happy because this keyboard is for them! I’ve never seen this before, but there are dedicated buttons to start, clear and ± the calculator. Not my thing, but perfect if you use a 10-key keyboard all day.
The last point of interest is the power button, which is located in the top right corner, without any markings. It serves as a fingerprint reader, so it’s probably empty. It works perfectly, so I’m not complaining.
The only real complaint I have about the keyboard is that it sags a bit in the middle section. I noticed that the chassis bounced while I was typing. But it didn’t affect my accuracy, so it’s a minor complaint.
The trackpad is also very good. It is a glass trackpad with a smooth surface. It tracks well and works perfectly for all my use cases. All multi-touch gestures work perfectly, so I had no trouble getting used to the tit.
I won’t say it’s the best trackpad I’ve ever used, because I prefer it to be flush with the housing. But it’s still above average and much better than the plastic trackpads I still see on competing laptops.
It’s also a clickpad trackpad, which means the right and left clicks are integrated into the bottom corners and pressure. The click has reasonable resistance and is pleasant.
The screen will probably be the deciding factor for many potential buyers. The point is, it’s pretty lame. It’s an FHD panel, 60 Hz and just below average brightness. The only thing that saves it is that it supports touch controls and has a matte finish.
The worst part of the screen is the colors. The colors are very dull, and it shows in the calibration.
Here are the measurements I got with the X-rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- Hardware ID panel : LG Phillips 156WFD (Model LGD0684)
- Coverage: 55.7% sRGB, 38.4% AdobeRGB, 39.5% DCI-P3 ;
- Maximum brightness in the center of the screen: 289 cd/m2 at startup;
- Gamma: 2.2
- Contrast at maximum brightness : 1179:1
- Aboriginal White Point: 6400 K ;
- Black at maximum brightness: 0.4 cd/m2.
I noticed some discoloration in the backlight of my device. It didn’t affect my normal use of the laptop, but it was very noticeable on the black screen. It’s certainly not the worst I’ve ever seen, but it’s really remarkable. Note that this depends on the device, so your experience will be different.
At least the touch functionality works well. This is a very interesting feature built into the matte plate. Honestly, the main reason I avoid touchscreens on laptops is the glare. But this panel resists reflections well – I just wish it was a little brighter.
If you are concerned about the viewing angles, then there is nothing to worry about in this case. There is a slight shift in light when you move 30 degrees in either direction, but it is not distracting and the images remain clear.
The colors ruin it for me, and that’s the main reason we’re not keeping it. My wife occasionally works with Photoshop, which is color-sensitive, and she can’t afford to give up half the colors she’s used to.
Your needs may vary, however, and if you’re looking for a laptop that’s only suitable for web browsing and word processing, this panel probably won’t bother you as much.
Equipment and power
This model is equipped with the Ryzen 7 5700U processor, which has 8 cores and 16 threads and can be overclocked to 4.3 GHz. It is paired with 16GB of RAM, which is more than enough for a laptop of this type.
Overall, it is an excellent processor. I didn’t do any heavy lifting, so I can’t say anything about performance. However, the laptop works very well for internet applications and daily tasks.
There is no dedicated GPU in this model, so you are limited to AMD Radeon graphics. The game is possible, but you will be severely limited to low graphics settings in all modern games. We’ll talk about that in a minute.
The SSD is a 512GB PCIe drive from Hynix. The benchmarks are decent, but note that they increase dramatically when the laptop is turned on. This does not mean that the battery life is bad, because these results are also good. See my benchmarks for the exact numbers.
If you want to upgrade your SSD, loosen some Phillips screws and open the back cover. You will then have access to the M.2 module, RAM and Wifi. Note that the M2 module is the 2230 variant, but the screw hole is for a typical 2280 drive.
I ran some synthetic benchmarks to get an idea of the processor’s performance. This is what I got:
- 3DMark 13 – Firestrike: 3087 (Graphics – 3378, Physics – 15992);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 1275 (Graphics – 1122, CPU – 5736);
- 3DMark 13 – Processor Profile : Max-4383, 16T-4323, 8T-3809, 4T-2415, 2T-1406, 1T-720
- GeekBench 5: Mononuclear: 1149, multi-core: 5914 ;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 66.70 fps, CPU 1441 cb, Single Core CPU 188 cb ;
- CineBench R23: CPU 7926 Pkt, Single Core CPU 1245 Pkt;
These results are not so bad. But I noticed that after 15 consecutive runs of Cinebench, the results dropped slightly. In fact, the TDP continues to decline over long periods of time. Probably because the single fan gave out.
Here’s how this 15W Ryzen 7 5700U version compares to other AMD and Intel models with similar hardware.
– will be updated
But I was curious, so I repeated the same tests, but this time with a GaN charger. Take a look:
- 3DMark 13 – Firestrike: 2985 (Graphics – 3334, Physics – 15943) ;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 1303 (Chart – 1147, CPU – 5777);
- 3DMark 13 – Processor Profile : Max-4678, 16Q-4669, 8Q-4171, 4Q-2581, 2Q-1384, 1Q-725
- GeekBench 5: Mononuclear: 1182, multi-core: 5994 ;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 67.62 fps, CPU 1447 cb, Single Core CPU 188 cb ;
- CineBench R23: CPU 8641 Pkt, Single Core CPU 1255 Pkt;
To my surprise, the GaN charger made the laptop work a little better. But even after repeating the Cinebench r15 test, the results dropped again over time. But not as much as before.
I honestly have no idea what that means. It was a test, and it made a difference, but I don’t know why. The GaN charger I was using was on loan from Razer, so the power connection was rated at 100W. But according to my USB voltage meter, it only produced 61 watts at its maximum.
But maybe the included 65 watt power supply is just poor quality and produces a watt or two less – which could very well be the difference I see here.
Frankly, I don’t think that’s cause for concern. The difference was so small that it would probably not be noticeable in a real application. If you’re so concerned about processor performance, this may not be the best laptop for you.
So I wouldn’t buy a GaN charger right away if you have this laptop. In addition, the use of a GaN charger in the UBC-C connector creates a small load on the chassis due to the lack of grounding. This is normal and harmless, but you will feel a slight vibration of the metal parts of the housing when the unit is connected to the power outlet. It’s just an observation.
Back to the show: It should also be noted that there is no option to set the TDP of the processor. Dell does not offer software that limits settings in any way. So, at maximum performance, you get a TDP of 25W.
You can also play light games on this laptop, but since it doesn’t have a dedicated GPU, the results won’t be very good. Seriously, though: If you need a laptop to play games, you should look elsewhere.
I did some comparative testing with a few games of different ages. See my results below:
|29 fps medium, 25 fps low|
|49 fps medium, 31 fps low|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(FHD, low preset, hair system off)
|23 fps medium, 21 fps low|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(720p, low preset, hair work off)
|40 fps medium, 36 fps low|
|Portal Reloaded||60 frames per second|
As you can see, these are not the best results. But that’s about what you’d expect from integrated graphics. However, some older games can still be played quite reliably, especially on low to medium settings.
To sum up, the performance of this device is completely in line with my expectations. That’s enough for most people. And for the price, the Ryzen 7 5700U is a good deal, especially when paired with 16GB of RAM. The single fan probably limits performance a bit, but that’s the way it is.
Noise, heat, communication, loudspeakers and other
As we mentioned earlier, this laptop has only one fan with a pair of heatpipes that cool the processor. The fan draws in cool air from the bottom of the laptop and blows all the air into the bottom corner of the screen. It’s not my favorite cooling solution, but it’s what we have.
The processor stays pretty cold most of the time. Dell must have pretty low temperature thresholds for the processor, which is probably why I saw such throttling during long processor tests. Even in my Cinebench cycle, the average CPU temperature was only 70°C, which is perfectly fine.
As for the temperature of the case, it stays very cold in normal use. Since the processor barely heats up, the case stays cool too.
This changes dramatically when playing games or under heavy load, as the temperature of the bottom then rises sharply. Note the 52C hotspot after running Witcher 3 for half an hour.
Needless to say, it’s a pretty intense game on this laptop. However, this indicates a weakness in the cooling system, as the hot spot is in an area where there is almost no airflow.
And if you compare it to the picture of the burst, you can see that the access point is right where the ram modules are. Maybe that’s why we see throttling over time, even though the CPU temperature seems fine? Unfortunately there is no test for RAM temperature, but it is a good theory.
Intel AX200 is used as Wi-Fi module in this device. I have achieved speeds of 420 Mbps at a distance of 30 feet from the router. I have not experienced any disconnection during my use. It has a built-in bluetooth feature, but unfortunately I haven’t had time to try it out yet.
The speakers are decent, but they are angled downward, which puts them at a disadvantage. The space between the hole and your table is small, so the sound is muffled a bit. The maximum volume I measured was 72 dB, which could have been better, but is still correct.
The good news is that the speakers have a decent midrange, so they sound pretty good overall, albeit not in that direction. I could hear low frequencies up to 60 Hz, which is not bad for such small speakers.
The webcam on this laptop is horrible. The images are very grainy and colorless in low light. But even with normal lighting, it’s still not a clear picture. It’s good enough to work with, but it’s definitely not something you want to use for serious online conversations. The only positive is the physical trigger of the webcam integrated into the cover.
The Dell Inspiron 15 5515 has a 54 Wh battery. It looks like a small battery, but the chassis is small.
I did a series of tests of battery life at 30% brightness, or about 87 nits. Here are my results:
- 3.6 W (~14 hrs 53 min of use) – Standby mode, best battery life, screen set to 0%, Wi-Fi on, backlight off ;
- 6.9 W (~7 hr 32 min on) – Word processor with low internet usage, enhanced battery mode, screen set to 30%, Wi-Fi enabled ;
- 5.8 W (~9 hr 11 min on) – Youtube 1080p 60 Hz full screen in Chrome, enhanced battery mode, screen set to 30%, Wi-Fi enabled ;
- 6.1 W (~8 hrs 57 min of use) – Full screen Netflix 1080p video in Chrome, Enhanced battery mode, 30% screen setting, Wi-Fi enabled;
- 11.4 W (~4 hrs 32 min usage) – Lots of web browsing in Chrome, high performance mode, screen set to 30%, Wi-Fi enabled ;
- 33.1W (~1 hr 21 min usage) – Game mode – Doom Eternal, highest performance mode, 60 fps, screen set to 30%, Wi-Fi enabled.
Not bad results for a 54 Wh battery. The AMD processor certainly helps. The only way to extend the battery life even more is to add a larger capacity battery to the device.
The power of the Brick is 65 watts and it is quite portable. Like I said, it probably doesn’t deliver 65W, because the 61W GaN charger I used performed best in my benchmarks.
Price and availability
The model I tested is available on Amazon for $899. There’s also a cheaper $699 model with a 256GB SSD and just 8GB of RAM. This model might be more suitable for those who only need internet and some light tasks on such a laptop.
Follow this link for current prices and configurations at the time of reading this article.
If you’re tight on cash, check out Dell’s website. Sometimes there are offers that are too good to pass up. For example, I could buy this model on Dell’s website for just under $700.
So, screen aside, I think it’s a great laptop for normal everyday use. It will easily last a few years or more, depending on how you maintain your car.
The build quality and design are very good for the price you pay. The keyboard and trackpad are also very good. I also think the amount of I/O is appropriate for the target audience for this laptop.
But the screen is all you have to go on with this purchase. It just lacks color volume and the screen looks dull and monotonous. The only advantage is a matte touchscreen, so that’s a unique selling point worth mentioning.
The only thing you need to worry about is a poor quality webcam. It doesn’t support Windows Hello, but the fingerprint reader makes up for that. But nothing can make up for a grainy image. So, if you often hold online conferences, it is better to look for something else.
But if the screen and webcam aren’t that important to you, I think most people will enjoy using this laptop as an everyday device. In my opinion, the value in this device, and combined with Dell’s support for devices under warranty, I think this is a very risky purchase.
But, as I said at the beginning, I could only spend a few days with this unit. So take my praise and criticism with a grain of salt. I usually use a laptop for at least a week or two before writing a full review, but with this computer I was in a bit of a hurry because I was looking for a laptop for my wife.
Nonetheless, I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Leave a comment in the section below.
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In addition to his passion for technology, Derek works as a biomedical engineer. He loves taking things apart, figuring out how they work and finding ways to make them better. Her other hobbies include spending time with her family, DIY projects like home automation, and running.
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