Dell Inspiron M501R - An affordable quad-core laptop, with a catch! Review

By Vishal Mathur | Updated Feb 25 2011
Dell Inspiron M501R - An affordable quad-core laptop, with a catch! Review
DIGIT RATING
70 /100
  • design

    60

  • performance

    60

  • value for money

    70

  • feature

    70

  • PROS
  • Good performance
  • HDMI and eSATA ports
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • CONS
  • Very poor battery life
  • Extremely shiny body

Verdict

For a price of just under Rs 40k, the Inspiron M501 does offer good performance with its quad-core processor and latest-gen dedicated mobile graphics chipset. However, its poor battery life does spoil the �power-play party� in a big way. The Dell Inspiron M510R will appeal to a very select audience, looking for a desktop replacement machine.

BUY Dell Inspiron M501R - An affordable quad-core laptop, with a catch!

Price 39990

Dell Inspiron M501R - An affordable quad-core laptop, with a catch! detailed review

Dell has made some changes to its laptop line-up by extending its Inspiron series and combining the Studio and XPS range into a single “Studio-XPS” series. The Dell Inspiron M501R promises to be a bang for the buck performance laptop with an AMD based quad-core processor along with dedicated 1GB of Radeon HD 550v series graphics processor. Impressive specs for sure, but, how does it deliver as a laptop? Let’s find out.


Look and Feel: Too shiny, and then some
Straight out of the box, and the shiny nature of the Inspiron’s body is what will catch your attention/ annoy you, depending on your mood. The lid, which can be customized in many colours, has a shine to it, which beats me, since the finish is not actually glossy. Open the lid and you are greeted by the silver finish around the keyboard and the touchpad. The silver looks classy, but this problem with this particular finish shows up over a long period of time...sweaty palms, when placed on this surface, will tend to ensure that the shine starts fading at certain places, giving it a horrible look.

[RELATED_ARTICLE]The 15.6 inch screen is not as reflective as expected, but having said that, it is not perfectly non reflective either. The screen quality is typical of a 15.6-inch value laptop, but pushing the brightness to maximum did not result in a washed out screen, indicating a good balance between the brightness and contrast levels. Thanks to the big screen, the Dell Inspiron M501R does get a keyboard with a dedicated number pad. Speaking of which, the keyboard is very comfortable to use. The feel of the keys is quite nice, even though the keys are totally flat. This is neither the Chiclet style keyboard (which the Apple Macbook and HP Pavilion dm3 use), nor the floating style keypad (which the Gateway ID59C deploys). The travel distance of the keys is very good, and the keys are adequately spaced out as well. The touchpad is quite good as well, with pretty precise tracking. The separate left and right click buttons are not integrated into the touchpad, which is a good thing. Integrated buttons are not the most comfortable to use, while they may look good aesthetically.

 

Read on to know about the features, performance, out take and the price of the Dell Inspiron M501R... 

 

Features: Quite loaded
The port distribution is done on all sides of the Inspiron. The right side panel has the optical drive, memory card reader and the E-Sata port. The left panel has 1 USB, HDMI out, audio jacks and the cooling vent. The rear panel has 2 USB ports, which is a bit annoying. Reaching behind the laptop to access USB ports is akin to going back and using a 7 year old laptop! Essentially, the Dell Inspiron M501R has 4 USB ports, because the eSATA port also doubles up as a USB port. This is a welcome increase, since most laptops have only 3 of these.

What the laptop misses out on is a bunch of dedicated access buttons. There are no dedicated buttons for controlling media playback, or even the standard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and touchpad toggle switches. This laptop will lose a few points in our ratings because of this.

Performance: Lots of potential; only let down by the bad battery
For a machine powered by the AMD Phenom II X4 N930 processor clocking at 2.00GHz and 4GB of system RAM, performance was never going to be a problem. All the benchmarks we ran on the machine indicated a very powerful setup. PCMark Vantage threw up a score of 4695, which indicates enough power under the hood for multitasking scenarios. What is even more interesting is that the Dell Inspiron M501R registered a 3DMark score of 5993, which makes it more than capable of handling fairly current game titles at medium detail levels. No doubt, these scores are helped by the fact that ATI’s Mobility Radeon HD550v is in the mix, with 1GB of dedicated DDR3 graphics memory. To put this through a comparison, the Gateway ID59C, which is priced at Rs 51k, had a 3DMark score of 6846 with the NVIDIA GeForce GT420M graphics.

A lot of people will use this machine for multimedia viewing, and the case is helped by a big screen which is quite good and built-in speakers which offer better than expected performance. Even at volume levels of about 70%, the audio was clear, with no jarring. Maybe, the fact that the speakers are placed around the edges helped them to improve on the overall sound quality.

[RELATED_ARTICLE]However, in the middle of all the power-play, is a disappointment of gigantic proportions. The battery life, which we expected would be at least about 2-3 hours, is actually 1 hour! Sounds unbelievable? Yes, we even we thought so! Which is why we ran the battery test 3 times, but the battery would not last more than an hour, no matter whether the power settings were set to Max Performance or Balanced. What this poor battery performance does is that it reduces the mobility power of this laptop. With such a bad battery, you will be forced to keep this machine plugged in most of the time. Kind of kills the purpose of a laptop, doesn’t it?

 

Read on to know about the verdict, the price and the specifications of the Dell Inspiron M501R...

 

Verdict: Power, with no battery backup

The Dell Inspiron M510R is clearly not meant for anyone looking for mobility and anywhere computing. It is a well specced machine that gives you a quad-core processor coupled with a good GPU (graphics processor) along with a wealth of connectivity options. If you are looking for a powerful yet affordable desktop replacement machine which is also fairly capable at gaming, the Inspiron M150R does fit the bill. But, with poor battery life and its heavy, bulky nature, the Inspiron M150R is certainly not the most portable or efficient solution for mobile computing.

You can also consider the HP dv6 and the recently reviewed (and raved) Gateway ID59C as good options for powerful and feature packed 15.6-inch laptops with attractive price tags. However, if you are looking for a dedicated gaming laptop, checkout the MSI GT663R.

 

Specifications
AMD Phenom II X4 N930 processor @ 2.00GHz; 4GB RAM; 15.6 inch screen; 1366x768 HD screen resolution; ATI Mobility Radeon HD 550v graphics; 1GB dedicated graphics memory; 500GB hard drive; 3 USB ports; 1 E-Sata port; HDMI out, Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

 

Ratings
Features: 7
Performance: 6
Build: 6
Value: 6.5
Overall: 6.5

 

Price: Rs 39,990

 

Brand
Dell
Model
Inspiron M5010R
Features
 

Component Specifications

 
Processor Model No

AMD Phenom II Quad Core Mobile N930

Processor Speed
2.0GHz
RAM
4gb
RAM Type
DDR3
Memory Speed (MHz)
1333
Chipset
AMD 785GX
Graphics Solution

ATI Mobility Radeon HD 550v

Dedicated Video Memory (Y / N)
Y
Dedicated Video Memory Size
1GB
Audio Chipset

Integrated Audio with SRS Premium Sound

Storage size (in GB)
500GB
Drive type (HDD/SSD/other)
HDD
Optical Drive Type / Speed
DVD /-RW/ 24x
Bundled OS

Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Characteristics
 
Screen Size (Inches)
15.6
Type of LCD
WLED
Screen Resolution (Native)
1366x768
Weight (Kg)
2.7
No. of Ports (USB / FireWire)
3 USB
USB 3.0 (Y/N)
N
Connectivity (LAN / Bluetooth / Wi-Fi)
Y/Y/Y
E-Sata (Y/N)
Y
Display output (VGA/DVI/HDMI/Display Port)
Y
Memory Card Reader (Y/N)
Y
Type of Memory Cards Supported
5-in-1
Inbuilt Webcam (Y/N)
Y
Webcamera resolution (in megapixels)
1.3 HD

Build (So 10)

 
Body
6
Keypad
8
Lid, movables
7

Ergonomics and Usability

 
Keypad Tactile Feedback (So 10)
9
Key Layout, bevelling, spacing & Usability (So 10)
7
Shortcut Keys/Switches (So 10)
5
Trackpad ergonomics, size, position (So 10)
8
Trackpad accuracy (So 10)
8
Biometrics (fingerprint/face) login (Y/N)
N/Y
Wi-Fi On/Off Switch or Button (Y/N)
N
Dedicated Bluetooth On/Off Switch or Button (Y/N)
N
Dedicated TouchPad On/Off Switch or Button (Y/N)
N
Performance
 

Synthetic Scores

 
PC Mark Vantage
 
PC Mark Score
4695
Memories Score
3045
TV and Movies Score
3499
Gaming Score
4243
Music Score
4038
Communications Score
3574
Productivity Score
4194
HDD Score
2646
 
 
3D Mark 2006
 
CPU Score
2883
Graphics score
2006
Overall Score
5993
Maxxon CineBench R11.5 (CPU score)
1.58 pts
Display Mate Colour Accuracy Test (So 10)
Score not available
Battery Life Test (in minutes)
1:01:44
Wi-Fi Signal Strength Test (Zone 2)
40%

Real World Tests

 
Speaker Quality (at 50% volume) (So 10)
8
HD Movie Viewing (using VLC) (So 10)
8
DivX Encode 7.0 (.VOB to .Divx, default mode)
01:02.9
WinRAR 3.9 (Compression / Decompression benchmark)
1.266
File transfer Test (4 GB test file-sequential) (Sec)
02:31.6
File transfer Test (4 GB test file-assorted) (Sec)
03:46.9
PassMark Wireless Mon 3.0 Signal Strength
65%
PassMark Wireless Mon 3.0 bandwidth
54Mbps
Doom 3 benchmark score
106.1 Fps
Far Cry 2 Benchmark
59.12 Fps
 
 
Warranty (Years)
1
Price (Rupees)
39,990

 

Contact: Dell India
Phone: 1800-425-4026 / 080-2506-8026
Website: http://www.dell.co.in
 

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Vishal Mathur

https://plus.google.com/u/0/107637899696060330891/posts

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Dell Inspiron M501R - An affordable quad-core laptop, with a catch!

Price : ₹39990

Dell Inspiron M501R - An affordable quad-core laptop, with a catch!

Price : ₹39990

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