Review: Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Introduction and design

The first time I used a convertible laptop-tablet hybrid was almost a decade ago, when I toyed around with a ThinkPad X-series tablet in my college years. While it was a cool idea, it was very much a novelty with too many compromises.

The device was heavy compared to its non-tablet ThinkPad counterparts, and its screen wasn’t particularly attractive. And despite Microsoft’s added stylus support to Windows XP, the user experience was clumsy at best.

Today’s convertible laptops are thinner, sleeker, and more practical than ever – arguably thanks to the iPad upping the ante on tablet design. That brings us to the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition. At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking this is just a regular laptop. The only indication that something is different is that its hinges let you push the screen back 360 degrees.

But while today’s convertible notebooks are a step up from those of a decade ago, they still come with compromises. That said, the Inspiron 13 7000 makes for a solid laptop on its own, and at $999 (about £635, AU$1,294) for the high-end Core i7 model, it makes for an excellent value. The tablet features are just icing on the cake.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 review


Dell has a reputation of making machines that are value-packed, but not necessarily much to look at. That old perception might stand to this day, but it no longer reflects the reality: the Inspiron 13 7000 is a solidly built machine that’s also easy on the eyes.

When you first pull the Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition out of the box, you’ll be greeted with a sleek, matte black lid and bottom case with a soft-touch coating. The soft-touch plastic feels good and gives the machine an added touch of class, though it does attract fingerprints.

You won’t find any creaky plastic here. This laptop feels very sturdy, with no creaking or loose parts and minimal flex.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Dell opted for sturdy metal hinges on the Special Edition of this notebook, and they add to the machine’s overall sturdy feel. I found it a little difficult to adjust the screen one-handed, though, as the base would simply lift up off my work surface.

The lid also flexes ever so slightly if I grab it from a corner, but despite the slight flexing, the lid feels solid overall. Magnets in the palm rest help keep the screen closed, but I found these to work a little too well. They held the lid in place so firmly that I occasionally had a hard time opening it.

Flip open the lid, and you’ll find a brushed metal palmrest, complete with chamfered edges that soften the corners so they won’t dig into your wrists. This notebook also features a full-sized QWERTY keyboard and a spacious multi-touch trackpad.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

The Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition’s power switch resides on the right edge of the case, along with a rocker switch to adjust the volume. I’m not a huge fan of the side-mounted power switch, as it’s both difficult to locate and exactly where you’d place your hand to pick up the machine. But it’s a concession this convertible notebook makes in the name of versatility.

On a few occasions, I’ve accidentally pressed the power button with the palm of my hand, putting the computer to sleep while I was still using it. The buttons are clicky and typing feels tactile.

The right edge also houses a USB 2.0 port and an SD card slot. On the left edge, you’ll find the power port, an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports (one of which supports PowerShare), and a headphone/microphone jack.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Split ends

As a writer, I rely on an effective keyboard, and the Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition fits the bill. The laptop uses a chiclet-style keyboard – like those you’ll find on Apple’s notebooks – and Dell claims that the keyboard is water-resistant. Though the keyboard holds up against small splashes, you probably won’t want to spill your whole drink onto it or submerge it in water.

The keys provide sufficient tactile feedback and travel for my needs, though even a millimeter more would be a welcome improvement. The keyboard flexes ever so slightly as I type, but it requires a significant amount of force to make it bend enough for me to notice it. Unless you’re intentionally pounding on it, this shouldn’t be an issue for most.

The keyboard backlight offers ample illumination to type in the dark. Just as well, the lettering is printed crisply on keys, but I wonder whether the coating will wear off over time.

It’s also worth noting that Dell trimmed some of the keys around the perimeter of the keyboard deck, including the backslash key, which is narrower than normal. Despite the smaller keys on the edges, though, I was able to seamlessly adjust after using my personal machine, a 13-inch MacBook Air.

A roomy trackpad provides ample room to mouse around on. The entire trackpad doubles as a button, as is all the rage these days. For more old-school users, Dell also designates a right-click area in the lower-right corner of the trackpad.

This arrangement works well for the most part, but I keep accidentally opening the right-click menus, because I can’t tell where the right-click area begins just by feel.

Specifications and performance

Size-wise, the Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition measures approximately 13 inches (330mm) wide and 8.7 inches (222mm) deep – a nice, compact footprint. At 0.75 inches (19mm) thick, it isn’t unreasonably bulky, but it isn’t quite as slim as other, comparable convertible notebooks. The HP Spectre x360, for instance, is only 0.63 inches (16mm) thick.

At 3.68 pounds (1.67kg), this laptop is also slightly heavier than its 2-in-1 peers. It doesn’t feel too hefty in hand, but it’s a little weighty compared to the 3.26-pound (1.47kg) Spectre x360 and the 3.5-pound (1.58kg) Lenovo Yoga 3 14. The Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition may be just slightly overweight for a convertible notebook, but compared to standalone tablets – most of which weigh under two pounds – this Inspiron is downright clunky.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Here is the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

Spec sheet

  • CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1,600MHz)
  • Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD IPS touchscreen
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Ports: 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0; HDMI, SD/MMC card reader, headphone/microphone combo
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac (2×2) and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: 720p front-facing webcam; built-in dual digital microphones
  • Weight: 3.68 pounds (1.67kg)
  • Size: 12.99 x 8.74 x 0.75 inches (W x D x H; 330 x 222 x 19mm)

This Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition, as configured above, costs $999 (about £635, AU$1,294). Spec-wise, it’s comparable to the similarly priced $999 (£899, AU$1,899) Spectre x360 and $949 (£799, AU$1,899) Yoga 3 14 models, except the Inspiron comes with a Core i7-5500 as opposed to the Core i5-5200 inside its rivals. Any of these offer great values, but the Inspiron has a slight edge based on its more powerful CPU.

The Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition starts at $749, but it is not available in Australia or the UK. The standard Inspiron 13 7000 lineup is available overseas, however, and it starts at $529 (£429, AU$1,299).

Dell Inspiron 13 7000


The notebook’s beefy CPU provides plenty of power for most tasks. And in day-to day use, I notice no real lag or slowdown.

The Inspiron 13 7000 performed as follows in our benchmark testing:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 4,749; Sky Diver: 2,490; Fire Strike: 630
  • Cinebench CPU: 273 points; Graphics: 25 fps
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,352 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 12 minutes

The Inspiron 13 7000 put up benchmark scores similar to the HP Spectre x360, a comparable, though slimmer, 13-inch convertible notebook that put up impressive numbers. However, the Spectre and its Core i5 CPU actually edged out the Inspiron on a few of the tests. The Inspiron topped the Spectre on the Cinebench CPU test (273 points to 257) and the 3DMark tests, while the Spectre has the Dell beat in the PCMark 8 Home Test (2,424 points to 2,352).

That said, these numbers are so close that they could very well be flukes.

The Inspiron 13 handily beat the Yoga 3 14’s CPU scores across the board, easily outclassing that machine’s 2,199 PCMark 8 score, and its 203-point showing in the Cinebench CPU test.

While not necessarily a gaming powerhouse, the Inspiron 13 7000 – with its Intel HD 5500 graphics chipset – can hold its own. It edged out the Spectre x360 in all three of the 3DMark gaming benchmarks, and its Fire Strike score of 630 was higher than both the Spectre x360 and Lenovo’s laptop, which lagged behind with a score of 572.

The Inspiron edged out the Yoga in the Cinebench graphics test, achieving a score of 25 frames per second (fps) compared to the Yoga’s 23 fps, but the Spectre achieved 30 fps in the same test. You won’t want to run resource-intensive 3D games, but for more casual gaming, the Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition has you covered.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Half-day battery

According to Dell, the 43-watt-hour, 3-cell battery will run up to 9 hours between charges. But generally, I get around 5 hours of continuous use mostly while browsing the web, writing, and streaming music.

The PCMark 8 Battery Benchmark (a veritable battery torture test) rated the Inspiron 13 7000 at 3 hours and 12 minutes – considerably worse than the Yoga 3 14 (3:40) and the HP Spectre x360 (4:38). If you’re looking for all-day battery life, this isn’t the machine for you.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Decent display and multimedia features

The whole unit is built around the 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080-pixel multi-touch display. Text and photos look crisp and sharp, and I’m generally satisfied with its contrast and color saturation. It isn’t the brightest screen I’ve used, but it’s bright enough for indoor use.

I find it difficult to use in direct sunlight, however, due to the relatively limited screen brightness and reflective glass covering the display. Fingerprints from using the tablet features don’t help the display’s glossy finish, either.

The downward facing speakers on the Inspiron 13 7000 are decent. They don’t have the richest audio quality, but they’re clear and loud. That’s about all you can ask for from the built-in audio on a notebook. Rounding out the multimedia features is a built-in 720p webcam, located right above the screen: It records fuzzy images, but it handles low light situations reasonably well.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000

Bundled software

Dell bundled a handful of apps with the Inspiron 13 7000, such as Skype, McAfee’s LiveSafe security package (with a one-year subscription), and Dell’s customary support and system recovery tools. The notebook also comes with a one-year subscription to Dropbox’s 20GB cloud storage plan.

Dell’s system tools popped up a few times during my time with the Inspiron 13 7000, as did McAfee’s software, but the machine is otherwise blissfully free of bloatware, toolbars and unwanted notifications.


With the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition, you get a well constructed piece of kit that looks sharp and performs well. Performance is powerful and speedy overall, but lackluster battery life compared to its peers stands out as a potential issue.

We liked

First thing’s first: this is an all-around solidly built laptop. Its soft-touch and metal surfaces give the device a premium feel, that it’s sturdy and well constructed. I enjoyed using the keyboard, and the screen provided accurate color and contrast.

Down the line, the machine’s heavy-duty metal hinges feel as though they’ll be able to take plenty of wear and tear. It’s also a strong performer, putting up solid marks in most of our benchmarks. And while this laptop won’t replace your PC gaming machine, it should fit the bill for light gaming needs.

We disliked

The Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition is a little heavier than its peers, which may be problematic if you plan to frequently use the machine as a tablet. And while I enjoy the screen’s color and contrast, I find it to be a little too dim to use outdoors.

But the bigger issue here is the battery. Despite Dell’s lofty battery-life claims, the battery lags behind its competitors, making this machine a less-than-ideal choice if you rely on a notebook that can get you through an entire day on a single charge.

Final verdict

Despite its shortcomings, I’m pleased with what Dell offers with the Inspiron 13 7000 Special Edition, particularly in terms of build quality and overall system performance. It’s fast, it’s slick – and it might just change your perception of convertible notebooks.

This machine is an ideal notebook for students who need to bang out papers and general users who want a fast, compact notebook to tote around. If battery life and weight are your primary concerns, though, you’d be better off with HP’s Spectre x360. But if those aren’t major priorities, you could do a lot worse than Dell’s special edition Inspiron.