Dell approached us with a unique proposition: to put two Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 laptops through their paces and write about our experience, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. As tech journalists, our duties tend to extend beyond the job, with families and friends often asking for recommendations whenever they need to replace their existing ones.
Giving device recommendations isn’t as easy for us as you might think, especially when people’s budgets are involved. Most people want to go for what saves them the most money, even if they can afford to pay more. And, in such cases, we intuitively try to steer them towards spending a bit more so they might save money in the long run without making them purchase something with more power than they’ll ever need.
The question is, exactly how much power is too much power? After all, most consumers primarily use their device for such things as browsing, streaming, sending emails, doing Microsoft Office tasks, and, Zoom-ing with friends, family and colleagues. And, when you’re dealing with computers all day every day, tackling demanding tasks and sometimes pushing them to their limits, it’s harder to go back down to that level.
So, when Dell asked us to test two configurations of its new Dell Inspiron 15 7506 laptops, the first one in the upper budget spectrum, and the other – the Black Edition – in the upper mid-range, and get creative with our review, it posed a perfect opportunity test our theory and perhaps reset our programming, so to speak.
In this review, we largely focus on the more powerful Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) model, which come with mid-range internals like the Intel Core i7-1165G7, as well as Intel’s first attempt at a discrete graphics cards in year, and a boatload of extra frills you might only find in higher-end laptops. And, we set out to see if some budget laptops really are good enough or if more power really is always better, even if it means spending more.
Price and availability
Here is the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7 Processor (12MB Cache, up to 4.7 GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe MAX graphics
RAM: 16GB LPDDR4x (3200MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch UHD (3840 x 2160) Truelife Touch Narrow Border WVA Display with Active Pen support
Storage: 1TB SSD (PCIe, NVMe, M.2)
Ports: 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1 x Thunderbolt 4, 1 x HDMI 2.0, headphone/mic combo jack, and MicroSD card reader
Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6 2x2 (Gig+), Bluetooth
Camera: Infrared (IR) Camera
Weight: 4.20 lbs (1.903 kg)
Size: 14.02 x 9.39 x 0.65 – 0.71 inches (356.20 x 238.40 x 16.40 – 17.94 mm; W x D x H)
How much will you be spending for that extra boost in power exactly? In the case of the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506), you’ll pay $1,567 (£1,299, about AU$2,028). That gets you an 11th-gen Intel Core i7-1165G7, Intel Iris Xe MAX graphics, 16GB RAM, and 1TB SSD, as well as a 4K touch display, active pen, and hinge pen storage.
It’s the only Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 configuration that comes packaged in this smart Black chassis, and it’s available only in the US and the UK. Currently, Dell Australia doesn’t offer the Black Edition to consumers down under.
That’s a hefty price, considering that the Dell XPS 15 (2020) has a configuration with a more capable processor and discrete graphics for $1,518 (about £1,115, AU$1,950). Granted, that comes with half the memory, half the storage, and a non-touch 1080p screen – so it’s a choice of either getting a more powerful machine or taking home a few more premium features.
Meanwhile, the 2020 HP Spectre x360 15 in Nightfall Black with the same CPU, graphics card, RAM, and storage as this Inspiron model is also slightly cheaper at $1,539 (about £1,130, AU$1,970). And, this one actually includes a 15.6-inch 4K touch display and the HP Rechargeable Tilt Pen, making it a direct competitor.
This Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) also more than doubles the cost of the other Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 laptop we were loaned. That lower end model – the base configuration in the line – will only cost you $734 (about £540, AU$950), and will get you an 11th-gen Intel Core i5-1135G7, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 8GB of memory, 256GB SSD storage, and a 1080p touch display. Unfortunately, this cheaper configuration isn’t available in the UK and Australia.
True to its upper mid-range nature, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) boasts a combination of premium and not-so premium elements. Its chassis is certainly premium – solid and made of metal with a nice finish, though with perhaps a bit of flex and not as luxe as that of the XPS line. It looks smart and classy enough to make you look good during business meetings, however.
At 14.02 x 9.39 x 0.71 inches, it’s ever so slightly bigger than the HP Spectre x360 15, but it’s also slightly thinner as well as lighter at 4.20 lbs. Still, this won’t pass for an ultrabook, and you’ll definitely feel its weight when you’re lifting it. That might prove to be an inconvenience when you’re flipping it to tent or tablet mode, and when you’re using it as a tablet. On the plus side, that hinge is pretty fantastic, solid with great hold so you can pretty much position the screen at whatever angle you want and it’ll hold.
Where Dell really economized, however, is in the peripherals. Sadly, the backlit keyboard is a bit stiff – definitely stiffer than the HP Spectre and the Dell XPS – and has a bit of texture to it that bothers this reviewer a little. The individual keys are also small, especially considering this is a 15-inch with plenty of space. To their credit, there’s definitely enough space between the keys so they don’t feel crowded, and there’s also a number pad as well as media/function keys.
The trackpad, which is positioned in the center-left, feels premium to touch. However, its left and right buttons also have very little give, which does somewhat get in the way of productivity.
There’s a decent selection of ports here, but it’s nothing to call home about. Apart from the two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm headphone/mic jack, and MicroSD card reader, there’s also one Thunderbolt 4. What we appreciate here is that this Thunderbolt 4 port allows you to charge the laptop using a USB-C charger. Sadly though, the laptop warns that it charges slower than via the actual power port.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) comes with a host of premium features, which is probably partly why it’s pricier. It comes with Dell’s Active Pen, which has its own magnetic charging slot between the laptop’s hinges that holds the pen in place well. There’s also a fingerprint login located on the power button as well as infrared camera that offers Windows Hello face login support. Both work beautifully smooth and are fairly fast.
Rounding those features out are the decently fast charging capability, Wi-Fi 6, and speakers that come with Dell’s CinemaSound enhancements and can be tuned using the Waves MaxxAudio Pro software. The speakers certainly have a good amount of volume even at 50%, but their sound quality could be better. It sounds thin and a little hollow.
Design-wise, is it better than the lower-specced version we tested it against? The Black finish certainly adds to the appeal, as do the Active Pen, built-in pen storage, and the IR camera for the facial ID login. However, they’re not enough reason for most people to be willing to pay twice the amount. It helps that the Silver version does have some features in common with the Black Edition – the fingerprint ID, touchscreen display, Thunderbolt 4 charging, and 2-in-1 capability. And, for many users, those are more than enough.
Screen and stylus
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) boasts a 15.6-inch UHD (3840 x 2160) touch display with narrow bezels and Active Pen, Dolby Vision, and 100% sRGB colors support. It’s beautiful, crisp, and vibrant enough, although we do have a couple of gripes.
First, it only has 300 nits of brightness, which is disappointing considering Dell’s XPS 15 comes with 400 nits on the 4K display and 500 nits on the 1080p version. Second, it’s very reflective so in daylight, it’s really hard to see anything, especially when you’re consuming media. When doing our TechRadar movie test, in fact, it’s really hard to see the darker bits of the movie – and that’s while we’re indoors. You’ll be hard-pressed to see anything when you’re doing work outdoors.
The touchscreen feature works beautifully, however. It’s very responsive to your touch, and it works smoothly and impressively well with the Active Pen thanks to the latest Microsoft Pen Protocol 2.0 update.
Of course, that’s also partly due to the pen itself, which has been upgraded with Bluetooth connectivity. This pen is rechargeable via the built-in pen garage above the keyboard between the hinges, and easy to use thanks to its decagon shape that adds more grippage. A nice little addition is the rubberized Eraser button at the other end that works well.
Next to the Black Edition’s 4K touchscreen, the lower-specced silver one’s 1080p touchscreen display may seem a little less exciting. It does have the same features and is still plenty sharp, only at lower resolution. While that might not matter to a lot of people right now, this is certainly something we’d gladly upgrade for. 1080p might not be obsolete yet, but we’re fast approaching a point where most things are going to be 4K.
By upgrading to the Black Edition, you’re getting a laptop that’s future-proof. All on its own, but that might not be worth spending the amount you would pay if you were to get the silver one when you factor in the rest of the additional features and boost in specs.
Performance and battery life
Here’s how the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
Cinebench R20 CPU: 4,708 points
Cinebench R15 CPU: 1,405 points
3DMark Fire Strike: 4,083; Sky Diver: 10,980
GeekBench 5: 1,493 (single-core); 5,115 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 4,559 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2hrs 52mins
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 5hrs 26mins
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) comes with an 11th-gen i7-1165G7 and Intel’s Iris Xe MAX graphics under the hood, which very much puts it in the mid-range class in terms of performance.
The i7-1165G7 is a competent chip with great single-core and dual-core performance, but it’s never going to be as powerful as Intel’s Tiger Lake H-series. In fact, when put against the i7-10750H from the Comet Lake series, it fares worse than the older chip. As for the Intel Iris Xe MAXx, it may be Intel’s first attempt at discrete graphics in years, but it’s certainly not designed for graphically-intensive tasks like gaming. However, what these two together do bring to the table is exactly what you’d expect from a mid-range laptop that’s meant more for your daily workloads than your gaming and video editing needs.
Still, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) isn’t exactly a slouch either. It scores a decent 4,083 points in Fire Strike and 10,980 points in SkyDiver. Plus, it gets a decent 4,708 points in Cinebench R20.
Doing productivity tasks on it with several applications and 20 browser tabs open is a breeze. There might be some minor lags, but nothing too inauspicious to matter. Photo editing in Lightroom feels fast and smooth on the whole as well, though there’s bound to be a bit of a bottleneck if you open more than 25 high-resolution images at a time. Playing Among Us on this thing is naturally effortless, but the more graphically-intensive Sims 4 does experience noticeable lags here and there, though it’s nothing that will make your experience frustrating.
The cooling system is good, though the laptop can get noticeably hot underneath when you’re playing games and its fans get louder. The good news is, it doesn’t get too hot to touch. Putting it on a less porous surface certainly helps cool it down.
The battery life could have been better, however. Unsurprisingly, its 68 Whr battery only gives it a 2-hour and 52-minute rating on PC Mark 8 – certainly a disappointment considering its sizable chassis. But again, this boils down to its mid-range position in the laptop food chain. It does fare better in our movie playback test, however, lasting 5 hours and 26 mins.
On paper, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) is certainly more powerful than its silver-garbed lower-specced mate. After all, the latter only comes with an Intel Core i5-1135G7 and the Iris Xe integrated graphics, not to mention half the RAM. Though it does have a longer battery life of about 8 hours, which certainly gives it a bit of a leg up.
Will most consumers notice the difference? For those with computing needs that mostly involve sending emails and doing some work on Microsoft Office or Google Docs, then streaming movies and light surfing the web in their downtime, likely not. If you're such a user, you’ll probably be more than happy with the lower-specced Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 models.
This less powerful model has certainly changed our mind about spending a little more for more. We have used it for our daily productivity task, as well as some casual gaming, and it has performed admirably, even though it is slightly slower than the Black Edition to our discerning eyes.
However, there are also a few compelling reasons to go for the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506)...
Buy it if…
You’re looking for a productivity laptop with some gaming prowess
If you handle photo and video editing tasks from time to time, need 20 or so browser tabs open all at once and would like to play a AAA game for a couple of hours after work, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 Black Edition (7506) will be worth spending a bit more money for.
You want the whole package
The Black Edition not only has more powerful specs, but it also comes with features most of which you’ll find on higher-end laptops. To name a few, the Active Pen that comes in the box, the IR camera for facial ID login, and the 4K touchscreen.
You’re willing to spend more
It is on the pricier side of the mid-range market, costing you $1,567 (£1,299, about AU$2,028). If that’s something you can afford, however, get it.
Don’t buy it if…
You’d rather save money now
Not everyone needs power. Some folks just want something to use for lighter tasks, and spending over $1,000/£1,000 on something that gives them more power than they need may not be the right move. If you’d rather save money now, go for the lower-powered Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 or equivalent.
You don’t do any demanding tasks
If your computing use doesn’t go beyond browsing, streaming, and preparing documents, again, go for the lower-powered Dell Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1 or equivalent.