Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review

Dell wants to prove a bottom-rung laptop needn’t be an unappealing, chunky brick. The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is cheap, very colourful and about as portable as you could wish for.Available in bold red and blue as well as white, it can attract more attention than a MacBook if you want it to. See also: Best cheap laptops you can buy.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review: Price

This is the cheapest laptop Dell currently makes. You can buy the Inspiron 11 3000 for £179, making it a pocket-money laptop. It's a bit like a modern resurrection of the netbook. Remember them? Never mind… it's better than a netbook.

There aren't lots of options or versions to choose betwee because the Dell 3000 11 zones right in on the buyer looking for something this affordable who doesn't want the pain of deciphering specifications. Your main choice, then, is the colour. Dell sent us the deep red version, but there are also blue and white versions.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review UK

Dell does make this laptop with a 500GB hard drive, but that's not available in the UK. This means you'll have to make do with only 8GB – that's the free space left on the 32GB of solid-state storage. You can, of course, hook up an external hard drive, USB flash drive or use an inexpensive microSD card. (See the best microSD cards to buy.)

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review: Design

The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is like an ultra-affordable take on the 12-inch MacBook, itself an unofficial offshoot of the MacBook Air range. It's small, it's light, but it's also a proper laptop.

A lot of the Windows devices you'll find around this price are hybrids, like the Asus Transformer T100. Here, the screen is firmly attached to the keyboard base, and the brains sit in the base rather than the display. It's not a tablet or 2-in-1.

While not as trendy as a hybrid, there are still real benefits to a trad device like this. It's not top-heavy, so you can work with it on your knees without it wanting to topple over as soon as you take your hands off it, for example. Hybrids rarely have great keyboards too.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review UK

The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 weighs 1.2kg, light enough to be carried about everywhere without it feeling like a burden. It's about half the weight of a basic 15.6-inch laptop.

At this sort of price you may be worried about the Dell Inspiron 11 3000's build quality, but it's reassuringly solid. While all-plastic, no parts of it flex as if they rely on a 1mm-thick piece of plastic to hold everything together.

The colour pizzazz is welcome too, and Dell has spent at least some time thinking about how to best present the laptop. Its lid is super-glossy, the interior mostly-matt and the underside a totally matt rough plastic with rubber feet.

It’s cute, but not “kids only” cute.

With a fully colour-matched frame, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 looks the part. Only the keyboard and screen surround are black. It earns top marks for practicality while having a fun edge too.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review: Connectivity

One fact that might make some of you chuckle is that the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has much better real-world connectivity than the 1000 MacBook 12in. You get two full-size USB ports (one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0), a full-size HDMI port, a microSD slot and a headphone jack.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review UK

You could easily use this as a portable movie player, plugging into a TV. This might come in handy if you take the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 on a work trip abroad only to find your hotel TV only seems to broadcast in languages you don't understand.

There's also just enough connectivity to turn the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 into the brains of a desktop PC setup, although it doesn't really have the power to do this very well.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review: Keyboard and trackpad

This is a roving Windows 10 PC to its bones, so it's good that the keyboard and trackpad are both solid. The keys are just a shade smaller than full-size, but we do not find them cramped or uncomfortable. This review was typed on the machine, with no more errors or radically slower speed than when using a 15.6-inch machine.

Key feedback is surprisingly good too. They're quite shallow, but there's a firm, crisp action to them and none of the sponginess you get with some budget machines. We're impressed.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review UK

Being an entry-level machine the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has no keyboard backlight, and size restrictions mean some of the secondary keys are slightly cut down a little. However, no strange decisions have been made here, so you shouldn't find the transition too fraught. We did have to switch its keyboard layout from US to UK, although this is a quick software fix.

The rather good trackpad is more of a surprise. It apes the style of an Ultrabook pad, with integrated mouse buttons and a textured plastic surface that attempts to feel like the frosted glass used in the most expensive laptops. The feel is great for a £179 machine, and even the click action is spot-on. It's not too deep, not too stiff and the dead zone at the top of the pad isn't too large.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review UK

Like most Windows machines, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 splits the pad into zones that determine whether a click fires off the 'left' or ‘right' mouse button command. Most of the pad is left button, of course, with just the bottom-right area used for right-clicking.

The Dell Inspiron 11 3000's small size makes getting used to the exact zoning less of an issue than it is in some much larger machines.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review: Display

So far the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 seems like a winner. The ultra-low budget hasn't resulted in a system that feels as though it's made of desperately cut-price materials.

Its screen is fairly basic, though, and does not compare at all well to tablets at the price. The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has an 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 pixel LCD screen. It has a matt finish, does not have a touchscreen and the hinge only extends to around 135 degrees (the 'normal' laptop max screen angle).

This is a TN LCD screen rather than the IPS type more expensive laptops and almost all tablets use. Its viewing angles are consequently narrower and colour performance is quite poor.

The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 covers just 52.4 percent of the sRGB colour gamut, the standard devised for monitors and printers back in the 90s. Colours don't pop out of the screen, although our colorimeter shows that Dell has done its best, calibrating to make shades appear more vivid so our perception of undersaturation isn't as bad as it could be.

This is not a beautiful screen, but it is a practical one. A matt finish makes it easy to use outdoors, while fairly respectable (for the price) 281cd/m max brightness means you can use the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 outdoors without what's on-screen becoming all-but invisible.

You won't want to watch films on the Dell every night unless you have no other option, but this is fundamentally the right kind of screen for a laptop like this. At least until 1080p IPS panels are so cheap they can be used in devices this affordable.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review: Performance

There's only one reason why you should pause before investing in a laptop this cheap: its performance. The Dell Inspiron 11 3000 has a very low-end CPU, an Intel Celeron dual-core N3050. This is partnered with 2GB RAM, again a bottom-rung spec.

You should only buy the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 if you're prepared for how Windows 10 runs under this sort of spec. There's fundamental system lag. Attempting any serious multi-tasking does not end well.

Tapping on the Start menu button might be met with a half-second pause as the apps display pops-up. Busy, complicated websites can feel slow. And almost all websites are very obviously slower to load than on a Core i-series laptop or a decent phone.

This is not exactly a failing on Dell's part. The company uses the components feasible at the price. It's down to Intel and Microsoft. Windows 10 doesn't work that well on baseline specs and Intel's lowest-end chipsets still feel remedial in use.

If you have anything remotely complicated to do on your laptop, you need to find one with a better spec than this, preferably one with at least an Intel Core i3 CPU. However, we do find that the 32GB solid state memory here causes less issues than the 500GB 5400rpm hard drive some entry-level laptops use. It's nimbler, even if its speeds aren't remotely close to those of a proper SSD.

Available storage is very poor as a result, of course. You get around 8GB storage of the full 32GB to actually use, something that has made most of our usual tests impossible to carry out. There was no chance of us installing Thief on this machine, although we can assure you the game wouldn't be playable at any setting. A similarly-specced machine manages around 2-3fps.

Among laptops, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000's performance is poor. However, if you're looking for a machine to write documents up on or have a go at writing a novel, it's still an excellent choice. Our £179 model doesn't come with a full Microsoft Office license, but WordPad is always on-hand (Windows' built-in word processor) and there are many free alternatives to Word.

As it doesn't have a hard drive or a powerful processor, it's silent too, and it can awake from sleep in just a couple of seconds. This is another benefit of using solid state memory rather than a hard drive, even if there's hardly any of such memory, although Windows 10 seems to be quick at rousing itself regardless of spec.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review: Battery life

What cements the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 as a useful machine in spite of its limited power is battery life. When left to a light-demand task, it can last for a full day's work. Our standard battery test involves leaving a laptop playing a looped 720p video, and the Dell lasts eight hours fifteen minutes.

This is pretty close to Dell's claim of 'up to 9 hours 34 minutes', and means the Inspiron is convenient as it won't run out when you need it.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000 review UK

Thanks to its ultra-practical design, we've also found it easy to slip the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 into our day-to-day routine to use as a work machine. When used for browsing, typing and so on, it'll also last a full day's work without issue.

At this level, anything more than an audio disaster can be considered a success, and the Dell 11 3000’s speakers are fine.

Their sound takes on a slightly hard edge at max volume, but they don’t distort hugely. The tone is also not reed-thin either.

In a similar vein, while the 0.9MP camera’s grain is visible even when you’re previewing the image in a window that only takes up half the screen. But it’ll still let you video chat with friends and relatives at 720p resolution.

Dell Inspiron 11 3000: Specs

  • 11.6in (1366 x 768) 134dpi TN LCD, matt
  • 1.6GHz to 2.1GHz Intel Celeron N3050 two cores
  • Intel HD GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB solid state storage
  • No Ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1 USB 2.0 port
  • 1 USB 3.0 port
  • HDMI
  • microSD card slot
  • stereo speakers
  • 0.9MP Webcam
  • single mic
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • UK tiled keyboard
  • 32Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 292 x 196 x 19.9 mm
  • 1.39 kg
  • 11.6in (1366 x 768) 134dpi TN LCD, matt
  • 1.6GHz to 2.1GHz Intel Celeron N3050 two cores
  • Intel HD GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB solid state storage
  • No Ethernet
  • 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 1 USB 2.0 port
  • 1 USB 3.0 port
  • HDMI
  • microSD card slot
  • stereo speakers
  • 0.9MP Webcam
  • single mic
  • 3.5mm headset jack
  • UK tiled keyboard
  • 32Wh lithium-ion battery
  • 292 x 196 x 19.9 mm
  • 1.39 kg

OUR VERDICT

If you're after a budget laptop that'll let you work on the go and last all day, the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 is one of your best options. It's comfortable to type on, has a practical screen and its battery life is great among Windows laptops.
Just make sure you're ready for its humble performance first. Windows 10 does feel quite slow, making the Dell Inspiron 11 3000's best-fit use as a typewriter for checking your emails as you nip between free Wi-Fi spots across town. If you can't put up with a bit of lag, consider getting a Chromebook instead.

2 Comments
  1. Reply Susan 27.08.2016 at 23:53

    Right now I am looking for a good, light, portable laptop, this one is a great option. Colour pallette is quite original and unusual, I’ve never seen red laptop before. Looks great.

  2. Reply Andy 28.08.2016 at 23:58

    Nice laptop, considering its low price and technical characteristics. I’d buy blue one 🙂 I just wonder, can I find it in electronics stores or buy via Internet? Somebody answer me, please.

Leave a reply