on June 13, 2014
This is no I7 laptop, let's just get that straight. But, it makes a good second back up laptop for me. I'm using it to write this review right now. I ordered mine from dell, at the time it was cheaper than amazon, and dell had them in stock. I did remove the hard drive and replaced it with an SSD I had laying around which helped speed it up considerably. It is a bit laggy at times, but overall it is usable and better than I would have expected for this price range.
Here are the pros as I see them:
-The price, the price, the price
-The weight is much lighter than my I7 high end laptop
-Battery lasts 5-7.5 hours depending on use, many Windows laptops in this price range only last 3 hours so this is a huge advantage.
-The battery is user replaceable, which you can't take for granted anymore in a laptop. Press two buttons and it pops right out!
-Many laptops recently make it very hard to get access to the RAM and Harddrive for upgrades. Several dells require you to completely disassemble the entire laptop to get to the hard drive including removing the screen, motherboard, track pad etc. Which is a huge pet peave of mine. This laptop has an access panel on the bottom to access the RAM and HD which is great!
-A large 15.6 inch screen for a great price
-This CPU doesn't run hot at all and has decent performance for the price.
-It runs so cool it doesn't even have a fan at all!
-Keyboard has a number pad, many don't in this price range.
-Keyboard feels nice and doesn't feel too cheap, we will see with time though how it holds up.
-Trackpad works good, buttons are loud when clicked though.
-Nice to have a Windows laptop for this price, I like chromebooks but I can't connect to my at home Samba server from a chromebook so I gravitate to Windows.
-There are the obvious ones like no USB 3, no Bluetooth, no wired ethernet, no CD/DVD Drive. But in this price range I'm ok with that. I have an external USB CD/DVD that I used to install Office on it so that wasn't an issue for me.
-Windows 8.1, is better than 8.0 but if you have never used it before there is a learning curve for sure compared to Windows 7/Vista
-Not blazing fast but you can't expect that from any pc in this price range.
-Case feels cheap, it creaks and groans when I pick it up by a corner.
-The quality of the video is pretty low, but once again it is usable for watching youtube, netflix videos, etc. Just is less sharp than my high end laptop and can be a tad laggy occasionally.
Would I recommend this??? Depends on your needs. If you are on a tight budget and are a light PC user who wants to use it just for basic web surfing, Word Processing, and light youtube/netflix watching this will work fine for most people
If you are a high end, heavy user, I'd only use this as a backup laptop. I would not be happy with this as my primary laptop personally since I'm a very heavy user.
If you are a gamer, you of course know enough to not even look at this laptop as an option.
Upgrade possibilities: If you know what you are doing upgrading the hard drive to an SSD will help it feel more useable. Also, I have not done so yet, but my understanding is that you can upgrade this to 8GB of ram which could help too. It only has one slot for ram so you will have to remove the stock 4gb and replace it with an 8GB. Make sure to get the DDR3L (The L stands for low voltage). You want the 1.35 volt not 1.5 it may work with the 1.5 but will run hotter and use more battery. The laptop comes with 1333mhz ram, but I think 1600mhz will work and run faster. Take this with a grain of salt as have not tried it yet, but I believe the following RAM will work, and this is the type I plan to try upgrading to someday.
Update 6/23/14: I did buy and install the 8gb of Ram above. It works great, but it does down clock the ram to 1333mhz as the CPU won't handle 1600mhz speeds. But, the 1600mhz 1.35v ram does work great in here. It feels even snappier now. Between the SSD I installed and the 8gb of ram this computer is very usable and fairly snappy for most tasks. The only time I see the video and cpu lagging a bit is if I am on a webpage with heavy adobe flash usage on it. But, right now I have two browsers open and about 30 browser tabs open with now slowdown. I'm still quite happy with this laptop for the money. It is just important to throttle your expectations, this can't be compared to an Intel I7 CPU $1000 laptop, but it is good for basic web browsing!
Update 8/22/14 I noticed several people that complained about the performance realized if they removed the demo anti virus and crapware that it runs better. I reinstalled windows from scratch from my USB DVD when I put in the SSD so I effectively removed all of the crapware by reinstalling and only putting the essential drivers back on. That is probably why mine runs much faster and better than some of the reviewers. I would remove the anti virus and just use the built in windows 8.1 antivirus as that is less cpu and memory intensive. Then uninstall of the other factory junk, like wild tangent games, toolbars etc. If you don't want to do that manually in the past I used a free utility called PC Decrapifier that automated the cleanup and worked pretty good. Also, you might need to change your power saving settings to be less restrictive so it is optimized more for speed. Hope that helps...
on August 23, 2014
***UPDATE 12/16/14 with SSD cloning video - I'm getting many comments and questions regarding the process of cloning the OS from the HD to the SSD. Therefore, I wanted to clarify a few things to hopefully help everyone through this process.
(IMPORTANT NOTE) Do not be confused by the nomenclature for this process as it goes by many names; i.e. migrate, copy, transfer, etc. This is *NOT* my video but it is very helpful. I've also reposted the video on how to remove the Dell HD and install the SSD. Here is the link.
Last note: it does not matter which SSD you purchase, it will be up to each individuals preference (i.e. price, features, etc.). So if you do buy a SSD, make sure that:
1) The SSD is a 2.5" drive, SATA III
2) Check to see if it comes with "cloning" (migration, transfer...) software.
3) If it does not, there are several other cloning software programs available online that are free to download. But I wouldn't recommend this route if this is your first drive swap.
4) Make sure you get a USB to SATA cable. This is the one I purchased. Buy it, use it, keep it or return it after your done. Your preference but you will need this.
That's all you need folks. Then follow these two videos and you will then reap the rewards of a faster laptop and the gratification of the successful install!
So, removing the HD & installing the SSD video:
And, the video to clone the drives:
Hope this helps.
***UPDATE 10/26/14 - Looks like the laptop is now shipping with an i3 CPU and an upgraded GPU (on board). I'd be interested to here reviews on this.
Also, here are some pros and cons after owning the laptop for 3 months.
-High price-value ratio, decent hardware components and performance for the price
-Extremely light weight and very thin
-Easy to upgrade components, you can do this rather economically to keep the overall costs down
-Full 10 key number pad and smooth key operation
-Webcam, and photo verification for login (some may not be aware of this but the webcam also acts as a security measure)
-Great for medium-heavy work loads, i.e. running multiple programs, playing music or videos, etc.
-Solid construction, mine travels with me in my backpack and it takes a beating, haven't had any issues
-Processor could be faster, however I mention below on how to increase the CPU's performance
-Lack of RAM. The 4GB RAM is quite slow but I describe my experience below after upgrading the RAM to 8GB
-Hard drive has plenty of storage but it's also slow. See below for SSD upgrade and comparison
-With the factory components, the laptop struggles with heavy flash websites. You can alleviate this issue by upgrading the hard drive and RAM
***UPDATE 10/24/14 - Putting this at the top since some have asked for instructions on how to replace the hard drive and RAM. Here are two (2) youtube videos (not mine) that will walk you through the process. NOTE: Pay close attention and follow his exact removal and re-install process of the cover on the underside of the laptop, otherwise you will break the plastic tabs.
Hard Drive removal and installing SSD
Great budget laptop, especially for students. Keep in mind the price reflects the product.
Before deciding to move on to other brands, consider that there are many consumers who purchase laptops without possessing any rudimentary knowledge about computer software and components. Let alone there are buyers who show lack of consumer aptitude by writing comments like "thought it came with a optical drive, 1 star."
So, quickly I'll highlight on a few things you can do to noticeably improve the performance of this laptop.
-First, replace the HDD with a SSD. You will experience an immediate performance boost. You'll need a USB to SATA cable to clone the drive. It is very, very easy and basic. Samsung offers a great software to assist you in this process. Here is the drive I purchased.
Here is the cable.
-Second, uninstall McAfee as it ties up many of your systems resources. Microsoft Defender comes pre-loaded, just turn this on. Also, uninstall all the Microsoft apps you do not use. Most of these run in the background tying up CPU resources.
-Third, unlock the CPU's parked cores as this will allow the processor to operate at it's highest output. To do this, follow these directory series. Control Panel\System and Security\Power Options\Edit Plan Settings. Then go to Advanced Power Settings. A new window opens, then scroll down to Processor Power Management and click to expand. You will see Minimum Processor State, click to expand. The default setting is 5%. Increase to 100%. You will notice that the Maximum Processor State is already at 100%. Apply the changes. Now you have a processor running at it's maximum performance capacity. You should see a overall noticeable performance increase in all areas.
-Fourth, make sure you have the Power Saver mode OFF. This mode tells the CPU and other components to run at a minimum state, hindering performance.
-Fifth, if you are comfortable with removing programs both in the control panel and in the registry, then remove all the unnecessary Dell software. You can use CCleaner to assist you.
-Sixth, using CCleaner, go to the start-up programs which run in the background. Turn off all the programs and automatic updates that you won't use.
**UPDATE: As of 9/23/14, I have updated the ram to 8GB. The performance increase was significant. It still travels with me to college 4 days a week and I have no issues with it. I wanted to make this clear, the laptop is considerably lighter and thinner than most others (excluding the Chromebooks, SurfacePro's, etc.). Although it doesn't contain "powerhouse" components, it does a fantastic job in handling medium-heavy work loads, i.e. multiple programs open, streaming, VPN programs (LogMeIn), student learning applications, and so on.
Here is the ram I installed.
And like the above reviewer mentioned, if you are comfortable with wiping the drive clean, do so.
on July 12, 2014
My wife and I were looking for notebooks for our kids (9 and 11 yrs old). DELL had a sale for $200.00 for this model, and we could not pass up the opportunity. All in all, this is an excellent laptop for kids or very basic laptop for a family.
1. CHIP: Intel Celeron (dual core). This is a latest Celeron chip (N2830, Bay Trail - M) you will have. Being a dual core can handle most of the demands easily. Because it is a Bay Trail chip, it is quiet and not heavy on your resources. It is so quiet, you hardly hear the fan at all. So for your Web browsing, emails, YouTube viewing, MS Office, some gaming, and every day chores, this is a great basic laptop.
2. BUILD. The black matte finish is not fancy but functional. Simple but sturdy. The keyboard has no flex, and comes with chiclet keyboard that is well designed and generously spaced. The screen is bright and resolution is normal for this price range.
3. PRICE. Price differs from store to store, but if you get it in right time, you might get it for around $200.00. Even $250 is a good price. To give you a comparison: various Chromebooks are priced in this range but with less functions and memories. Additionally, you CANNOT install any Windows programs (such as, MS Office, etc), so while Chromebooks have their proper place, for those who need basic laptop for general use, this laptop might be a better fit in this price range.
4. OS. Windows 8.1 is far, far better than Windows 8.0. If you already have 8.0, then you should update/upgrade it to 8.1. I love using it, and my kids love the tiles. PLUS, I love 8.1's Family Safety feature. I can control how much my kids can be on the computer and what days. Additionally you can also filter what kind of web they are browsing. MS also sends you (the parent) weekly report on the kids use of the computer. Love this feature! Easy to set up and monitor.
1. No optical Drive (DVD/CD). But nowadays, this is not really needed anymore. But for those who need it, you might have to consider other models.
2. No Bluetooth. The box says, "Bluetooth" but this is misprint. This model does NOT have Bluetooth.
3. Only 2 USB (2.0) ports. I was hoping that it had another USB port.
Despite the cons, considering its price, this is an excellent entry laptop for kids and those who just want sturdy, dependable laptop for every day general use. Highly, highly recommended!
on June 27, 2014
As of this writing, the price direct from Dell is much lower than at Amazon, especially if you opt for Dell's financing. A fully functional windows 8.1 15.6" laptop costing in the low $200s is mind blowing. Part of the $ savings derives from the lack of an optical drive or touch screen.
There isn't much to say. I've had it for about 2 weeks, so I can't judge durability. The laptop is made from cheap plastic, but the screen is nice, the keyboard feels sturdy and comfortable, you have a full numeric keypad. The only negative is the trackpad, which is usable but not good. We prefer to use a mouse instead.
We only use it for basics, like web browsing, Office, printing, sending email. It's certainly fast enough for all that. It connects to the wifi network quickly, and web browsing is fine.
I bought it from Dell and it came with a 1year home repair warranty. Really this is an outstanding value, if your computing needs are light.
I've had it 4 months. It runs the same as the day we got it.
FYI, it doesn't come with recovery disks, but there is a built-in utility to burn your own disks. Since the pc doesn't have an optical drive, you'll need an external drive to burn them.
on July 24, 2014
Updated: Turns out power savings mode kills this laptop and makes it unworkable. Thank you for the advice. I'm currently adding programs that I need for school to see if I really need to return this laptop. I really want to keep it so I'm hoping for the best. I'll update when I find out and hopefully change this review into a positive one.
I received this laptop 2 days ago and I'm shipping it back. After reading all the reviews, I thought it would meet all my needs. I'm not a heavy laptop user and only need a functional laptop for school. I was going to use this laptop for lectures, taking notes, going through power point slides, and watching youtube videos.
The first sign of trouble came when I noticed there was a lag time for what I was typing and what was appearing on the screen. For a laptop that just came right out of the box, this was a really bad sign. Projecting a couple months when I've actually put programs onto this laptop, I can't imagine how much slower it might be.
The second sign of trouble came when I tried to load multiple pages at once. Either this computer is not powerful enough to perform this function or I received a lemon. If I tried to load 2 pages at once, the first page I tried to load would stop loading.
The third sign of trouble came when I tried watching a youtube video. The video was laggy and there was this annoying buzzing sound that would come from the video's audio due to the lag. It was like a static sound. This was especially noticeable when I tried to look through my email as the video was running or go to a different tab. The video would freeze up more and create more of that annoying static sound. This was the final deal breaker for me as I need to be able to watch lectures for school while running other programs like Power Point or Microsoft Word to take notes. If this computer can't even handle a simple youtube video while I try to check emails, I can't imagine how it would function while I have other programs running.
I tried talking to dell tech support about these issues of sound quality and the slow performance but they weren't able to help. I'm sending this laptop back now. I'm not sure how other people gave this thing such a high review. Either I received a lemon or other users are happy using only 1 program at a time or 1 webpage at a time for this laptop.
I tried watching a hulu video today without any other programs running and even the hulu video stops every couple of seconds. This isn't due to my wireless as my other computers don't have this issue at home.
Word of Warning: I would stay clear of this laptop and spend more money to get a better product. I have to ship this back now and will probably occur a restocking fee along with a shipping fee.
I am really confused how this laptop got such a high review...
on July 10, 2014
Dell is providing the best laptop you can buy for the price you pay. I looked for an affordable laptop as and I found this Dell laptop. I am very pleased with it. It is not as good as the more expensive laptops, however for the price I consider it the best buy. The windows program is the same as on the other laptop I use but it operates different from what I am used to on the Dell (maybe that's because I deleted most of those extra apps). I would buy this laptop again and I would recommend anyone looking for an affordable laptop to use for work or school to buy this one. It does what you need it to. I use it for bible study, research, writing, facebook and watching various videos.
on June 23, 2014
I've only had this laptop for 4 days, but I haven't had any problems so far! It's silent and doesn't get hot at all. Downloads are really fast, and I can play games with no lagging at all. This laptop doesn't come with a cd/dvd drive, but I just bought an external one and it works perfectly fine. This is such a quality laptop for the price! The keyboard is really nice, and even had a number pad, which isn't very common in affordable laptops. The only con I have is that when you click on the mouse pad, it's quite loud. Other than that, I'm extremely pleased.
on August 27, 2014
I originally wrote a good review for this laptop, but with further use and a few months later I can now say that it is not a good buy at all. It is so slow. The slowest computer I have ever used, and it will freeze up while typing because it can't process what you are doing fast enough. If you go to a "heavy" webpage that requires a lot of processing power, it will freeze for minutes sometimes.
It is not good at all and I wish I could return it or better ye, never bought it at all.
on July 20, 2014
Awesome laptop for the price! Not the fastest or prettiest in the world, but will work for Office spreadsheets and web surfing. Very light too. Screen looks great and the battery life, if it does last as long as advertised is incredible.
Didn't come loaded down with unnecessary programs, very bare bone system. Very pleased with that!
Installed Classic Shell to make the Windows 8 Metro "experience" go away. Now it looks and feels just like Windows 7. Installed Apache Open Office (free Office Suite) and deleted MS Office trial. Uninstalled McAfee trial and installed AVG free antivirus, added MalwareBytes Anti Malware as a backup.
Laptop body looks and feels cheap, but for the price and the internal hardware it's a steal. Once it's properly configured and personalized it's an awesome machine. Would recommend to anyone!
on November 5, 2014
Don't buy it ! I had it less than 90 days and the key board went out. Of course Dell did nothing about it. we finally bought an external key board , then the screen started messing up . We called a tech out he did something and now it doesn't work at all still waiting on parts from Dell and this tech.... will never buy another Dell product again.