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Tech Advisor - - GROUP TEST -

Dell is known as the cut-price Win­dows brand, and within its busi­ness line-up sits the Vostro se­ries of bud­get lap­tops. The Vostro 15 was up­dated early this year and can now be found with the latest fifth­gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core pro­ces­sors, an un­usual fea­ture in en­try mod­els.

Build and de­sign

The Vostro is another no-non­sense de­sign, all black plas­tic with matt tex­tured fin­ish. It’s a large lap­top by mod­ern stan­dards, with a large foot­print spread­ing 378x259mm, but weigh­ing 2.4kg and its 25mm thick­ness means it’s not a com­plete brick ei­ther. Like many 15in mod­els, Dell has found space to in­clude a DVD RW drive.

Pick up the lap­top and you can feel the whole chas­sis flex a lit­tle, but oth­er­wise it feels tough enough to sur­vive the bat­ter­ing meted out to com­mod­ity Win­dows ap­pli­ances. The 40Wh bat­tery is re­mov­able, and ac­cess for ser­vice and up­grades is very good. A third­width plas­tic bot­tom cover lifts to re­veal hard disk, wire­less card, CMOS bat­tery and SO-DIMM slots. Our sam­ple had 4GB mem­ory in one slot, with another empty slot avail­able.

It may run with the latest In­tel chip but costs have been cut else­where. The 500GB WD disk is a noisy ex­am­ple of the breed, there is no HDMI out­put, and qual­ity of the matt low-res­o­lu­tion dis­play is poor. It has re­stricted view­ing an­gles and about the worst colour ac­cu­racy, con­trast ra­tio and gamut on test.

Else­where ports are lim­ited to three USB ports (in­clud­ing one USB 3.0), eth­er­net and SD card slot. The key­board and track­pad are not so bad, the reg­u­lar Scrabble-style key­board work­ing well with a clean re­spon­sive ac­tion, while the but­ton­less track­pad fol­lowed

Build Fea­tures Per­for­mance



our fin­ger­tip di­rec­tions with lit­tle ex­tra­ne­ous jumps de­spite the but­ton­less de­sign that hides left/right switches un­der the panel.

Var­i­ous pro­ces­sor op­tions are listed – our sam­ple had a 2.2GHz In­tel Core i5 that in­cludes Turbo Boost and Hy­per Thread­ing Tech­nol­ogy, yet still keeps the over­all price be­low £500 at time of press. And that’s with the dearer Win­dows 8.1 Pro OS, too.

Wi-Fi should be more ver­sa­tile than most bud­get mod­els, a re­cent 11ac sin­gle-stream adap­tor from In­tel.


Syn­thetic bench­mark re­sults for the Dell Vostro were the best in this group, peak­ing with 5177 multi-core points in Geek­bench 3 (and 2624 sin­gle-core, beat­ing the multi-core re­sults of Celeron chips).

PCMark 8 Home unit re­turned an ac­cel­er­ated score of 2732 points, and busi­ness cre­den­tials were un­der­lined by a de­cent 3734 points in the Busi­ness test from the same suite.

Us­able graph­ics per­for­mance from the In­tel HD Graph­ics 5500 meant some light gam­ing is fea­si­ble: we av­er­aged 25 fps in Bat­man at 1366x768 Low de­tail, ris­ing to 29fps at 720p.

De­spite the 14nm pro­ces­sor that’s de­signed to cut power con­sump­tion, and a rea­son­able 40Wh bat­tery, we saw less than four hours un­plugged run­time in our wire­less video test. VER­DICT: Bat­tery life was dis­ap­point­ing and screen qual­ity is poor. Ap­pli­ca­tion per­for­mance mea­sure well but it of­ten felt slow to re­spond in ac­tual use. Corners have been cut, but over­all the Dell Vostro is a work­able ma­chine that leads with the latest In­tel sil­i­con.

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