At first glance, the Dell Inspiron 14 looks like a monument to the ideals of solid engineering and impressive design. A pretty compact, ultraportable monument too, given how it’s managed to seamlessly fit a 14-inch screen into a 13-inch chassis.
While it may not quite manage to supplant Dell’s XPS laptops as the brand’s poster child, this laptop’s blend of performance, power, cost, and design makes it fairly irresistible in its own right.
Outstanding design apart, the Dell Inspiron 14 boasts several qualities that immediately grab one’s attention, likewise, you may like the write up on the Dell Inspiron 11. Under the hood, it packs modern components that make it the quintessential work and home laptop. It will effortlessly blaze through most productive tasks, including light photo and video editing tasks, and even light gaming. And the battery performance is similarly impressive.
While there are mid-budget laptops that offer much greater power and performance, those often come at the cost of reduced battery performance and more bulk. It’s up to you to decide what works for you and what doesn’t.
Design and Appearance
Design-wise, Dell does not boast the reputation of other brands like Asus, Apple, and even HP. It didn’t pull up any trees here too; the aesthetic of the Inspiron 14 being more understated elegance than head-turning beauty. However, Dell succeeds in elevating the Inspiron 14 out of the mean by first making it pretty spare and giving it an all-silver outlook.
The laptop’s magnesium-alloy chassis does a lot for durability, giving it a solid feel that never translates to being heavy or bulky. Weighing 2.9 pounds and measuring 0.6 by 12.6 by 8.1 inches, this ultraportable can easily be transported anywhere.
As we mentioned earlier, silver seems to be the overriding design scheme of this laptop as everything, apart from the screen’s bezels, maintains the aesthetic. On the flip side, it may have been nice and even more practical for the keyboard to sport the traditional black color. Typing with this arrangement is more of a chore than it needs to be.
Apart from that minor quibble, the Dell Inspiron 14 scores top marks in terms of design. It is portable while being durable enough to survive quite a few bumps and scrapes.
Ports and Connection
The ports on the Dell Inspiron 14 ultraportable are efficient and varied enough to keep most users satisfied. The absence of an Ethernet port is a curveball that may leave some users stumped, though. Even though this omission feels necessary to fit the laptop’s ultraslim profile, it looks like an option that would have been nice to have.
Apart from that, everything is as it should be. On the left flank, the highlight is a Thunderbolt 3 port that also serves as the power port and USB Type-C port. There’s also an HDMI port, a microSD card reader, and a SIM card slot on that side.
On the right flank, there are two USB 3.1 Type-A ports and a headphone/microphone jack. For wireless connectivity, the laptop offers Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth. This is fairly standard fare, although the inclusion of another USB Type-C port would have been highly welcome.
Keyboard and Input Devices
On the whole, there cannot be any complaints about the quality of this laptop’s keyboard. The island-style keyboard is spacious and solid enough. The keys are responsive (they even provide nice tactile feedback), backlit, and just the right size to ensure that typing on them is a pleasant experience.
On the flip side, the silver color of the keys is a sizable hindrance. Working with the backlights on is a pain; the silver color of the keys, combined with the lights, makes the keys hard to see, especially in brightly lit rooms. You might need to turn off the keyboard backlights if you want to get some work done during office hours.
Thankfully, the touchpad works extremely well. It’s responsive, offers just the right amount of travel, and provides satisfying clicks as well.
The laptop’s stereo speakers are a welcome surprise considering its slim profile. They are impressively efficient, proving more than capable of making everyone’s voice heard in conference calls. Video streaming on YouTube or Netflix also proceeds smoothly with them.
Of course, there’s no bass, but you weren’t expecting there to be. For better enjoyment of your music, you may need to stick in the headphones.
With a resolution of 1920 by 1080, this laptop’s touchscreen provides decent image clarity without truly setting the world alight. In any case, we suspect that the bigger appeal lies in the spaciousness of the screen than in its resolution levels.
That’s not to suggest that there’s any deficiency in the display. The screen’s 100 percent sRGB function is a fantastic addition that adds a new degree of color excellence, so the display appears to be sharp and true in color. However, it only has a brightness rating of 300 nits. That’s OK for indoor use, but it’s not the best choice if you work in the field and want to use the Dell frequently outside, as its portability and optional LTE connectivity would urge you to do.
In spite of the thin bezels surrounding the screen, Dell managed to sneak in a 720p webcam that works extremely well for formal video conferencing or informal Zoom calls with friends.
This ultraportable is equipped with a GeForce MX250 graphics card, which, along with its impressive CPU, means it’s able to perform a few light photo and video editing tasks easily. Emphasis on light.
As the graphics are low-res, it cannot be counted on to provide the most stimulating content with all of the applied filters and special effects. If you insist, it may be able to execute some graphics-intensive tasks, but you should expect accompanying hiccups along the way.
The Dell Inspiron 14 is by no means a gaming laptop. A combination of decent RAM and storage, good processor, and unremarkable graphics means that this laptop will play games and provide an entry-level path into PC gaming with severely limited results and performance, but we wouldn’t recommend putting any recent or even moderately demanding game on it.
You may get an improved gaming experience by reducing settings to the bare minimum, but this will only work for older or non-AAA games.
Able to last almost the whole day, the Dell Inspiron 14 ultraportable’s battery life is remarkable, to say the least. This laptop is perfect for people who spend a lot of time outdoors, as its slight frame and powerful batteries make it easy to travel light, unencumbered by power cords.
To make things even more interesting, powered by the ExpressCharge technology, this laptop can go from zero to 80 percent charge in an hour, according to Dell. Of course, there are caveats, but any laptop that can offer about 21 hours of battery life is well worth anyone’s attention.
Cooling and Noise Emission
This laptop is efficiently smooth and quiet in its operation. The absence of fans means that you’ll simply not know what a noisy laptop sounds like, while its trusty components ensure that it makes light work of most tasks, meaning it never has to exert itself so hard that it gets hot under the collar.
Even when it struggles with the more demanding tasks, it maintains its cool; temperature levels never surge to the extent that the laptop becomes too hot to handle.
The Inspiron 14 packs Intel 10th Generation “Comet Lake” CPUs with a clock speed of 1.6GHz and a max turbo speed of 4.2GHz, Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics card, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of solid-state storage. Bear in mind that some of these values may change depending on configuration.
As you might expect with components like that, the laptop can slice through the vast majority of everyday tasks (email, multimedia, word processing, etc) like a knife through hot butter. Even better, it multitasks like a pro. It will hold up nicely under the strain of a swarm of chrome tabs, a couple of spreadsheets, and a 1080p film running at the same time.
With its 14-inch screen well fitted on a sparse 13-inch chassis, amazing battery life, and rugged frame, the Dell Inspiron 14 scores up a lot of wins where it truly matters, but our Dell Inspiron 15 review may also wet your appetite.
While we hesitate to call it budget-friendly given its price tag, this ultraportable boasts several components that make it at least worth the price. The perfect blend of power and performance wrapped in a compact silver package, the Dell Inspiron 14 is an impressive piece of solid workmanship and design. And though there are some occasional, inevitable design and performance flaws, they never get so bad as to be dealbreakers.