With the release of Windows Vista in late January, PC manufacturers have been quick to update their laptop models-those that can handle the upgrade, that is-with various flavors of the new operating system. For the midsize Inspiron E1505, Dell now offers a choice of Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Home Basic. We got our hands on an updated E1505 with the Premium version and an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. Despite its high-end components, the laptop’s performance on our benchmarks didn’t wow us, most likely due to the new demands of Windows Vista. We expect to encounter similar lags on most of the first-generation Vista systems, though, and because we still like the Inspiron E1505’s design and feature set, we think it remains a solid choice for home users who want a basic media-friendly laptop.
Aside from some component upgrades, this Inspiron E1505 is identical to the XP version we reviewed last year; please read that review for complete details about the laptop’s design, features, and warranty.
Our Windows Vista-based Inspiron E1505 review unit costs $1,789 for a competitive mix of the latest components, including a 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 processor, 2GB of fast 667MHz RAM, a discrete ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 graphics card with 256MB of dedicated memory, and a 100GB hard drive spinning at a fast 7,200rpm. That’s a pretty strong setup that we’d expect to perform really well, but it appears that the new operating system dragged the Inspiron E1505 down on several of CNET Labs’ performance benchmarks. On all but one test, the Inspiron E1505 lagged behind a Dell Latitude ATG D620 running Windows XP on an arguably lesser configuration (the same processor but less RAM, a slower hard drive, and integrated graphics). The Inspiron E1505 did come out on top on our Photoshop test, most likely because of its ample allotment of RAM. Benchmarks aside, the laptop did not feel at all sluggish during our anecdotal use, when we performed basic tasks, such as checking e-mail, listening to music, and performing a quick system scan with Windows Defender. We think most home users will find the Vista-based Inspiron E1505 to have enough oomph for their everyday computing needs, provided they aren’t heavy multitaskers.
The Vista-based Inspiron E1505’s battery ran out of juice at the 2-hour, 34-minute mark of our DVD battery-drain test. That’s not bad for a laptop that isn’t particularly portable, although the smaller battery on the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro (which includes a slower hard drive) lasted almost half an hour longer. The Dell Latitude ATG D620, with a smaller screen and less-power-hungry components, outlasted the Inspiron E1505 by 1 hour, 21 minutes.
Find out more about how we test Windows notebooks.
Apple MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo 15.4-inch OS X 10.4.8; Core 2 Duo 2.3GHz; 3,072MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; ATI Mobility Radeon x1600 256MB; 160GB Hitachi HTS541616J9SA00 5,400rpm
Dell Inspiron E1505 Windows Vista Home Premium; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon x1400; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm SATA/150
Dell Latitude ATG D620 Windows XP Professional SP2; 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 224MB Mobile Intel 945GM Express; 80GB Toshiba 4,200rpm ATA/100
Gateway NX570X Windows XP Media Center Edition; 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7200; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB Mobile Intel 945GM Express; 80GB Hitachi HTS721080G9SA00 7,200rpm SATA/150
Lenovo ThinkPad T60p Windows Vista Business Edition; 2.33GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7600; 2,048MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB ATI Mobility FireGL V5250; 100GB Hitachi 7,200rpm SATA/150