Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 laptop

Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 review: A cheap Sandy Bridge-based 15.6in laptop with customisable lids

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Dell Inspiron 15R N5110
  • Dell Inspiron 15R N5110
  • Dell Inspiron 15R N5110
  • Dell Inspiron 15R N5110

Pros

  • 2nd generation Core i3 CPU, USB 3.0, cheap

Cons

  • Creaky build quality, glossy screen, custom lids come off too easily

Bottom Line

The Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 is a cheap laptop with good speed and it includes nice features such as HDMI and USB 3.0. It also has a customisable lid so that you can install a design of your choice. However, its build quality is a little creaky, and its screen too glossy. Despite these quibbles, we think it's a good entry-level computer for home users.

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There's nothing better than an inexpensive laptop that looks stylish and performs well, and with the Dell Inspiron 15R N5110, that's exactly what you get. It's a sub-$600 notebook that's based on Intel's 2nd Generation Core i3 CPU, it's comfortable to use for the most part, and it also allows you to customise its lid design so that your notebook can stand out and look special.

See our Dell buying guide: Which Dell notebook is right for me?

Specifications and performance

Our pre-production Inspiron 15R came with a configuration that you won't be able to buy (2GB of RAM and a 320GB hard drive instead of 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive), but it still performed well in our tests. In the Blender 3D rendering and iTunes MP3 encoding tests, the notebook's 2.1GHz Intel Core i3-2310M CPU recorded times of 57sec and 1min 8ec, respectively.

To put this performance in perspective, it's about as fast as a 2.53GHz first generation Core i3 CPU. For example, the Medion Akoya E7216, which came with a 2.53GHz Intel Core i3-380M CPU recorded 59sec in Blender and 1min 2sec in iTunes. The Medion also took 1hr 10min to convert a DVD file into a 1.5GB Xvid file, whereas the Inspiron 15R took 1hr 15min. So you can see that despite having a slower frequency, the Dell's CPU can still hold its own and it means you can use the 15R to convert videos for your phone and also for photo and video editing tasks.

The R N5110 makes use of the integrated graphics in Intel's Sandy Bridge CPU, and this graphics solution recorded 3316 marks in 3DMark06. It's a decent result for such a cheap laptop and it means that you can use it to play some games as long as you use a low resolution and low graphics detail settings.

See how the Inspiron R N5110 compares to other Sandy Bridge notebooks we have seen: MSI GE620, Dell Vostro 3550, MSI CR640, Dell Latitude E5520, Sony VAIO SB Series, Sony VAIO CB Series

Features and build quality

The connectivity options around the edges of the 15R N5110 are very useful; you get modcons such as HDMI, eSATA, and USB 3.0 (two of them), as well as stalwarts such as 10/100 Ethernet, VGA, USB 2.0, an SD card slot, and headphone and microphone ports. You also get a built-in DVD burner, a webcam, 802.11n Wi-Fi (up to 150Mbps) and Bluetooth. Basically, it's a well-stocked machine for the price you're paying.

We like the look of the Inspiron 15R. It has a nice rounded design, and the chrome around the keyboard is elegant. We love the unit's status lights, which are a nice white colour instead of a retina-burning, super-bright blue. The screen is glossy and it suffers from reflections, as well as poor vertical viewing angles; the glossy bezel can be distracting, too. On the other side of the screen, the lid can be swapped so that you can use a different design — it simply slides off. We're a bit wary of this design though, as the lid covers come off a bit too easily (a latch is present to hold them in place, but it didn't seem to work properly on our test model). You have to be careful when carrying the notebook, just in case you hold it the wrong way and the lid slides off and you drop the laptop!

The overall build quality of the Inspiron 15R N5110 is decent. It feels well balanced and not too heavy (it weighs around 2.6kg), but the left side is creaky. The chassis makes clicking noises as you put pressure on the palmrest, and the left side of the keyboard is also a little too bouncy and noisy when you hit the keys. The keys are soft and possess good travel though, so it's not uncomfortable to type on this notebook for long periods of time. It will get a little warm as you use it on your lap for long periods of time though — especially if you are running applications that require lots of processing.

The touchpad is huge (102x56mm) and supports plenty of single- and dual-finger gestures, and it has beautifully soft buttons. You can customise the gesture support to your liking through its driver program.

Battery life

A 48Wh (Watt-hour) battery sits snugly in the spine of the chassis. In our battery rundown test, in which we disable power management, enable Wi-Fi, maximise screen brightness and loop an Xvid-encoded video, the Inspiron 15R lasted 3hr 33min. This is a good result for a cheap 15.6in laptop, but it's 17min off what the Core i5-equipped MSI CR640 achieved in the same test.

Conclusion

What you get in the Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 is a cheap notebook with lots of good features, decent speed, and good battery life. You also get a creaky chassis and an overly glossy screen with narrow viewing angles, and an ability to customise the way the laptop looks by installing a lid with a funky paint job. Overall, despite there being a few negatives in its build quality, the Inspiron R is a good notebook.

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Bill

1

Bought two 5110's less than three weeks ago as graduation gifts for "off to college" grads. I just got off the phone with Dell Service... they are sending me a new imaged hard drive for one. I know !@#$ happens... but I sure hope this isn't an omen. I have two other Dells and have been very happy.

Randy Howland

2

I've had this model for about a week and I'm a bit surprised at the reviews I see out there. It does not have a Blue Ray drive (which wasn't important to me). However, the resolution, which in general, was also not critical to me is also very poor. If I am working in excel/word I have to zoom to about 150% to tell what is in bold. The speakers are in the very front. So if you have it on your lap, they might actually be pressed in to your body. The overall look and feel is nice, but figure out a way to try your application that's important to you before you buy it.

John

3

Worst computer and tech support ever, 5 different techs tried to fix it and when they were
unable to fix it they said its not their problem then said the could fix it for $129.00, this thnig is
only 3 months old. don't buy Dell.

Brian

4

This computer is the worst computer I have ever seen. In less than a year I had major problems, three times, which were "fixed" once but otherwise Dell wanted to charge me 300 dollars to fix the computer.

I am a student who recently graduated and the tech support told me they charge extras for students. When I called tech support, I had two weeks until I graduated and they wanted to charge me extra in spite of that, and the rude tech support guy said "Well you need a computer, don't you?"

Extremely poor customer service and product. Would not recommend Dell to anyone.

Gabriel

5

I switched over from HP thinking that Dell had better computers to offer. I ended up buying this model and it has been the worst mistake of my life. I don't even want to start mentioning all the problems that I have had with it because it'll take me many paragraphs, but suffice to say, don't buy Dell.
Also, after I bought it, I had Dell representatives calling almost everyday to offer extended warranty.

Tamera Sophy

6

My daughter and niece got this same computer for a graduation present from their grandparents. My daughter's has been sent in more than she has been using it. Makes it difficult while attending college and all her notes for a test are on the laptop that is now broken again. My niece's has finally crashed, and she had to purchase a different one. We have had many other Dell computers, but for some reason this paricular model has been horrible. Only problems. And Dell customer service has no clue what they are doing. My daughter had purchased the damage contract. One CS said she did not have it and charged her $400 to fix the computer, and then another CS contacted her and said she did have the contract. They reimbursed her the $400 and gave her a new contract. But this has been a real pain in the butt.

ralph s

7

Has overheated since new. Battery has finally failed, not surprising since you can hardly touch it due to how hot it runs. My bar heater is cooler. Had many Dells previously and this is by far the worst I have owned. Reassessing if I woould buy another one. Also have a HP which is about 2 years older and two thirds the price which runs much better and is faster.

Harold S Peiko

8

I am looking for the Dell Inspiron N5110 battery to buy for replacement of the old one that is not working now.

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DODGER

0.5

1

Pros
ME!
Cons
DELL INSPIRON N5110
• • •

Product $uck$, that's all you can say about it. Dell just don't care anymore. Their customer service is lousy, their technicians are lousy. All Dell knows how to do is continue to charge you money for garbage you don't need.
I bought this piece of crap not even a year yet and the optical drive is done. They sent me a refurbished drive, no instructions on how to install it. I had to go to You Tube to find out.
Guess what, they have the screw in so damn tight I CAN'T get the damn latch off.

This will definitely be the last DELL I ever purchase. Better to spend more money for a better product.

One last thing, they were suppose to email me so I could trace the replacement part. NEVER HAPPENED.

WAY TO GO DELL, YOU JUST LOST YET ANOTHER CUSTOMER.
I can see why they have class action lawsuits against them.

SP

0.0

2

Pros
Nothing
Cons
Constant failure
• • •

Have had it 1-1/2 years - sorry I ever bought it. A true lemon, although I've had good experience w/other Dell computers. Some techs are better than others but most don't know what they're doing and some can be quite irritable. I've spent $400? $500? in additional warranties and now actually know some of the techs over the phone! Forget about doing any work - this computer will keep you on the phone trying to get it to run. A sad piece of junk.

Overheats
Hard disk failure
Didn't install itself correctly out of the box

Mantazzo

4.5

3

Pros
Speed, Stability and Smoothness
Cons
Quite hot
• • •

I had worked with this computer. All I can say is - I love it! Programs run smoothly, computer does not do random crashes and it works very fast. But the computer is a bit too hot - even in idle it's hot - 50-60 degrees. But this, as I understood, is usual - just don't use it on your lap very long. All in all, a good computer for everyone - gamers will like it for it's speed, programmers - for it's stability, usual users - for a long battery life and smoothness while working with computer. Recommending it, 4.5 out of 5 from me.

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