Updated December 22, 2021: This review has been updated to reflect the category of the reviewed device as a consumer laptop that is also sold alongside business devices.
While many of the best Windows laptops cost over $750, you don't need to break the bank to get a reliable piece of hardware. Often, dipping below the $500 threshold results in poor quality laptops that aren't even worth their asking price, but that's not the case with the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (3511).
Reviewing a laptop like this is almost difficult because there's so little about it that's surprising. Anyone who's owned an Inspiron device, or just about any laptop from Dell, is going to expect a nice piece of hardware with high build quality. That's the case here, as the Inspiron feels solid and well built.
The Inspiron 15 3000 is a more affordable laptop designed for getting work done. Dell often lists the device in business laptop deals, though it is technically a consumer laptop. With an entry price of $350, you're obviously not going to get some of the fit and finish of the Latitude series or the consumer-focused XPS line. What you do get is a budget-friendly laptop that can handle everyday productivity. The model looked at in this review is the Inspiron 15 3000 (3511) from 2021.
Bottom line: The Inspiron 15 3000 is a solid laptop for people getting work done on a budget. It's well built, has plenty of legacy ports for accessories, and features a full number pad. Its biggest drawback is that it lacks a USB-C port.
- High build quality
- Wide range of legacy ports
- Large 15.6-inch screen
- Low starting price
- No USB-C port
- Lacks built-in hardware for Windows Hello
- Trackpad feels loose at corners
Dell Inspiron 15 3000: Price, availability, and specs
The Inspiron 15 3000 is a budget-friendly laptop aimed at people getting work done. It starts at $350 for the model with an 11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB of SSD storage. You can double the RAM to 8GB for only an additional $50, bringing the total to $400. This is probably worth it for most use cases. 4GB of RAM is serviceable in some workflows, but 8GB should give you more to work with.
Several configuration options are available, maxing out at a $680 model with an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, 12GB of memory, and 512GB of storage. Oddly, the Intel Core i5-1135G7 model isn't available through Dell's website. You can, however, order it through Amazon for $609.
|OS||Windows 11 Home|
Windows 11 S
|Processor||11th Gen Intel Core i3-1115G4|
11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7
11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7
Intel Iris Xe
|Display||15.6-inch FHD (1920x1080), anti-glare, non-touch|
|Ports||1x USB-2.0, audio jack, HDMI 1.4, 2x USB-A 3.2, SD card slot|
|Connectivity||802.11ac 1x1 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth|
|Camera||Front-facing 720p, 30 FPS|
|Dimensions||14.11 x 9.27 x 0.74 inches (358.8mm x 235.66mm x 18.99mm)|
|Weight||3.82 pounds (1.73 kg)|
Dell Inspiron 15 3000: What I like
The Inspiron 15 3000 is what it says on the box. It's a budget-friendly laptop. It has a large, 15.6-inch display, a full number pad, and plenty of legacy ports. What surprised me about the Inspiron 15 3000 is how much it can get done despite its modest specs.
The model I reviewed only has an Intel Core i3 CPU, but that's enough for web browsing, Office, and general productivity. I usually lean toward Core i5 models, but reviewing this device opened my eyes to how much the lower end of the Intel Core i3 line has come over the years. If you're picking up a laptop for light work and productivity, don't sleep on Core i3 models, especially if you're on a budget.
Dell packed a lot of laptop into the 14-inch body of the Inspiron 15 3000. The bezels around the 15.6-inch display are thin, though not as thin as those on premium laptops. Thanks to this, the laptop has a large screen despite a relatively small body. When you open up the Inspiron 15 3000, that screen is raised slightly by an ErgoLift hinge, which is a nice touch. That hinge also places the keyboard at a better angle.
Battery life on the Inspiron 15 3000 is decent. Streaming 1080p content with the screen at full brightness will drain the battery in about six hours.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000: What I don't like
While the Inspiron 15 3000 has plenty of ports, it lacks one for USB-C. It's great to have an HDMI port, SD card slot, a headphone jack, and three USB-A ports on a laptop, but it's disappointing that there isn't even a single USB-C port. Maintaining legacy support is important for some but I think Dell could have swapped one of the USB-A ports for a USB-C one. Alternatively, the company could have removed the barrel charging port and put in a USB-C port that also supports powering the laptop.
The Inspiron 15 3000 also lacks a built-in way to unlock the laptop through Windows Hello. You can add a fingerprint reader or webcam that supports Windows Hello, but that's not as seamless as having built-in hardware.
The trackpad of the Inspiron 15 3000 feels a bit loose and hallow, particularly at the bottom corners. It tracks movement well and is clickable, but the trackpad is one of the areas that shows the price of the device.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000: Competition
While the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is an impressive laptop for its price, it's not the only good laptop that you can buy for between $350 to $500. The HP 14z Laptop starts at $430 and is a dependable device. It has a wide range of ports, including a USB-C port, and gets decent battery life.
The ASUS Vivobook 15 is one of the best budget laptops on the market. Like the Inspiron 15 3000, the Vivobook 15 has a 15.6-inch FHD display and a plethora of legacy ports. Unlike the Inspiron 15 3000, the Vivobook 15 has backlit keys, a fingerprint reader, and a USB-C port.
The Surface Laptop Go is pricier than the entry-level Inspiron 15 3000, but it's in the same range as some midrange models from Dell. Microsoft's Surface Laptop Go is an excellent laptop that comes at $550. It has a bright display, impressive performance, and gets good battery life.
Dell Inspiron 15 3000: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You're looking for an affordable device
- You need a laptop with a number pad
- You want a laptop with a large screen
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You need a laptop for gaming
- You do video editing or graphically demanding work
- You want a more premium laptop
This laptop fits squarely in the budget category. Those that want a reliable device for general productivity should be happy with the Inspiron 15 3000. Those that want a more premium device or a laptop for video editing or graphic design should check out more powerful pieces of hardware.
Whether purchasing a single laptop or buying several in bulk, the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is easy to recommend. It's an affordable laptop with the high build quality you'd expect from Dell. I'd like to see a USB-C port and built-in hardware for Windows Hello, but those omissions aren't dealbreakers for most people.