Dell Inspiron M101z review

19 Aug 2010

A pint-sized beauty that combines great build, good looks and a keen price

Price when reviewed: 
500(£518 inc VAT)
5

Dell's Adamo ultraportables are right up there with the Apples of this world for aesthetics, but one thing they're not is cheap: precious few will ever be able to afford the stratospherically expensive Adamo XPS. Don't despair, though, as Dell's keen to spread some of that ultraportable class down the price scale. Meet the latest addition to its Inspiron range, the M101z.

First impressions are excellent. Many 11.6in portables look or feel cheap and unsubstantial, but not the M101z. Our review model came with the striking Tomato Red lid, and it looks fantastic. That crimson paintjob does a great job of livening up proceedings - although you can opt for Lotus blue or Peacock pink if red's not to your tastes - but you can save £19 by opting for a plain gloss black. Regardless of which colour you choose, the interior oozes understated class. Chrome-effect plastic stretches around the Scrabble-tile keyboard, and gloss black surrounds the display and pools between the dainty, rounded keys.

Dell Inspiron M101z

The looks are backed up by strong build quality, too. Yanking the chassis with all our might revealed barely any flex, while even the lid - a common weak point of dainty ultraportables - proved reassuringly solid. For a laptop weighing just 1.56kg, Dell has done a great job.

For once, it's not a low-power Intel chip at the heart of things; instead, AMD's Vision platform steps up to the occasion. The top-end model on test has a dual-core 1.3GHz Athlon II Neo K325 processor, but those on a tighter budget can opt for one of the cheaper single-core Athlon Neo configurations.

The K325 helped the M101z along to a fine 0.67 in our benchmarks - just a few per cent slower than laptops we've seen with Intel's latest low-power chips - while the ATI graphics powered ahead. The Radeon HD 4225 eased through 1080p HD videos and even managed an average of 13fps in Crysis at 1,366 x 768 and Low detail settings.

Details

Price ex VAT £426
Price inc VAT £500
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 5
Performance 3

Warranty

Warranty 1yr collect and return

Physical specifications

Dimensions 291 x 204 x 35mm (WDH)
Weight 1.560kg
Travelling weight 2.0kg

Processor and memory

Processor AMDAthlon II Neo K325
Motherboard chipset AMD M880G
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 11.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset ATI Radeon HD4225
Graphics card RAM 384MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 298GB
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Hard disk Seagate ST9320423AS
Optical disc technology N/A
Optical drive none
Battery capacity 5,600mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch no
Wireless key-combination switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 3
FireWire ports 0
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Smart Media reader no
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader no
Pointing device type Touchpad
Audio chipset Realtek HD Audio
Speaker location Front edge
Hardware volume control? no
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 6hr 35min
Overall application benchmark score 0.67
Office application benchmark score 0.70
2D graphics application benchmark score 0.75
Encoding application benchmark score 0.59
Multitasking application benchmark score 0.65
3D performance (crysis) low settings 13fps
3D performance setting Low

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition
Software supplied N/A