Skip to navigation

Dell Inspiron 9400 review


Expensive and with only a great warranty and decent battery life to show for it, the Inspiron 9400 will disappoint those looking for a desktop replacement for entertainment

Review Date: 20 Apr 2006

Price when reviewed: (£1,491 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

The Inspiron 9000 series has impressed us in the past, so we were eager to find out whether Dell could make the 9400 the best model yet thanks to the Core Duo. The 9400 is customisable on Dell's website, so you can choose from various Core Solo and Duo parts as well as RAM, video and even OS configuration. Just bear in mind that the E-Value code you see above is for the specification on review: modifying it could bump up the price.

And at £1,269, the 9400 is the most expensive notebook on test. You do get a Core Duo T2500 CPU, which is the joint fastest on test with the Elonex and Hi-Grade: this meant it matched the Overall 2D performance of our reference PC, which packs a dual-core 3.2GHz Pentium D 840 chip.

Backing up the processor is 1GB of DDR2 RAM and a 100GB hard disk. But, despite the price, the Inspiron lacks a discrete graphics card, relying instead on Intel's GMA950 GPU. This could only muster 10fps in Half-Life 2 at 1,280 x 1,024 - not a great result. You can upgrade to a 256MB GeForce Go 7800, but that will set you back a wallet-busting £329.

It's a shame, as the 1,440 x 900 widescreen 17in display is ideal for gaming. However, even this proved slightly disappointing, as it had a grainy appearance, uneven backlighting and viewing angles were poor too.

This is all the more damning when you realise that Dell includes Windows XP Media Center Edition. Fortunately, the speakers offer decent quality and volume for music. And, ergonomically, we had no other complaints. The keyboard has a sensible layout and a firm action. Overall build quality is fantastic; the 9400 has one of the best-protected lids we've ever seen.

You'll never be short of USB 2 ports either. There are six of them, with two on the left side by the dual-layer DVD drive for easy access. Bluetooth is also fitted, as is 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, but the Ethernet connection is 10/100 rather than the expected Gigabit. Other benefits, though, are the DVI, VGA and S-Video outputs.

Many will appreciate the three-year on-site warranty, but the long battery life (of almost five hours under light use) isn't that useful on a notebook weighing 3.5kg.

Asus' A7J can't match the Dell on the latter two counts but has a better screen, a TV tuner and a decent GPU for less money. If you're after a powerful desktop-replacement notebook for entertainment, the Asus offers better value.

Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
Be the first to comment this article

You need to Login or Register to comment.


Latest Category Reviews
Apple iPad Air 2 review

Apple iPad Air 2

Category: Tablets
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £399
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro review

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro

Category: Laptops
Rating: 3 out of 6
Price: £1,300
Asus Transformer Book T200TA review

Asus Transformer Book T200TA

Category: Laptops
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £350
Fujitsu Stylistic Q704 review

Fujitsu Stylistic Q704

Category: Tablets
Rating: 4 out of 6
Price: £1,771
Hands on: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro review

Hands on: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

Rating: 4 out of 6
Price: £1,771
Compare reviews: Laptops


Most Commented Reviews
Latest News Stories Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Features
Latest Real World Computing


Sponsored Links


Your email:

Your password:

remember me


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.