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)
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.
- Sorry monkeys: you can't copyright your selfies
- Google: driverless car testers don't need to be "safe drivers"
- Microsoft to announce Windows 9 on 30 September
- Motorola Moto X+1 press photos leaked online
- Microsoft working on Miracast Dongle streaming hardware
- Diaspora: we can't stop spread of beheading videos
- Sony Xperia Z3 specs leak online
- iPhone 6 and iPhone 6L pictures leak online
- Bug hunters paid to target Oculus Rift
- Meet the "scarecrows" and "snipers" slaying Twitter spam
- 20 years of PC Pro: our greatest review mistakes
- 20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List
- Wikipedia's "right to be forgotten" protest hits the wrong note
- 3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies
- 20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- How to format a USB drive on a Mac or Windows
- What’s the best 4G network in the UK?
- How to set up a wireless hotspot for your business: give customers free or paid for internet access
- How to download YouTube videos: save YouTube videos to your iPhone, iPad, laptop or Android device
- How to access iCloud on a PC
- Nexus 5 vs Moto G 4G (2014 model)
- Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick vs Apple TV: what's the best TV streaming device?
- The 8 best small tablets of 2014: what's the best compact tablet?
- How to edit PDFs: make change to a PDF
- Building a patently better future
- 10 ways to make your business more secure
- Top five VoIP mistakes
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy