This week, Dell is launching its 2021 Inspiron laptop lineup. The new lineup includes updated models with Tiger Lake CPUs for Inspiron 13, 14, 14 2-in-1 and 15 laptops, and a brand new Inspiron 16 Plus.
If you’re unfamiliar with Dell branding, Inspiron is the budget laptop range, but in this context “budget” means solid laptop designs aimed at price-sensitive customers, but not low-end stuff. You’ll find the same Intel i3, i5, and i7 CPUs in these Inspiron models as in more expensive Dell Latitudes, HP Probooks, and so on.
2021 Inspiron 13
In most of the world, the Inspiron 13 is available in one color: “Platinum Silver with tonal blocking”. Chinese customers will also get a Peach Dust option (also with tonal blocking). The Inspiron has a 13.3-inch display with a 1920×1200 or 2560×1600 16:10 resolution and comes with an Intel i3-1125G4, i5-11300H or 17-11370H CPU and (on the i5 and i7 models) a optional Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU. The weight starts at 1.25kg (2.75lb) – we don’t get to see a full range of weights, but we don’t see any options that should make things much heavier either.
All models feature Intel Wi-Fi 6 2×2, Bluetooth 5.1, a fingerprint reader integrated into the power key and a 720p integrated webcam. The two USB-C ports on the left are Thunderbolt 4.0 certified and offer PowerDelivery and DisplayPort options. RAM is either 8GiB or 16GiB onboard, and storage ranges from 128GB M.2 NVMe to 2TB M.2 NVMe.
Users who are extra picky with keyboards should take a look at the first photo above – all of this year’s Inspiron models have the compressed arrow key layout that we know some of you might not be too fond of.
Inspiron 13 prices start at $600, and these models are already available in North America.
2021 Inspiron 14
For the most part, Inspiron 14 is Inspiron 13 with a slightly larger screen – it offers a similar Core i3/Core i5/Core i7 setup, with optional MX450 GPU on the Core i5/Core i7 models. It offers the same two colors – only one of which, Platinum Silver, is available outside of China – and the same port layout. The only screen resolution on Inspiron 14 is 1080p by default, in 250 nit or 300 nit brightness options. RAM is up to 32 GB and storage is up to 1 TB M.2 NVMe.
An important difference to note is: which Core i3 CPU is available on the 14. The Inspiron 13 offers the relatively fast i3-1125G4, with four cores/eight threads and a Passmark score of 10,327. The i3 model of the Inspiron 14, i3-1115G4, has only two cores/four threads and a Passmark score of only 6,443.
The Inspiron 14 has an Ubuntu OS option, unlike the 13, but it’s listed in the spec sheet as Ubuntu (select countries), so we’re not sure about availability. Of course, even if the Ubuntu model is not available in your country, that’s an almost sure guarantee that you can install Ubuntu yourself without unnecessary problems.
The takeoff weight for the Inspiron 14 is 1.46 kg (3.22 lb). Pricing starts at $550 and availability in North America begins May 4.
2021 Inspiron 14 two-in-one
Inspiron 14 also comes in a two-in-one model, meaning this version can be folded completely flat, with the keyboard wedged under the screen, for use in tablet mode. The Inspiron 14 two-in-one has a different port layout than the 13 and 14 clamshell models: a DC barrel connector replaces one of the USB-C ports, and there’s an additional USB-A port on the left. The CPU lineup is also different: on the low end, there’s the same relatively fast 4c/8t Core i3-1125G4 we saw in the Inspiron 13. It gets more complicated from there.
Core i5-1135G7 and Core i7-1165G7 models have optional GeForce MX350 GPUs, which to us seems like a questionable upgrade over the built-in Iris Xe graphics on those models. and heat build-up that may not be worth it.
In addition to the i5-1135G7 and i7-1165G7 options, we have AMD Ryzen 5 5500U and Ryzen 7 5700U models. The battle between Tiger Lake and Ryzen 5000 mobile is much closer than most Intel vs AMD scenarios – Intel has a significant lead in single-core performance, but is (as usual) ruined by multithreaded workloads. AMD also has a slight edge in integrated GPU performance, but thanks to Iris Xe, for once, Intel probably isn’t far enough behind to matter.
Inspiron 14 two-in-one weights start at 1.5 kg (3.31 lbs) with a 41-watt-hour battery, or 1.56 kg (3.43 lbs) with a 54-watt-hour battery. Pricing starts at $730 and availability in North America begins May 4.
2021 Inspiron 15
Dell’s new Inspiron 15 offers Intel Core i3-1125G4, i5-1135G7 and i7-1165G7 CPU options. Core i5 and Core i7 models can be ordered with the optional GeForce MX350 discrete GPU. The single USB Type-C port on the Inspiron 15 offers both PowerDelivery and Video options. RAM is available from 4GiB to 32GiB and storage ranges from 128GB M.2 NVMe to 1TB M.2 NVMe.
The Inspiron 15 has a 250-nit touchscreen option and two non-touch options with 250 nit and 300 nit brightness. They are all 1080p FHD. The Inspiron 15 also shows Ubuntu operating system options in ‘selected countries’. It is available in Mist Blue or Platinum Silver.
Inspiron 15 models start at $550, with availability in North America beginning May 4.
2021 Inspiron 16 Plus
Inspiron 16 Plus is a new form factor and it looks like one to watch out for. The 16 Plus offers Intel 11th Gen Core H-series processors – probably the same as in Inspiron 13, but we’re not sure yet – up to 32 GiB of RAM and optional GPUs ranging up to GeForce RTX 3060 mobile. The only display on offer is a 16.0-inch 3K (3072×1920) non-touch, with a brightness of 300 nits.
Storage ranges from 256 GB M.2 NVMe to 2 TB M.2 NVMe. Wi-Fi is Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 2×2, and the A/V gets an edge over smaller models with a dual digital microphone array, “tuned speakers” with Waves MaxxAudio audio processing and transient noise cancellation. This model offers a 3-cell 56 WHr or 6-cell 86 WHr battery; we don’t know the weight of these systems yet.
Unfortunately, despite its size, the Inspiron 16 Plus still has the compressed arrow key layout that many Arsians hate. But with a starting price of just $950, we’re potentially excited about it as a budget gaming laptop, although we’ll be waiting with bated breath to see how much more expensive the RTX 3060-equipped models will be. These laptops are scheduled for availability in North America on June 3.