|Introduction and Specifications|
|As one of the top-shelf systems in the company's mainstream line-up, the Inspiron 15 7537 is in an interesting position in Dell’s extensive family of laptops and ultrabooks. This laptop is too pricey to be considered affordable by most consumers, and yet it’s not quite in the same class as and doesn't have the luxury features of Dell’s XPS systems.
Understandably, Dell’s premium XPS line gets a lot of attention in the press. We recently checked out the XPS 13 ultrabook and XPS 15 laptop and pegged them quality products for serious users. The Inspiron series is more likely to be overlooked by power users because the Inspiron 3000 and 5000 are Dell’s value and mainstream Inspiron lines. The 7000 represents the best of the Inspirons, however, and the specs and design quality make it worth a look for serious buyers who are turned off by the high price points of the XPS models.
One of the most important features of the Dell Inspiron 15 7537 is its discrete graphics processor, which sets this system apart from most ultrabooks right out of the gate. The Nvidia GeForce GT 750M gives the 7537 a noteworthy performance advantage in a variety of tasks, as our benchmark results show on the following pages. Dell paired the graphics processor with an Intel Core i7-4500U dual-core processor, which has a base clock speed of 1.8GHz and a maximum Turbo speed of 3GHz.
The 15.6-inch WLED display offers full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and Dell’s TrueLife technology, which is an alternative to anti-glare coatings that is meant to improve the contrast ratio. The 7537’s Corning Gorilla Glass NBT display is also a touch screen.
The 7537 is in good shape for system memory, with two 8GB DIMMs at 1600MHz. There’s also plenty of storage, and it’s reasonably speedy, too, thanks to the design of the drive. The Seagate ST1000LM014 is a SSHD; a hybrid solid-state/hard drive that gives you faster (than a hard drive) Window boot times and 1TB of storage space without the price of a true SSD. Although it’s a relatively large laptop, the 7537 doesn’t have an optical drive.
The laptop has Gigabit Ethernet and Intel 7260BGN wireless connectivity, as well as Bluetooth 4.0. The Wireless-N chip offers dual streams, but not the 2.4Ghz/5GHz dual bands that higher-end versions of the 7260 series offer.
The Dell Inspiron 7537 has a price tag of $1,149.99, less than half the price of Dell’s XPS 15 Touch, so it’s bound to be appealing to shoppers with tighter budgets.
|Design and Software|
|The aluminum body, rounded corners, and beveled edges make the Dell Inspiron 15 7537 a classy laptop, slim (0.8 inches) laptop. It’s a mostly sturdy machine that hardly flexed when we lifted it (something we can’t say for all laptops), but it doesn’t have quite the rock-solid feel of the XPS line.
As we mentioned, the 7537’s 15.6-inch display is protected by Gorilla Glass, which has a good reputation for scratch and even smudge resistance. We had no trouble tapping and swiping through Windows 8.1’s tiles and apps.
We found darks to be somewhat inky when the laptop played movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. That said, the screen offers good viewing angles – 160 degrees, according to Dell – even without IPS. And the speakers, which benefit from Waves MaxxAudio processing, provided loud, clear sound. Overall, the display provides a solid (but not stunning) movie-watching experience.
There is a lot to like about the 7537’s keyboard – particularly if you feel cramped when using typical laptop or ultrabook keyboards. For one thing, the 7537 has a full keyboard layout, including a number pad. For another, the keys are spaced so that even larger fingers have plenty of room. The keyboard has a white backlight, which is a small, but important feature for many of us.
As for the touchpad, it’s very responsive (and yet didn’t register random touches from our palms while typing). Push-clicking the left and right bottom corners of the touchpad is easy, but we sometimes had a trouble clicking when our fingertips were higher up on the pad. Of course, if you tap to click generally, that’s not an issue.
All of the ports are on the sides of the 7537, which makes for clean front and back panels. In fact, front is bare except for power and hard drive status LEDs. The right side features an SD card slot, a mic/headset jack, two USB ports, an HDMI port, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Two more USB ports are on the left side, along with the power port and a Kensington lock port.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7537 arrives with a tolerable amount of pre-installed software. A 30-day trial of McAfee LiveSafe is onboard, providing the usual security features. You can access it as an app or on the Desktop. Another trial is PocketCloud, which has remote desktop and content sharing capabilities.
Dell added a few of its own programs, too. Dell Checkup gives you quick access to diagnostics and information you’ll want to have on hand if you need to call customer support. Dell Recovery has some backup tools and gives you the lowdown on Dell’s cloud backup service, which is a paid subscription.
|SiSoft SANDRA and Cinebench|
|One of the most interesting comparisons in this review is the Dell XPS 13 vs. the Dell Inspiron 15 7537. Both systems have the Intel Core i7-4500, but the XPS relies on the processor’s integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 technology, whereas the 7537 is sporting the Nvidia GeForce GT 750M. Differences in other hardware mean that it’s not a true apples-to-apples comparison, but it’s interesting, nonetheless, particularly if you’re wondering whether discrete graphics is worth the price bump.
The 7537's graphics power isn't on display in these tests as much as it will be in the 3D benchmarks. Also, keep in mind that while the hybrid drive is not as fast as SSDs, it offers more capacity for a lower price.
We expected the 7537 to score well in the OpenGL test, and it did, putting Dell’s laptop well ahead of the pack. But Intel’s Core i7-4500U held its own, too, with the best results in the CPU test. We're also including the system's scores in the latest version of Cinebench.
|PCMark 7 and PCMark 8|
|Over the years, Futuremark has made a name for itself with comprehensive benchmarks that provide consistent results for comparing granular and big-picture performance. We put the Dell Inspiron 15 7537 through PCMark 7, which has been around for a while, and PCMark 8, which is the latest benchmark in the series. With PCMark 7 we've provided overall scores, while PCMark 8 tests are broken out into three key modules.
The 7537 surprised us a bit in PCMark7, scoring only 4191. We didn't expect the discrete graphics to make much of an impact in this test, but given the performance of the XPS 13 (which has the same processor), the 7537's score is disappointing. The hybrid hard drive may be part of the issue here, as it's not a true SSD.
The hybrid drive gives the 7537 lots of storage without spiking the system’s price, but it means the laptop suffers a little (compared to systems with SSDs) in storage heavy tests. It handled the Home Accelerated and Work Accelerated tests very well, though.
|Although integrated graphics have come a long way, a discrete graphics processor is still the best way to get your game on. We’ve benchmarked a few systems with discrete cards already, so it will be interesting to see how the Dell Inspiron 7537 compares. Given that it has the news Nvidia mobile graphics we’ve tested, it had better come out on top.
Discrete graphics are going to blow integrated graphics out of the water, and that certainly happened in this benchmark. Whether this matters you depends on whether you game; the Intel HD 4400 gives typical users all they need, even for casual gaming.
Although this game is a little long in the tooth, it's a good way to test laptops and ultrabooks, which typically struggle with the latest DX11 titles. The 7537, however, is clearly ready to take on newer games.
|Poor battery life can be a deal breaker for a mobile device. Unfortunately, it’s also somewhat hard to assess: how fast you burn through a laptop’s battery depends not only on its quality, but the tasks you’re running and what features are enabled (think Wi-Fi). Still, benchmarks can give you a general picture of what to expect from your new laptop’s battery.
We run two tests. Battery Eater Pro puts the system through its paces and wears down the battery in a few hours. The Web browsing test is just what it sounds like: the laptop refreshes a webpage regularly until the battery is exhausted.
We like the Dell Inspiron 15 7537’s BatteryEater Pro time of two hours and 42 minutes, which puts it near the top of the pack. It held out for eight hours and 50 minutes in our browsing test. That’s a reasonable performance, but if having the system last you for most of your workday on one charge is important to you, keep in mind that doing more than casual Web surfing is going to tax that battery even faster.
|Performance Summary and Conclusion|
|As we mentioned at the beginning of this review, the Dell Inspiron 15 7537 walks a very fine line between mainstream and high-end system. It costs way too much to not provide a great experience, but it’s also not expensive enough to have all the bells and whistles of a flagship machine. Overall, the Dell Inspiron 15 7537 succeeds – but it’s not going to be a fit for all users.
We like the Dell Inspiron 15 7537’s design for its comfort as much as its looks. Sure, the aluminum frame looks sharp, but it’s the comfortable keyboard and large trackpad that you’ll really appreciate after hours of use. The display responds well to touch and it’s reasonably bright and sharp enough for a typical user. The 7537 comes off as a laptop that is both comfortable to use and tough enough to handle the bumps and bangs that your day-to-day system is likely to encounter.
And, the 7537 is a powerful laptop. The Intel Core-i7 4500U and Nvidia GeForce GT 750M are a formidable team and provide more than enough power for typical tasks. Whether the discrete graphics are really necessary probably comes down whether you play video games on your laptop. If you don’t, the 750M may well be overkill. But if you do (or you want to), this laptop is going make you happy. Either way, the Inspiron 15 7537 is worth a look.