Performance Summary & Conclusion
Performance Summary: Dell's Inspiron 14z proved itself an all-around multimedia workhorse, but where it really pounds its chest is in games. Not only does it handle older titles well, but Dell's decision to equip certain models (including the one we tested) with a discrete AMD Radeon HD 7570M GPU translated into playable framerates in some newer DirectX 11 titles as well. As an all around Ultrabook, it's a fast and responsive system, though not the speediest machine around. Throw gaming performance into the mix, however, and the Inspiron 14z stands taller than most.
At this early stage, Intel's hardware partners are still trying to figure out how best to utilize the Ultrabook form factor and how far they can push the envelope. As such, we never know quite what to expect each time a new model lands on our doorstep. In this case, Dell surprised us with above average gaming performance and a slot-load optical drive, two traits we haven't seen much of in the Ultrabook category.
Dell should also be credited for building an all-around entertainment machine that can fit a variety of budgets. If you don't care a whole lot about gaming, you can forgo the discrete GPU and pick up a toned down model starting at a penny shy of $700. But for those who want the extra power, the $200 premium is well worth it, especially since the final price is still a Benjamin below Intel's preferred $1,000 ceiling.
We're not sold on Dell's claim that curved edges makes the Inspiron 14z any easier to slip into a bag than any other notebook, but it's an interesting aesthetic nonetheless, and we dig the brushed aluminum finish. We're also big fans of the keyboard, even though it lacks a backlight. Less inspiring is the 1366x768 resolution, especially with the Apple camp bragging about Retina Display panels (on the MacBook Pro, not the MacBook Air). On the bright side, 1366x768 isn't particularly taxing, and combined with the discrete GPU, allows the Inspiron to play games that most Ultrabooks can't.
With that said, if you're at all interested in playing a game or two on an Ultrabook, recommending the Inspiron 14z is a no-brainer. For everyone else, the Inspiron 14z is another solid entry in a fast evolving form factor.