Dell Inspiron 9400 laptop

It was only a matter of time before Dell switched over to Intel’s Core Duo platform, offering the dual-core chip in its flagship Inspiron 9400 notebook.

Powered by an Intel 2GHz Core Duo T2500 processor, a Gigabyte of DDR2 memory and 100GB hard drive, there is little to worry about in terms of performance or future proofing as this machine can handle anything currently on the market.

So what's it like? In use we found that it handled well and being dual-core you’ll find yourself multitasking with ease. What surprised us about this notebook was its battery life, as we easily worked for four hours without having to worry about looking for the mains lead – excellent news if you don’t want to tethered to the mains while you work. You’ll find full Centrino branding, so the Wi-Fi supports 802.11a/b/g standards and holds the connection longer than previous chips.

The build quality of the machine is solid but to the point of being bulky. Considering the panel size means there is plenty of chassis to go around, Dell has opted for a standard notebook keyboard. While it’s comfortable and reliable, it feels a little cramped surrounded by plenty of space. Being a desktop replacement we were expecting it to be quite loud but it proved to run quietly, even when we were editing a rather large piece of video footage, which bodes well for long-term use.

Weighing in at 3.5kg, this isn’t a machine for the faint of heart, or wrist, and will no doubt be bought by those looking to replace their desktop PC. With a 17-inch WUXGA screen, images are sharp and crisp but you won’t find a Super-TFT coating – this will cost you a further £90 (inc. VAT) for the privilege.

Considering there are notebooks on the market for half the price of this system you would have thought that the 9400 would come fully loaded with the latest kit. Sadly, you’ll the graphics at this price point are integrated, which means no 3D games, making this more ideal as a work machine than a multimedia option. Strangely, the Inspiron 9400 ships with Microsoft’s Windows Media Centre Edition operating system (OS) as standard.

The good news is you can always choose to upgrade to dedicated graphics at the time of purchase but this will cost you between £80 and £150 depending on your options, which suddenly makes the 9400 a less appealing option.

At this price you even get 3 years warranty cover, so should anything goes wrong you’ll be able to get it repaired without it costing you. Improving usability is the inclusion of six USB2.0 ports, a long with Gigabit Ethernet.

Verdict

The Dell Inspiron 9400 is a great powerhouse of a machine that handles well and is extremely comfortable to use but we’re just a little concerned that you’re not getting the best for the price. If you want to get a real future-proof version of this notebook the price soars past £2000, which isn’t a great investment in our books.