The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (model 3501) is a budget ultraportable Windows laptop. It's available with Intel 11th Gen. CPUs, ranging from a Core i3 to a Core i7. You can configure it with integrated graphics only or with an NVIDIA GeForce MX330 discrete GPU, and up to 16GB of memory and 512GB of storage. You can also choose between a 720P TN or a 1080P IPS panel. It has a full-size keyboard with a Numpad on the right, a 720p webcam, and a 42Wh battery. Its port selection includes three USB-As, an HDMI 1.4, an SD card reader, and an Ethernet port.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is okay for school use. It's portable thanks to its thin and light design, and it feels well-built even though it's entirely plastic. The display is decently sharp, the touchpad tracks well, but the keyboard is a bit tiring to type on for long periods. The Intel 11th Gen CPU can handle most workloads; however, its integrated and entry-level discrete GPU options aren't ideal for graphically intensive tasks like 3D rendering. Unfortunately, the webcam image looks dark and unnatural, and the screen doesn't get bright enough to combat glare. The battery also lasts less than eight hours of light productivity, so you may have to plug it in at some point.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is inadequate for gaming. It's only available with power-efficient Intel U-series processors with integrated or entry-level discrete GPUs, which aren't powerful enough to handle demanding AAA titles. That said, you can play some lighter or older games on the Core i5 and i7 models. Unfortunately, the display is limited to 60Hz with no VRR support, and its slow response time causes noticeable ghosting. Its serviceability is outstanding, though, making it easy to upgrade the memory and storage yourself.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is okay for media consumption. Although the speakers don't get very loud, they sound relatively well-balanced overall. However, the display's poor color gamut makes most content look washed out, its low contrast makes blacks look gray in the dark, and it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare. On the upside, the laptop is portable due to its thin and light design, and its battery lasts long enough for a couple of movies or TV show episodes.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is only mediocre for use as a workstation. You can only configure it with a power-efficient Intel CPU with integrated or entry-level discrete graphics, which aren't powerful enough for demanding tasks like 3D rendering or physics simulations in a professional environment. Also, it doesn't have a USB-C port, and its HDMI port is limited to a 1080p output. On the bright side, it doesn't throttle much under load, and its outstanding serviceability makes it easy to upgrade the components.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is okay for business use. It feels decently well-built, with a thin and light design that makes it easy to carry around for business trips. Its Intel 11th Gen CPU can handle most productivity tasks like web browsing, text formatting, spreadsheets, and presentations. It has a full-size keyboard with a Numpad, which is great for those working with a lot of numbers, but it feels a bit tiring to type on for extended periods. Unfortunately, the battery doesn't last long enough for a typical eight-hour workday, so you'll have to plug it in at some point to top it off. Also, the webcam image looks unnatural and underexposed.
We tested the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (model 3501) equipped with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 CPU, Intel UHD Graphics 11th Gen, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. The display, CPU, GPU, memory, and storage are configurable; you can see the options in the table below.
There are many models in the Inspiron 15 3000 series, so to avoid confusion, our review only applies to the 3501 model with Intel 11th Gen. Core CPUs released in late 2020. Dell replaced this lineup with the Dell Inspiron 15 3511 models in 2021, which also have Intel 11th Gen. CPUs, but there are some differences in the port selection and design. There are also lower-end Dell Inspiron 15 3510 models which are available with Intel Pentium and Celeron processors.
Our display and performance results are only valid for the configuration we tested. If you come across a different configuration option not listed above, or you have a similar Dell Inspiron 15 3000 that doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update it. Some tests, like black uniformity and color accuracy, may vary between individual units.
You can see our unit's label here.
The Dell Inspiron 3000 is an okay ultraportable laptop. It's among the most serviceable and user-upgradeable laptops in its class, but it otherwise doesn't stand out in any way.
For more options, check out our recommendations for the best laptops, the best budget and cheap laptops, and the best laptops for college.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021) and the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) are both 15.6 inch Windows laptops. The IdeaPad 3 is better than the Inspiron 15 for most uses because it has a sturdier build, a brighter and more color-accurate display, and longer battery life. It also has a more comfortable keyboard, a better webcam, and a wider port selection. The IdeaPad 3 is available with AMD Ryzen 5000 CPUs, while the Inspiron 15 is available with Intel 11th Gen CPUs. The AMD and Intel processors have similar single-thread performance for the most part; however, the AMD Ryzen CPUs perform better in multi-threaded workloads due to their higher core count, especially the Ryzen 5 5500U and Ryzen 7 5700U processors.
The Apple MacBook Air 13 (M1, 2020) is better than the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020). The MacBook Air is a more premium device with better build quality, a sharper and brighter display, a more comfortable keyboard, and a larger and more responsive touchpad. The MacBook Air can handle much heavier workloads, and its battery lasts a lot longer, especially for light productivity. On the other hand, the Inspiron 15 is more serviceable and has a better port selection.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15 (2021) and the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) are both 15.6-inch ultraportable Windows laptops with Intel 11th Gen processors. The IdeaPad 5's full aluminum chassis feels sturdier, and its battery lasts a little longer, just enough to get you through a typical eight-hour workday. The IdeaPad also has a brighter display, a more comfortable keyboard, and a much better port selection, including a USB-C port that supports charging and video output.
The HP Pavilion x360 14 (2021) is a 2-in-1 convertible laptop, while the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) is a traditional clamshell laptop. The HP is more modular, with a USB-C port that supports Power Delivery and display output, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a 360-degree hinge that lets you use the laptop in tablet mode. Also, it's more portable, and its keyboard is better spaced. On the other hand, the Dell's bigger screen gives more screen real estate to multitask, its touchpad tracks better, its speakers sound better, and its battery lasts a little longer. Additionally, its two RAM and two storage slots are serviceable, it doesn't lose as much performance under load, and you can also get it with a dedicated GPU.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) and the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020) are very similar Windows laptops. The Aspire 5 has a backlit keyboard that provides a much better typing experience and a better port selection that includes a USB-C port. On the other hand, the Inspiron 15 has longer battery life and is more serviceable, making it easier to upgrade the components yourself after purchase. You can only get the Inspiron 15 with an Intel CPU, but the Aspire 5 is available with AMD or Intel processors.
The ASUS X515 (2020) and the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) are very similar Windows laptops. The Inspiron 15 offers a better user experience because its keyboard is more comfortable to type on, the touchpad has better tracking, and its webcam has better video quality. It also has better serviceability, making it easier to upgrade the memory and storage after purchase. The X515 has a USB-C port which the Inspiron 15 lacks, but it only supports data transfer, meaning you can't use it for charging or video output.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) and the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019) are very different laptops. The Inspiron 15 is a budget 15.6 inch Windows laptop designed for simple tasks like web browsing, text formatting, and video playback. The MacBook Pro is a premium 16 inch macOS laptop designed for professionals who need a lot of processing power for tasks like video editing or 3D rendering. The MacBook is better for the most part because it offers a better user experience with a sharper, brighter, and more color-accurate display, as well as a much better touchpad and webcam. It also has better build quality and longer battery life.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i (2023) is better than the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) for most uses. The IdeaPad Slim 3i has a brighter display, a more comfortable keyboard, and a better webcam. Additionally, it's available with faster CPUs and doesn't get as hot or loud under load.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) is marginally better than the Acer Aspire 3 15 (2023) for most uses. The Dell has a slightly sturdier build, and it's much more upgradeable because you can replace the RAM. It also has two storage slots, whereas the Acer only has one. The Dell offers more configuration options, including a brighter IPS display, a more powerful NVIDIA GeForce MX330 discrete GPU, and up to 16GB of RAM. On the other hand, the Acer has a faster SSD, and the keyboard doesn't get as hot under load. The Acer has a USB-C port, although you can also get the Dell with one.
The ASUS Vivobook 16 M1605 (2023) is much better than the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020). The ASUS is available with newer and faster CPUs, providing a better user experience overall with a better keyboard and touchpad. It also has a better webcam, a faster SSD, and longer battery life. However, the Dell is more upgradeable, as it has two SO-DIMM memory and storage slots, whereas the ASUS only has one of each.
The Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) is much better than the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) for most uses. Although the Swift 3's screen is smaller, it looks better because it has a higher contrast ratio, a wider color gamut, and better color accuracy out of the box. The Swift 3's keyboard feels better to type on, but its touchpad doesn't track as well as the Inspiron 15's. The Swift 3 has significantly longer battery life and a much better port selection that includes a USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 support. The Inspiron 15 is more serviceable, though, so you can easily add more memory or storage yourself after purchase.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) and the ASUS VivoBook Flip 14 (2020) are both Windows laptops. However, the VivoBook Flip is a 2-in-1 convertible with a 360-degree hinge, while you can only use the Inspiron 15 in clamshell mode. The Inspiron 15 provides a better user experience for the most part because it has a larger and brighter display, its keyboard feels more comfortable to type on, and its touchpad has better tracking. It also has a webcam with better video quality and more ports. That said, the VivoBook Flip has longer battery life and is more portable.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 (2020) is much better than the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (2020) for most uses. The IdeaPad Flex has a backlit keyboard that's more comfortable to type on, a better port selection, and a much longer battery life. Also, the IdeaPad Flex can be used as a tablet because it has a 360-degree hinge, while the Inspiron is limited to clamshell mode. The Inspiron 15 is more serviceable, making it easier to upgrade after purchase. The Inspiron 15 is only available with Intel processors, but you can get the IdeaPad Flex with an Intel or AMD CPU.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3501 has a simple but bland design. The borders are a bit thick, especially the bottom chin, and they look somewhat cheap. On the bottom of the laptop, there are exhaust vents near the back and speakers near the front. It's only available in one color scheme: Carbon Black.
The build quality is decent. Even though it's entirely plastic, it feels well-built, and there aren't any obvious gaps in the construction. There's some flex in the display and the keyboard deck, but almost none when the laptop is closed. Likewise, the plastic chassis picks up oil from handling, but it isn't too bad. If you want a more premium laptop with better build quality, check out the Dell XPS 13 (2021).
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 is a thin and light laptop that's easy to carry around. It doesn't have a USB-C port for charging, so you have to use the included barrel plug power adapter, but on the upside, it's also very compact and should fit easily into most bags.
The serviceability is outstanding. It's easy to access the internals as you only have to remove some Philips screws. The back corner screws are partially attached to the panel to help you pull it open so that you don't need to use a pick. The 8GB model runs in single-channel mode, meaning it's only taking up one of the two RAM slots, so there's another one available if you want to add more or switch to a dual-channel configuration for better performance. There's also an additional storage slot for a 2.5-inch SSD.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 has two display options: a 720p TN or a 1080p IPS panel. The 1080p display's pixel density is decent; It's okay for general productivity, but it might not be sharp enough for content creators. The 720p display has a lower pixel density of 100 PPI, so text and images will look more blurry and pixelated. Support for touch input is optional.
The Dell Inspiron 3000 is only available with 60Hz displays, which is typical for a budget productivity laptop. The 1080p panel's response time is slow, causing noticeable ghosting, so it isn't ideal for viewing fast-moving content or gaming. The 720p TN panel will likely perform similarly.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3501's IPS panel has mediocre screen brightness. It doesn't get bright enough to combat glare, so visibility is an issue in well-lit environments. In contrast, it gets very dim at the lowest brightness setting, providing a more comfortable viewing experience in the dark. Dell advertises the TN panel as having the same maximum brightness. This laptop has an Eco Mode in the BIOS that limits the screen brightness and is turned on by default, but we disabled it for testing. If you need a laptop with a brighter display, check out the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15 (2021).
The reflection handling is decent. Its matte anti-reflective coating is excellent at reducing the intensity of direct lights, but some reflections are still visible even with the screen at maximum brightness.
The black uniformity is bad. There's severe clouding throughout the screen, as well as some backlight bleed along the top and bottom edges. However, this is only visible when viewing a dark scene in a dark room. The TN panel's black uniformity will be significantly worse due to its poor viewing angles.
The horizontal viewing angle is okay. The image looks dimmer and washed out from the side, but the overall picture quality is still good enough to share the screen with someone else as long as you don't need perfect accuracy. The TN panel will perform significantly worse.
The Dell Inspiron 3000 has okay vertical viewing angles. The image remains accurate until you reach a moderate angle, so you have some play to tilt the screen before the accuracy degrades. The TN panel will be much worse as TN panels usually suffer from color inversion.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 has poor display accuracy out of the box. The white balance is passable, but most colors are inaccurate due to the panel's narrow color gamut. The color temperature is a bit warmer than the standard 6500K target, giving the image a slight reddish tint. The gamma doesn't follow the sRGB curve and seems to target a flat 2.3, making most scenes appear darker than they should.
The Dell Inspiron 3000 has a poor color gamut. It doesn't even have full coverage of the standard sRGB color space, making most content look washed out. It also has very limited coverage of wider color spaces like Adobe RGB, DCI P3, and Rec. 2020. It's okay for general productivity and media consumption but not for color-critical work or viewing HDR content.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3501 has a middling keyboard. The typing experience is okay as the keys are very stable and have a good amount of travel. However, they feel mushy and aren't sufficiently spaced, making it a bit tiring to type on for extended periods. Backlighting is optional, so it's best to check the specifications if this is something you need. If you want a laptop with a better keyboard, check out the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i 15 (2023).
The Dell Inspiron 3000 has good speakers. They sound relatively well-balanced with a fair amount of bass extension, though not enough to produce a deep rumbling sound. Unfortunately, they're down-firing and don't get very loud.
The webcam is mediocre. The image looks soft and underexposed, and most colors are inaccurate. It manages to capture some small details, like on the cards, but other fine details like the rope and hair are lost. The microphone sounds relatively clear; however, it's too loud and sensitive to surrounding noise. There's also some static in the background.
The port selection is passable. The two USB-A ports on the left side support USB 3.2 Gen 1 transfer speed (up to 5Gbps), but the one on the right only supports USB 2.0 standard (up to 480Mbps). There isn't a USB-C port, but Dell states that it's an optional feature available on some models. The HDMI port makes it easier to connect an external display; however, the output is limited to a maximum resolution of 1080p @ 60Hz. There's a slot for a Kensington lock on the right side. If you want a similar laptop with a USB-C or HDMI 2.0 port, check out the Acer Aspire 3 15 (2023).
The Dell Inspiron 3000's wireless adapter is a Qualcomm QCA9377.
You can configure the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 with the following CPUs:
All three CPUs are power-efficient U-series processors designed for simple tasks like web browsing, video playback, and text formatting. However, the Core i5 and i7 CPUs can handle heavier multitasking and workloads like photo editing as long as the material isn't overly complex. The Core i7-1165G7 is the top-end CPU option and faster than the Core i5-1135G7 on paper, but the increase in performance likely isn't huge because it may throttle more under load due to thermal limitations, as we've seen with the Acer Swift 3 14 (2020) and the HP ENVY x360 13 (2020).
This laptop is only available with integrated graphics. The Core i3-1115G4 has Intel UHD Graphics for 11th Gen processors with 48 execution units, the Core i5-1135G7 has Intel Iris Xe Graphics with 86 execution units, and the Core i7-1165G7 has Intel Iris Xe Graphics with 96 execution units. There's also an NVIDIA GeForce MX330 discrete GPU option, but it seems to be available only in certain regions.
The Intel integrated graphics are designed to handle simple tasks like web browsing and video playback. The Core i5 and Core i7's Iris Xe Graphics can handle some light gaming, but you'll likely have to turn down some graphics settings to achieve playable frame rates. You can also get a fairly smooth experience when performing some graphically intensive tasks like photo and video editing, but as with the CPU, it depends on the complexity of the material. The NVIDIA GeForce MX330 is an entry-level discrete GPU that performs similarly to the NVIDIA GeForce MX350 in the Acer Aspire 5 15 (2020). Because it has 2GB of dedicated VRAM, it'll provide a smoother experience than the Intel Iris Xe graphics in VRAM-heavy applications, but it still isn't powerful enough to handle demanding modern AAA titles.
You can configure the laptop with 4, 8, 12, or 16GB of RAM. It's best to get at least 8GB because 4GB is very limiting and can cause some stutters or slowdowns when multitasking. The 8GB model runs in single-channel configuration, which can impact performance in some applications. However, there's a second RAM slot, so you can easily add another memory stick yourself after purchase. There are 3200MHz memory options available, but only on models with an NVIDIA GeForce MX330 discrete GPU.
You can configure this laptop with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of PCIe NVMe storage. There's an additional slot for a 2.5 inch SSD if you need more space.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 performs reasonably well in the Geekbench 5 benchmarks. It has excellent single-thread performance, but its multi-thread performance is disappointing due to its limited number of cores and threads. The Intel Core i5 and i7 models will perform slightly better in single-threaded applications, but it's in multi-threaded applications that you'll see the most gain because they have double the core and thread count.
If your workload consists of simple tasks like web browsing and video playback, and you don't perform any heavy multitasking, the Core i3 is powerful enough to provide a smooth experience. However, if you need to run multi-threaded applications or tend to have many programs running simultaneously, it's best to go with the Core i5 or i7.
As for the GPU compute performance, none of the integrated GPUs are ideal for graphically intensive tasks in a professional environment. However, if you need to do some light photo or video editing from time to time, the Intel Core i5 and i7 models with Intel Iris Xe graphics or models with the NVIDIA GeForce MX330 are preferable.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 performs terribly in the Blender benchmark. The Intel Core i5 and i7 are faster and take less time to render the same scene, but they're still not fast enough for any practical purposes. We couldn't run the GPU render test because Blender doesn't support the integrated GPU. That said, the GPU will likely take even longer to complete the task. The NVIDIA GeForce MX330 will be faster than integrated graphics, but not by much.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 performs terribly in the Basemark GPU benchmark. The Intel Iris Xe graphics on the Core i5 and i7 and the NVIDIA GeForce MX330 discrete GPU can handle some light or older titles, but you'll likely have to play at the lowest graphical settings to get consistent frame rates.
The storage drive performance is outstanding. Its fast read and write speeds make the system feel very responsive, particularly when booting up the computer, launching apps, and transferring files. Its random write speed is especially impressive, faster than many premium laptops like the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019). The speed of the SSD may vary depending on the size, as larger SSDs tend to perform better.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3501's battery life is okay. It doesn't last long enough for a typical 8-hour workday of light productivity, but it's pretty close, so you'll have to plug it in for a short time at some point during the day. Video playback typically consumes more power and further shortens the battery life, although it's enough to get you through a movie or two and a couple of TV show episodes. Gaming drains the battery very quickly; however, it's still significantly better than laptops with a dedicated GPU. The Intel Core i5 and i7 models will likely have shorter battery life because they run at a higher clock speed and have more cores and threads, and it'll be even shorter on the models with an NVIDIA GeForce MX330 GPU. If you want a similar Windows laptop with longer battery life, check out the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021).
Borderlands 3 isn't playable on the Dell Inspiron 3000 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4. It can't even reach 30fps at the lowest graphical settings, and we had to perform the benchmark in DirectX 11 because it kept crashing in DirectX 12. The Intel Core i5 variants will perform better than the Core i3, although not enough to make the game playable. The Intel Core i7 and models with an NVIDIA GeForce MX330 can likely reach 30 fps at the lowest settings but with frequent stutters.
Civilization VI runs terribly on the an Intel Core i3-1115G4 model. It's choppy even at the lowest graphical settings, and the turn time is long. It's playable on the Intel Core i5 and i7 variants and models with an NVIDIA GeForce MX330, but only if you lower the graphical settings to near minimum. We performed the benchmark on DirectX 11 because it kept crashing on DirectX 12.
CS:GO runs poorly on the Intel Core i3-1115G4 model. You can get over 60fps on average at the lowest setting, but it's still choppy at times, which isn't ideal for an FPS game. The Intel Core i5 and i7 models and variants with an NVIDIA GeForce MX330 can achieve playable frame rates, but you may have to lower some graphical settings.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs terribly on the Intel Core i3 model. It can only push out frames in the single digits at high settings, and even with the graphics turned down, it's still too choppy. The Intel Core i5 and i7 variants and models with an NVIDIA GeForce MX330 can likely reach 30fps at the lowest graphical settings, but you'll still get a lot of frame drops in busy scenes. We ran the benchmark in DirectX 11 because it kept crashing on DirectX 12.
The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 has decent thermal and noise performance. The keyboard deck is cool when idle, and fan noise isn't noticeable unless you're in a completely silent room. The temperature rises significantly under load, but the hottest spot is near the top of the keyboard, away from the area where the hands usually rest when typing. Fan noise is audible under load, although it isn't distracting. If you need a laptop with better thermal performance, check out the ASUS X515 (2020).
The Dell Inspiron 3000's performance over time is exceptional. The CPU temperature is quite high under load, but there's very little thermal throttling, and the performance loss isn't noticeable in most uses. The GPU doesn't get very hot and doesn't throttle at all.
The Dell Inspiron 3000 with an Intel Core i3-1115G4 ships with Windows 10 in S mode by default, but the Core i5 and Core i7 models come with the full version of the operating system. Windows S mode is a stripped-down version of Windows designed for low-end hardware. It only lets you install apps from the Windows Store, which means you can't install apps like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. There's an option to switch out of S mode, but you can't go back to it once you've activated the full version of Windows.
There are a couple of pre-installed software applications, including: