Review of Dell Inspiron 15 3542 with Haswell Refresh

Review of Dell Inspiron 15 3542 with Haswell Refresh


    Review of Dell Inspiron 15 3542 with updated line of Intel Core i5-4210U processor from Haswell Refresh. The laptop’s casing isn’t metal and it can’t be called an ultrabook. However, inside is the freshest processor set Core i5-4210U. Let’s see what Haswell Refresh has to promise us; and yes, there are a couple of other surprises in this review of Dell Inspiron 15 3542.

    Standard description; inexpensive laptop: simple, cheap, plastic housing. Mediocre TN-matrix, mediocre dynamics, and not the most powerful stuffing.

    A generally typical and dull picture is broken up by the processor – Intel Core i5-4210U, which greatly saves the overall impression of the Dell Inspiron 15 3542.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542


    Series Inspiron 15 3000 refers to the cost, so expect some revelations from the design is not necessary. Laptop looks quite decent, but nothing more. Its cover is made of opaque plastic with a neat relief pattern. The bottom panel and the workspace are made of ordinary, slightly rough unpainted black plastic.

    Scratches, these parts are not afraid, but fingerprints will be visible quite well. Fortunately, they can be removed in just a few moments, and this fabric is suitable for any, even the most rough.

    Absolutely without gloss, unfortunately, has not done. Designers inserted it in the unusual place – on the side of the notebook. Of course, the “fingers” can be seen here is wonderful, and even scratch the surface is not too difficult – just connect a USB flash drive carelessly.

    Of course, a small amount of gloss exterior refreshes several devices, but in terms of practicality it would be better to use only matte plastic. Well, or metal – but this is from the fantasy.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    But without the gloss does cost the work area – no its not on your keyboard, or around the display. By the way, no keyboard backlight, and marking key has a neutral color. So dilute the sense of austerity and asceticism can only bright stickers informing about the guts of the laptop.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    Keyboard in Dell Inspiron 15 3542 Chiclet – other recently and can not be found. Secured it well, and even under strong pressure on the central key its foundation almost no flex. In addition, the operating noise of the keys was low, and when you pressed feels good.

    In fact, only what you can complain about – too soft keystroke, although someone and he is likely to appeal.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    The Dell Inspiron 15 3542 has a large touchpad (105h60 mm) has a fashionable “buttonless” design. Physical only one button, it is hidden under the surface of the touchpad. Move button is rather short, but not too hard, quiet operation, and when you pressed feels good.

    Unfortunately, our guinea touchpad there was one unpleasant feature: its lower left edge is slightly raised up. Fortunately, when closing the lid does not touch the touch panel screen, so there were no injuries.

    In the Dell we were assured that this shortcoming is inherent only in this pre-production samples in retail laptops this defect will not. Note, however, that this is not the first time when we are faced with this kind of trouble in laptops Dell.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    On the right side of the cover is the optical drive slot memory card reader, and the only connector USB 3.0.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    The left side is much more loaded. Here, a pair of USB-2.0 ports, combo audio jack, RJ-45 and HDMI, as well as the ventilation grille and power jack.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    On the front panel there is nothing but white (and rather dull) battery status indicator, which when critically low charge will glow red.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    The back side of the case when the cover is completely hidden, so that it did not become a place.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    On the bottom, in the near part of the user, a pair of speakers. Also, there is a large removable panel that provides access to the memory modules, hard drive and expansion cards.

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    Here a little ventilation holes. Laptop leans on the two plastic projection at the front part and on the four legs similar oval rubber arranged at the corners. The legs were quite stiff, so they do not collect dust from the surface on which the laptop.

    Specifications of Dell Inspiron 15 3542

    Dell Inspiron 15 3542
    Processor Intel Core i5-4510U: 1,7 GHz (up to 2.7 GHz mode TurboBoost), 3MB L3;
    Two cores, TDP 15 W
    Chipset Intel Lynx Point-LP
    Graphics Controller Intel HD 4400;
    NVIDIA GeForce 820M (2 GB GDDR3);
    Automatic graphics switching – NVIDIA Optimus
    Screen 15.6 inches; resolution of 1366×768
    Matrix type – TN, glossy finish
    Memory 4GB DDR3-1600 (one expansion slot)
    Hard Drive HDD 500GB (WDC WD500LPVX-75V0TT0)
    Optical drive DVD-RW
    Flash cards jack SD (SDHC/SDXC)
    Interfaces 1 x USB 3.0;
    2 x USB 2.0;
    1 x HDMI;
    1 x RJ-45 (Ethernet);
    1 x combo audio jack (mini-jack 3,5 mm)
    Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, 2,4 GHz, 1×1 (Atheros AR9565)
    Bluetooth 4
    LAN Adapter
    10/100/1000 Mbit / s (Realtek RTL8139/810x)
    Sound Two speakers, microphone
    Battery Detachable, four cylindrical battery
    Capacity 40 Wh
    Power supply
    65W (19,5 V, 3,34 A)
    Dimensions, mm 381x268x25,6
    Weight, kg
    OS Ubuntu Linux
    Estimated price from $400
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    Dell Inspiron 15 3542
    Dell Inspiron 15 3542
    Dell Inspiron 15 3542
    Dell Inspiron 15 3542


    Our guinea relates to the budget class, but in reality it is not as simple as it seems at first glance. It is based on a low-voltage processor is pretty good Intel Core i5-4210U, which can be found in the fashionable and expensive Ultrabooks. The main difference from its immediate predecessor – i5-4200U – is increased to 100 MHz frequency, as well as maximum and mode Turbo Boost.

    The chip has an integrated Intel HD 4400 video with a range of operating frequencies from 200 MHz to 1000 MHz. There are discrete graphics, but the most unpretentious: NVIDIA GeForce 820M with GDDR3 2GB. This entry-level solution, so miracles from it is not worth waiting. But teplopaket video card such as modest as the processor 15 watts.

    Memory module is represented by one DDR3L 4GB. Responsible for the storage of files WDC WD500LPVX-75V0TT0 500GB – not very fast hard disk rotation speed which is composed of 5400 rev / min.


    As an opponent for performance evaluation was chosen 15-inch HP Pavilion 15-n029sr. Some characteristics it is similar to our guest today, but the platform it used different: HP is based on the quad-core AMD A10-5745M with 2.1 GHz (2.9 GHz in turbo mode).

    In addition, the processor AMD A10-5745M is another big plus – its integrated graphics core works in conjunction with discrete graphics AMD Radeon HD 8670M.

    Since our modification of the Dell laptop came with Ubuntu Linux, then for all tests was set at laptop Windows 8.1.

    CPU tests

    Despite the fact that the opponent can boast quad-core processor, in all the tests he lags well behind the Dell Inspiron 15 3542. Largest gap is observed when transcoding mp3 – this test, and many other real-world tasks, uses only one processor core that giving the advantage to Intel Core i5-4210U.

    Video subsystem tests

    In tests the graphics are not so easy. On the one hand, there is a synthetic benchmark 3DMark good breakaway GeForce 820M hybrid graphics from AMD.

    In most real games with minimal image quality Dell laptop is also noticeably outperforms its competitor. However, it should set the maximum quality settings – and the gap is greatly reduced, and in some games and all is lost.

    However, it is almost pure theory: more or less comfortable to play with these settings can only be in Deus EX: Human Revolution – the frame rate used by us in other games are not even close to the sacred crept 30 FPS. Run on a laptop Dell Crysis 3 we, unfortunately, did not happen.

    Separately, they were tested in a popular multiplayer game World of Tanks. At maximum graphics settings laptop was able to provide an average of 15.7 frames per second, which is completely unplayable. But at minimum settings FPS level is much more decent – 57.6, that should be enough for a comfortable game.


    Laptop Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series can be equipped as usual display and touch. We have been given a laptop with a simple screen. Unfortunately, the exact model of the matrix we could not be determined, but that was installed in the laptop TN-matrix, we believe if only because of the small viewing angles and overall image quality.

    Luminosity of the white box on the results of our measurements was 147.9 cd/m2 and black – 1.27 cd/m2, which gives us the final static contrast at 116:1. For modern TN-matrix is rather low figure.

    Measured corresponds to the standard color gamut sRGB color space by 64% or 48% of AdobeRGB. Again very low result. Frankly color faded.

    But the uniformity of illumination we were pleasantly surprised.

    Gamma correction required quite substantial, but managed to achieve decent enough – though not perfect – matching the target range.

    Inflated color temperature – another typical lack of cheap TN-matrices. In this case, only for a pure white color is shown in its normal meaning. For all other grayscale proper temperature is much higher, so that they have a distinct bluish tint.

    But color uniformity across the field display pleases even by the standards of much more expensive solutions.

    About color accuracy in such matrices should not even dream of. In this case, the average value of Delta E is 5.37 – for a budget TN-matrix result is quite predictable.

    In general, display the most that neither is inferior: a very low brightness, contrast disgusting, poor viewing angles, no matter color and other delights of the cheapest TN-matrices.

    Sound system

    Sounding built-in speakers also proved unimportant. Of course, it was not the worst of all tested laptops, but nearly so. The only thing that can boast built speakers – it’s pretty high volume.

    However, twist it to the maximum level of costs only when viewing video from a very quiet scenes, because the presence of loud sound track and even more so when viewing scenes with explosions, car chases and other noisy activities dynamics choke.

    Narrow frequency range appeared – no bass at all, and only slightly higher hatch, no detail, so watch movies on Dell Inspiron 15 3542 can only be in the field.

    Another thing – the sound quality of the analog audio output: it is one of the best among all tested laptops, despite the use of the combo audio, which often degrades the sound quality is great.

    Moreover, as shown by our tests, the sound quality of the analog audio output virtually no effect connection of an external power supply, no activation of the wireless module, which are often guilty of creating a disturbance.

    Laptop audio path is based on fairly fresh decision Realtek ALC255. Laptops equipped with data codec not previously come to us for testing.

    Overall Results
    Frequency response (40 Hz – 15 kHz), dB +0,01, -0,06 Excellent
    Noise level, dB (A) -96,5 Excellent
    Dynamic range, dB (A) 96,4 Excellent
    THD, % 0,0018 Excellent
    THD + Noise, dB (A) -85,6 Good
    IMD + Noise, % 0,005 Excellent
    Crosstalk, dB -96 Excellent
    IMD at 10 kHz,% 0,0057 Excellent
    Overall rating Excellent

    Final points: excellent. This is one of the best results we have ever received. Of course, the ratio of “signal – noise” our little guinea falls short of record results, but there is quite a good indicator.

    Despite high ratings in the synthetic test, do not require integrated solutions flawless sound. Yes, it is high, but when you use good headphones (in our case, estimates were used closed ear headphones Sennheiser HDR 380 Pro) the difference between the analog audio output of laptop and a good sound card with USB-interface is easy enough to notice.

    But the result is still the laptop is more than decent. In steady-state conditions is better to use an external USB-card or connect to the AV-receiver with an HDMI-cable.

    Frequency characteristic
    From 20 Hz to 20 kHz, dB -0,66, +0,01
    From 40 Hz to 15 kHz, dB -0,06, +0,01
    Noise level
    Left Right
    Power RMS, dB -95,5 -95,5
    Power RMS, dB (A) -96,5 -96,5
    Peak level, dB -81,9 -81,2
    Offset DC, % 0 +0,0

    Noise level and heat

    The notebook features a rather “cold” processor teplopaket which is only 15 watts. When viewing photos or listening to audio files at room temperature cooler and stops altogether. When viewing Full HD-video generated noise level is extremely low – no higher than 31.1 dBA. But everything changes with simultaneous high load on the CPU and graphics.

    Testing the algorithm of the cooling system was performed after heating (time viewing Full HD-video). For the organization was launched load stress test package AIDA64. After 30 seconds the specified load noise begins to grow quite quickly, but in the process can distinguish certain stages – is 31.9 dBA 39.8 dBA then 43.6 and finally 46.5 dBA.

    In general, when working with the usual average office suites, watching or listening to media content and even with simple graphics cooling system reminds himself rarely, but at maximum load test laptop was even louder many ultrabooks.

    Under reference conditions with air temperature 21 degrees Celsius hard disk is heated to not more than 41 degrees, and the processor, even during a stress test barely lasted up to 72 degrees. Measure the level of body heat is produced at room temperature for 9 points and 9 points of the bottom of the working area after the stress test described above.

    Temperature operating range, depending on the measuring point was 23-33 degrees Celsius, and the bottom is heated slightly stronger – up to 23-37 degrees. It should be noted that the maximum heating is observed only in the installation of the cooler, and all other areas are heated only to 23-25 ​​degrees. In general, in terms of heat and the heat distribution laptop behaves well.

    Power supply and battery life

    The notebook uses lithium-ion battery capacity of 40 Wh composed of four batteries. For medium such laptop battery capacity is clearly not enough. But do not forget that the Dell Inspiron 3542 used 15 highly efficient processor Intel i5-4210U.

    As in the case of performance testing, as the opponent was taken medium-format notebook HP Pavilion 15-n029sr, based on a bunch of processor AMD A10-5745M hybrid graphics and AMD Radeon HD 8610 and 8670M. Battery capacity it similar, namely 42.3 Wh

    Low W processor Intel Core i5-4210U not leave a chance to equal the competition – with energy saving technologies at Haswell chip family are all very good. With a minimum illumination idle hero of our review of the shutdown in 11 hours – this is twice longer than the HP Pavilion was able to hold 15-n029sr.

    A similar correlation of forces preserved when viewing Full HD-video. It is worth noting that the duration of battery life testing is performed using the integrated graphics core, because it is more than enough power for watching Full HD, and for hibernation.


    At the time of this writing Dell Inspiron 15 3542 just began to be sold in retail, and our hands and got all pre-production sample. We examined modification laptop running Ubuntu Linux in retail will cost about lt;a href=”″gt;550lt;/agt;lt;img src=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” /gt;
    . There are both more and less expensive configuration Inspiron 15 3542: their prices range from 400 to 800 US dollars.

    lt;iframe style=”width:120px;height:240px;” marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ src=”//”gt;
    lt;/iframegt;With regard to general impressions, reproach Dell Inspiron 15 3542 can be a very simple interior decoration, no indicator of the hard disk, frankly cheap display, as well as disgusting sound quality built-in speakers. Separately want to note the bulging body of the touchpad, but the assurances most Dell, this shortcoming is inherent only in our pre-production samples and retail laptops it will not.

    And if we talk about the good side, it is worth noting a very practical case, which will be noticeable scratches, and cover 15 Dell Inspiron 3542 is not afraid of fingerprints, which is rare even among expensive laptops. Keyboard in our guinea was also good: nice to work with her, and she does not flex as much as the other “public sector.” Pleased and sound quality of the analog output, and more or less decent gaming performance.

    One of the most important features of test laptop – its power consumption. While reading the full battery capacity is quite modest enough for 12 hours of battery life.

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