Dell Inspiron N5030 Review

I don’t usually post reviews, however I recently acquired a new Dell Inspiron N5030 laptop computer. As there doesn’t appear to be much information on this product, I thought I’d write a small review.

1. Build Quality

The build quality of the Dell Inspiron N5030 is actually very good, considering I picked up the device for £280 excluding VAT direct from the Dell website. It is comprised of a black plastic ABS enclosure with a matt black finish for both the top of the screens lid and the surface area around the keyboard and the screen itself. The case is also complimented by a “3D” pattern design which I found quite smart and makes the device slightly unique compared to other laptops in the Dell range. The device feels good enough quality survive being dropped, without it breaking into pieces, unlike the much more expensive Dell XPS Studio 1340 I also own.

2. Technical Specification

As this is Dell’s entry level laptop the technical specification isn’t the world’s greatest, but I think it is very reasonable for the £280 price tag. The late 2010 model contains the following hardware specification:

Intel Celeron 900(2.20GHz,800MHz,1MB)
2048MB 1333MHz Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM [1×2048]
250GB (5,400rpm) Serial ATA Hard Drive
Mobile Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
DVD +/- RW Drive (read/write CD & DVD)
15.6″ High Definition (1366×768) WLED Display with TrueLife

When running a Windows Experience Index on a 64-bit installation of Windows 7 Enterprise the Dell Inspiron N5030 produced the following results:

Inspiron N5030 Windows Experience Index 300x128 Dell Inspiron N5030 Review

Overall a score of 3.4 isn’t that bad for the most basic Dell laptop, with it’s Intel Integrated Graphics being the lowest determining score. If you looking for a gaming laptop however, then this device is certainly not for you, as it’s on-board graphics simply do not provide the performance required for latest generation games. On a another note, the Intel Integrated Graphics do display Windows 7 with full aero functionality, meaning you get all the nice glass and aero peek features.

It is also worth nothing that upgrading the laptops memory from 2GB to 4GB can be achieved by purchasing an additional 2GB SO-DIMM from a supplier such as Crucial, their handy system scanner correctly identifies and suggests memory upgrades the N5030. At the time of writing, an additioal 2GB memory module is only £19.96. The laptop itself unfortunately does not contain a traditional memory door on the base of the unit, to install additional memory the keyboard must be removed to reveal the on-board DIMMS’s and details on how to perform this are located within it’s user manual.

3. Connectivity & Input Types

Connectivity types on the N5030 are basic, as you would expect. The laptop contains three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port and a 100MB Ethernet port. It is also worth noting, that all of these connections are situated on the left hand side of the laptop. Due the cases design there are no connectivity ports located on the back of the laptop, so if you looking to place this on a desk and have Ethernet, power and USB connections coming from the rear, this may not be for you.

The N5030 also contains a basic two button trackpad, which looks and feels nice. I have noticed however, that when using the trackpad to either single or double click, opposed to using the dedicated buttons, it does need a fairly heavy tap to register an action. Also when moving the cursor around with the trackpad you need to apply a little pressure, overall it isn’t the most touch sensitive I’ve used, but you get what you pay for!

Also hidden away in the laptop’s screen is a 0.3 (you read that correctly) megapixel camera, suffice to say it is low quality and unless used in very good light the frame rate generated by the camera is low, giving the user a “slow motion” experience.

4. Other

Other things to mention are that the 6-Cell battery life is generally very good, when using wireless connectivity I am achieving two and half to three hours of use. Wireless connectivity is also of a good quality with the laptop containing a Atheros 802.11n WiFi module which I haven’t experienced any issues with. The quality of the WLED with TrueLife display is also very good, and the brightness can be adjusted to quite a high ratio. The only pitfall of the screen is that it is very susceptible to light reflection.

5. Overall

Overall the Dell Inspiron N5030 is a great entry level laptop. I would recommend the laptop is geared towards casual users, looking for something to perhaps do word processing on and/or browse the Internet. The laptop however would prove a disappointment if purchased for gaming or any overly CPU intensive applications due to it’s basic hardware specification.

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    5 Comments

    1. I bought this laptop for my g/f for Christmas, and have not installed anything else (no games or any apps – as all she needs is already installed) and noticed the following:
      The track pad suddenly stopped working (possibly a combination of hibernation mode?) A reset cured the problem.
      There are 3 USB ports on the left hand side as you mention, but for most USB connectors, two of these ports are inaccessible due to being recessed too far.
      When ripping a CD with Windows Media player, the drive seemed to be 1x speed. Ripping the same CD on an older laptop was properly fast.

      Can you tell me if you have the same issues?

    2. Hi Giles, thank you for the comment. I can confirm, I do not appear to have the USB issue you have reported. I have just tried four different USB devices in the two USB ports that are located one above the other and the single USB port located to the right of the VGA connector. All USB devices connected correctly, although did need a bit of a push. If you are not able to connect some devices, then this may be a physical build issue with your laptop

      I haven’t had any issues with the trackpad becoming unresponsive, only the sensitivity issues I mentioned in the review. Although yesterday I noticed that when using the webcam and moving the screen back or forward, the webcam stops working.

      I have tested ripping a music CD in Windows Media Player and an 11 track album, with around four minutes per song, ripped at three and a half minutes. Roughly 20-30 seconds per track. I don’t how that matches to the read performance you are getting.

      I’d generally advise, particularly in the case of the recessed USB ports, contacting Dell and making them aware of the problem or asking for a replacement. Their returns policy is generally good and you can usually get advanced replacements on devices, you may have go through their technical support diagnosis though. I hope this helps.

    3. Thanks for the reply,
      The CD speed was about real time, e.g. it would take 5 minutes to rip a 5 minute song!
      I shall try a few different CDs and check for driver updates. I did disable the virus checker and the roxio tool as a precaution but it made no difference. The CPU was not kept busy, so it’s obviously a driver/disc maybe even bios issue.
      I’ll ask g/f if she’s bothered about the USB ports before getting it sorted – even the microsoft mouse wouldn’t go in.

      Obviously if I can’t resolve the CD issue, then getting Dell to look at both things at the same time would be a good plan.

      Many thanks.

    4. I have found that every now and again my mouse will stop working (a microsoft USB mouse) then i will hve to uninstall and reinstall the USB drivers (all of them) generally it takes 5 or 6 tries to get it working again but its not like after i unplug it then plug it back in its wile im using it it will cut out and then not work when this happens anything i plug in will not work, it is starting to get extremely annoying and i would appreciate if someone would know how to fix it, my 5030 is a week old, has a 1.7gb Intel video card, 4 gb of ram, a 500gb hard drive, and a dual core 2.8gh processor running 64 bit Windows 7 Premium

    5. I bought one of these in late March 2011. Mine seems to be a slightly higher spec (500 gb hard disk, 4 MB RAM, Pentium dual-core T4500 2.30 ghz processor). It produces the same score on the Windows Experience Index, though.

      Overall, I am very happy as well. Great quick delivery from Dell, and everything seems to work perfectly.

      However, in my opinion the build quality feels a little cheap. The laptop is thicker than I expected. It sounds hollow when you tap the top surfaces, and the keyboard is very noisy.

      My wife bought an Inspiron 1545 about 6 months ago, and it looks better and feels more solid – so I was a bit surprised by the step down in surface quality. Not that it matters too much.

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