This week, Dell is launching its 2021 Inspiron laptop line. The new lineup features refreshed models with Tiger Lake CPUs for Inspiron 13, 14, 14 2-in-1, and 15 laptops—and a brand-new Inspiron 16 Plus.
If you’re not familiar with Dell branding, Inspiron is its budget laptop lineup—but in this context, “budget” means solid laptop designs targeted to price-sensitive customers, but not bottom-of-the-barrel cheap stuff. You’ll find the same Intel i3, i5, and i7 CPUs in these Inspiron models as you’d find in more expensive Dell Latitudes, HP Probooks, and so forth.
2021 Inspiron 13
In most of the world, the Inspiron 13 is available in one color—”Platinum Silver with tonal blocking.” Chinese customers get a Peach Dust option (also with tonal blocking) as well. The Inspiron features a 13.3″ display in 1920×1200 or 2560×1600 16:10 resolution, and it comes with a choice of Intel i3-1125G4, i5-11300H, or 17-11370H CPU, and (on the i5 and i7 models) an optional Nvidia GeForce MX450 GPU. Weight starts at 1.25kg (2.75lb)—we’re not shown a full range of weights, but we don’t see any options that should plump things up much, either.
All models feature Intel Wi-Fi 6 2×2, Bluetooth 5.1, a fingerprint reader integrated into the power key, and 720p integrated webcam. The two USB-C ports on the left side are Thunderbolt 4.0 certified and offer PowerDelivery and DisplayPort options. RAM is either 8GiB or 16GiB onboard, and storage ranges from 128GB M.2 NVMe to 2TB M.2 NVMe.
Users who are extra-picky about keyboards should take a look at the first photo above—all this year’s Inspiron models include the compressed arrow key layout we know some of you aren’t so fond of.
Inspiron 13 prices start at $600, and these models are already available in North America.
2021 Inspiron 14
For the most part, Inspiron 14 is Inspiron 13 with a slightly bigger display—it offers a similar Core i3 / Core i5 / Core i7 lineup, with optional MX450 GPU on the Core i5 / Core i7 models. It offers the same two colors—only one of which, Platinum Silver, is available outside China—and the same port layout. The only screen resolution on Inspiron 14 is standard 1080p, in 250-nit or 300-nit brightness options. RAM is up to 32GB, and storage is up to 1TB M.2 NVMe.
One key difference to note is which Core i3 CPU is available on the 14. The Inspiron 13 offers the relatively speedy i3-1125G4, with four cores / eight threads, and a Passmark score of 10,327. The Inspiron 14’s i3 model, i3-1115G4 has only two cores / four threads and a Passmark score of only 6,443.
The Inspiron 14 has an Ubuntu operating system option, unlike the 13—but it’s stated in the spec sheet as Ubuntu (selected countries), so we’re not certain about availability. Of course, even if the Ubuntu model isn’t available in your country, that’s a near-certain guarantee that you can install Ubuntu yourself without any undue problems.
Starting weight for the Inspiron 14 is 1.46kg (3.22lb). Prices start at $550, and availability in North America begins on May 4.
2021 Inspiron 14 2-in-1
Inspiron 14 also comes in a 2-in-1 model—meaning this version can fold entirely flat, with keyboard sandwiched beneath the display, for use in tablet mode. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 has a different port layout than the 13 and 14 clamshell models—a DC barrel jack replaces one of the USB-C ports, and there’s an additional USB-A port on the left. The CPU lineup is different also—on the low end, there’s the same relatively speedy 4c/8t Core i3-1125G4 that we saw in the Inspiron 13. From there, things get more complicated.
Core i5-1135G7 and Core i7-1165G7 models have optional GeForce MX350 GPUs—which strike us as a dubious upgrade from the built-in Iris Xe graphics on those models.The MX350 is slightly higher performance, but only slightly—and adds power consumption and heat generation that might not be worth it.
In addition to i5-1135G7 and i7-1165G7 options, we’ve got AMD Ryzen 5 5500U and Ryzen 7 5700U models. The battle between Tiger Lake and Ryzen 5000 mobile is much closer than most Intel versus AMD scenarios—Intel’s got a significant lead in single-core performance, but (as usual) it gets trashed on multithreaded workloads. AMD’s also got a slight lead in integrated GPU performance—but thanks to Iris Xe, Intel is, for once, probably not far enough behind to matter.
Inspiron 14 2-in-1 weights start at 1.5kg (3.31lbs) with 41WHr battery, or 1.56kg (3.43lbs) with 54WHr battery. Prices begin at $730, and availability in North America begins May 4.
2021 Inspiron 15
Dell’s new Inspiron 15 offers Intel Core i3-1125G4, i5-1135G7, and i7-1165G7 CPU options. Core i5 and Core i7 models can be ordered with optional GeForce MX350 discrete GPU. The single USB Type-C port on Inspiron 15 offers both PowerDelivery and Video options. RAM is available from 4GiB through 32GiB, and storage ranges from 128GB M.2 NVMe through 1TB M.2 NVMe.
The Inspiron 15 has one 250-nit touch display option and two non-touch options in 250-nit and 300-nit brightness. All are 1080p FHD. The Inspiron 15 also shows Ubuntu operating system options in “selected countries.” It’s available in either Mist Blue or Platinum Silver.
Inspiron 15 models will start at $550, with availability in North America beginning May 4.
2021 Inspiron 16 Plus
Inspiron 16 Plus is a new form factor, and it looks to be one to watch out for. The 16 Plus offers Intel 11th-gen Core H-series processors—most likely, the same ones featured in Inspiron 13, but we don’t yet know for sure—up to 32GiB RAM and optional GPUs ranging up to GeForce RTX 3060 mobile. The only display offered is a 16.0″ 3K (3072×1920) nontouch, at 300-nits brightness.
Storage ranges from 256GB M.2 NVMe to 2TB M.2 NVMe. Wi-Fi is Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201 2×2, and the A/V gets a bump over smaller models with a dual digital mic array, “tuned speakers” with Waves MaxxAudio audio processing, and temporal noise reduction. This model offers either a 3-cell 56WHr or 6-Cell 86WHr battery; we don’t yet know the weight for these systems.
Unfortunately, despite its size, Inspiron 16 Plus still features the compressed arrow-key layout many Arsians strongly dislike. But with a starting price of only $950, we’re potentially excited about it as a budget gaming laptop—although we wait with bated breath to see just how much more expensive the RTX 3060-equipped models will be. These laptops are scheduled for availability in North America on June 3.