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Dell Inspiron M301z review

Andy Vandervell



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Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Dell Inspiron M301z
  • Inspiron M301Z Laptop


Our Score:



  • Impressive touchpad
  • Easy to use
  • Very portable


  • Uses slower 10/100 Mb Fast Ethernet
  • Average speakers
  • Narrow viewing angles

Key Features

  • 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 1.3-megapixel webam
  • 13.3-in display
  • 1.79kg
  • Manufacturer: Dell
  • Review Price: £528.99

We recently looked at the Dell Inspiron M101z, an 11.6-inch ultra-portable that impressed us greatly. Today we're looking at its slightly larger, but similarly specified, 13.3-inch cousin, the M301z.

Like the M101z, the M301z uses low-voltage, AMD processors. In the case of our M301z, it uses a slightly faster 1.5GHz dual-core processor than the 1.3GHz one of the M101z, but it shares the same ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225 graphics core and also has 4GB of RAM. There's a 7,200rpm, 500GB hard drive on-board for storage, but there's still no integrated optical drive. Moreover, unlike the similarly priced HP Pavilion dm3, an external one isn't provided in the box.

Other features include 802.11n Wi-Fi, the fastest kind currently available, and Bluetooth 2.1. You only get 10/100Mb Ethernet, though, which some may find restricting. Naturally there's a webcam, too, a 1.3-megapixel one, and the 13.3-inch display sports the usual 1,366 x 768 native resolution.

While the M101z is related in concept, the M301z has a slightly different design. Its lid and palm-rest share the faux-silver metal effect and to good effect, adding an air of class that belies the affordable pricing; but this is further enhanced by the silver base, and the battery which is mounted at the front (MacBook-style), rather than protruding awkwardly from the back. This does preclude using high-capacity 'extended' batteries, though, which could prove problematic.

Whatever the practical trade-offs, the M301z is a very smart looking machine. Due to its size it's arguably easier to work on than the M101z, too, particularly thanks to its enlarged touchpad and screen. It's slightly less portable as a result, but at 1.79kg it's far from bulky and the 13-inch form-factor has always proved portable enough for most people.

Connectivity is varied, differing slightly from the norm. There are three USB ports, one of which doubles as eSATA, as well as a memory card reader and two audio jacks. Where the M301z deviates is in its video connections, with VGA ejected in favour of a mini-DisplayPort output alongside an HDMI port.

These are discreetly hidden behind a flap at the rear, an arrangement convenient for 'docking' with an external monitor when at home. We're not sure DisplayPort is the best choice for a machine of this type, though, particularly as those with a VGA only monitor will have to purchase a £15 adapter.


September 9, 2010, 11:52 am

'Other features include 802.11n Wi-Fi, the fastest kind currently available'

It's nothing of the sort ... just as the LAN is a budget 10/100, this is a budget g/n card. Fastest available is are a/g/n cards with 3x3 antennae (Intel 5300/6400 etc).

These details are important to those of us running WiFI @ 5GHz to avoid the 30+ G networks in surrounding flats ...


September 9, 2010, 2:59 pm

Just to note, with your first graph for System Performance running PCMark Vantage you have listed the Dell Inspiron M101z as a comparison machine but in the text and all subsequent graphs you refer to the HP Pavilion dm3. Did something slip through the net perhaps?


September 9, 2010, 3:15 pm

Bit disappointing. I had high hopes after reading your review of its sibling.

A bit unrelated but what really annoys me about today's laptops is that 15.4" laptops have the same resolution as 11.6" laptops... if you're giving us a bigger screen at least give up more desktop space. 768 pixels is just too short for me.

Andy Vandervell

September 9, 2010, 3:26 pm

@LC437: Thank you, that's been fixed.


September 9, 2010, 3:33 pm

@Andy Vandervell

You're more than welcome! Also, props to the superb and succinct review of the M101z, it ultimately lead me to replacing my rather beat-up Samsung Q320 with the Dell due to concerns about the lifespan of the Sammy if it were to be dragged to and from University every day. The M101z is a fantastic laptop which makes it a pity that Dell couldn't replicate the excellent keyboard for the M301z.


September 9, 2010, 5:32 pm

I recently saw the M301z at PC World and wasn't very impressed with the finish - seemed a bit tinny to me so I bought the HP Pavillian DM4 instead.


September 10, 2010, 3:17 am

Is there a reason why some laptop reviews have a feature table but others don't? Is it just down to the reviewer?


September 21, 2010, 5:16 pm

Why would you choose to buy something with a lid so flimsy that it dents while under review - see the second illustration?


November 25, 2010, 11:30 pm

"Where the M301z does stumble, however, is battery life. While its 259 minutes (2hrs, 19mins) result..."

I make 259 minutes to be 4hrs, 19 mins?

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