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Dell Inspiron M301z - Performance, Battery Life and Verdict

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

As the above shows, the faster processor in the Dell means it outperforms the HP Pavilion dm3 - another AMD-based machine - by a reasonable margin and matches the Intel-based Asus UL30A. In general use it's a snappy machine that copes comfortably with normal computing tasks, such as productivity, music and video playback, and web browsing. Image editing isn't too arduous either, and the system plays all kinds of HD video smoothly.

It also enjoys a significant advantage in games, producing a playable 28.7fps in our TrackMania Nations test. This means it's powerful enough to do a little very casual gaming, which is more than can be said of most low-voltage ultra-portables around - not to mention any laptop using Intel's HD graphics.

Where the M301z does stumble, however, is battery life. While its 259 minutes (2hrs, 19mins) result in the Productivity test is passable, it's but a fraction of competing machines like the Asus UL30A. Moreover, it's even less than the likes of the Samsung Q330 - a similarly priced 13.3-inch laptop, but one that uses a full-power Intel processor and has an integrated optical drive.

This final point rather undermines the M301z. Though the Samsung Q330, and the more expensive HP Pavilion dm4, aren't quite as portable, as tools they're far more flexible and offer better performance for the money. Sacrificing performance only works if you get the battery life of the Asus UL30A, or the ultimately portability of an M101z or the Acer Aspire Timeline 1810TZ. It's still a solid, attractive machine, but the M301z falls awkwardly between these stools.

Verdict

It has the looks, and it's great to use, but the M301z isn't quite the marvel its smaller cousin is. If you care little for performance it's a very nice, portable machine, but it compromises a little too much performance and features for our liking.

gagagaga

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 ...

LC437

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?

PoisonJam

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.

LC437

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.

DNH

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.

PoisonJam

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?

Pepperrell

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?

InformalAlchemy

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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