Dell Inspiron 1764 - 17.3in Laptop - Performance & Verdict

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Going by the overall score in PCMark Vantage alone, it appears the Dell performs very similarly to the Samsung R580 we reviewed recently. This makes some sense given they're also similarly priced (at least in this configuration), but in reality they achieve this by different means. While the Dell has a faster processor, its Core i5 outperforming the Core i3 powered Samsung comfortably in the some of the more CPU intensive tests, where gaming is concerned the Samsung has a significant advantage.

We can see this advantage in the Trackmania Nations benchmark, where the Dell's 25.2fps is half that of the R580's 50.2fps. It's a horses for courses issue, however, since if you want that bit of gaming performance you can re-jig the 1764 to use the same Core i3 processor as the R580 and add an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 - a combo that will cost £529, albeit with a 320GB hard drive. Moreover, compared to the Samsung R730 and its older Intel CPU and integrated graphics combo, the Dell doesn't come out too badly - not that this makes it a good gaming machine, mind.

Of greater concern, although not related to performance per se, is that the Inspiron is a comparatively noisy machine - particularly for a big laptop. It's not necessarily that its fan spins up more than other laptops, though it wouldn't surprise us were that the case. It's more that it spins very fast and conspicuously, particularly when the system is called upon to do taxing tasks. We wonder whether this is a result of the slim chassis making cooling less efficient, but whatever the cause it's quite annoying.

This is no reflection on the overall build quality, however, our impression of which is generally positive. Keyboard aside, which we've already covered, this is a very well screwed together system with a strong, smooth hinge action on the screen. There are also quick access hardware panels, making this an easy system to upgrade should you need.

Battery life is very good, too. In some respects this is to be expected given the decent six-cell (49 Watt-hour) battery and frugal integrated graphics, but nonetheless the three hours and 46 minutes in MobileMark 2007's Productivity benchmark is great for such a large laptop. Two hours of DVD playback is a good result, too, and you should get closer to two and a half by reducing screen brightness.


This is a good desktop replacement laptop which, however you configure it, offers excellent value for money and performance. It's got a simple, stylish chassis too, but it's let down by a slightly iffy keyboard and a noisy cooling fan.

Regular readers will notice we've changed the normal format of this laptop review. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Hans Gruber

March 27, 2010, 3:03 pm

Did you mean permutations, Andy? Permeations, from permeate means to flow or spread out through something.

Looks like a decent large display laptop but, should a given component fail (such as the hard drive say), will it be easy to replace without going through Dell? Could I fix an SSD or HDD for example, that I've sourced elsewhere on the net? Cheers.


March 27, 2010, 3:25 pm

@red: Thanks, fixed.

I haven't seen the laptop myself but I'd be very surprised if there wasn't access panels for quickly changing the hard drive and memory as these are found on most laptops.

Hans Gruber

March 27, 2010, 3:41 pm

Hi Ed, no worries.

Yeah the review mentioned quick access panels for swapping out hardware but, and I am not very well informed on this at all, with Dell, do you have to use hardware supplied directly from them for reasons of compatibility (meaning they do something to their laptops' bios/whatnot so the system won't accept any other hardware other than that Dell sell direct)?

I know it's a muddled question, it's just I tried to help a friend replace a faulty DVD drive on his (very old) Dell laptop and even the technicians at PC World couldn't fit a suitable replacement from their own stock of laptop optical drives, since the laptop was having none of it (and this not being down to lack of physical access). I can assume Dell had some special BIOS or other, preventing non Dell sanctioned (and sold) parts, it's always been this question of upgradability that has put me off Dell's systems. Thanks.


March 27, 2010, 3:49 pm

Well, the optical drive is a different matter. These aren't generally an easy thing to change. Certainly, though, there are no BIOS tweaks or such that will limit your options. My Dell 13z, for instance, has a third party hard drive and memory.

Hans Gruber

March 27, 2010, 4:14 pm

Cheers Ed, that's good to know. I feel safer going for Dell now. Ta.


March 27, 2010, 6:43 pm


Someone in my family has the Inspiron 1750, and it has easy access to the hard drive and RAM. Not sure how major the chassis changes are between that and this one.


March 27, 2010, 7:40 pm

I hope build quality in the long term has improved a lot on the Inspiron line! I get the older Inspirons in for repair all the time with loose keys, broken hinges, cracked screen bezels etc. To be fair to them though, they were a very popular line of laptops so you would expect to see more for repair since there is more out there.

I'd personally go for one of Dell's Studio laptops every time though. I think the slight premium is well justified over the Inspirons.


March 27, 2010, 11:01 pm


ALL the things you mention are lack of care nothing wrong at all with inspirons.


March 27, 2010, 11:10 pm

@hank: Yes and no. While most such damage is from misuse, it doesn't necessarily mean the person was out and out negligent. For instance, you can easily crack the screen or hinge by opening it from one side and not the middle - easily done when in a rush. PoisonJam is also quite right to point out that the Studio line are better built.


March 28, 2010, 9:12 pm


Opinion, dropped mine 15 ft onto a hard car park below whilst using it one summer it survived intact when most laptops would easily fall to bits. I am not suggesting this as a test but PoisonJam gave the impression the build quality was a shambles. Mine must have been a toughbook it appears, no loose keys, no cracked bezels, no broken hinges.

Murray Brown

July 17, 2010, 3:16 pm

Does anyone make laptops these days with reflective screens?

craig clackett

October 26, 2010, 9:33 pm

I will not trust dell products I purchased a dell inspiron laptop 2 yrs ago for my eldest daughter, it has only been used about 20 times as I ended up letting her have my old note book as I upgraded and have just recently given it to the next one down but the battery is getting very hot.

I phoned up dell as it is still covered but they looked into it and have said the battery is at the end of its life cycle because the bios says so. After only being used about 20 times I dissagree, they say I need to buy a new one between £60 to £100 odd pounds because its not covered under the service.

I say Rubbish and in my opinion its a fire hazzard and unreliable, I will never trust Dell again and never purchase from them again.


Geoff Richards

October 27, 2010, 11:50 am

@craig - if you install this free utility it will give you all kinds of useful information about your laptop:

Temperatures are in there, as well as the "wear level" reported by the battery. To give you an idea, I have used my Dell Inspiron 13z almost every day for the past year. It remains plugged in most of the time, but I have also run on battery-only and run it down dozens of times. My "wear rate" is 24% of brand-new capacity, meaning the battery will now hold three quarters of what it used to (which might cut a 4 hour battery life to 3 hours, for example).

This phenomenon is quite normal for modern Lithium-Ion rechargable batteries.

However, I do find your situation puzzling. If the laptop has basically sat in a drawer for 2 years, and genuinely only been charged 20 times, I don't see how the battery could possibly require replacing.

Post your test results below and see if they match Dell's claim.


November 10, 2010, 1:35 am

Hey i'm looking at a 1764 for a good price with the i5.

Is it possible to add a graphics card after buying? presumably if there's the upgrade option, it's also possible to do it yourself?

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