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Dell Inspiron M101z - Performance, Battery Life and Verdict

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


It's always interesting to see how Intel and AMD processors compare, and on this evidence the difference in processing power isn't significant. Both the Dell and the Acer perform to a similar level, as does another AMD-based low-voltage system, the HP Pavilion dm3. We'd wager Intel's latest Core i5-based low-voltage CPU ups the performance stakes a notch, but there aren't many models using it yet and certainly not in this price range.

In real-world use, the M101z offers excellent day-to-day productivity performance. Unlike netbooks, where the combination of anti-virus and Windows 7 often results in glacial performance, this laptop can cope with genuine computing. This includes multi-tasking, and you certainly have enough memory to be going on with. It's only really floored by very intensive tasks like HD video encoding, though it can play back any kind of HD video with no problems at all.

Where AMD's chipset comes out on top is in the graphics department. While the Acer can't even muster double figures, the M101z manages a passable 23fps in our TrackMania Nations test. This doesn't make it a gaming machine by a long chalk, but does make playing older titles a more realistic prospect. Moreover, unlike Intel's graphics chip, ATI's actually supports anti-aliasing.

Every cloud has a silver lining, however, as Intel and the Acer retain their superiority in the arguably more important battery life test. Though the M101z still manages an impressive five hours battery life, the 1810TZ lasts over eight and a half. There is an element of diminishing returns here as five hours should suffice for most scenarios, but with the Acer you can be confident in leaving your charger at home. Not so the M101z.

For many this might swing things in favour of the 1810TZ, but the Dell Inspiron M101z is still an outstanding portable laptop. It's definitely the more attractive, sturdier and most usable of the two machines, and has a keyboard we'd love to carry around with us everywhere. If battery life is uppermost in your thoughts then the 1810TZ still wins hands down, but in all other respects the Dell is the better machine.


Dell has produced an outstanding portable laptop in the Inspiron M101z. It doesn't quite match Intel-based systems for battery life, but it's not embarrassed by them and the build quality, features and usability of the M101z is a cut above.


August 19, 2010, 7:28 pm

Just looked at the Dell site and it doesn't appear to come with the graphics card on the one you've reviewed. All 3 spec options have the 'AMD Integrated ATI RS880M Graphics'.

Andy Vandervell

August 19, 2010, 7:57 pm

That's a mistake on Dell's part I believe. That's the name of the chipset that has the HD 4225 graphics integrated onto it. It's listed in the Device Manager on the M101z as ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4225.


August 19, 2010, 10:03 pm

I recently purchased a Dell 11z with their infamous single multi-touch "ELAN" touchpad. I think it works brilliantly, but due to negative reaction, it's been removed from future models. What it allows you to do is multi-gestures with up to 3 fingers. For instance a 3 finger swipe takes you "back" in a webpage or explorer windows. Covering the pad with your palm minimises or maximises all windows, whilst 2 finger scroll either min/maximises or scrolls the page.

It's a pity this isn't on their newer laptops, but hopefully they introduce a better version of the pad by the time I upgrade.

Plus, it seems common sense to me, but why don't they put the laptop buttons on TOP of the touchpad? This might actually make the touchpad easier to use, and particularly in games since it's natural for our fingers to click above the touchpad


August 20, 2010, 3:25 am

But what happened to Della? Is the pink one for her?


August 21, 2010, 5:16 pm

No gigabit ethernet ?

Doc. Caliban

October 16, 2010, 4:24 am

Cliche, I agree... not having gigabit ethernet these days is like getting a non FAX-capable modem in 1998.


December 10, 2010, 3:40 am

I really don't understand which plant these laptop designers live on. Why they keep using the glossy screens? If they can't hear the users' complaint, surely they see the reviewers': "Regrettably it does have a glossy, reflective finish...". Will the reviewers have to keep apologising for the designers for otherwise excellent machines?!


December 16, 2010, 3:07 pm

Anyone know if the £50 9 cell battery upgrade is worth it? Battery life is important to me but if it adds too much extra bulk (in terms of size and weight) then I wont bother.

And if anyone does have it how much life does it add? :)


December 28, 2010, 10:23 am

They could easily squeeze a 12" screen or even 13" screen in to the frame. I wish laptop manufacturers would learn to utilise the maximum area available. Also, why don't they offer a Momentus XT upgrade option?

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