Review Dell Vostro 1500 laptop

Business Gamer. Take a current Inspiron notebook providing high-quality components, colour it in an elegant but simple plain black, sprinkle the preparation with some business support and here we go – another addition of Dell’s already interesting range of products. With regard to performance some doubts might arise in its ability to facilitate business users’ needs, as it seemingly was targeted towards running games. It contains a GeForce 8600M GT which can passably master even the newest computer games.

Dell Vostro 1500 Logo

To anticipate possible questions: Yes, the Dell Vostro 1500 virtually has the same outfit as the Inspiron 1520 resp. 1521. Obviously the only difference between these laptops is their colouration. While the Inspiron provides various colourful displays matching to the base unit, the Vostro tries to underline its business position throughout a striking IBM black. This is key for those who are too lazy to think about the notebook’s colours or those welcoming simple but clear understated designs.

The Dell Vostro 1500’s shaping including the slightly rounded edges and corners are very aesthetically pleasing. When using the notebook, it fits comfortably in the hands and leaves the user a thoroughly quality impression.

Apropos durable: The Vostro’s base unit presents a very good durability in terms of stiffness and the good pressure resistance is also worth mentioning.  In contrast with the Dell Inspiron 1520, the display cover shows a formidable resistibility against pressure impacts. Dell has probably helped out with a magnesium component; this gives the display on the one hand a good stability and on the other hand very pleasing haptics.

The display’s light shell design was actually intended to prevent small objects from entering the spaces between the display and keyboard in a closed state. This does not really work for the Dell Vostro, as is the case with the Inspiron, but more about this later.

There probably has not been any change in the hinge design since these already delivered a good result in the Inspiron 1520. The same with the Vostro, where the hinges were able to hold the display well. Apart from a little “seesawing”, the Vostro delivered a substantial positive overall impression.

However, Dell has had a chance to implement improvements in terms of the locking mechanism of the laptop. This has not been realised yet. Due to the slightly low rubber naps sitting on the display cover, it is most likely to hit the case when transporting since the display is not laid out properly on the base unit.

With respect to the connection interfaces the Dell Vostro does not offer any better value at all in comparison to the Dell Inspiron. Quite disappointing for a “business laptop” is the lack of both a docking port and a digital screen connection. Not good in our opinion...

Dell Vostro 1500 interfaces
Dell Vostro 1500 interfaces
Dell Vostro 1500 interfaces

Interfaces

Left Side: Kensington Lock, W-LAN Switch, Fan, Audio, Express Card
Back: S-Video, 2x USB 2.0, Battery, Power Connector, Modem
Right Side: DVD Drive, Firewire, VGA-Out, LAN, 2x USB 2.0

Even the keyboard seems to be utilised the same in the Inspiron 1520 – mind you in black. However, the keyboard provides good comfort when typing, which is mostly due to the firm fit in the base unit. There is no evidence of possible deflections of the keyboard when in use.

This reveals itself through an early pressure of keystrokes. Depending on the user it will either meet one’s preferences or operate rather too hard. The keys have a relative short but sufficient stroke with a noticeable pressure point.

Furthermore the keyboard layout is alright; there are some keys added that are slightly on the right of the enter key that helped the other keys not to be huddled together too much. The noise level when typing depends crucially upon the hardness of the strokes und starts from quiet clicking to a dull stroke noise when hitting the keys hard with two fingers. We also noticed a type of “razing” noise when using the keys that mildly reduced the keyboard’s quality impression.

The top side of the notebook provides a simple impression, which is also due to the lack of additional hot keys. Nevertheless you do not necessarily need these since there are a range of silver coloured keys to control the Media Player functions, as well as the level of the sound. The output that is located below the touchpad at the leading edge.

The touchpad itself is flawless in use and responds precisely. Beside the pleasing and smooth surface - thanks to the good sliding properties - both the horizontal and vertical scrollbars also increased its ease of use.

The two touchpad keys are very easy and convenient to use, especially exampled in the soft key recoil which operates without any annoying clicking noises.

touchpad
Dell Vostro 1500 touchpad
keyboard
Dell Vostro 1500 keyboard
Colour diagram
colour diagram

The Dell Vostro 1500 is available with various display types, too. The palette reaches from a standard panel with 1280x800px non glare resp. “TrueLife” (reflecting) to a 1440x900px WXGA+ display and even to a WSXGA panel providing a resolution of 1680x1050 pixels; both with a reflecting surface.

There was a standard WXGA display built in our reviewed model that (fortunately) had a dim surface. With this, the provided overall view was not that great but at least we spared ourselves the reflections.

During the examination the Dell Vostro 1500’s display was able to attain an acceptable brightness level. A maximum brightness level of 227.5 cd/m² show up to be alright. When comparing the reading with the Inspiron 1520 tested earlier, we come to the point that identical components were used here.

Due to a significant drop of the brightness in the upper corners, the illumination is merely 73.4%. The average brightness of 196.7 cd/m² turns out to be a lot better.

166.9
cd/m²
217.2
cd/m²
171.4
cd/m²
173.7
cd/m²
227.5
cd/m²
191.1
cd/m²
208.3
cd/m²
218.9
cd/m²
195.3
cd/m²
Information
Maximum: 227.5 cd/m²
Average: 196.7 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 73 %
Black: 1.2 cd/m²
Contrast: 190:1
Distribution of brightness

The measured “black value” at maximal brightness is relatively high with 1.2 cd/m². This leads to a maximum contrast of only 190:1, which is clearly below average. In fact, the projected image seems subjectively slack and also the colours “arise desires of” luminosity.

Dell Vostro 1500 Outdoor
Dell Vostro 1500 Outdoor

A big plus of this display solution is the outdoor ability as the Vostro can be used fairly practically under bright conditions outside. This is due to the brightness of about 200 cd/m² and a dim panel.

Besides this, the viewing angles fulfill almost their purpose, but are definitely far from being awarded. Apart from an acceptable working area, little loss of contrast occurs very quickly at flat viewing angles. Although the clearness of the image is maintained even at extreme viewing angles in the horizontal area, the display darkens respectively shines over relatively strongly in the vertical area.

Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität
Dell Vostro 1500 Blickwinkelstabilität



Video der Einsichtbereiche des Displays

Performance

Windows Vista performance index
Dell Vostro Windows performance index

The Dell Vostro 1500 can be configured for a wide spectrum of application, depending on user preferences. The cheapest option of currently 579€ (non including dispatch) offers following features: Intel Core 2 Duo T5260, WXGA display, 1GB main memory (2x512MB), 80GB HDD, nVidia GeForce 8400 GS graphics card and a small 6 cell battery.

The laptop can be operated primarily for less hardware demanding office and text programmes. Especially the bright and dim display is perfectly suited for such work. The special feature of the Dell Vostro 1500 is in terms of the possibilities of hardware upgrading. And this is not done manually, directly at sight.

So our test model was comparatively already quite well equipped; Intel Core 2 Duo T7100 CPU with 1.8GHz, 2 GB main memory, 160GB hard disk drive and last but not least a GeForce 8600M GT graphics card.

This equipment includes a one year Vostro-Hardware support for enterprises, a 9 cell (85Wh) battery and a HSDPA module for under 1000€, which is quite an interesting offer.

But now let’s talk more about the provided performance of the notebook. There were pretty good results achieved in the 3D benchmarks and the Vostro joins notebooks with comparable features such as the Dell Inspiron 1720, Nexoc Osiris E619 & Acer Aspire 5920G. Still slightly in front is the Asus G1S equipped with a 8600M GT with GDDR3 video memory.

The Dell Vostro 1500 does not only achieve passable results in the benchmarking, but also there were fairly respectable results reached in the practical game test.

In the test of Doom 3 - an Open GL classic – the notebook achieved even at the setting “Ultra High” good 60,6 fps and thus provides fluent gaming delight. We could also get a similar result in the horror shooter F.E.A.R., where the Vostro maintained a good average of 59 fps. Only at highest resolution and maximum details the device sank on its knees and was just capable to manage 29 fps.

Certainly we looked at two current DirectX 10 games, too. In practice with Call of Juarez and a new strategy blockbuster called “World of Conflict”, the Dell Vostro was quite useable when using a moderate resolution of 1280x800 and the games could be played in a fairly fluent way (with medium details). With regard to multiplayer games, a reduction of the resolution down to 1024x768px brought a noticeable speed boost.

However, those believing that one can enjoy the delight of DirectX 10 effects with a GeForce 8600M GT graphics card are wrong. These effects including the DirectX 10 effects are usually activated only when playing at the highest visual quality level, but this is not possible with the GeForce 8600M GT (for playable framerates).
This problem affects utterly independently to the Dell Vostro every other current “gaming” laptop. Showing capabilities of DirectX 10 is currently not that worthy a thing...

Moreover, in the examined equipment there will not be any real limitations faced by the Dell Vostro in term of the office section. This area would also be highly sufficient for the alternatively available 8400M GS graphics card. The 70€ saved could then be spent on e.g. a bigger hard disk drive although the installed 160GB one with 5400rpm achieved fairly positive results.

An upgrade to 4GB main memory seems to be especially tempting, but due to the astonishing extra charge of currently 345€, one ought to wait until the pricey 2GB main memory modules fell to a tenable price. At the moment one is served perfectly with 2GB main memory, even for Windows Vista...Attention: in principle 32Bit operating systems are unable to administer 4GB main memory; there would be only approximately 3.5GB available in this case.

Benchmark comparison 3DMark
Benchmark comparison 3DMark
Benchmark comparison PCMark
Benchmark comparison PCMark
3D Mark
3DMark 055297 points
3DMark 06
 1024x768
3194 points
Help
3DMark 06 in comparison
Asus Eee PC 901 (min)
 N270, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 950
73
   ...
Lenovo ThinkPad T61
 T7300, Quadro NVS 140M
1406
Acer Aspire 7720G
 T5500, GeForce 8400M GS
1557
Dell Vostro 1500
 T7100, GeForce 8600M GT
3194
Asus G2K
 TL-64, Mobility Radeon HD 2600
3468
Acer Aspire 6930G
 T5800, GeForce 9600M GT
6296
   ...
Gigabyte P25W (max)
 4700MQ, GeForce GTX 770M
23917
PC Mark
PCMark 054487 points
Help
PCMark 05 in comparison
Acer Aspire One 751 (min)
 Z520, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 500
692
   ...
HawkForce Mobile.ForceM13.S1
 T6400, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
4479
Acer Aspire 5920G
 T7300, GeForce 8600M GT
4482
Dell Vostro 1500
 T7100, GeForce 8600M GT
4487
Toshiba Qosmio F30-147
 T7200, GeForce Go 7600
4497
Asus B50A
 P7350, Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 4500MHD
4507
   ...
Fujitsu Celsius H710 WXP11DE (max)
 2820QM, Quadro 1000M
13842
160 GB - 5400 rpm
Transfer Rate Minimum: 19.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 44.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 32.1 MB/s
Access Time: 16.7 ms
Burst Rate: 79.1 MB/s
CPU Usage: 6.4 %
Doom 3
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768Ultra, 0xAA, 0xAF60.6 fps
 800x600High, 0xAA, 0xAF105 fps
 640x480Medium, 0xAA, 0xAF121.9 fps
 640x480Low, 0xAA, 0xAF119.8 fps
F.E.A.R.
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768GPU: max, CPU: max, 0xAA, 0xAF29 fps
 800x600GPU medium, CPU medium, 0xAA, 0xAF96 fps
 640x480GPU min, CPU min, 0xAA, 0xAF270 fps
Quake 3 Arena - Timedemo
 ResolutionSettingsValue
 1024x768highest, 0xAA, 0xAF345.3 fps

Emissions

Volume

The Dell Vostro stays pleasantly quiet in the office mode with the energy profile “Dell Recommended” even in combination with the powerful GeForce 8600M GT. Though the fan is noticeable (36.5dB) is does not bother at all. Under load the fan ran a bit faster and was obviously noticeable but with 38.6 dB the laptop remained in on low emission level.

Apart from these standard emissions, we were able to hear other noises for example the clattering hard disk drive that often drowned the fan in idle mode.

Moreover, there is occasionally a quiet beep in idle mode that could tend to become annoying to users with very good ears.

Noise Level

Idle 35.0 / 36.5 / 38.4 dB(A)
HDD 41.4 dB(A)
DVD 40.0 / dB(A)
Load 38.6 / 39.0 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:     (15 cm distance)

Temperature

In terms of the good equipment the low top side temperatures is to be mentioned very positively. From a subjective point of view the 37°C were just about pleasant.

The highest temperature could be measured on the bottom side centre of the notebook where temperatures up to 42°C were measured, but this does not limit the Vostro’s usability as a mobile work device.

However, the user needs take care that the bottom side of the laptop is not completely covered since the numerous ventilation cracks need contact steady to air and, therefore, it is less recommended to put the notebook on soft grounds like textiles.

Max. Load
 34 °C35 °C37 °C 
 33 °C33 °C32 °C 
 30 °C29 °C28 °C 
 
38 °C35 °C37 °C
40 °C42 °C38 °C
33 °C34 °C33 °C
Maximum: 37 °C
Average: 32.3 °C
 Maximum: 42 °C
Average: 36.7 °C
Room Temperature 21.0 °C

Loudspeaker

There are two loudspeakers installed at the Dell Vostro’s front side, which do produce fairly passable, clear and deliver loud sound on demand. The delivered bass can be quoted as satisfying although it is really had to call it real bass.

Good clear signals were produced by the 3.5mm Stereo Output that can be used on Hi-Fi devices. Unfortunately there is not any optical sound output at the laptop.

Battery Runtime

There are two possible batteries one can choose for the Dell Vostro 1500: either a 6 cell battery with a capacity of 56Wh that fits optically to the back side of the laptop or a more generous battery having 9 cells, 85Wh and sticks out of the back side about 2cm.

An increase of the battery runtime of about 50% costs only 30€ - an investment that one should think about seriously when planning to work mobile with the Vostro.

The test results of the battery runtime are based on the 6 cell battery. It could be said that the 9 cell battery would last approximately about a good half longer than the 6 cell one, which is the reason for quite solid battery runtimes.

The 6 cell battery manages slightly more than an hour and lasts up to 4 hours in the most economic mode. Realistic times of 2 hours were measured in playing DVDs as well as almost 3 hours of W-LAN utilisation.

Power consumption

Idle 19.0 / 26.0 / 32.0 Watt
Load 65.0 / 67.7 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         
Battery runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
3h 56min
WiFi Surfing
2h 43min
DVD
1h 56min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 45min

Verdict

Dell Vostro 1500
Dell Vostro 1500

Whether business or gaming, wherever the Dell Vostro 1500 really belongs could not even be totally clarified in our tests. But one thing is certain; a lot of business features come to meet gamers, but it is questionable to what extend the gaming performance will appeal to business customers.

The case scores by the tough and solid construction and benefits immensely from the use of high quality components such as the aluminium base unit. The design turns out very discreetly and can please non-business customers as well. Although the laptops design is quite pleasing, the design cannot deceive you about the relatively thick case and the quite high weight of 3.3kg.

It would be interesting to know how Dell could explain the lack of a digital video output such as a DVI-D or HDMI. This is probably due to the fairly low entry price starting at just 579€. A docking port would also be appropriate for a business laptop. If you do not want to go without these features there is still the possibility of the Latitude series that are one the other hand a lot more expensive.

Both keyboard and touchpad are alright and suit intensive office use as well as the average person. Especially the touchpad made a good impression thanks to its user friendliness.

The installed dim WXGA display showed a good average brightness of 200 cd/m² and is for this reason usable for outdoor tasks. Nevertheless, the luminosity was not able to convince us so did the perspective stability in which the contrasts below average contributed negatively.

However, the Dell Vostro 1500’s performance could convince quite well. If required or not, the extra charge of simply 70€ to a definitely faster graphics card (GeForce 8600M GT) will be that important. There is also a wide range of options with regard to the CPU, main memory and hard disk drive.

Seeing the Dell from its business side, the low and hardly annoying noise emissions and temperatures were really positive even in combination with the respectable equipment of the notebook.

In addition to this, the battery runtime, which attained good results can be upgraded for only 30€ extra that will keep the device running up to 50% longer.

Besides the Dell Vostro 1500 is offered special features such as up to 4 years of Vostro-hardware support, with service for the next working day (199€ extra), or a 2 megapixels webcam for video conferences.

In terms of communication the laptop can be equipped with a HSDPA mini-PCI card (150€ extra) that will allow 24 hours free access to the internet without any annoying external hardware. Bluetooth is offered for the laptop, too. Furthermore, our test example was equipped with an Intel 4965AGN PRO/Wireless card although this is currently not available on the online configuration.

Reviewed: Dell Vostro 1500
Dell Vostro 1500

Specifications

Dell Vostro 1500

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel PM965
:: Memory
2048 MB, DDR2, PC5300, 667 MHz, 2x1024MB, max. 4096MB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT - 256 MB, Core: 475 MHz, Memory: 400 MHz
:: Display
15.4 inch 16:10, 1280x800 pixel, WXGA TFT Display, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
160 GB - 5400 rpm, 160 GB 5400 rpm Seagate Momentus ST9160821AS
:: Soundcard
SigmaTel STAC9205
:: Connections
1 Express Card 54mm, 4 USB 2.0, 1 Firewire, 1 VGA, 1 S-Video, 1 Modem, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Headphone, Microphone, Card Reader: 8in1,
:: Networking
10/100 MBit Lan Adapter (10/100MBit), Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (a b g n ), 2.0+EDR Bluetooth
:: Optical drive
HL-DT-ST DVD +/-RW GSA-T11N
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 45 x 269 x 358
:: Weight
3.26 kg Power Supply: 0.49 kg
:: Battery
56 Wh Lithium-Ion
:: Price
950 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Business 32 Bit
:: Additional features
Remote Control, 36 Months Warranty, 12-48 Monate Garantie möglich

 

The Dell Vostro 1500 can be seen as the business clone of the Inspiron 1520, …
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
…presents the business laptop-like raven black colour.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
The simple design and the durability of the case…
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
…can quite convince and are ready for the hard business life.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
Especially the use of high-quality components such as the aluminium case makes the Vostro 1500 very durable.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
The interfaces are a bit limited:
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
Apart from standard ports there is neither a digital video output nor a docking port.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
However, you can get a HSDPA card for 150€.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
The keyboard suits frequent typing and sit very firmly in the case.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
The touchpad is very user-friendly and in addition to it, there are hot keys for the Media Player in the front side of the Vostro 1500.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
The only dim display available is a SXGA panel that is bright enough for outdoor use.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
Depending on the configuration, the Vostro can either become a solid office laptop or gaming platform.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
This showed the test model equipped with a T7100 dual core CPU and GeForce 8600M GT.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
Despite the high-performance hardware noise levels were low in office mode...
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
...and the temperatures on the surface remained on a good level.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
The loudspeakers are good although real bass cannot be produced.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
There are currently two types of batteries available for the Dell Vestro 1500:
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
A 6 cell Lithium-Ion [56Wh] and a 9 cell one [85Wh].
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
The basic 6 cell battery already produced usable battery runtimes.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
There is a plus of 50% compared to the basic battery when using the 9 cell battery, which sticks 2cm out of the case.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
An uneven couple with quite a few similarities: Dell Vostro 1500 & Dell XPS M1330.
Dell Vostro 1500 Image
“Cool business laptop meets flashy lifestyle machine.”
Dell Vostro 1500 Image

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Price Comparison

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Dell Vostro 1500

Pro

+Schlichtes, kühles Business Design
+Sehr robustes und stabiles Gehäuse (Alu Chassis)
+Robuste und angenehm zu bedienende Eingabegeräte
+Display mit guter Helligkeit und matter Oberfläche (Outdoortauglich!)
+Auch höher aufgelöste Displayvarianten erhältlich
+Leistungsstarke Konfiguration möglich (Spieletauglich)
+Akzeptable Geräuschemissionen und Oberflächentemperatur
+Gute Akkulaufzeiten bereits mit dem Standard 6-Zellen Akku
 

Contra

-Mit einem Gewicht von 3.3kg schon relativ schwer
-Mäßiges Display hinsichtlich Farbdarstellung und Blickwinkelstabilität
-Displayverschluss etwas unpräzise
-Kein digitaler Bildausgang (DVI, HDMI)
-Kein Docking Port

Bewertung

Dell Vostro 1500
10/15/2007
J. Simon Leitner

Chassis
86%
Keyboard
92%
Pointing Device
82%
Connectivity
84%
Weight
68%
Battery
81%
Display
84%
Games Performance
91%
Application Performance
97%
Temperature
71%
Noise
78%
Add Points
90%
Average
84%
85%
Multimedia *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Dell Vostro 1500 Laptop
Author: J. Simon Leitner, 2007-11-15 (Update: 2012-05-26)