Review Dell Vostro 3350 Subnotebook
Mobility. The smallest device of Dell's Vostro refresh, the Dell Vostro 3350, has come in for review. Thanks to a big 8 cell battery, an illuminated keyboard and the latest hardware from Intel and AMD hardware, the mite with a 13.3 inch screen doesn't have any reason to hide.
Introducing the four new Vostro 3000 series laptops, Dell bids current hardware, a new design and practical features. Beside the devices Vostro 3450, Vostro 3550 and the big Vostro 3750 with a 17.3 inch screen, there is also a compact subnotebook with 13.3 inch display (1366x768, matt) in the range. It is especially aimed at small and medium businesses, abbreviated SMBs. However, even private users could find delight in it. The case's design is identical in all device sizes and only the dimensions and weight deviates.
Besides the comprehensive online configurator in direct sale, the Dell Vostro 3350 is also available at select retailers. However, only pre-configured models are offered here. Our test device moves in the upper range in terms of optional equipment with an Intel Core i5-2410M, the dedicated AMD Radeon HD 6470M and a 4 GB DDR3 RAM. There are also less expensive models, as well as more expensive models available depending on taste and application field.
The smallest entry model alternative of the new Vostro notebooks starts at 489 euros, not including added value tax. The laptops with a 15.6 and 17.3 inch screen are a bit cheaper in their base price in comparison. Our test device is available for 789 euro including added value tax and with a 24 month onsite service.
Dell accomplishes brand recognition by a designing the series coherently – elegant, practical and modern at the same time. All surfaces are matt and thus as good as resistant against dust, fingerprints or light scratches during everyday use. Beside the striking Lucerne Red with black parts, the smaller Vostro 3350 is also available in Brisbane Bronze or Aberdeen Silver without extra charge. The workmanship looks qualitative at first glance, but small flaws in details become apparent when looking closer. An example would be the partly not quite cleanly manufactured transitions of single parts.
Alike the larger devices the stability isn't perfect. A clear yielding is noticed when stronger pressure is applied. The area above the DVD drive on the left is particularly striking. A slight movement of the surface is noticed when typing on the keyboard. Moreover, the display lid is very pliable and can be evidently twisted and dented, despite the aluminum layer. The screen is kept in place by two metal hinges that bid a fairly good hold. Nevertheless, Dell could have basically worked out the grip and teetering better.
All in all, an elegant case with smaller flaws in manufacturing details and stability. Once again, the built-in drive represents the weak point here. Now a look at the case's bottom: Both the RAM and the 2.5 inch hard disk can be replaced via a large maintenance cover. Additionally, the optical drive can be removed by a screw and replaced with a BluRay drive or another memory medium.
The Dell Vostro 3350 bids an adequate connectivity despite its compact case. Starting on the case's left, you'll find the DVD drive, the RJ45 network socket and two fast USB 3.0 ports, which can be identified due to their blue color and the printed "SS" for SuperSpeed. Furthermore, a HDMI out (1.4a) and a practical eSATA/USB 2.0 combination for connecting an external hard disk, for example, are located on the right. The front and rear are void of any other interfaces, with exception of a cardreader. There wouldn't have been any room on the rear because of the big battery anyway.
Dell has done a good job with the interface distribution and they are concentrated more towards the rear. The use of an external mouse isn't impaired and the given supply doesn't provide reason for complaint in this array. Dell, however, omits a docking port in the Vostro notebooks, thus excluding other interface options and expansions.
No needs are left open in terms of communication options. Beside gigabit Ethernet via a controller from Realtek, there is also an Intel Centrino Wireless N 1030 adapter installed. In addition to WLAN standard 802.11 b/g/n, it supports transmissions via Bluetooth 3.0 + HS. Our test device doesn't have a UMTS module, but it is also available for a surcharge. Thus, all communication options would be covered.
The scope of supplies ex-factory is also fairly scanty in the smallest representative and equals the previously reviewed devices, Dell Vostro 3550 and Vostro 3750. A small bonus is the number of various DVDs included for programs and drivers, and a recovery medium. Additional accessories can be ordered for a surcharge and aren't included. The pre-installed Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (64 bit) is also similar and the numerous freeware programs wouldn't have been necessary. Merely Office 2010 Starter and the software package from CyberLink prove to be feasible.
Dell grants a warranty of 12 months for its business devices ex-factory (ProSupport and onsite service for the next business day). Its period and the given service can be extended for an additional charge. There are also special offers for businesses available that wouldn't be of much interest for private users.
With exception of the large Dell Vostro 3750, the family's smaller devices use the identical chiclet style keyboard with a key size of 14x14 millimeters and built-in light. It can be set in three levels (dark, bright, off) and automatically deactivates itself after a short period. An automatic setting via a brightness sensor would have rounded off the bundle. The subjective typing feel and the short key drop are convincing. In comparison to the massive keyboards in Lenovo's ThinkPads, the typing noise sounds rather cheap. Basically, a convincing layout that is also suitable for prolific typists.
The touchpad has been modified for the case's size and has a usable diagonal of 9.3 centimeters at a size of 84x41 millimeters. That is throughout acceptable for a 13.3 inch subnotebook. The slightly roughened surface, with excellent gliding traits and multi-touch support, as well as the standard scroll bars, is impressive. The silvery bezel and slightly sunken position provide the necessary borders. The mouse keys have been designed very stiff and the click noise is conspicuously loud. On the other hand, the short stroke and separated keys are very pleasant.
True to the familiar line, the subnotebook comes with a matt display. It has a diagonal of 33.5 centimeters, respectively 13.3 inches, in the Vostro 3350. The native resolution is the standard 1366x768 pixels, whereby there is no option for a higher resolution. Sony, for example, bids an according screen with 1600x900, respectively 1920x1080 pixels, in the higher priced VAIO Z series (also 13.3 inch; review Sony VAIO VPC-Z13B7E, VAIO VPC-Z13Z9E). External monitors with a higher resolution can be connected via the VGA or HDMI out. Both ports could ensure a good picture quality in a short test with 1920x1080 pixels (1080p, Full HD).
An important point is the screen's (model: AUO312C) assessment rates, which we determine with the Gossen Mavo Monitor tool. The built-in backlight does a good, even if only satisfactory job with a brightness of 194 cd/m2. The even illumination of 91 percent and the maintained high average of 185.2 cd/m2 have to be considered positively.
The picture of the given midfield brightness is confirmed by the other assessments. The contrast of 152:1 isn't particularly high and the black value (1.2 cd/m2) is in a slightly increased range. This constellation, together with the matt display surface, makes the color reproduction look a bit pale.
A look at the reproducible color spectrum in comparison to the frequently used sRGB reference shows that this device isn't quite as suitable for professional picture editing. The Acer Aspire Timeline X 3830TG, as a full-fledged consumer subnotebook, is on a similar level.
Although the screen doesn't have an overwhelming brightness, outdoor use is possible with the subnotebook. Working is possible even in the beer garden at 27 degrees Celsius and in the sun. Annoying reflections don't turn up. The low brightness is noticed in a few situations, or seating positions though and we would have liked to see a slightly higher display brightness. However, a slight adjustment in position (angle to sun) could usually improve that.
The viewing angle stability again correlates to the standard of budget TN screens. Horizontal rendering remains stable for a fairly long time even in narrow angles, without causing deviations. In return, a slight tilting of the lid is enough to create fading or contrast bleaching.
The Dell Vostro 3350's current innards present themselves as small and fast. However, the configuration variety via the online configurator is fairly large. In addition to the Intel Core i5-2410M mainstream solution that we reviewed, there is also the less expensive entry CPU, Intel Core i3-2310M (2.1 GHz -60 euros) and the dual core top model, Intel Core i7-2620M (2.7 – 3.3 GHz) available. With a surcharge of 260 euros, not including added value tax, the upgrade isn't exactly cheap. Back to our sample: The processor works with a base clock rate of 2.3 GHz and a 3 MB L3 cache. The clock rate can achieve 800 to 2900 MHz via the Turbo Boost technology depending on the requirement. In contrast to automatic overclocking, that not all CPUs can serve with, all Sandy Bridge CPUs support the Hyper Threading technology. It accelerates multi-tasking (2 cores, 4 threads or 4 cores, 8 threads in quad core processors).
The portable typewriter turns into a multimedia device with small gaming reserves together with the installed AMD Radeon HD 6470M. Dell specifies this GPU with 512 MB GDDR5 RAM, whereas various tools don't permit a clear conclusion about the memory or the core speed (700 or 750 MHz). It could also probably be a slower DDR3 VRAM, whereas the available memory is addressed via a slower 64 bit memory bus. You shouldn't allow yourself to be deceived by the specification of a built-in AMD Radeon HD 6490M. A new feature that is also used in this device is the automatic graphics switching, Switchable Graphics by AMD, which can be controlled via the Catalyst Control Center (driver: 8.811.1.4000). Only few programs were directly addressed with the according graphics in our test and the settings usually had to be set manually. At the same time, we missed a setting that appoints one of the two graphics for general use, like it's possible via Nvidia Optimus technology's system control.
The Intel Core i5-2410M can convince us with a score of 9625 in CineBench R10 Multi-Thread Rendering (64bit) and finds itself among comparable configurations. In contrast to that, the equally available processors, Intel Core i3-2310M (7538 points, Acer Aspire 3750) and Intel Core i7-2620M are slower by 21.7 percent, respectively faster by 14.7 percent (11279 points, Schenker XMG A501) in this test. The predecessor, Dell Vostro 3300 with an Intel Core i5-430M and 7755 points, is on a par with the latest Core i3. This adds up to difference of 19.4 percent to our test sample.
The newer CineBench R11.5 reports a similar, comparable result. The Intel Core i5-2410M has a good 22.8 percent lead on the Core i3-2310M (2.0 points) with 2.59 points and lags behind the i7-2620M in the Schenker XMG A501 (2.9 points) by 10.7 percent. The mainstream dual core convinces with a good performance and the steep surcharge for the Intel Core i7-2620M in the online configurator is not justified. A sensible investment at the same price would be a modern solid state drive (SSD).
|3DMark 03 Standard||11342 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||8226 points|
|3DMark 06 Standard||4839 points|
|3DMark Vantage P Result||2349 points|
|3DMark 11 Performance||628 points|
The AMD Radeon HD 6470M from the entry level midrange has to prove itself in the synthetic benchmarks. The current Nvidia counterpart is called GeForce GT 520M and had to stand ground in the review of the Asus U30SD-XA1. In the somewhat older 3DMark06, the 6470M scores a satisfactory 4839 points and takes the lead on the GT 520M in Asus' subnotebook by only a tight 1.8 percent (4754 points). In contrast to that, the GT 310M in the predecessor, Vostro 3300, only achieved 1535 points and clearly lags behind with a difference of 68.3 percent.
In the newer 3DMark11, especially designed for GPUs with DirectX 11 support, a similar behavior can be recorded. However, the GT 310M falls through the cracks because of the too outdated technology. The Asus U30SD, with a GeForce GT 520M, with 504 points is again behind the 6470M with 547 points. The difference in this test is 7.9 percent. The Nvidia GeForce GT 540M, as a good midrange GPU, achieve good 889 points in the Dell XPS 15 and secures itself a lead of 38.5 percent.
The present total package is assessed in PCMark Vantage's comprehensive component test. The Dell Vostro 3350 secures itself a place in the upper midfield with the latest hardware and a conventional hard disk. For example, the current Apple MacBook Pro 15 with an AMD Radeon HD 6750M with Boot Camp Windows or the slim Samsung 900X3A are in its immediate vicinity. Swift gaming notebooks and systems with a solid state drive hold the top positions.
|PCMark Vantage Result||6657 points|
|PCMark 7 Score||1751 points|
Dell bids various solutions for the main hard disk. However, a modern solid state drive doesn't belong to them. The installed Seagate Momentus Thin supplies a capacity of 320 GB and works with fast 7200 revolutions per minute. A feature is the low construction height of only 7 millimeters. The cage inside the notebook however also bids the possibility of installing conventional hard disks with a height of 9 millimeters.
The maximum read transfer rates fluctuates between 105 and 116 MB per second depending on the benchmark and is thus on a good level. The access rates aren't particularly good, but are on average for this genre. The aforementioned solid state drives would allow a performance increase. SATA III SSDs and Intel's SSD Serie 510 or OCZ Vertex 3 is also supported due to the HM67 chipset. The HDD noise level, which was also noted in the user review of the Vostro 3350 in our German language forum, would also disappear with that.
The AMD Radeon HD 6470M positions itself in the entry midrange with 160 stream processors, DirectX 11 support and a 512 MB memory. Thus, the pure gaming performance comes too short and the GPU is maybe just only aimed at casual gamers. Most of the games in our database only run smoothly in a minimum setting, which also deters gaming fun. Simple games, such as World of Warcraft or FIFA 11, still run well in higher settings, though. But this is also the limit and the focus is clearly placed on the multimedia sector. The Nvidia GeForce GT 540M, as an affordable all-rounder, in combination with Intel's latest Sandy Bridge CPUs would be recommended for higher requirements, before the gaming GPUs start. Our review of the Schenker XMG A501 notebook contains more information.
|Counter-Strike Source (2004)||130.2||103.5||fps|
|World of Warcraft (2005)||125.9||63.4||28.6||fps|
|Half Life 2 - Lost Coast Benchmark (2005)||119.7||fps|
|Call of Juarez Benchmark (2006)||17.8||fps|
|World in Conflict - Benchmark (2007)||118||47||27||9||fps|
|Crysis - GPU Benchmark (2007)||76.6||36.3||19||4.9||fps|
|Crysis - CPU Benchmark (2007)||73.1||32.3||16.3||4.6||fps|
|Supreme Commander - FA Bench (2007)||46.8||35.7||26.7||13.2||fps|
|Trackmania Nations Forever (2008)||175||45.1||15.7||fps|
|Racedriver: GRID (2008)||98.3||44.4||23.4||fps|
|GTA IV - Grand Theft Auto (2008)||50.5||25.5||16.6||fps|
|F.E.A.R. 2 (2009)||119.5||47.4||31.4||17.1||fps|
|Sims 3 (2009)||165.3||55.6||26.3||fps|
|Colin McRae: DIRT 2 (2009)||66||44||20.1||12.7||fps|
|Resident Evil 5 (2009)||90.6||30.4||17.5||fps|
|CoD Modern Warfare 2 (2009)||74.2||29.9||23.2||13.4||fps|
|Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010)||42.7||32.2||19.5||9.7||fps|
|Metro 2033 (2010)||34.6||18.7||9.7||4.1||fps|
|StarCraft 2 (2010)||141.2||33.8||24.4||14.5||fps|
|Mafia 2 (2010)||36.2||28.2||19||11.2||fps|
|Fifa 11 (2010)||224.2||129.2||64.5||34.5||fps|
|Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)||70.3||41.5||28.9||15.6||fps|
|Crysis 2 (2011)||39.3||26.7||19.5||5.8||fps|
|Dirt 3 (2011)||81.5||36.9||24.3||12.8||fps|
The noise development is one of the most important purchase criteria for many buyers. The Vostro 3350 is equipped with a fan including heatpipes, which are located in the right rear area. The device convinces with a basically inactive fan in idle and office mode. We measured a noise level of only 30.6 dB(A). Even the hard disk stays discreetly in the background. However, we can hear a quiet whirr emitted from the 7200 revolutions per minute.
The level slowly increases when a DVD is inserted and reaches an audible level of 35.3 dB(A) that is still acceptable. The Vostro 3350 attracts attention when AMD's dedicated graphics is enabled and the system is put under load. We could determine a clearly audible 46.2 dB(A) at the peak. The fan's deep pitched noise and its really fast deceleration after finished work has to be rated positively.
30.6 / 30.6 / 30.6 dB(A)
||35.3 / dB(A)|
||45.4 / 46.2 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: Voltcraft SL-320 (15 cm distance)
The case's exterior stays fairly cool in idle and office mode. The temperature development of a maximum of 29.1 degrees is however within the usual range for the selected materials.
The waste heat increases during load and the exteriors absorb a part. The important wrist-rest heats up on the right with 28.5 degrees Celsius and there is a discernable difference to the left. A look at the larger Dell Vostro 3550 shows big differences and the smallest representative of the series can score. In contrast, the components inside have a cool temper and even our stress test (Prime95 + Furmark) couldn't make the rates climb up to critical levels. Downclocking of the processor or graphics card (thermal throttling) couldn't be determined even after executing this test for several hours.
The installed speaker system presents itself as disappointing, but that was to be expected. There is only one little speaker on the case's bottom that supplies the usual poor sound. With exception of Dell's larger Vostro 3750 with a 2.1 system, the devices with a 14 and 15 inch screen aren't convincing either in a comparison. External solutions that can be connected to the 3.5 mm stereo jack or via the HDMI out bid a better quality.
Dell equips the Vostro 3350 with a large 8 cell lithium ion battery, which is supposed to also make a whole work day possible remote from a power outlet. This power supply is really anything but compact with 80 watt hours. Moreover, the device is lifted by 21 millimeters. A nice side effect. The protruding battery lip can be used well as a handle, provided the battery is locked in properly and you're not worried about your laptop.
The range between the single assessments is fairly big due to the use of two graphic solutions. The system uses the dedicated AMD Radeon HD 6470M during load (BatteryEater Classic Test), and consequently increases the power consumption. In addition, the display's brightness is set to maximum, the WLAN module is enabled and the energy saving functions are disabled. A whole battery charge is drained after short 117 minutes and a power outlet is needed. In contrast to that, an impressive 13 hours and 25 minutes are possible in idle (Reader's Test) with the processor's graphics and opposite settings. The assessment "surfing via WLAN" can be considered as a realistic average rate. The subnotebook convinces with 7 hours and 29 minutes and there's no reason for complaint.
|Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)||13h 25min|
|WiFi Surfing||7h 29min|
|Load (maximum brightness)||1h 57min|
The system's consumption rates correlate to the given runtimes. In idle, the components consume a maximum of 10.7 and thus work very efficiently on a par with many netbooks. The consumption increases during load and reaches a peak of acceptable 53.6 watts. The included power adapter can supply up to 90 watts and appears to be slightly subchallenged and has reserves. The power consumption in standby and turned off state is without finding.
|Off / Standby||0.1 / 0.7 Watt|
|Idle|| 8.3 / 10.2 / 10.7 Watt|
32.5 / 53.6 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC-960
The Dell Vostro 3350, as the smallest representative, basically leaves us with a good impression. The compact case with an attractive design is impressive, whereas there are slight problems with the stability and in manufacturing details. The interface supply and the communication options are well- designed. The input devices convince with a simple use that will even be a pleasure for prolific typists.
The matt display is business-like and is also suitable for working on the move. The rates however correlate to a budget TN screen. In terms of performance, the mite can boast with a good performance in the multimedia field. Even gaming is possible to an extent with the dedicated AMD graphics. Other bonus points are the emissions in idle and office mode, as well as the good battery runtimes with the 8 cell battery.
The Dell Vostro 3350, in the mainstream configuration, challenges a few low-priced consumer devices for about 800 euros and can serve with a few additional features. The base warranty of only 12 months ex-factory via direct sales is a minus point for private users, despite the configuration variety. A look at the various retailers or an upgrade could prove to be worthwhile in this case.