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Review Dell Inspiron 1520 Notebook

Topseller? Late, but, finally we got the new 15 inch Inspiron 1520 notebook by Dell for a review. It is the successor of the 6400 series and a beginner's multimedia notebook. A variety of different configurations are available, so, the Dell Inspiron 1520 can even be enhanced to a professional multimedia notebook.

Dell Inspiron 1520 Logo


There is no doubt that the Dell Inspiron 1520 is the counterpart of the Inspiron 1720. Considering the outlook only, it is apparently the same notebook, but smaller. It has the same curves and even the same color choice.

Not absolutely, the design of the display cover can be freely chosen. Therewith Dell follows the increasing shift to individual design.

The reviewed notebook had a  matte black display cover surface, which felt velvety, nearly rubberized. The coating appeared very robust in contrary to the diverse glossy piano coatings.

The decent silver case has a good flexural rigidity and pressure resistance. Handling the notebook, no creaking noise got evident, besides when pressing the display cover. The size of the gaps above the keyboard could not completely convince. Besides the left gap was bigger than the right one, the size of the gap was generally too big, as its width is more than 1mm.

The two hinges were unable to hold the 15'' inch display without some wobbling. Still, they seemed robust and durable. The display in light clamshell design is securely locked by a ramshorn hook. But, you can detect a clear possible wobbling of the display, if closed.

The rather sparely provided interfaces are distributed at the back side and the back parts of the notebook's flanks. This order is user-friendly as the front side and the areas beside the notebook are free of disturbing cable spaghetti.

We especially missed a video port - a digital video out. The size of the plug was the mostly brought forward argument that a DVI could not be provided, but, this excuse won't hold water any longer since the introduction of the HDMI port.

Dell Inspiron 1520 Interfaces
Front Side: No Ports
Dell Inspiron 1520 Interfaces
Left Side: Kensington Lock, Fan, Audio Ports, ExpressCard
Dell Inspiron 1520 Interfaces
Back Side: S-Video, 2xUSB, AC-In, Battery, Modem, Cardreader
Dell Inspiron 1520 Interfaces
Right Side: DVD Drive, Card Reader, Firewire, VGA-Out, LAN, 2xUSB

Input Devices

The keyboard of the Dell Inspiron 1520 appears to be rather compact, still it provides a user-friendly layout by a little bit separated groups of keys. Also the size of the single keys is alright.

Typing feels user-friendly. The keys can be softly pressed, still they have a clear point of pressure. The keyboard unit is completely tightly attached to the case, and even when typing fast the noise does not appear disturbing.

The touch pad is flawless. It has scroll areas for both axis and a comfortable surface. Both of its buttons are user-friendly, because of their long travel.

Dell Inspiron 1520 Touch Pad
Touch Pad
Dell Inspiron 1520 Keyboard


Display measurement
Color Diagram

Besides you can choose the color of the display cover, you can also choose between a variety of different panels. Besides the WXGA version with matt display, the reviewed notebook was equipped with, also a WXGA display with reflecting surface (TruLife), a WXGA+ TruLife panel, and a WSXGA+ display with a resolution of 1680x1050 pixels and TruLife panel are available. The top version costs 98.- Euro more.

Regarding overview, the WXGA+ and WSXGA+ displays are of course interesting versions. Unfortunately, both displays are only available as TruLife version. So, you'll have to live with a reflecting surface in return for a plus of overview.

The good maximum brightness of the built-in 1280x800 display was 231.5 cd/m². Also the average brightness of 199.6 cd/m² is alright. The illumination is 73.6%, which is clearly below-average.

Distribution of brightness
Maximum: 231.5 cd/m² (Nits) Average: 199.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 74 %
Contrast: 215:1 (Black: 1 cd/m²)

Because of a measured black value 1.0 cd/m², the maximum representable contrast is 232:1, which is average. We did not detect any anomalies regarding speed of reaction.

The matte display and the good brightness of the WXGA panels make an outdoor usage of the Dell Inspiron 1520 even in bright environments possible.

Vertically, the viewing angles of the reviewed display are rather narrow. Outside the area of operation you'll face heavy darkening or whitening of the display. However, horizontally, the viewing angles are alright. At acuter angles you'll face a slight loss of contrast.

Dell Inspiron 1520 Viewing Angles
Dell Inspiron 1520 Viewing Angles
Dell Inspiron 1520 Viewing Angles
Dell Inspiron 1520 Viewing Angles
Dell Inspiron 1520 Viewing Angles
Dell Inspiron 1520 Viewing Angles
Dell Inspiron 1520 Viewing Angles
Dell Inspiron 1520 Viewing Angles

Video of Display's Viewing Angles


The reviewed Dell Inspiron 1520 was a reasonable base version. So, it was only equipped with a Core 2 Duo T5450 processor with 1.66 GHz and a NVIDIA Geforce 8400 M GS.

Combined with 120 GB hard disk and 1GB main memory, it was still a useful notebook, which is able to master office tasks as well as light multimedia applications.

However, a variety of upgrade possibilities are also offered. Besides the already mentioned display version, there are also a lot of alternatives regarding performance relevant parts.

E.g., CPUs up to T7500 (2.2 GHz), main memory up to 4 GB, hard disks up to 250GB or faster 7200 rpm models, but, also a clearly more powerful video card, a Geforce 8600M GT with 256MB DDR2 Ram are offered.

So, it gets quickly obvious that also a playable version of the Dell Inspiron 1520 is available without problems. For good gaming performance you could for example choose a T7300 CPU, 2GB main memory, a WXGA+ panel, a fast 160 GB 7200 rpm hard disks and of course the Geforce 8600M GT.

At the time of writing this version of the Dell Inspiron 1520 would cost about 1300.- Euro. Compared to the recommended  price of the base equipment of about 800.-, this is a clear increase, but also the performance should clearly increase...

Benchmark Comparison 3DMark
Benchmark Comparison 3DMark
Benchmark Comparison PCMark
Benchmark Comparison PCMark
3DMark 2001SE Standard
10921 points
3DMark 03 Standard
4199 points
3DMark 05 Standard
2244 points
3DMark 06 1024x768 Score
1208 points
PCMark 05 Standard
3720 points
120 GB - 5400 rpm
Transfer Rate Minimum: 17.9 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 45.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 32.8 MB/s
Access Time: 17.7 ms
Burst Rate: 78.1 MB/s
CPU Usage: 3.4 %
Command and Conquer III
 1280x800high14 fps
 1024x768high16 fps
 800x600high20 fps



An advantage of the moderate base equipment are surely the low noise and temperature emissions. The notebook was very quiet in idle mode, we measured a noise level of 34.8 dB.

Under load you can hear the 1520 better, but, the maximum of 37.1 dB is still alright, and absolutely not disturbing.

However, the noise of the 120GB hard disk was sometimes disturbing, because it loudly crackled.

Noise Level

0 / 34.8 / 0 dB(A)
43.3 dB(A)
36.4 / dB(A)
37.1 / 0 dB(A)
  red to green bar
30 dB
40 dB(A)
50 dB(A)
min: dark, med: mid, max: light    (15 cm distance)


Also the surface temperature of the Inspiron 1520 is very low. Maxima of 33.1 °C on the top side or 37.1 °C on the bottom side are alright.

Max. Load
 32.2 °C
90 F
32.9 °C
91 F
33.1 °C
92 F
 31.1 °C
88 F
31.2 °C
88 F
30.9 °C
88 F
 27.2 °C
81 F
30.8 °C
87 F
27.3 °C
81 F
Maximum: 33.1 °C = 92 F
Average: 30.7 °C = 87 F
34.9 °C
95 F
36.4 °C
98 F
36.3 °C
97 F
34.3 °C
94 F
37.1 °C
99 F
36.8 °C
98 F
31.6 °C
89 F
33.5 °C
92 F
34.2 °C
94 F
Maximum: 37.1 °C = 99 F
Average: 35 °C = 95 F
Room Temperature 21 °C = 70 F
(+) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 30.7 °C / 87 F, compared to the average of 31.2 °C / 88 F for the devices in the class Multimedia.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 33.1 °C / 92 F, compared to the average of 36.9 °C / 98 F, ranging from 21.1 to 71 °C for the class Multimedia.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 37.1 °C / 99 F, compared to the average of 39.2 °C / 103 F
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 30.8 °C / 87.4 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.9 °C / 84 F (-1.9 °C / -3.4 F).


The two speakers at the front edge of the notebook provide good and, if demanded, also loud sound. The sound is alright, and also the basses are rather good. When we checked the audio out, we observed a quiet cheeping and cracking noise, which was clearly superimposed by the played back music, but, was always present.

Battery Runtime

Dell Inspiron 1520 battery
Protruding 9-Cells Battery

The reviewed Dell Inspiron 1520 was equipped with the optionally available 9 cells battery. Its capacity of 85 Wh combined with the moderate equipment promised a good runtime. This battery upgrade is surely interesting, also because it only costs 35.- Euro. However, the drawback is that the battery protrudes the case.

The measured runtime ranges from a minimum of somewhat above 2.5h to a maximum of above 8 hours with maximum energy saving settings.

Also the runtime with WLAN operation of above 4 hours are a criterion supporting the battery upgrade of the Dell Inspiron 1520.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
8h 30min
WiFi Surfing
4h 50min
4h 10min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 40min


In summary the Dell Inspiron 1520 is a dignified successor of the successful Inspiron 6400 series. The large number of available configurations, which allow an office version and also a gaming version, make the 1520 especially interesting.

The design of the aluminum case can be adapted to the different configurations and the chassis convinces by robustness and flexural rigidity. Besides some smaller weaknesses, most notably the missing digital video out has to be mentioned. This would be a reasonable supplement especially for a compact 15 inch notebook.

The input devices are fit for office work and games and are liked, because of their reasonable layout and user-friendly typing. Also the touch pad is alright.

The built-in WXGA display has the advantage that it is due to a matte surface and good brightness fit for outdoor usage. However, the resolution of the 1280x800 panels could be higher. Regarding this aspect, Dell also offers a variety of alternatives, but they all have a reflecting surface.

Regarding performance the Dell Inspiron 1520 can be individually adapted to your demands. Possible configurations ranges form averagely equipped office notebooks to playable multimedia notebooks.
The emissions of the reviewed office version were very low. More powerful versions will likely have higher emissions.

Finally, also the battery runtime of the Dell Inspiron 1520 is a clear pro, of course also because of the optional 9-cells battery. A  runtime of up to 8 hours leaves nothing to be desired and prepares the ground for mobile use.

Dell Inspiron 1520
Dell Inspiron 1520


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Dell Inspiron 1520
Reviewed - Dell Inspiron 1520


Dell Inspiron 1520-PP22L
Intel Core 2 Duo T5250 2 x 1.5 GHz (Intel Core 2 Duo)
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS - 128 MB VRAM, Core: 400 MHz, Memory: 400 MHz, DDR2 RAM
1024 MB 
, DDR2 PC5300 667 MHz, 2x512MB, max. 4096MB
15.40 inch 16:10, 1280 x 800 pixel, WXGA TFT, glossy: no
Intel PM965
120 GB - 5400 rpm, 120 GB 
, 5400 rpm, Hitachi HTS541612J9S
SigmaTel STAC9205
1 Express Card 54mm, 4 USB 2.0, 1 Firewire, 1 VGA, 1 S-Video, 1 Modem, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headphones, microphone, Card Reader: 8-in-1, 2 mp webcam
10/100 MBit Lan Adapter (10/100MBit/s), 802.11b/g (b/g/)
Optical drive
height x width x depth (in mm): 45 x 269 x 358 ( = 1.77 x 10.59 x 14.09 in)
85 Wh Lithium-Ion, 11.1V
Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 32 Bit
Additional features
12 Months Warranty
3.3 kg ( = 116.4 oz / 7.28 pounds), Power Supply: 490 g ( = 17.28 oz / 1.08 pounds)
800 Euro


Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
The Dell Inspiron 1520 is regarding design...
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
In general the sound of the speakers is also alright.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
Also the surface temperatures are alright.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
At least in the office version, the fan stays comfortably quiet all the time.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
The Core 2 Duo CPU is either combined with a 8400M GS or even a 8600M GT video card.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
Also regarding performance, the notebook can be adapted to your demands.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
Available panels range from 1280x900 WXGA to WSXGA+ displays.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
You can choose between a number of displays for your Dell 1520:
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
The keyboard is user-friendly and provides a passable layout.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
The order of the interfaces is alright, but, a digital video out is missing.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
...but, there are some weaknesses, e.g., uneven gaps.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
The case is robust and flexural rigid...
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
...very similar to the Dell 1720.
Dell Inspiron 1520 Image
A special strength of the Inspiron 1520 is the good battery runtime of the 9-cells battery.


  • Decent pleasing design
  • Very stable and fexural rigid aluminum case
  • User-friendly input devices
  • Variety of display versions available
  • Reasonable office or powerful mutlimedia equipment available
  • Low noise emissions
  • Low surface temperatures
  • Very good battery runtime
  • Contra

  • Smaller weaknesses regarding gaps
  • Display hinges allow see-saw, display wobbles, if closed.
  • No DVI-D/HDMI port
  • Mostly glossy displays available
  • Similar Notebooks

    Price Comparison

    Dell Inspiron 1520


    Dell Inspiron 1520-PP22L - 09/06/2007
    J. Simon Leitner

    Pointing Device
    Games Performance
    Application Performance
    Add Points
    Multimedia - Weighted Average

    Test Bibliothek

    • Weitere eigene Testberichte

    • Verfügbare externe Tests sortiert nach Displayformat

    • Verfügbare externe Tests sortiert nach Grafikkarte
    • Suche nach Testberichten in der umfangreichen Bibliothek von



    +Dezentes gefälliges Design
    +Sehr stabiles und steifes Aluchassis
    +Benutzerfreundliche Eingabegeräte
    +Breites Angebot an Displayvarianten
    +Günstige Officeausstattung oder leistungsfähige Multimediaausstattung möglich
    +Geringe Geräuschemissionen
    +Niedrige Oberflächentemperaturen
    +Sehr gute Akkulaufzeiten


    -Kleiner Mängel hinsichtlich Spaltmaße
    -Displayscharniere lassen Wippen zu, Display wackelt im geschlossenen Zustand
    -Kein DVI/HDMI Port
    -Überwiegend spiegelnde Displays erhältlich
    > Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Dell Inspiron 1520 Notebook
    J. Simon Leitner, 2007-10-13 (Update: 2013-05- 8)