Review Dell Inspiron 9400
XPS is not the only notebook by Dell, which is excellent, when used with hard multimedia applications. Inspiron 9400 is an excellent notebook for gamers too. A Core 2 Duo CPU and a Geforce 7900GS video card ensure best performance.
Inspiron 9400 is not only designed the same way as Dell Inspiron 6400, it is also impresses through the same solid fabrication. The only thing which can be criticized is the seam at the front edge caused by injection molding. But in the contrary to the 6400, the seam is not as sharp-edged.
The silver surfaces are surrounded from a white and beige plastic molding, which is varnished clearly. The through of the case is black. The choice of color and the molding strengthen a feeling of compactness and robustness.
In this respect, it is not only a feeling. As soon as one touches the notebook, the massive construction gets apparent, if one checks the notebook for flexural rigidity and stability against pressure. The only weak point is the form of the molding above the keyboard. The same problem persists with all notebooks of Dell's Inspiron line. The molding is a little bit loose and allows pushing trough. In total an impression of robustness and resilience remains.
Also the display and the folding mechanism prove flexural rigidity and robustness. Similar to the Inspiron 6400 one can notice an unessential see-saw of the display, but the lock is easy to handle and locks faultlessly.
Dell's 9400 continues the reasonable order of the connections of the Inspiron series. Nearly all ports are at the backside of the notebook or on both sides at the back regions. As a special highlight the Dell Inspiron 9400 is equipped with a total of 6 USB ports.
There are 2 USB ports and a Kensington lock at the left side, the audio ports, firewire ports and a SDCard reader at the right side. Furthermore, there is an ExpressCard slot at the right side. The luxuriantly equipped backside provides 4 more USB ports, a modem and a lan port, S-Video and VGA-out and einen DVI port. There are louvers at the left and right corners, at the sides and at the bottom side.
Also the keyboard seems to be structural identical to the keyboard of Inspiron 6400. It is embedded tightly in the case and does neither allow inflection nor wobbling.
The test proved the keyboard to be very comfortable and convinced through less noise emissions. All keys have standard, comfortable size. But the keyboard lacks a separate number block.
The touch pad is precise and reacts well. The belonging buttons are comfortable in use and have a clear range.
The 17 inch display 1920x1200 convinces through outstanding brilliancy and text is displayed needle-sharp. The colors seem subjectively sound, but the measurements detect attenuated blue tones.
The maximum brightness in the center of the display has been measured 237,2 cd/m² (which is excellent) together with a illumination of 72,2%. The reason for the below-average value for the illumination is that the brightness of the display is only 172,5 cd/m² in the left upper corner. The low black value of only 0,4 cd/m² and an outstanding maximal brightness gives a calculated maximum contrast of 593:1.
The speed of reaction reaches level 7 of the Pixperan test of legibility, which is a tad above average.
Despite of a reflecting display, one can still use the Dell Inspiron 9400 very well in bright environments, even outside it can be used to some extent. Although there are considerable reflections, one can still discern what is displayed, because of the outstanding brightness of the display.
The dependability from the vantage point to the 17 inch display is very good horizontally. If the vantage point is very low, one can notice reflections.
Vertically one can observe considerably dimouts, especially when looking at the display from bottom to top. Furthermore the display gets very coarse-grained.
The 3D benchmark test of the Inspiron 9400 performed with the program 3DMark 2006 shows results which are comparable to Dell's XPS and Toshiba's P100-191.
During the praxis test with the 3D Game Call of Duty II the Dell Inspiron 9400 reached 50-70 frames at a resolution of 1024x768 and 4xAA in average. Even at a resolution of 1280x800, one could play the game with 30-50fps without problems.
The application benchmark PCMark 2005 uncovered a small surprise. The Core 2 Duo CPU at 2,0 GHz clearly wins against a T7600 CPU with 2,33 GHz of Alb R20. The reason should be the clearly weaker video card of R20, because the video card has a small influence to the results of PCMark2005.
You can find further information to the video card here or in our Comparision of mobile video cards. For comparision of the T2700 CPU to other CPUs please look at Comparision of mobile CPUs. Detailed information to the T2700 CPU can be found here.
» No benchmarks for this notebook found!
» No benchmarks for this notebook found!
The fan is either totally deactivated if without load, or produces an acceptable noise of 34,7 dB. The fan works for a while and turns itself off again afterwards.
Under load the fan can sometimes reaches a loudness of 42,6, but most of the time it won't exceed 37,3 dB.
The notebook stays pleasantly silent when playing DVDs. It won't exceed 34,7 dB.
29.5 / 37.3 / 34.4 dB(A)
|34.7 / dB(A)
|0 / 42.6 dB(A)
min: , med: , max: (15 cm distance)
The notebook uses a well designed concept for leading off the waste heat. It has two fans, one at the left and one at the right at the back corners. The maximum temperature, which had been measured, reached 38,9°C at the bottom side of the notebook. This is a very small waste heat in comparision to other notebooks of the same performance.
palmwrist: 27.2°C max: 36.9°C avg: 31.6°C
max: 39.9°C avg: 35.7°C
Besides speakers at the front of the notebook Dell Inspiron 9400 is also equipped with a separate Subwoofer at the bottom side. This combination leads to excellent sound, even the bass is worth listening.
For use as a desktop computer this notebook has an acceptable minimum and maximum runtime. The runtime when playing DVDs is nearly two hours, which is rather limited.
Without load (Idle), min. brightness, without WLAN: 33.5 Watt
+ max. brightness: 37.6 Watt
+ WLAN: 38.2 Watt
max. load (+WLAN, max. brightness): max. 68.6 Watt
Dell's Inspiron 9400 convinced us in nearly all purviews. It shows qualities which are necessary for an efficient Desktop Replacement, and performs even better in some areas.
The case is very robust and shows a high flexural rigidity, but it has some small rough edges, which could be easily amended by Dell. The keyboard too is very comfortable.
Besides a below-average distribution of brightness, the high-resolution 17 inch display convinced as completely. The excellent brightness and contrast do not leave much space for complains.
The performance of the notebook is alright. Core 2 Duo Processor and Geforce 7900 GS guarantee that one can enjoy playing computer games at any time.
Despite of excellent performance, the temperature and the noise of the notebook are within their limits. This leads to a good rating of the notebook. Even the battery runtime is alright for a DTR computer.
In total the Dell Inspiron 9400 can be recommended for use with multimedia applications and games which make intensive use of graphics.