Dell Inspiron 14 Plus Review: it just works

Review Summary

Expert Rating
7.5/10

Design
★  
7.5
/10
Display
★  
7.5
/10
Performance
★  
7.5
/10
Battery
★  
8.0
/10
Gaming
★  
7.5
/10
Connectivity
★  
8.0
/10

Pros

  • Sturdy design
  • Segment-leading performance
  • Comfortable keyboard deck
  • Incredible battery life

Cons

  • Heavier even with semi metal build
  • Display is capped at 60Hz
  • HDMI output is capped at 1080p
  • Heats up under load

The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus does not sport the now-in-vogue convertible design. It also lacks a fancy OLED display, top-firing speakers, or a sophisticated webcam that can scan your face and unlock the laptop before you even sit down. And yet, I can’t stop using it as my daily driver.

Priced a buck north of Rs 1,000,00, the Inspiron 14 Plus is surrounded by fearsome contenders. Despite its inherent shortcomings, I can comfortably recommend the laptop above more elegant and dainty alternatives from competing brands. Here’s why.

Design and Display

The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus looks like a quintessential work laptop. To that end, it sports a plain and understated design apt for corporate environments and colleges. The laptop’s lid is made of metal, whereas the base is made of plastic. Despite the mix of materials, the Inspiron 14 Plus’ chassis feels satisfactorily stiff, and it doesn’t creak or squeal when pressed.


The keyboard deck didn’t give in to the pressure of my wrists, and I didn’t notice any flex when I twisted the corners of the display either. The laptop is reasonably compact; however, it is quite densely packed and weighs around 1.6kg. Considering its semi-metal construction, I would have expected the Inspiron 14 Plus to be lighter.

On the upside, the laptop sports chamfered edges and rounded-off corners, which pave the way for a comfortable usage experience. What’s more, the rounded-off finish extends to the entirety of the laptop. So, you can put your hand anywhere on the deck without feeling a sting on your wrist.

The laptop is only available in Ice Blue, which, quite frankly, looks a touch unique compared to the company’s silver trims. I like the colour scheme a lot, and it extends to the keyboard deck too, which is excellent. All in all, the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus sports a highly functional design with a touch of style thrown in here and there.

The laptop delivers on the display front, too. Granted the unit’s 14-inch screen could do with higher brightness. As things stand, the panel maxes out at 300 nits. Coupled with its matte finish, which, granted, keeps unnecessary glares at bay – the panel can seem a bit dull, especially when used under the sun. On the upside, the screen is plenty sharp and sports a 2K (2,240 x 1,400) resolution.

The display’s 16:10 aspect ratio makes it a godsend for reading PDFs, articles, and emails on the go too. It can accommodate more text per scroll, so you don’t have to nudge the page slider constantly. The screen offers solid viewing angles, too, and there was no noticeable colour shift when I viewed it off-axis. My only real qualm with the panel is that it refreshes at 60Hz, which is a bummer considering the laptop’s asking price.

On the whole though, buyers looking for a high-quality screen to jot emails down, work on Excel sheets, and even watch movies or YouTube videos will be happy with the Inspiron 14 Plus’ display.

Ports, WebCam, and Audio

The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus offers a good selection of ports, too. The laptop features two USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a Thunderbolt 4 connector, a 3.5mm mic-audio combo, and a microSD card reader. Interestingly, the model sent to me for review uses a 100W power brick with a Type-C connector. That said, the laptop also comes with a barrel-style charging port.

Additionally, while the laptop gets a full-sized HDMI slot, the output is restricted to 1,920 x 1,080 at 60Hz. That’s quite disappointing as I couldn’t get the most out of my 2K, 144Hz monitor with the laptop. Having said that, the downward-firing speakers of the Inspiron 14 Plus get surprisingly loud, and the audio has good depth without sounding hollow.

The laptop is outfitted with a 1080p webcam. The picture quality was to my liking, and it supports advanced Windows Studio features, like auto-framing and portrait blur. As is the case with most Core Ultra 7-powered laptops, these tasks are deferred to the built-in NPU, so you’re not taxing the CPU by enabling these features.

The unit also comes with a privacy shutter, so you can use the slider above the webcam to disable the camera during video calls.

Keyboard and TrackPad

I am a stickler for a good-quality keyboard, and the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus delivers on the front. While the keys provide muted feedback, the keyboard deck is extremely comfortable and I could write long articles on the laptop without feeling any wrist ache. Additionally, the laptop’s lid protrudes outwards and props the keyboard at an angle, similar to ASUS’ Ergo Lift hinges. This doesn’t just help with cooling, but it also enhances the typing experience and adds more comfort.

The keyboard also comes with backlit lighting, so you can use the laptop to get some work done at night. Additionally, while the Inspiron 14 Plus’ webcam is not compliant with Windows Hello, the laptop features a fingerprint sensor embedded within the power button. The sensor works as advertised and you can use it to quickly unlock the laptop. The unit’s trackpad was also to my liking. It’s made of Mylar, offers a smooth surface, and responds well to inputs. Needless to say, I didn’t have any issues using multi-finger gestures on the Inspiron 14 Plus.

Performance, Thermals, and Battery Life

The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus is a highly performant laptop, offering the best performance among compact business laptops. The device is powered by Intel’s Core Ultra 7 155H processor which works alongside 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM clocked at 6,400MT/s. The CPU gets six P-cores, eight E-cores, and two LPE cores. For graphics, the device comes with Intel’s Arc-integrated GPU with eight Xe cores.

As you may have guessed by now, the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus leaves no stone unturned in the performance department. The laptop breezed through my workflow, which involves juggling a dozen or so tabs in Chrome and apps like Slack, Asana, and AirTable. The laptop didn’t show any signs of slowing down during my stint with it, and I could comfortably jump in and out of my most-used apps.


My findings were further substantiated when I ran various synthetic benchmarks on the laptop. In CineBench’s single-core and multi-core runs, the Inspiron 14 Plus overturned much higher numbers than the similarly-priced Envy 14 x360, which is powered by the Core Ultra 7 155U processor. Understandably, the laptop’s Arc GPU logged higher scores than the Envy’s integrated GPU, too, which has fewer Xe cores and a lesser max dynamic frequency.


I also ran PugetBench on the device, which should help you assess the laptop’s photo and video-editing capabilities. The application performs a series of real-world tests on the host application (PhotoShop, in my case) and overturns a final score. The tests are designed to simulate actual workflows used by creators, such as applying the adaptive wide angle or lens corrective filter. Here, the device overturned a higher score than competing notebooks, too.


The Inspiron 14 Plus’ Arc GPU can run older AAA titles comfortably too. GTA V, for instance, averaged 55 FPS at high graphics settings and 1080p resolution. I will advise against playing eSports games on the machine, though. While you can achieve over 150FPS in games like Valorant, the laptop’s 60Hz display poses a significant limitation.


You could use the Thunderbolt 4 port to connect the laptop to an HRR monitor, though. Note that the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus gets quite toasty under load. In fact, during a 30-odd minute run of Valorant, many of the laptop’s P-cores touched 100 degrees. I didn’t notice the FPS dip, though, which is great.

The Inspiron 14 Plus’ battery backup also sets it apart, and I could comfortably use the laptop for around seven hours at a stretch. In PCMark 10’s Battery benchmark, the laptop lasted a little over 13 hours, which is mind-boggling, to say the least.

Verdict

There is no dearth of laptops with fancy displays or lightweight designs. Despite that, I find myself consistently returning to the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus. The reason is, that I prioritise a laptop’s performance and battery backup above all else. Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve liked nothing more but for the Inspiron 14 Plus to feature an HRR display. But, given its competitive pricing, Dell had to cut corners somewhere. As far as I am concerned, they’ve done so in the right places.

Editor’s rating: 8 / 10

Pros:

  • Segment-leading performance
  • Incredible battery life
  • Comfortable keyboard deck
  • Snappy fingerprint sensor
  • Sturdy design

Cons:

  • Plastic base takes away from the overall design
  • Display is capped at 60Hz
  • HDMI port can only output at 1080p resolution
  • Heats up under load