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  • bijeshn - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Thanks for the 'to-the point' review.

    However I would really like to see how the Studio 17 fares in comparison...
  • shamans33 - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Same here....I'd like to see Studio 15 and Studio 17 Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link


    Actually finishing up a review of the Studio 17 right now, but here's where I stand on the issues:

    1. I bought mine a month ago, and love it.

    2. It's a little noisy but it's POWERFUL.

    3. Best speakers I've ever heard on a notebook.
  • Voldenuit - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Too expensive - this should be $650-700 as configured, not $900.

    Slow GPU.

    Too heavy - should be 4.5 lbs.

    No Blu-ray drive - at $900, it should come with one.

    Low resolution LCD - just because everyone else sucks, doesn't mean Dell should be left off the hook.

    Unexceptional battery life - it's not bad, just "adequate", which sums up the Studio 14 really.

    Agree with the conclusion that it is a thoroughly bland and unremarkable notebook. Where I don't agree is that it is a solid contender. "Don't be the best be like the rest" should be Dell's motto.
  • vol7ron - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    agreed. Reply
  • seanleeforever - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    with all due respect. no one pays retail price for dell.. what happen to those 20~30% off coupons? and 699 out of 1500 dollar coupons?

    900 retail price nicely translate to 600~700 street price.
  • neothe0ne - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    You can get the Envy 14 with Core i3-370m (probably faster than the i5-430m) and Radeon 5650 + switchable graphics for $1000. Not to mention the Envy's base Intel 6200 wireless is probably leagues better than "Dell" wireless by their own component upgrade pricing. This Studio 14 for $900 is a crap deal. Reply
  • djjazzyjeff - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    The Envy 14 is an overpriced, gratuitously branded piece of crap. Hideous styling, downclocked GPU and abhorrent trackpad make the Envy 14 a non-starter for most. Reply
  • zoxo - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    what's wrong with the style of the Envy14? My only problems with that machine is the lack of matte screen option, and general availability (especially in Europe) Reply
  • neothe0ne - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    You haven't actually configured and used the touchpad, have you? Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Uninformed much, wow. The styling is a matter of taste and if you dislike it, go grab your favorite cheap plastic fest, or do you prefer the elitist Macbook?

    The GPU, wow big deal I couldn't see more than a 1 or 2 FPS difference. Still plays all games really well.

    Trackpad, get some program to customize it.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    ...nearly five hours on a six-cell with a dedicated GPU is unexceptional?

    What's it gonna take to impress you people?

    It's true, the machine's a bit heavy, but it's well-built, too, has excellent expandability, and performs very well. I've played with a few 14" notebooks, this is probably one of my favorites.
  • OCDude - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Why do all laptops under $1000 have to be 1366x768? That is a crappy resolution if you actually want to get any work done on the thing... *sigh* Reply
  • zoxo - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    It's not just the resolution, but the gloss. I really wish they'd stop shoving these craps down our throats. Reply
  • bhima - Saturday, August 21, 2010 - link

    AMEN BROTHER! The only reason I will probably get an ENVY 15 instead of say, a Sager or ASUS is because it actually offers a FHD matte screen. Seriously, I don't understand why people like glossy monitors. It isn't because of picture quality, because if that were true, the majority of IPS panels would be glossy but they are not. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    My Studio 15 has a 1920x1080 screen...Its awesome, I hate going to lower resolution ones now. Reply
  • ESetter - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    I don't get the critcism related to the GPU. Some computers are just not meant for videogames and the Radeon 5470 is perfectly fine for other usage scenarios. I believe the majority of the notebook market isn't interesting in gaming at all. Reply
  • rootheday - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    I think the point is: What value does the 5470 add here over the Intel HD graphics that are included in the processor? For the market that doesn't care aobut gaming, the Intel graphics offers great battery life, good video playback, etc - and you could save $100+ off the price.

    Dell isn't the only one to do this - if you look at laptops online, you will find lots that advertise as "1GB ATI discrete graphics" or "512MB NVidia discrete graphics" - but are equipped with the NV310 or the ATI5470 like this one. It looks like the only one who benefits here is the OEM who applies a big markup to the card... in a world of very thin margins for OEMs and ODMs, this is one area where they have found they can still milk the customer out of more money with relatively little benefit.
  • mino - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Give me Radeon 9600M over HD anyday!

    One word: DRIVERS !!!!

    (posting this from G45M and regretting saving $100 back then)
  • ESetter - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Three main reasons:

    1) No memory & memory bandwidth stolen from the CPU. Memory used by an integrated GPU can be siginficant. Moreover, I run some CPU-memory intensive code and I want to be sure the memory bus isn't loaded by the GPU.

    2) Better drivers and compatibility with graphics APIs (especially OpenGL). I remember writing a simply 2D OpenGL application which had trouble rendering on Intel GPUs.

    3) Better UI performance. I've got a Mobility Radeon HD 5470 myself and Aero performance is noticeably smoother than on my previous notebook with a GeForce 8400M. My desktop with a GeForce GT 220 and double of the video RAM is also significantly smoother than my current notebook. I'm not sure how current Intel GPUs compare to the 8400M but I expect them to be in the same league if not inferior.

    I'm not sure, but maybe video playback is also better on dedicated GPUs.

    Overall, I think there are good reasons for choosing a low-end discrete GPU even if you don't play videogames.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Windows 7 does use VRAM to cache windows, saving some system RAM and helping to smooth out Aero a bit. Outside of that edge case, if you haven't actually used a current Intel HD Graphics solution, you are way off base on most of the other complaints.

    OpenGL used to be horrible on ATI as well back in the day, and it was really 3dfx that started the consumer interest with glQuake--prior to that, no one outside of professionals really cared about the API.

    Today, OpenGL is becoming a minor player compared to DirectX. Professional apps still use the API, but there are a ton of users that will never even use an OpenGL tool. Even if they do, my experience is that the Intel HD Graphics are at about the same level as ATI's HD 4200 series, with a few things like DX10 games not always running properly (but who cares at single digit frame rates?)

    All things being equal, yes I'd prefer an NVIDIA or ATI GPU over an Intel IGP. That said, on a laptop you have to worry about power, and in that case you want switchable graphics. NVIDIA's Optimus trumps ATI's switchable tech right now, though it's not without a few concerns (i.e. Linux support). Anyway, the real problem is this entry-level GPU crap being foisted onto unaware consumers for $150 extra. For $150 you should get an HD 5650. I'm not sure they couldn't get it in there on the heat side either, considering you have GT 335M in 14" and 13" laptops. But then GT 335M would probably be better, since it has Optimus and you could still get the 6 hours of battery life.
  • ESetter - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    I'm glad to here the Intel drivers are better nowadays, but just 4 years they were quite buggy. I've never had problems on ATI GPUs in the last 6-7 years, though.

    If you look at the battery life charts, this notebook seems comparable to similar models with integrated graphics and similar batteries. The power consumption of these entry level GPUs is very low at idle.

    In the end it all depends on what you're looking for, but in my opinion there is still reasons to get entry level ATI/nVidia GPUs.
  • mino - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    They are still, and NOT getting better.

    For example during their latest driver refresh with Win7 & i7 they managed to remove display profiles ...

    So now EVERY single time I plug/unplug notebook to display device I have to manually configure everything.
    Funny thing is that Intel was the first with profiles - it was the only thing they had better even ~5 yrs ago ...
  • yyrkoon - Sunday, August 22, 2010 - link

    There are no major issues with Intels mobile graphics solutions. Where the issue lies, is the end user not doing enough research on hardware they can afford for certain task(s).

    I myself own a laptop, with Intel 4500 IGP, and am surely a little disappointed in its performance for certain situations. With that said, I did look into the situation before I made my purchase, and am willing to live with my decision. Blaming Intel for my mobile choice in graphics only serves to make me look foolish, and accomplishes nothing else.

    Inform yourself. Then if something does not work for you, do not buy the technology. Intel, and the other technology companies out there are not in the fire fighting business. But they are more than willing to extinguish many a fire, by accepting that hard earned cash burning a hole in your pocket.
  • hybrid2d4x4 - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    I think you hit the nail on the head here, rootheday. If you don't game, you don't gain anything from "moving up" from integrated. And if you do intend to play games, these bottom-of-the-barrel solutions aren't going to give you a good experience unless all you want to do is play the good games you missed 3-7 years ago. The one thing I think they do right (and I'm probably in the minority here) is that they at least use low-res 768p displays- I'd hate to see single digit FPS @ native res on a higher res display. If only they made GOOD QUALITY, MATTE 768p displays...

    As an aside, I've seen some notebooks that advertise switchable graphics with the ATI 5 series. Any chance one of those might be finding it's way for review?
  • futurepastnow - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    If it's not adequate for playing games, then why bother with a discrete GPU in the first place?

    If the integrated graphics are good enough for non-gaming use (and they are), then the GPU is just a leech.
  • cknobman - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Sell it for a decent base price but add any meaning full upgrades to it and the consumer gets raped.

    My Sonly 14'CW has a Intel i520 cpu and gforce 330 in it and also has 4gb ram and a 500gb hd and it was $900 just like the dell.

    Dell needs to stop the business practice of trying to lure people in with low base prices and then gouge them on upgrades, its downright despicable and frustrating and the sole reason why I have never purchased a dell and probably never will.
  • Hxx - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Dell almost always has the studio lineup on some sort of sale so if you do some research you will end up paying around 700 for a config that would otherwise be 900. I got mine for 660 back in april when studios were going for arround 1k.

    Either way this is a great laptop for the price and Dell does what everyone else does when it comes to imflating prices on upgrades.
  • mino - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    I feel Dustin that you at AT are a bit too comfortable using HD5850 a "low-end" rig.

    For a WORK/BUSINESS notebook anything above current AMD/NVDA low-end mobile GPU's is not feasible from the power POW.
    That is, at 40nm.

    We can hate TSMC/Glofo for that, but that is about it.
  • ismailfaruqi - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Could you review HP 8540w with Dreamcolor 2 display configuration? It has 15 inch, IPS, 10-bit screen that maybe the answer for anyone dreaming laptop with excellent screen. Also could you measure its power consumption, because when configured with Dreamcolor 2 the power brick should be changed to 150W. Reply
  • XZerg - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    It would be nice to post the basic specs and the upgrades and their costs. This will help us understand where the extra money is going from the basic price... Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Honestly, Dell changes system configurations and options on their site more often than most people change underwear. We got this notebook less than a month ago and it's already obsolete in certain ways. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    "After all, the Xbox 360 is nearly five years old, and 720p is the target for that console." Even the latest and greatest and slimmest xbox 360 still burns over 80 watts playing a game. I'm sure a notebook would produce great gaming benchmarks if it pulled that much power. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    The Xbox 360 revisions haven't had the chance to really change things up. Yes, they did a process technology shrink, but they still have to maintain 100% compatibility with the original Xbox 360 so there are limitations to what they can do. I also don't think the CPU/GPU in the Xbox 360 gets the same level of power friendly optimizations that laptop parts get, but then the manufacturers aren't very forthcoming about console architectures and such.

    Anyway, look at the 5650 and 335M; they consume around 20W max on the 5650 (15W for the 5470... Dell really couldn't get 5W extra out of the chassis?), and 28W max on the 335M. Idle power draw is down around 5W on both. At 100% load, such a laptop would be about 20W less than the 360, but that's well within reason. If MS binned 360 CPUs/GPUs for minimum power draw like mobile parts, they could easily get below 80W.
  • skrewler2 - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    It would be more interesting to see how this compares to something like a Thinkpad?

    Or any other laptop for that matter...
  • Kishkumen - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    Dear College Students,
    You don't want this laptop, You don't want a glossy display because you want to be able to go outside and study once in a while. Also , you want a nice matte display, with a nice, high resolution, say 1920x1080 or hell even 1600x900 so that you are more productive in your work and can get better grades. This is not the laptop for you. If you can't afford a better, new business class laptop, look for a used one (say one or two years old) with a good display and just buy a new battery. You'll be much happier. I would be anyway.
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    It depends what sort of work you're doing. If all you need to do is write papers in Word, screen resolution is generally a non-issue. You look at one or two paragraphs at a time and go from there. If on the other hand you want to do video and photo editing, resolution becomes far more important.

    The glossy stuff is a different matter of course. I wish there were non-business laptops with matte LCDs still. But, buying used is a bad idea IMO. Laptops don't usually last more than 4 years of constant use, batteries stop holding a charge after 1-2 years, hinges wear out, and battery life is something that has just as much impact on usability for college campuses as the screen. Take a 15.6" LCD with a matte display and you're probably looking at 2-3 hours battery life in most cases. If it's used, more like 1 hour if you're lucky, unless you spend $100 on a new battery.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Friday, September 03, 2010 - link

    He addressed the battery issue by saying to buy a new one.

    I disagree that resolution is ever a non-issue. Who wants to only be able to see 2 paragraphs at once? And if you do any formatting or visual organization to the paper, you will want to see each page at once. That doesn't work with 768.
  • justniz - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link I avoid all laptops with ATI graphics. Reply
  • semo - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    when you plug in a microphone or headset through linein, do you have to change any driver settings and are those settings remembered.

    I have a studio 1557 that asks me to confirm linein settings every time i plug in a headset and even between restarts. My other laptop will start using an external mic even in the middle of a conversation. Im sending it back and if they cant fix i will be looking for a replacement
  • jasperjones - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    You must think your readers are somewhat dumb. I don't see any reason why, in recent reviews, we're being shown the table with system specs twice. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Friday, August 20, 2010 - link

    As a convenience so you don't have to memorize the specs every time you look at the first page. :) Reply
  • Hrel - Thursday, August 19, 2010 - link

    yeah... 900 dollars?! Only way this laptop is worth that is if you put an ATI 5650 GPU or better in it, and a screen with a resolution of 1600x900 or better. Reply
  • taltamir - Friday, August 20, 2010 - link

    with a GPU that crappy, why bother at all?
    The only two options should be the 5650 (or faster) or no discrete GPU at all (saving both money, power consumption, and weight)... having a crappy discrete GPU is a DRAWBACK not a plus for a laptop... its still not playing any games.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, August 20, 2010 - link

    That's only partially true. Even the 5470 and 310M are about 2.5 times faster than the best current IGPs (with the exception of the G320M that's only used in Apple MacBook, since NVIDIA can't make Core 2010 chipsets). If it were a $75 upgrade, that would at least be something you could justify, but $150 is what it costs to get the 5650/335M level, which are another 2.5X increase over these entry GPUs. Reply
  • synaesthetic - Monday, August 23, 2010 - link

    These GPU upgrades are barely worth $50 extra on the price. Asking $150 is absolutely ludicrous.

    But really, no laptop maker offers reasonably priced discrete GPU upgrades except for Sony (where they are almost always $50 extra regardless of what type of GPU you get).

    As another poster mentioned, this machine is not a good deal. In the 14" space, the HP Envy 14 and the Sony Vaio CW rule the roost. Especially if you catch the Vaio CW on a Best Buy sale, where you can get the CW27FX variant with the i5-520M, 1600x900 LCD, NV GT330M and a BD-ROM drive for $950.
  • asmoma - Sunday, August 22, 2010 - link

    I'm curious about the performance and the battery life/energy usage of the phenom pxxx and the kite platform. Is someone at anandtech working on a review? :) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, August 22, 2010 - link

    Yes... when the replacement gets here. We got an early piece of hardware, and unfortunately all the wrinkles weren't ironed out. Reply
  • Avenger19 - Sunday, August 22, 2010 - link

    I would like to wade in with my 2c worth. I have owned a Studio 14 for about 1 month, I7 720, 8GB ram, Crucial C300 SSD. I am very happy with the configuration, the only downside is the relatively wimpy ATI video chip. I have a 5870 SLI machine for those tasks. The size and weight are perfect for me The "lack" of LED indicators are a blessing for me. Highly recommended.
  • geforcefly - Thursday, August 26, 2010 - link

    My Studio 1458 has been a really good laptop for me. And one of the few 14" machines that has an LED backlit panel, slot load DVD, Core i5, AND an optional extended-life battery. I love the clean design and my i5-430 will outperform the old T9900. 4GB, 320GB, and 1,366x768 is plenty of pixels without having to look though a magnifying glass. Reply
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    I really hate that Dell has such terrible GPUs in everything except their Alienware, and I guess their single Studio XPS (which has all kinds of issues) lines.

    I mean looking at this, it would be fine, but it's a joke next to what Asus offers for the same price. Heck, my Asus from NINETEEN MONTHS AGO cost the same price, has a superior Geforce 9650GT (32-core part, probably marginally better than AMD's 120-core part...compared with this one's 80-core part), and a somewhat worse CPU (2.4GHz Penryn Core 2 versus 2.26GHz Corei5).

    I mean the bottom line is my Asus notebook has what I consider a better mix of hardware, for the same price...only it's nineteen months old. That's nuts. And of course when I bought it it was the same deal, Dell's stuff was weirdly low end. That new Asus n83 or whatever it is looks so much more appealing for this size and price range... probably double the GPU power and a bit more CPU power too.
  • caffy2103 - Tuesday, November 09, 2010 - link

    Just bought mine for $599 plus $34 tax on Dell Reply

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