The Dell Inspiron 1545 is an affordable all-purpose notebook with a 15.6in widescreen LCD. While it's unlikely to turn heads with its pedestrian style, this Dell Inspiron laptop remains a perfectly serviceable notebook that punches well above its weight. (We use the term figuratively, as it is far from a petite notebook.)
Weighing in at around 3kg and measuring 374x25.938mm, the Dell Inspiron 1545 is one of the bigger entry-level notebooks on the market. This makes it a bit of a pain to lug around, but it will make an adequate desktop replacement — provided you’re not into gaming. The main benefit of this added real-estate is a 15.6in screen with a native resolution of 1366x768. The display did a good job during movie playback, with excellent viewing angles and minimal reflective glare. While the inbuilt speakers are a little on the weak side, they’re more than adequate for a notebook in this price range.
If the Dell Adamo Admire is the catwalk model of the notebook world, then the Inspiron 1545 is a faceless spectator in the crowd. While there’s nothing overtly wrong with its appearance, it lacks the ‘wow, look at me’ factor that has become de rigueur amongst certain notebook owners. The version we tested came in a matt black finish that collected quite a few fingerprints despite the lack of sheen. Like the Dell Inspiron 1520 before it, you can also opt for a blue, red, white or pink lid — though these will set you back an additional $45. The price we pay for colour!
Despite its hefty size, the Dell Inspiron 1545 lacks a numeric keypad, which makes it less than ideal for gaming. Of course, with its modest integrated graphics chipset, the Inspiron 1545 was never going to cut it as a games machine anyway (more on this later). On the plus side, the keyboard is one of the nicest we’ve seen on a notebook in some time. It looks, feels and behaves like a desktop model, albeit without a numeric keypad.
Curiously, Dell has decided to do away with media buttons entirely on the Inspiron 1545. There is no mute button, no quick-launch keys, no wireless connectivity button and no volume controls. To be fair, most of these functions can be accessed via the ‘F’ keys, but we prefer having a dedicated interface; especially when using our notebooks in the dark.
Connectivity is also a little light-on, it consists of three USB ports, an Ethernet output, a headphone and microphone jack, a 34mm ExpressCard slot, a 7-in-1 card reader and a VGA video connector. For wireless, the Dell Inspiron 1545 sticks to 802.11g rather than its zippier 802.11n counterpart.
Compared to other notebooks in its price range such as the BenQ Joybook Lite U121 Eco, Toshiba Satellite L300 and the HP Compaq 6730s , the Dell Inspiron 1545 is a very able performer. It comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 running at 2.1GHz, 3GB of DDR2 RAM (upgradable to 4GB) and a 320GB hard drive (5400 RPM). The only downside is an underpowered Intel GMA4500 graphics accelerator, but these are still impressive components for the asking price.
The Dell Inspiron 1545 notebook’s processing potential was demonstrated in our benchmark tests. When we ran the WorldBench 6 application suite, the Inspiron 1545 achieved an overall score of 85. This makes the Inspiron 1545 laptop suitable for almost any office application, along with multitasking and some photo/video editing. In our Blender 3D test, the Inspiron 1545 recorded a time of 1min 27sec, while our iTunes MP3 encoding test took just 1min 21sec to complete. These are all impressive results for a sub-$1000 notebook.
The Dell Inspiron 1545 fared less well in our 3D gaming tests, but we weren’t expecting it to shine. It scored 896 in 3D Mark 06 — enough for older game titles and casual gaming only. In our battery rundown tests, the Dell Inspiron 1545 lasted a reasonable two hours and 51 minutes. This will get you through all but the most long-winded and butt-numbing of movies. For less intensive tasks, such as word processing or Web browsing, you can expect the Dell Inspiron 1545 notebook to last even longer.