Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3542 15.6″ Inexpensive Laptop

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The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3542 is a brand new affordable 15.6″ notebook series. It’s targeted at home users, students and alike. The 15 3000 is characterized by 1″ thin and elegant square-shaped design with matte black surfaces and chiclet-style keyboard keys. The 3542 models are based on Intel’s computing technology, as opposed to the AMD-powered 15 3000 3541.

Processor choices of the 3542 available on Dell’s official web store are the Intel Celeron 2957U as the most basic option and the Intel Core i3-4010U as a mid-range solution. The laptop should be also available with the more powerful Core i5 and i7 chips. In fact, it is available with the i5, but in models sold through retailers. The 1366×768-pixel display is powered by graphics processors integrated in the main CPUs. These are the Intel HD series on the Celeron and HD 4400 on the Core parts. The latter is much better for gaming, although it isn’t a gaming solution at all. Optionally, Dell’s 3542 will also ship with the dedicated Nvidia GeForce 820M and 840M, bringing more graphics oomph but still not entering gaming category. Touchscreen is optional. Traditional input is provided via a spacious keyboard with numeric pad and trackpad with integrated mouse buttons. The keyboard is spill-resistant, according to the manufacturer. That’s a rare feature in budget laptops. In the official documentation, Dell says the 3542 is optionally offered with keyboard backlight, but we weren’t able to find that option anywhere. Hopefully, it will be available at a later date. Keyboard backlight is a pretty much unique feature in the budget-class segment, too.

3542 Keyboard

RAM memory size can be either 4GB or 8GB. The laptop has only one SODIMM memory slot, so upgrading to 12 or 16 Gigabytes won’t be possible. Hard drive space is 500GB, but other sizes should be also available in the future. Thankfully, there’s a removable panel on the bottom of the laptop, so you can access RAM and HDD for upgrades. The battery has a capacity of 40 WHr and is removable, too. This flexibility regarding removable parts is rarely seen on the modern thin laptops and is a major plus for the Inspiron 15 3000.

3542 Bottom Cover

The notebook has a DVD burner built-in. Speakers with power of 2 x 2 Watts (quite satisfactory power for laptop-use speakers) are located on the front edge of the laptop. Normally, the webcam is on the top of the LCD panel. The left side houses the power connector, HDMI, Ethernet LAN, two USB ports, and a combo audio mic/headphone jack. Besides the DVD drive, on the right side there’s one more USB and a media card reader. Wireless communication is enabled via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3542 Profile

The whole machine weighs 5.3 pounds for the non-touch and 5.5 pounds for touch-enabled variant.

UPDATE: A newer version of the notebook, with the latest Intel Broadwell processors, is available now. It’s the Inspiron 15 3000 3543.

Specifications of the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3542

Here's the specs sheet of the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3542. For comparison against other laptops, use the "Compare Specs" button.

Brand Dell
Screen size 15.6-inch (most popular laptop screen size)
Screen resolution 1366x768 pixels HD (entry-level sharpness)
Touchscreen Yes (optional)
Other display specs TN display tech (narrower viewing angles than IPS)
Processor (CPU) Intel Celeron 2957U dual-core 1.4GHz 2MB cache (User Benchmark CPU score: 17)

Intel Core i3-4010U 4th Gen dual-core 1.7GHz 3MB cache (User Benchmark CPU score: 25)
Graphics (GPU) Intel HD integrated graphics of low-end CPUs (only for the lightest gaming)

Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics
System memory (RAM) size 4GB (for light multi-tasking)
Data storage 500GB HDD (very good capacity, but slow type of storage)
DVD optical drive DVD writer
Keyboard, input Non-backlit keyboard with numeric pad

Multi-touch trackpad with integrated buttons

Touchscreen
Speakers and audio Stereo speakers
Camera Front
Wi-Fi wireless 802.11N
Ethernet network port Yes
Mobile broadband (3G, 4G LTE) No
Bluetooth Yes
USB ports 2 x USB 2.0 + 1 x USB 3.0
Video ports 1 x HDMI
Media card reader Yes (SD card reader)
Battery 4-Cell 40 WHr
Weight 5.3 pounds

5.5 pounds
Height 1"
Width 15"
Depth 10.5"
Windows version Windows 8.1 (Eligable for free upgrade to Windows 10 Home. Check Windows.com for more info.)
Warranty 1-year

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Published on May 28, 2014

User reviews and Q&A on the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3542

Below you can read and submit user reviews, questions, and answers about the laptop. Thank you for your contribution.

Current rating: 3.35 out of 5 stars
  1. yashraj kamble

    my laptop is dell 3542 15 3000 series i format my laptop but i lost
    my original windows product key how i recover my original product key………

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  2. laban

    Is this dell suitable for gaming
    Inspiron 3542
    Intel celeron (R) 2957U @1.4 GHz
    Ram 4GB
    HDD 500

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    • Danijel Z

      No, unfortunately. Laptops with the Intel Celeron processors are among the worst for gaming. Intel Core series CPUs are somewhat better, but still not designed for gaming. The best laptops for gaming are those with a dedicated video card. Starting from the Nvidia GeForce 840M / 940M or higher.

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    • Michał

      On low settings only.

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    • Anonymous

      No

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    • neel

      same problem

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  3. papz

    I can’t play Fifa 15 with my dell inspiron 15 3000 is that how it behave or that’s it need an upgrade

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  4. Abbie

    I have The Inspiron 15 Series 3000 which I purchased about a year ago, maybe a little more. I’d like to transfer old vhs tapes to my computer. I’ve read online that this can be done without an adapter if your computer has video capturing capabilities. I was wondering if anyone knows if this computer has that ability. Thanks.

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  5. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    I was wondering how do I find out my RAM and hard drive specs for my inspiron 15 3000?

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    • Danijel Z

      If you already own the laptop, you can download and install free HWinfo software. It provides a detailed info on system specs.

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    • Amul

      can i upgrade my graphic card to 2 gb in the dell Inspiron 3542 ???

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    • Danijel Z

      No, you can’t unfortunately. Graphics and CPU aren’t upgradeable on this notebook.

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  6. 5 out of 5

    kieti

    its nice…but the web cam sucks

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  7. 4 out of 5

    Stan

    This computer works ok most of the time but sometimes it just freezes up when typing email or doing other things. When this happens there is nothing you can do but just wait for a while. Then it recovers and works again. I was ready to just turn it off and restart it thinking it was not going to come back into use. Not being a computer expert it seems like it was busy doing something in the background and therefore not responding to anything for a while. Just wonder if other users have had this problem?

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    • Eddie

      Yes. I upgraded the RAM to 8GB and that fixed the problem. 4GB is not enough.

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  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I’m currently considering on upgrading the hardware on this laptop to have 8gig of ram and one of the higher end processors. I need information on how many pins on the ram and how would I would put the processor in.

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    • Danijel Z

      The Dell 3542 has one slot for 204-pin DDR3L PC3L-12800 (1600MHz) SODIMM memory. As for the processor, it is soldered onto the motherboard and therefore not upgradeable.

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    • ssce

      sorry friend you can not upgrade ram.it has fixed only one small outline dual in-line memory module. so no way to do it

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  9. 2 out of 5

    Suhail

    Dell Inspiron 15 3000 series i3. Does the power button indicator glow when the laptop is on.

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    • Danijel Z

      On the models I tested – no.

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    • 1 out of 5

      bk

      this computer fuckin sucks. less than 6 months in ,despite the 1 year warrantee, I had to get the hard drive replaced, losing all of my photos, setting, programs, and work, not to mention game data. half of the programs I installed wouldn’t work at all or would stop working without explanation. it would say ‘installed successfully,’ but then the said program would not run at all. it took me almost a full day to get my printer set up on it as well. the load times are fast, i’ll grant you. it does have some nice features on the home screen leading to the desktop icon, but again, half of those are just links to adverts, and a lot of the time take way too long to load. Whenever I opened the internet tab, after about 30 minutes, the browser would go all white and freeze, and I would either have to restart the program, if not the computer itself entirely. Also, for some reason, when I properly shut down the laptop for a few hours if not longer, when I start it up again, it would occasionally make this near deafening beeping sound that reminded me of life support failing. the first time this happened was less than two weeks after getting the new hard drive installed, and I nearly shat all over my ass and legs in shock and fear. Unbelievable. I wasn’t expecting a rocket ship, and perhaps with my luck, it is only I that just happened to have the one copy of this one model that just turned out to be shit. I recommend you save about $400-$500 dollars in addition, and purchase an actually regularly functioning laptop. I feel bad ragging on a company or a product, and I rarely, RARELY, ever do, no matter how bad it may or may not be. However, after what I went through with my former laptop just deciding to stop working for no reason at all, this is the last fucking thing I needed or wanted. if you choose to buy this model, I hope you have better fortune than myself. In fact, it would be near impossible not to.

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    • 1 out of 5

      JeremyTesla

      I guess you fuckin learned your lesson about DATA BACKUPS (LOL).

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    • M.s.B.a

      Well, I had this laptop for about I year now and it’s performing great till now, no issues or so.. it’s just your luck

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  10. 2 out of 5

    jcjoyous

    This is my first laptop, but I am disappointed.
    I am always waiting for webpages to load, or updates to download. Also, the fan seems to run a lot, the speakers are not loud enough, and it is very hard to type on it! I type 60 wpm, but the cursor sometimes jumps to another part of the page seemingly for no reason! That makes typing up a document very slow as I must hunt and peck with one finger to keep it from moving the cursor!
    The pro is the battery life is good!

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    • Eddie

      If it only has 4GB RAM it needs upgrading to 8GB. That solved my similar problems.

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  11. 4 out of 5

    Dr. ASIM

    I have a inspiron 3542, i7 4510U 2GHz, 8GB ram, 1TB HDD, nvidia geforce 840M. Got it for $815 in august 2014.

    Its working pretty good, battery life is average. Speakers, well its connected to a 2.1 channel system. Only issue is that it gets stuck sometimes or slows down, but then again could be due to virusus as I’m a tor downloader.

    My question to you all is should I get a 2 year extended warranty or no. Its been a year since I got it and its working perfectly fine but its better to be safe than sorry as dell is know for their hardware issues at times.
    It’s costing me $175 for 2 years of extended warranty. I live in dubai btw.

    Would really appreciate your feedback.

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  12. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Ive had the Inspiron 15 -3000 series for about a month or two now. great laptop. I can run my favorite games (Diablo 3 and CounterStrike Global Offensive) above minimum graphics (id say about halfway between minimum and highest) with no slowdown. The battery life is good, but yeah the speakers suck. Comon tho about that people how do you expect a laptop to have good speakers?? u cant fit a good speaker into a laptop, and the magnet from the larger speakers would add 10 pounds. not worth criticiszing. I have the 4gb ram model non touchscreen – i3 processor btw. Id recommend for purchase unless you want to shell out an extra 200 for the 1500, with full hd.

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  13. 1 out of 5

    Sean K

    This PC is so buggy I am taking it back and buying my first non Dell in 15 years. Totilted ll the way back. Combine that the horrible Windows 8.1 and I woulduch pad is hyper sensitive and will not work at all unless the screen is almost rather throw this thing in the garbage than return it to be refurbished and given to some poor sucker.

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    • 1 out of 5

      adam k

      This laptop is so trash i would highly recommend putting your money elsewhere. The keyboard is too noisy (as one could imagine). The speed of just about anything is horrific, especially considering I’ve only had this laptop for about two hours. The speakers suck, which is surprising because thats one of Dell’s bargaining chips to make you want to buy it. The keyboard doesn’t light up which is a huge no-go, especially when I have to stay up all night writing papers. I feel like this computer is straight out of the 90’s with the plain square and office deign to it. The mouspad is too close to the keyboard so often I find myself messing up my writing, which is very annoying when I delete a whole page or two worth of writing with a slide of my arm. The processor is trash, and I wont even dare attempt to play any games or download anything onto this computer. With another consideration that I’ve only had this laptop for two hours, trust me and run. Don’t even waste your time with Dell. They’re outdated by a long shot.

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    • bk

      oh my god I just left a review similar to this, and I forgot to mention they key pad. it is so bad that half the time when I looked up to see how far I had gotten on a paper or anything, I would start to fear that I was becoming retarded the letters were so jumbled up.

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  14. Eugene

    Ok thanks Daniel. Mine is an inspiron 3000 does all of it do have a touchscreen hardware?

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    • Danijel Z

      No, Eugene. Touchscreen is available only on select 3542 models/configurations.

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  15. Eugene

    How do I activate my touchscreen for this model…from the control panel its says no touchscreen option available,how do I make it available please

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    • Danijel Z

      You can try to do Setup via Tablet PC Settings (right click the Windows Start button, then click Search and type Tablet PC Settings in the search box).

      If the Tablet PC Settings aren’t available, you should check if touchscreen drivers are properly installed and the touchscreen device is enabled (right click Start button, then click Device Manager and under Human Interface Devices check if HID-compliant touch screen is enabled). If the latter isn’t visible in the Device Manager under HIDs, you should check if drivers for it are installed. If they’re not, the “HID” device should be listed under “Other devices” in Device Manager. You should do “Update Driver Software” for it. Of course, under assumption your laptop has touchscreen hardware.

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  16. 4 out of 5

    shweta dhage

    Can u please tell me shortcut to on bluetooth????

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  17. 4 out of 5

    bili

    some time fan rattling small noise when switch on or off but super to use dell 3542 blue huge nice product

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  18. 3 out of 5

    Hassi

    its very slow laptop then my PC P4. i think its not a core i3 . there is no keyboard light speaker is very poor , single ram slot .

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  19. 2 out of 5

    Mourya Samrat Darla

    what is the difference between POWER button , SLEEP button ?
    as mentioned in ‘power options -> choose what closing the lid does ‘ …

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  20. 2 out of 5

    Mourya Samrat Darla

    very poor speaker volume . low processing speed . running slowly . weak plastic body…….

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  21. 5 out of 5

    jeremy

    I picked up the inspiron 15 3000 series. I can’t find it for sale with the backlit keyboard, but a 5000 or 7000 series backlit keyboard is a direct replacement. My 3000 series has the cable connection for the backlight, so it was as easy as ordering a new keyboard for $35 out of china. I think I found it on E-Bay, or Alibaba. With an Intel SSD and Linux Mint it does my video editing, virtual machine work and anything else I toss at it. Definately an economy offering, but with an I5 and 8 gigs of ram it offeres lots of value for me.

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    • Simon

      That is such good news about the keyboard drop in replacement, thank you for this info. Yes I run mint on my i3 with a Kingston ssd and 8g ram dropped in and it’s flawless, I also want to see about screen upgrades to a higher resolution matte screen, it’s a shame I can’t get xorg running in FreeBSD or pcbsd with no support for the Haswell graphics yet, Linux is ahead of them there. Windows ran ok too until I broke the install it came with changing drives.

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  22. 5 out of 5

    Krystal

    Thank you for your post, Really helpful. I also bought the Dell Inspiron 3542 with i7 4510u 4gb ram and 500gb storage. I really love it, it is beautiful with its non glossy built but i can also notice that volume speakers are kinda low. My battery lasts up to 5 1/2 hours which is really nice, and with Win 8.1 that it had pre installed its pretty fast. I am considering on buying a new ram, since i always have lots of applications, tabs open, so can anyone please recommend a 8gb one? It is kind confusing to me since i dont know if a 1600mHz one with CAS 11 is better or worse than a 1333mHZ with CAS 9 or 10. thanks in advance.

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  23. 4 out of 5

    vikram

    Yes, i have. Well, it works. But not as satisfactory as other games. This game has exceptional ‘MIN’requirements!! Anyway, there’s not just one game in the world.. Also dude, how can I try the keyboard lights on this thing? It really sounds interesting to try this, knowing that’s there are only two ‘visible’ lights on the entire laptop – which is so wierd (wonder if they were thinking of suckin out max out of the battery that way)

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    • Danijel Z

      Dell claim on the official site that only select 3542 configurations have keyboard backlight, but I haven’t found any available for purchase with it so far. So, maybe your notebook doesn’t have keyboard backlight. If it has there’s usually some key shortcut (Fn button + something) to turn it on and off. Yeah, having only two lights on the entire notebook is really weird, especially if HDD and power up LEDs are missing. I’ve discussed about it in this comment: http://laptoping.com/specs/product/dell-inspiron-15-3000-3542/#comment-9121

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  24. 4 out of 5

    Vikram

    Hey .. I wanted to know if this can be considered a decent/mediocre gaming rig if my config is :

    I3 @ 1.7 , 4 GB ram, 2 GB nvidia 820m

    Strange but i tried playing ‘ the evil within’ and its hogging onto the new CPU like crazy… The min req for the game is like i7!!!!

    Also,are there any keyboard lights in the laptop? I would like to try that 🙂

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    • Danijel Z

      Hi, it’s actually a low-end gaming configuration, if you can call it gaming at all. The Nvidia 820M is a very basic dedicated video card, with performance only slightly better than the Intel HD 4400 you can find on the Haswell i3, i5 and i7 CPUs. The only good thing about it is 2GB of VRAM memory, so it doesn’t use the main memory. The Evil Within has pretty much intense graphics, so no wonder it lags a lot. Have you tried to lower the graphics settings and resolution?

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  25. 3 out of 5

    swarnim

    I bought inspiron 3542 one month ago. everything is good .but its picture quality is poor.any solution to upgrade it ????
    plez help

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  26. 5 out of 5

    shery

    can any one tell me about the indicator light functioning

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  27. 4 out of 5

    rutujp

    hi i have purchased 15 3542 two weeks ago ..
    but i think that the built quality looks inferior when compared with its counterparts
    and it has become quite slow without using much memory ..plzz i require ur suggestions

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  28. Krishna

    How to turn on the Cam in this laptop – Processor AMD, OS Windows 7

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  29. 3 out of 5

    Danijel Z

    Dell Inspiron 3542 3541

    I’ve posted a review of the AMD version here. The Dell 3542 is the same laptop but with Intel inside. Here are my thoughts about the 15 3000 series, with exception of computing performance, heat, and fan noise because of different CPUs.

    Display doesn’t produce vibrant colors, but on the positive side they look realistic. It could have been brighter. Backlight isn’t uniform and leakage is present around the edges.

    Short keyboard keys travel. They could be bigger, especially the space key.

    Trackpad is wide enough, but the height is short, so it has a kind of weird aspect ratio and it requires a bit of time to get used to it. Otherwise it works OK.

    Speakers are loud enough. Trebles are good, but bass is weak as usual on laptops with no subwoofer.

    The laptop feels sturdy and the matte palmrest and lid don’t attract fingerprints as much as glossy ones.

    A weird ommision is absence of the power and hard drive LED indicators.

    The laptop is easily upgradeable and it has user-removeable battery.

    Image slideshow:

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  30. afzal

    is hd webcam available with this

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    • Danijel Z

      A 720p HD webcam is built-in.

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  31. 4 out of 5

    Brett. Z

    Great LT…
    Would you consider this device a more durable type PC?

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  32. shahzad

    Hi,

    Where can I see the HDD light or power up light ? I can only see the battery light ..

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    • Danijel Z

      It doesn’t have a HDD indicator. Really weird given that they’ve put an indicator on the Caps Lock key, but no for the HDD or Wi-Fi. Very annoying. I actually had to lean my head on the palm rest to hear if the disk is working when for example I load a large game and nothing is happening on the screen. But, I have found a solution: Activity Indicator program, which shows HDD activity on the taskbar. It’s free of charge. Don’t forget to disable HDD activity logs in the app if you don’t need them. http://sourceforge.net/projects/activityindicat/?source=typ_redirect

      A Power up light is also nowhere to be found. I assume they wanted to streamline the design, but went too far.

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  33. 4 out of 5

    ganesh

    how turn on the bluetooth device in this lap

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    • Danijel Z

      I assume you have Windows 8 on it. Right-click on the Start button in the left lower corner on the screen, click Search and in the search box type Bluetooth. Click on the Bluetooth Settings icon below the search box and there you can turn it on or off.

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  34. 5 out of 5

    Syed Umair Umar

    I was facing issue with touchpad so i sent the laptop to Dell Warranty Center and the aplogized for the toucpad issue they said they will fix it within 7 days

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  35. 2 out of 5

    Keryn

    Too many touch pad issues. I got this 2 weeks ago. When I try to move the cursor on a page it causes the page to switch to some other page even though I’m very conscious of how I move my finger tips now! Today it started to do left click and right click scroll down menus every time i tried to click on something. It is also freezing up and starting newer weird things. I’m returning it. Too bad because my previous Dell was awesome.

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  36. 3 out of 5

    Dhiraj

    the problem with the touch pad, when i click on touch pad 3 times then only the icon on the desktop open, normally it open in 2 click in other laptops so, is there any solution about the touch pad…plz rply

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  37. Doshi

    Is the back made of plastic or metal?

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    • Danijel Z

      Doshi, it’s plastics.

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  38. 2 out of 5

    merp

    ths product just shut off black ._. why… thought dell was a good pc choice? very slow.

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  39. 3 out of 5

    rikki

    how do i turn the backlit keyboard on? it has windows 7, im not sure if it will have an effect on it… but i would still like to know how to turn it on?

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  40. 5 out of 5

    Raydar Nguyen

    So far so good

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  41. peter Orta

    I’ve read mix reviews on this laptop. I’ve read the speakers are bad, volume control is difficult, the touch pad is difficult to use.can anyone confirm this. Any recommendations on a laptop that is worth purchasing.

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  42. Whitney

    Purchased laptop yesterday, charged it up, set it up, and then it died on me. Screen went blank, fan wouldn’t stop blowing, took battery out/in tried turning it back on and it beeped loudly 4x. And so I have nothing. very disappointing.

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  43. Danijel Z

    Sarah, it does have an Ethernet port on the left side.

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  44. Sarah

    Does anyone know if this computer has an ethernet/RJ45/8P8C port?

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  45. 5 out of 5

    naresh

    awesome product….i got dell inspiron 15 3542 with 2gb nvidia graphic card for 48190/-only..it is number one product..the depth of the image ,quality and sound is very excellent.

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  46. 4 out of 5

    sagar

    Very poor speaker volume. other is ok

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  47. 4 out of 5

    suresh

    graphics can be more.otherwise awesome work.

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  48. Danijel Z

    @Vaibhav: No, it is not available in Full HD.

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  49. 4 out of 5

    mahendra.G

    This product very suparb

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  50. Vaibhav

    Is this available in full hd

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  51. شريف محمد

    كيف يمكننى تحويل الشاشة لتعمل بالمس

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  52. jason

    is the top interchangeable like some other dell computers are

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  53. 2 out of 5

    chen

    can i turn touch screen off?

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    • Eugene

      How do I activate my touchscreen for this model…from the control panel its says no touchscreen option available,how do I make it available please

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  54. 2 out of 5

    Bill

    Very poor speaker volume. Hate the touch pad. Other than that it’s ok, but likely will be my last Dell product.

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  55. 4 out of 5

    Harikesh Bairwa

    Awesome design… but i would love it in silver or white color

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