The Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3543 is the latest refresh of the PC maker’s 3000-series budget-class 15.6-inch laptop. This $350+ home and office notebook with square-ish chassis made of matte black plastics features the latest Intel Broadwell processors instead of older Haswell found in the previous 3542 and AMD CPUs in the 3541.
Currently, Dell’s 3543 provides a couple of lower-to-mid range Broadwell CPU choices. Namely, the entry-level Intel Celeron 3205U and Pentium 3805U and mid-tier Intel Core i3-5005U and i5-5200U. The Celeron is satisfactory only for the basic web, office, and multimedia tasks, while the i3 and i5 offer noticeably better performance, so you can do photo and video editing on them without stutter. In addition, the i3 and i5 have much faster Intel HD 5500 integrated graphics instead of the basic Intel HD, so they can be used for playing even the latest games on low settings. The Inspiron 3543 is also expected to be available with lower-end Nvidia dedicated video cards, namely the GeForce 820M 2GB and 840M 4GB. These can offer more fluid gaming than the aforementioned Intel GPU solutions. However, high-detail high-resolution 3D gaming is obviously beyond all the mentioned GPUs. As for system memory, the notebook supports up to 8GB. It has only one RAM slot, but thankfully, it is easily accessible for upgrades, as same as the hard drive bay. The machine comes with either 500GB or 1TB HDD preinstalled. DVD burner is present on this laptop by default.
Touchscreen is optional. Whether it is touch-enabled or not, the display has 1366-by-768 resolution as the only option. IPS wide viewing angle technology has been omitted, but that’s expected when it comes to the budget notebook category. Another useful perk is optional backlight on the Chiclet-style keyboard with a dedicated numeric pad.
The average buyer won’t be disappointed with Dell’s selection of ports, slots, and networking features of the laptop. It has three USB ports, HDMI video connector, a combo audio mic/headphone jack, and a memory card reader, as well as Wi-Fi, Ethernet LAN, and Bluetooth connections.
Regarding physical specs, it’s worth noting that the non-touch Inspiron 3543 models weigh in at 5.3 pounds for the touch variant is a bit heavier at 5.5 pounds. The chassis is 0.9″ high, so the laptop is quite thin.
For a more detailed info on quality of the Inspiron 15 3000 3543 you can read our review below. Overall, the Dell 3543 series generally offers a good bang for the buck. If you’re willing to shell out more money for a display with a higher resolution, batter selection of Broadwell CPUs, and sexier look of the laptop, you can check out the mainstream Inspiron 15 5000 5548 series as well as numerous other systems with the same widely adopted 15.6″ form factor.
Our Review of Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3543
We tested a Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3543 configuration with the entry-level Intel Pentium 3805U dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. Here are our thoughts about the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 3543 after two weeks of use:
Since the Dell 3543 with the latest Intel Broadwell processors doesn’t differ much from the previous-gen 3542 series with the previous-gen Intel Haswell chips, they share pretty much the same advantages and weakness. The 3543 in comparison to the 3542 has offers better processor choices, since Broadwell CPUs are a bit faster than comparable Haswell precursors and have improved graphics processing units. A good example is the i5-5200U Broadwell we reviewed here. It’s the fastest CPU available for the notebook.
The best selling point of the Dell 3543 is affordable price. A configuration with the speedy i5-5200U and large RAM and hard drive capacities of 8GB and 1TB can be found on Amazon for about $500. That’s an excellent price for the given configuration and probably the cheapest notebook with the i5-5200U/8GB/1TB you can find on the market. Furthermore an i3/4GB/500GB model can be found for as little as $340. Models with the entry-level Intel Pentium and Celeron processors are even cheaper – $300 and up – and again very competitive price-wise.
If you want to upgrade RAM and hard disk, the notebook offers you an easy way to do so. These components alongside the Wi-Fi module and battery are user-replaceable and easily accessible. The service panel on the bottom of the chassis is held by only one screw. Unfortunately, there’s only one RAM slot, so you can’t have more than 8GB of RAM.
As same as with the older Dell 3542 and 3541, colors on the display are a bit bland and the screen could have been brighter. Contrast appears to be weak too and blacks in darker movie scenes are rather dark gray than black. To make the situation worse, backlight isn’t uniform and leakage is present around the edges which is visible during the dark scenes. Vertical viewing angles are quite narrow. A slight aberration from the ideal 90-degree vertical viewing angle produces either washed out or inverted colors. As usual, the situation is better with horizontal viewing angles where the Dell does a good job.
Like the vast majority of laptop keyboards nowadays, the 3543 suffers from short key travel and thus not-so-great tactile feedback. The keys have a soft feel to it. Thankfully, the keyboard layout is tidy. The only complaint layout-wise is somewhat short space key. Flex of the keyboard under pressure is present, but not excessively.
The trackpad works good in terms of precision of cursor navigation, but since the left and right click buttons are integrated in the surface and therefore nor separated physically, the trackpad can sometimes misinterpret your left/right click actions. To avoid this, you should click the surface near the lower corners of the trackpad. Another trackpad-related problem is its unproportional shape in relation to the screen and trackpads on other laptops. The left and right sides are short, and there’s a great deal of unused space under the trackpad, where the click buttons usually reside.
The build quality of the base appears to be sturdy. The matte black plastics without much flex implies durability and is pretty much free of unwanted fingerprints. On the other hand, the display lid is elastic, especially on the lower part of it. Only a slight pressure on the lower part can produce ripples on the display itself. The lid does attract some fingerprints, but not insanely.
Annoyingly, the notebook has no LED indicators for hard drive activity, power / sleep status, nor Wi-Fi. Only present lights are for battery charging and a small LED on the Caps Lock key.
Speakers are average for the budget notebook category the Dell 3543 belongs to, with somewhat flat sound. Highs are mediocre, while the bass is merely audible. What makes sound muted is the bottom-front position of speakers.
The battery life in our light web browsing test via Wi-Fi and with screen brightness set to 75 percent lasted 4 hours and 35 minutes. Since the display is by default dimmer than usual, you’ll have to set brightness at least 75% during daytime. In dark environments you can lower it and get better battery life results. Overall, the battery life isn’t insanely long, but rather good. The Intel Pentium 3805U processor in the 3543 configuration we tested and other available CPU options (Intel Celeron, Core i3, i5) all consume 15 Watts of power, so battery life with different chips should be similar.
The Dell Inspiron 3543 is a really quiet and cool running laptop. At least the Pentium configuration we tested, while the faster CPU options will probably cause a bit higher operating temperatures. The CPU temp on idle is at about 40 degrees Celsius, while under gaming it can reach up to 50 degrees.