Dell Vostro is a laptop series primarily targeted at small business users and is known for having a lower price than Dell’s main business-oriented Latitude notebooks, while still offering great build quality and good specs. One of the new laptops from the series – the Vostro 5480, which was previously only available in select Asian markets is now available across Europe and we got one right away for a review. It is a 14-inch notebook from the thin-and-light category, the device features brushed aluminum lid and palm rest with a choice between silver or red color, a great dual-fan cooling system and offers an optional fingerprint scanner for added security.
Specs-wise the notebook comes with a choice between Intel Core i3-4005U, i5-5200U, or i7-5500U, 4/8GB RAM, up to 1TB HDD or 128GB SSD, an integrated Intel HD Graphics or discrete NVIDIA GeForce 830M GPU and an optional touchscreen display. At the time of writing the review the starting price of the notebook on the European market is around 550-600 EUR.
The notebook comes in a standard package with a few manuals and a charger.
Design and construction
Dell have not changed the design of Vostro 5480 over last year’s 5470 a lot. The notebook comes with a thin body, measuring at 18.3mm (0.72″), same as last year’s model and it is also pretty lightweight at 1.53kg (3.4 lbs). The shell of the body is made of part aluminum, part plastic and it feels sturdy enough, given the price of the device.
As usual, starting off with the lid – it is made of aluminum with brushed metal look, but smooth finish, which adds a slight premium feel, but unfortunately gets smudges and fingerprints fairly easy. There are two color choices for the lid – silver (our unit) or metallic red. We have the usual glossy Dell logo in the center and also microphone holes located on the top left side. On the other side of the lid we have the 14.0-inch matte screen with a webcam and a microphone on top. The hinges can rotate the lid up to 135-degree angle and are strong enough to hold it firmly in place, but not too stiff, so you can easily open it with one hand.
Going around the sides of the device we have an SD card reader, two USB 3.0 ports, DC charger port and a Kensington lock slot to the left. The right side holds a 3.5mm combo audio jack, collapsible Ethernet port, always-on USB 3.0, and HDMI. The front of the device is clean, while the back side is entirely reserved for the dual-fan cooling system with an intake grill between the two exhausts. The bottom of the device is a whole plastic piece with additional venting holes for a cooling pad, subwoofer grill, located to the left and speaker holes on the front left and right edges.
Opening the lid we find the same brushed aluminum on the palm rest as on the lid, with soft touch plastic around the keyboard. Speaking of which, it has evenly spaced island-style keys with an average key travel. Unfortunately we found it to be a bit stiff for our liking, but still it offers a decent typing experience. The trackpad is pretty big and takes nearly the entire height of the palm rest. It is comfortable, has decent sensitivity and the buttons are easy to click. To the right of the trackpad we also have a fingerprint sensor for added security.
Dell Vostro 5480 is an elegant thin-and-light solution for small business or home office users. It has a great aluminum lid and feels sturdy enough for an affordable mid-ranger. You have plenty ports at your disposal and the dual-fan system should keep the device cool even under really heavy workload. The keyboard and trackpad offer decent experience, with some room for improvement, but good enough for the price range of the device.
Disassembly and upgrade options
The notebook is easy to disassemble, you have to unscrew 11 Torx screws and open the whole bottom piece. Inside we have a 2.5″ HDD compartment, single DDR3L RAM slot for up to 8GB memory, the Wi-Fi card, the 51.2Wh battery and dual-fan cooling system. If you are planning on removing or upgrading any components, remember to disconnect the battery first. You can read more about the upgrade options in our dedicated article: http://laptopmedia.com/highlights/inside-dell-vostro-5480-disassembly-internal-photos-and-upgrade-options/
Display and sound
Dell Vostro 5480’s display has an HD TN panel with matte finish, model B140XTN. The diagonal is 14 inches (35.56 cm) and the resolution – 1366 x 768. The aspect ratio is 16:9, the screen has a pixel density of 112 pixels per inch, with a pixel pitch of 0.2269 x 0.2269 mm. The screen can be considered “Retina”, when viewed from a distance greater than 79 cm, which is more than normal reading distance.
Dell Vostro 5480 has uncomfortable viewing angles.
The maximum brightness we were able to measure before profiling is 253 cd/m2 with a maximum deviation of 7%. The average color temperature, measured on a white screen is 8150K – colder (but not critically) than the optimal 6500K light. There is an increased deviation in the upper left corner.
Color reproduction (CIE)
To put things into perspective, we would like to give you a little introduction into the sRGB and Adobe RGB color gamuts. The CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram represents the spectrum of colors visible to the human eye, thus giving you a better perception of color gamut coverage and color accuracy. Inside the black triangle you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB), used by millions of people in HDTV and on the Web. As for Adobe RGB, it is used to work with professional cameras and monitors when preparing print. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone, and so reproducing them accurately is key in a quality display.
The yellow triangle shows the color gamut coverage of Dell Vostro 5480. It has 54% of sRGB and 41% of Adobe RGB gamut, which is not enough for a saturated image.
The images below shows practically the same thing but with recorded measurements. On the left – before profiling, with factory settings, and on the right – after profiling. The colored circles represent reference colors (sRGB/rec.709 Standard Color Gamut Reference Colors) and the whites show the colors actually reproduced . The primary and secondary colors are shown with 100% and 50% saturation respectively inside the sRGB gamut.
We calibrated the screen with 140 cd/m2 brightness and 6500K color temperature.
For calibration purposes we use X-Rite i1Display Pro.
We tested the colors before and after recording the profile in Windows. Due to the insufficient sRGB coverage some of the colors with 100% saturation (red and purple) are replaced with the closest possible, resulting in a somewhat pale image.
The display’s white level distribution is close to the optimal after profiling.
We tested the display with 24 color samples, including commonly used colors and ones the eye easily recognizes – dark and light human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange and so on. Most of them are in the middle of the color gamut, and after profiling their accuracy is high enough – average DeltaE2000 = 2.04
Pulse-width modulation (PWM), Screen flickering
Vostro 5480’s display emits light without PWM for all brightness levels. This should offer long hours of work without excessive strain on the eyesight and brain. We give an excellent mark on this aspect of the display.
Gaming capabilities (Response time)
The image below is mostly useful for gamers. It illustrates the response time of the pixels in modes from “Black” to “White”, plus “White” to “Black” for levels from 10% to 90% and back.
We measured Fall Time + Rise Time = 11.2 ms. The panel is fast enough for action-packed games.
The display of Dell Vostro 5480 is suitable for gaming, web browsing, videos and business applications, excluding professional work with colors.
If we assume a distance of 58cm (~23in) between the human eye and the notebook monitor, then normal (20/20) vision would require a pixel density of at least 150ppi in order to interpret an image as perfectly detailed.
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) 14.0-inch, AUO B140XTN, 1366 x 768 pixels||111.94|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 15.6-inch, AUO B156XTN04.1, 1366 x 768 pixels||100.45||-10.26%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) 15.6-inch, Dell, 1366 x 768 pixels||100.45||-10.26%|
Higher panel brightness is of key importance for visual comfort when working outside or in a brightly lit room.
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) 14.0-inch, AUO B140XTN, 1366 x 768 pixels||253|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 15.6-inch, AUO B156XTN04.1, 1366 x 768 pixels||262||+3.56%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) 15.6-inch, Dell, 1366 x 768 pixels||235||-7.11%|
Delta E is a CIE measurement unit of color difference. Higher values indicate that the display produces less accurate colors. (lower results are desirable).
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) 14.0-inch, AUO B140XTN, 1366 x 768 pixels||2.04|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 15.6-inch, AUO B156XTN04.1, 1366 x 768 pixels||9.0||+341.18%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) 15.6-inch, Dell, 1366 x 768 pixels||1.60||-21.57%|
The sRGB color gamut, introduced as a standard for the Web, shows the percentage of colors used on the Web that can be displayed on the screen of the device being tested (higher values are better).
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) 14.0-inch, AUO B140XTN, 1366 x 768 pixels||54|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 15.6-inch, AUO B156XTN04.1, 1366 x 768 pixels||56||+3.7%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) 15.6-inch, Dell, 1366 x 768 pixels||57||+5.56%|
Dell Vostro 5380 has a mediocre sound quality for the whole spectrum from low to high tones. At times there is a noticeable metallic sound and distortions. The sound volume is high and good enough for the type of the notebook.
|CPU||Intel Core i3-4005U (3M Cache, 1.70GHz)|
|RAM||4GB DDR3L (1 x 4096MB), 1600MHz|
|GPU||NVIDIA GeForce 830M 2GB DDR3L|
|HDD/SSD||500GB SSHD, 5400rpm|
|Display||14.0″ HD 1366 x 768, TN, matte|
|Connectivity||Ethernet 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Battery||3 -cell, Lithium Ion, 51.2Wh|
|Weight||1.53kg (3.4 lbs)|
For testing purposes we use a clean installation of Windows 8.1. If your computer did not come with a pre-installed OS or want to make a clean install you can download the necessary drivers at Dell’s official support website: http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/product-support/product/vostro-14-5480-laptop/drivers
Vostro 5480 comes with a 3-cell 51.2Wh battery and with the help of the energy efficient CPU and RAM we got some really great results from this notebook. The device can get you through about a standard 8-hour work day on a single charge and while the results are a bit far from the promised by Dell 10.5 hours, it is still an impressive result. All tests are performed under the same conditions – power saver on, Wi-Fi turned on and connected, Bluetooth off, and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
As we already said – we are pretty impressed with the results. You can browse the Internet for nearly a whole working day or 452 minutes (7 hours 32 minutes).
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
Again we got a nice big and round result in this test – 500 minutes or 8 hours and 20 minutes.
For accurate simulation, we used the Metro Last Light benchmark running on a loop with graphic settings set to minimum.
As usual gaming drains the battery fairly quickly – the result we got is 107 minutes (1 hour 47 minutes).
The charger included in the retail box is Dell 65W-AC Adapter, model HA65NS5-00. Input is 100-240V, 50-60Hz, 1.7A and output – 19.5V, 3.34A.
The notebook charged from 0 to 100% in 164 minutes (2 hours 44 minutes).
Intel Core i3-4005U is a low-voltage, integrated (soldered onto the motherboard), low mid-range processor announced in Q3 of 2013. It is part of the “Haswell” generation and operates at a base frequency of 1.7GHz. Unlike its “bigger brethren” of the Core i5 and Core i7 families, i3-4005U does not sport the TurboBoost functionality, prohibiting it from overclocking its cores during periods of higher loads.
The chip is equipped with 128KB of first level cache, 512KB of second level cache, and 3MB of third level cache. The Core i3-4005U has been developed using a 22nm process, allowing for the integration of the Intel HD Graphics 4400 controller. It operates at a base frequency of 200MHz, while Turbo Boost can increase that to 950MHz. Power consumption of the whole system on a chip is 15 watts, with a maximum operating temperature of 100C.
Intel Core i3-4005U supports HyperThreading (additional virtual core for every physical one), PCI Express 2.0, up to 16GB of LP/DDR3L 1333/1600 memory, AVX2.0 and the SSE4 instruction set.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i3-4005u/
Results are from the Cinebench 11 test (higher the score, the better)
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) Intel Core i3-4005U (2-cores, 1.7 - 1.7 GHz)||1.86|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 Intel Core i5-5200U (2-cores, 2.2 - 2.7 GHz)||2.81||+51.08%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) Intel Core i3-4005U (2-cores, 1.7 - 1.7 GHz)||1.87||+0.54%|
Results are from the NovaBench CPU test (higher the score, the better)
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) Intel Core i3-4005U (2-cores, 1.7 - 1.7 GHz)||442|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 Intel Core i5-5200U (2-cores, 2.2 - 2.7 GHz)||390||-11.76%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) Intel Core i3-4005U (2-cores, 1.7 - 1.7 GHz)||280||-36.65%|
Results are from the Photoshop test (lower the score, the better)
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) Intel Core i3-4005U (2-cores, 1.7 - 1.7 GHz)||31.7|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 Intel Core i5-5200U (2-cores, 2.2 - 2.7 GHz)||21.05||-33.6%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) Intel Core i3-4005U (2-cores, 1.7 - 1.7 GHz)||53.0||+67.19%|
Fritz is a chess benchmark which tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i3-4005U managed to get 3.401 million moves per second. For comparison, one of the most powerful PCs, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
NVIDIA GeForce 830M, is a lower-mid-range graphics chip, announced in Q1 of 2014. It is part of the Maxwell generation and relies on a GM108 core, constructed through a 28nm process. It consists of two shader blocks, known as SMM, and each of those has 128 smaller shader cores, also known as CUDA, for a total of 256 CUDA cores. The package also includes 16 texture cores and 8 raster cores.
All of them operate at 1082MHz, but NVIDIA’s GPU Boost 2.0 can increase that frequency based on the laptop’s cooling capacity.
The chip also has a 64bit bus and DDR3 memory. NVIDIA GeForce 820M supports DirectX 11.2, Pixel Shader 5.0, Optimus, SLI, PhysX, OpenCL 1.1, OpenGL 4.4, DirectCompute and CUDA. Memory bandwidth goes up to 14.4GB/sec. Maximum resolution (WxH) is 4096×2160.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-830m-2gb-ddr3/
Results are from the 3DMark Cloud Gate (G) test (higher the score, the better)
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) NVIDIA GeForce 830M (2GB DDR3)||8057|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 Intel HD Graphics 5500||4916||-38.98%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) NVIDIA GeForce 820M (2GB DDR3)||3903||-51.56%|
Results are from the 3DMark Fire Strike (G) test (higher the score, the better)
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) NVIDIA GeForce 830M (2GB DDR3)||1386|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 Intel HD Graphics 5500||573||-58.66%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) NVIDIA GeForce 820M (2GB DDR3)||818||-40.98%|
Results are from the 3DMark (Sky Diver) test (higher the score, the better)
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) NVIDIA GeForce 830M (2GB DDR3)||4639|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 Intel HD Graphics 5500||2252||-51.46%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) NVIDIA GeForce 820M (2GB DDR3)||2860||-38.35%|
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 test (higher the score, the better)
|Dell Vostro 5480 (14 5000) NVIDIA GeForce 830M (2GB DDR3)||413|
|Lenovo ThinkPad E550 Intel HD Graphics 5500||179||-56.66%|
|Dell Vostro 3558 (15 3000) NVIDIA GeForce 820M (2GB DDR3)||269||-34.87%|
|Tomb Raider (768p, Low)||Tomb Raider (768p, Medium)||Tomb Raider (768p, Max)|
|83 fps||31 fps||14 fps|
|F1 2014 (768p, Low)||F1 2014 (768p, Medium)||F1 2014 (768p, Max)|
|72 fps||57 fps||41 fps|
|Thief (768p, Low)||Thief (768p, Medium)||Thief (768p, Max)|
|26 fps||21 fps||13 fps|
|GTA 5 (768p, Low)||GTA 5 (768p, Medium)||GTA 5 (768p, Max)|
|13 fps||4 fps||2 fps|
Before we begin with this section we would like to note that the following tests do not represent real-life situations. It is extremely difficult to reach 100% CPU and GPU load under normal usage for such an extended period of time as in our stress tests, but we run them to see how the machine handles higher temperatures, and check the overall stability of the system in the long run. First we put the CPU under 100% load for an hour. Under normal usage the CPU maintained a temperature of around 42-45°C. During the 100% CPU stress test the temperatures rose to 51-55°C with no noticeable noise from the fan of the fans. There was no throttling for the entire test. You can see the results in the graphic below, the blue line is CPU load, and the orange – the measured temperatures.
After an hour we added GPU stress test along the CPU torture. The temperatures rose slightly with about 4°C to 56-59°C throughout the second hour of the test. This time there was slight noise from the fans, but nothing too distracting, but again no processor throttling. The GPU temperature under normal load was about 41°C and rose to 57-59°C during the test.
In our third part of the test we measure the temperature on the surface of the notebook to see if the notebook is comfortable to use after prolonged high load. The results were again very good – the palm rest and keyboard felt cold to the touch with just slightly warmer top center part, just over where the CPU and GPU are located. Overall the dual-fan cooling system of Vostro 5480 offers amazing performance and keeps the device cool even under long hours of intense computational work.
Dell Vostro 5480 turned out to be a surprisingly great device. It features good and clean design and an overall sturdy build. It comes with a pretty thin body, but don’t worry about overheating, because the dual-fan cooling system manages to keep the device pretty cool even under very big workload. The specs of the device are good, it should handle most office tasks with ease and the low power consuming components manage to squeeze some extra time away from the charger. The battery offered over 8 hours of video viewing and nearly as much life for browsing the web, overall it should be able to get you through a whole working day on a single charge, which is a great accomplishment.
The screen offers decent colors for most business-oriented applications, web browsing or video viewing, but it is not enough for professional work. The notebook is advertised with a great 2.1 sound system, which we hoped would end Vostro’s notoriously bad quality speakers, but unfortunately it still fails to deliver good and clear sound. The keyboard offers decent typing experience and the trackpad is responsive. If you are looking for a new working machine that will be carried around a lot, this might be it – Vostro 5480 is thin and light enough to easily carry it around, offers great battery life, so you won’t have to think about where to plug it in and the two fans keep it cool enough for the notebook to be comfortably sitting on your lap even if you push the internals really hard.
- Stylish design with thin and light chassis
- Great battery life
- Impressive heat management
- No PWM light emitted from the screen
- Mediocre sound quality