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Dell Inspiron 15 5579 (Core i7-8550U) review – better performance, familiar experience

From the Dell Inspiron 15 5578 to the Inspiron 15 5579, changes are mostly under the hood. Now the notebook comes at a new price, which in our opinion is a little bit too high but also has something to offer in return – the brand new Core i7-8550U CPU on board relying on Intel’s UHD 620 integrated graphics for graphically intensive tasks.

What hasn’t been changed, however, is the chassis. Sporting an identical shell, the Inspiron 15 5579 delivered a similar feel while working on it but we would like to see how the hardware changes have reflected on the overall user experience. Also, with the higher price, we expected a bit better screen since the one in the previous model suited only the lower-end to mid-range configurations.

You can find some of the available configurations here:  Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Contents

Retail package

The retail package contains the usual stuff like AC adapter, power cord and the laptop itself.

Design and construction

As we already pointed out, the Inspiron 5579 comes in the same clamshell as its predecessor, the Inspiron 5578, although considerably lighter now weighing approximately 2.05 kg. And with a thickness of just 20.2 mm, it definitely falls into the “portable 15-inch” category. Probably the main reason for this is the plastic as main material and luckily, this hasn’t reflected negatively on the overall sturdiness.

Probably the only flexible part of this notebook is the lid – the back of the screen bounces when pressed and it isn’t resistant to torsion at all. We’ve let that one slip by in the previous version but since the price has been upped, it’s hard to do so right now. The hinges feel a bit overly-tightened, yet they fail to keep the lid from bouncing when working on the touchscreen in laptop mode. And when flipped to tablet mode, the sharp angles don’t feel good in the hands. Still, the bottom plastic sheet delivers enough sturdiness.

The sides are flat as before and offer identical port placement – the left one carries the DC charging port, full-sized HDMI, two USB 3.0 connectors and a 3.5 mm audio jack. While on the right, you will find just one USB 2.0 port and the SD card reader. It seems that the usual USB-C connector, which comes as a standard for even cheaper models, is still missing here.

As you open the laptop, you will immediately notice the lack of Numpad area, which might be a letdown for some users since this is a 15-inch laptop but in our opinion, the more centered layout of the keyboard makes up for a more comfortable typing and a smart decision for a convertible. Speaking of the keyboard, the keys provide clicky feedback with a bit shot key travel while still delivering good typing experience. The touchpad appears to be even better than the keyboard with light mouse clicks, responsive surface, although a bit roughened and not optimal for gliding. The input devices are surrounded by solid plastic surface giving a pretty robust feel to the whole base.


At the end of the day, the Inspiron 5579 doesn’t really impress with premium build or exceptionally robust chassis (our only complaint is the flimsy lid and bouncy hinges) given the price range. In addition, the I/O is rather limited in our opinion – there’s a missing USB-C connector or at least one more USB-A and the sharp edges make the device a bit awkward to hold in tablet mode. In any case, the input devices are comfortable and should get the work done on the go without any apparent issues.

Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options

There are no service lids providing fast access to the internals but the bottom piece can be removed quite easily. Just make sure you’ve removed all the screws on the bottom before prying it up.


Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD

To our big surprise, the laptop comes only with a 2.5-inch drive while the M.2 SSD slot is nowhere to be found. It seems like Dell just stuck the new CPU in there without making any improvements to the unit whatsoever. Anyway, the unit we’ve tested shipped with SanDisk X400 2.5-inch SATA SSD with 256GB capacity.

SlotUnitUpgrade price
2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot256GB SanDisk X400 SATA SSD Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

RAM

On contrary to the storage configuration, the motherboard supports two RAM slots each going up to 16GB of DDR4-2400 memory. Our unit arrived with one 8GB DDR4-2400 chips from Micron.

SlotUnitUpgrade price
Slot 18GB Micron DDR4-2400 Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
Slot 2Free Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Other components

The Wi-Fi adapter is placed right next to the cooling fan and it’s Qualcomm QCNFA344A.

The battery unit is placed under the palm rest area and it’s rated at 42Wh.

Cooling system

A small heatpipe connected to the cooling fan take care of all the cooling, which appears to be sufficient for the given setup.

Display quality

The Inspiron 15 5579 uses a Full HD (1920×1080) touchscreen with AUO B156HAB (0079Y) IPS panel delivering 142 ppi pixel density and 0.18 x 0.18 mm pixel pitch. The screen can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a at least 60 cm.

Viewing angles are good.

The maximum recorded brightness is just 228 cd/m2 while the average across the surface is again 228 cd/m2 with only 13% deviation. The correlated color temperature at maximum brightness is 6080K so colors will appear slightly warmer. As we go along the grayscale, the color temperature remains mostly the same – 6000K. You can see how these values change at 140 cd/m2 (59% brightness).

The maximum color deviation (dE2000) compared to the center of the screen at 59% brightness is 2.0, which is mostly good since values above 4.0 are unwanted. And as for the contrast ratio, it’s quite high – 1550:1 (1410:1 after calibration).

Color reproduction

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

Unfortunately, the display covers just 50% of the sRGB so half of the HDTV colors won’t be reproduced.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 28 ms.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

We didn’t record PWM at any brightness level so using the screen for long periods of time shouldn’t cause any discomfort in this regard even to users with sensitive eyes.

Blue light emissions

Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.

Conclusion

The panel has its perks but unfortunately, the drawbacks outweigh the pros by a considerable margin. Given price point of the Inspiron 5579, we were expecting something more than just a budget IPS panel with limited sRGB and low maximum brightness. However, the high contrast ratio and the absence of PWM might appeal to some users although, don’t expect the best multimedia experience.

Buy our display profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for Dell Inspiron 15 5579 configurations with 15.6″ AUO B156HAB (0079Y) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at bg.laptopmedia@gmail.com.

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount

Sound

The sound quality is decent without any noticeable distortions in the low, mid or high frequencies.

Specs sheet

The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region

Dell Inspiron 15 5579 technical specifications table

Acer
Not available
Display
15.6”, Full HD (1920 x 1080), IPS
HDD/SSD
256GB SSD
RAM
8GB DDR4
Dimensions
382 x 253 x 20.3 mm (15.04" x 9.96" x 0.80")
Weight
2.30 kg (5.1 lbs)
Body material
Plastic / Polycarbonate (All-plastic chassis)
Ports and connectivity
  • 1x USB Type-A 2.0
  • 2x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • HDMI
  • VGA
  • Card reader
  • Ethernet lan
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth
  • Audio jack Combo jack
Features
  • Web camera 1.0 Mpix
  • Microphone
  • Speakers
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot

Dell Inspiron 15 5579 configurations

Software

We used the pre-installed Windows 10 Pro for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from Dell’s official support page.

Battery

The battery life on this thing isn’t exactly breath-taking but it does the job pretty well for a 15-inch laptop with Full HD IPS screen. Let’s say it’s a little a above average despite the rather small 42Wh unit. Probably the main contributor for the longer than expected battery runtimes is the new Core i7-8550U on board.

Web browsing

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

Overall good web browsing runtime – 485 minutes (8 hours and 5 minutes).

Video playback

For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.

Lower but still decent score on the video playback test – 414 minutes (6 hours and 54 minutes).

Gaming

We recently started using F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.

Of course, the laptop isn’t made for gaming, especially away from the power source but it’s good to know that it can run at least two hours away from the plug – 145 minutes (2 hours and 25 minutes).

CPU – Intel Core i7-8550U

The Intel Core i7-8550U is part of the new 8th Generation Kaby Lake Refresh and it’s a direct successor to the Intel Core i7-7500U from the Kaby Lake generation and the Intel Core i7-6500U from the 6th Skylake generation. With the latest alteration to the ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors, Intel doubles the core count from 2 to 4 and retaining the so-called Hyper-Threading technology, keeping the same 14nm manufacturing process and feature the same 15W TDP.

However, due to the core count change, the base frequency of the Core i7-8550U is lowered to only 1.8 GHz while Turbo Boost frequencies remain pretty high – somewhere between 3.7 – 4.0 GHz. This ensures considerably higher multi-core and single-core performance during short workloads before going back to more bearable frequencies considering the 15W TDP but most of the other specs and features remain the same.

The chip also incorporates a newer Intel Gen 9.5 integrated graphics called Intel UHD Graphics 620. The support for Google’s VP9 codec and H.265/HEVC Main 10 is still the most notable feature of the iGPU. Intel claims that the new UHD 620 chips improve the overall power consumption compared to the previous one.

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-i7-8550u/

Fritz

Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-8550U managed to get 12.385 million moves per second. For comparison, one of the most powerful computers, 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.

GPU – Intel UHD Graphics 620

Intel UHD Graphics 620 is a refresh of the HD Graphics 620 found as an integrated solution in many ULV Kaby Lake processors. UHD Graphics 620 is codenamed “Kaby Lake R U GT2” and it’s a part of the Gen 9.5 generation.

Intel UHD Graphics 620 has roughly the same performance as HD Graphics 620, depending on the memory in the system. UHD Graphics 620’s performance is similar to AMD Radeon R5 M420X and NVIDIA GeForce 910M/920M.

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 with this GPU that we’ve tested: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-uhd-graphics-620/

Temperatures

The stress tests that we perform don’t represent real-life usage but they seem to be just fine when assessing the overall stability and effectiveness of the cooling system, especially in the long run.

We started off with 100% CPU load for about an hour and observed good CPU utilization overall. The Core i7-8550U fluctuated between 3.4 and 3.7 GHz for a while before settling down to 2.7 – 2.8 for more than a minute. Slowly after, the cores retained frequencies between 2.1 and 2.3 GHz, which is still within the Turbo Boost range. It’s obvious, even from the benchmark results, that the 15-inch Inspiron 5579 utilizes the new generation of chips from Intel quite well.

And as expected, when turning on the GPU stress test as well, the CPU cores started throttling in order to give enough headroom for the iGPU (UHD Graphics 620) to perform.

Temperatures on the surface were normal, given the circumstances, and we also observed the same fan curve as the one we saw with the 13-inch Inspiron 5379. During peak performance of the Core i7-8550U, the cooling fans were spinning pretty fast but when slowing down, the sound from the blades was barely noticeable.

Verdict

Even though the price has increased, the only thing that Dell changed here is the CPU. Don’t get us wrong, though, it’s not just another incremental upgrade since the Core i7-8550U delivers an impressive computing power over the last generation but to be honest, we were expecting more changes, at least under the hood.

Surely, performance isn’t the deciding and the only factor when users look for a new daily driver so it has to impress in other areas. Stable overall chassis is one of the things we liked about the Inspiron 5579 and the comfortable input devices were the other strong suit of the device. Battery life isn’t amazing but it’s above average for a 15-incher, probably thanks to the more efficient 8th Generation processor.

However, we can’t get over the notion of an outdated design (sharp corners making it uncomfortable to hold in tablet mode and hefty chassis) and the lack of 2017 features. There’s no USB-C connector (or at least another USB-A 3.0 port that can replace the latter), there’s no support for M.2 SSDs (even SATA ones) and the rather suboptimal image quality delivered by the budget IPS panel doesn’t allow us to give a positive score overall.

When looking for a laptop in the same ballpark, the Lenovo Yoga 720 (15-inch) and the Acer Nitro 5 Spin immediately come to mind as more sensible alternatives. And if you are not insisting on the 2-in-1 convertible form factor, the VivoBook S15 and the VivoBook Pro 15 N580VD will deliver better image quality and better performance in the same time

You can find some of the available configurations here:  Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Pros

  • Stable base
  • Good input devices
  • Full utilization of the new generation Intel CPUs
  • Display with high contrast and no PWM
  • Decent battery life


Cons

  • Flimsy and bouncy lid
  • Color-deficient display (low sRGB coverage) with low brightness
  • Outdated design with sharp corners, hefty chassis, thick screen bezels
  • No USB-C connector and no M.2 SSD slot