Dell Vostro 15 3525 review

What if we tell you, that your daily driver business notebook shouldn’t be as boring as you’re used to seeing it? What if somebody grabbed one of the unimpressive features and turned it up its head? Well, this is exactly what Dell did with the Vostro 15 3525.

Yes, it comes with the Zen 3 refresh CPUs (that coincidentally end at the number 25 – the same as the name of this notebook). But what is arguably more important in our opinion is one of the display options. Again, we’re going to completely ignore the 768p TN variant, and focus on the 1080p IPS panel. Which now comes with a 120Hz refresh rate. Something that was reserved for either premium content creator notebooks, or for gaming devices. Speaking of which, a little digging on our behalf showed that the Vostro 15 3525 uses the same exact panel as the Dell G15 5515 Ryzen Edition, which is a proper gaming notebook.

But wait, what are we doing? Let’s slow down, take a moment to pour ourselves a warm cup of coffee, and give some attention to the design work of team Dell.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/dell-vostro-15-3525/

Contents


Specs Sheet

Dell Vostro 15 3525 - Specs

  • Innolux YMHWH-156HRA (CMN1522)
  • Color accuracy  3.8  3.0
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 2000GB SSD
  • M.2 Slot
  • 1x 2280 M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4  See photo
  • RAM
  • up to 16GB
  • OS
  • Windows 11 Pro, No OS, Windows 11 Home
  • Battery
  • 41Wh, 3-cell, 54Wh, 4-cell
  • Body material
  • Plastic / Polycarbonate
  • Dimensions
  • 358.50 x 234.90 - 235.60 x 15.52 - 19.00 mm (14.11" x 9.25" x 0.61")
  • Weight
  • 1.83 kg (4 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 2.0
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-C
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • HDMI
  • 1.4
  • Card reader
  • SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Ethernet LAN
  • 10, 100, 1000 Mbit/s
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.2
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5mm Combo Jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • optional
  • Web camera
  • HD / FHD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • optional
  • Microphone
  • Dual Array Digital Microphones
  • Speakers
  • 2x 2.5W Stereo Speakers
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot
  • Wedge Lock

All Dell Vostro 15 3525 configurations

#CommissionsEarned

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, you will find the mandatory paperwork, as well as a 65W barrel-style power adapter.


Design and construction

Apparently, the laptop doesn’t look half bad for the price it comes at. As expected, the entire body is made out of plastic, which has an interesting pattern that is similar to the texture of a cheap t-shirt. To be frank, the device isn’t really a master in strength either, as the body and the lid both flex quite massively.

We doubt that you’re going to break it, or something, but it is just worth pointing out the facts. Hold your horses! As we were writing this review, we stumbled upon some information, regarding the build materials of the device. Apparently, there is an aluminum version, which has a profile of 15.52-17.5mm and weighs 1.85 kg. On the other hand, the plastic device (which we have with us) is considerably thicker – 16.96-19mm, but is 20 grams lighter at 1.83 kg.

Unfortunately, the lid can’t be opened with a single hand. However, the bezels around it are very slim, which makes the visual experience a whole lot better. Above the matte display, you will find an HD Web camera and a privacy shutter. Here, the lid acts as a lever and lifts the backside of the base by a couple of millimeters. This provides the fan with more breathing space.

Then, let’s check out the keyboard. It sports an optional backlight and has decent key travel and clicky feedback. Furthermore, its NumPad makes it easier for people who crunch numbers on a daily basis.

Also, the power button, located on the top right part of the keyboard, doubles as an optional fingerprint reader. Interestingly, Dell has made it harder to press, so you can differentiate it from the other keys. Another intriguing feature is the touchpad, which is rather big, and actually works really well with the fast refresh rate of the display.

Despite the use of only two bottom-firing speakers, the audio sounds really loud, which is always likable. Also on the bottom panel, you will find the ventilation grill, where the single fan draws its cool air. The heat is then exhausted through a vent on the back of the laptop (which is actually the inner side of the lid).

Ports

On the left side, there is the power plug, followed by an HDMI 1.4 connector, a USB Type-A 3.2 (Gen. 1) port, and a USB Type-C 3.2 (Gen. 1) port (only for data transfer). Then, on the right, you get a security lock slot, an audio jack, a LAN port, a USB Type-A 2.0 port, and an SD card reader.


Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

This notebook’s bottom panel is held in place by 8 Phillips-head screws. Two of them are captive and lift the panel gently, so you can start the prying process from there.

Our unit is equipped with the smaller of two battery options. It has a capacity of 41Wh and lasts for about 8 hours of Web browsing, or 6 hours and 30 minutes of video playback. To take it away, unplug the SATA cable, and the battery connector, and undo all three Phillips-head screws keeping it attached to the chassis.

Two SODIMM slots work in dual-channel mode. Storage-wise, you get one M.2 PCIe x4 slot, which supports Gen 4 drives. Also, there is a 2.5-inch SATA drive bay, which is only available with the smaller battery option.

Now, the cooling doesn’t look particularly impressive, as there is a small heat pipe dealing with the CPU, with a rather small fan being employed to dissipate the heat.


Display quality

Dell Vostro 15 3525 has a Full HD 120 Hz IPS panel, with a model number Innolux YMHWH-156HRA (CMN1522). Its diagonal is 15.6″ (39.62 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1080. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 142 ppi, their pitch – 0.18 x 0.18 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 60 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Viewing angles are excellent. We provide images at different angles.

Also, a video with locked focus and exposure.

The maximum measured brightness is 261 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 245 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 11%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 7140K (average) – practically matching the 6500K optimum for sRGB.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 65% Brightness (White level = 141 cd/m2, Black level = 0.09 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is very good – 1500:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to 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 on 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.

The yellow dotted line shows Dell Vostro 15 3525’s color gamut coverage.

Sadly, its display covers just 57% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

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.

Below you can compare the scores of Dell Vostro 15 3525 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

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 (Gaming capabilities)

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

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 20 ms.

After that, we test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “Gray-to-Gray” method from 50% White to 80% White and vice versa between 10% and 90% of the amplitude.


Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

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.

Dell Vostro 15 3525’s display doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment, which makes the panel comfortable for long working periods.

Blue light emissions

Installing 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.

Gloss level measurement

Glossy-coated displays are sometimes inconvenient in high ambient light conditions. We show the level of reflection on the screen for the respective laptop when the display is turned off and the measurement angle is 60° (in this case, the result is 53.3 GU).


Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Dell Vostro 15 3525 configurations with 15.6″ Innolux YMHWH-156HRA (CMN1522) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS.

*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 [email protected]

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


Drivers

All drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://www.dell.com/support/home/en-us/product-support/product/vostro-15-3525-laptop/drivers

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with the Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. This device’s 41Wh battery pack delivers 7 hours and 51 minutes of Web browsing, or 6 hours and 29 minutes of video playback.

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

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


CPU options

This machine can be found with the AMD Athlon Silver 3050U, Ryzen 3 3250U, Ryzen 3 5425U, Ryzen 5 3625U, or Ryzen 7 5825U.


GPU options

In addition to the integrated Vega graphics, you can get the laptop with the NVIDIA GeForce MX550 with 2GB of GDDR6 VRAM.


Gaming tests

cs-go-benchmarks

CS:GO HD 1080p, Low (Check settings) HD 1080p, Medium (Check settings) HD 1080p, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS 60 fps 39 fps 25 fps

DOTA 2 HD 1080p, Low (Check settings) HD 1080p, Normal (Check settings) HD 1080p, High (Check settings)
Average FPS 76 fps 40 fps 23 fps

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

AMD Ryzen 5 5625U (15W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
Dell Vostro 15 3525 2.88 GHz @ 76°C @ 29W 2.70 GHz @ 83°C @ 25W 2.70 GHz @ 88°C @ 25W
Dell Vostro 16 5625 3.06 GHz @ 66°C 2.83 GHz @ 72°C 2.67 GHz @ 67°C

As you can see, the Vostro 15 3525 can maintain pretty much the same clock speed as its more expensive sibling – the Vostro 16 5625. However, it runs at a significantly higher temperature, which is not ideal.

Comfort during full load

What is even worse is the insulation of the keyboard, which gets really toasty when the laptop is under extreme load. We are talking about temperatures higher than 50°C.


Verdict

Oh boy, this is difficult. There are some issues about the Vostro 15 3525 that just ruin the overall great experience we had with it. For every “Yes!” there was a “but…”. For instance – the laptop offers a decent I/O, which includes a USB Type-C port, but it can only be used for data transfers. Moreover, the Athlon (and Ryzen 3 3250U) versions swap it for a USB Type-A port. And to make matters even more frustrating, the USB Type-A port on the right side runs at 2.0 speeds. So, even though the machine features an SD card reader, the I/O is not a “pro”.

Of course, then comes the performance. First, let’s get one thing out of the way – using single-channel memory with iGPUs is not recommended. Stick another memory module, and you will make your laptop significantly better for gaming. Respectively, cooling is a factor too. Although it can keep the Ryzen 5 5625U above its base clock speed, the 88°C it is running at is not a big friend to the keyboard. Which as a result runs at about 53°C during extreme workloads.

Dell Vostro 15 3525’s IPS panel has a Full HD resolution, comfortable viewing angles, and a very good contrast ratio. Its backlight doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment, which is great, however, the color coverage is only 57% of the sRGB gamut. On the bright side, the panel has a 120Hz refresh rate, which definitely makes the entire experience smoother.

Thankfully, the battery life is good too. Even the smaller 41Wh package delivers nearly 8 hours of Web browsing, or about 6 hours and 30 minutes of video playback on a single charge. There is another advantage to having a smaller battery, and it is the 2.5-inch SATA drive bay. All of the mounting accessories are preinstalled, so adding a SATA drive is as simple as removing some screws.

Another storage option is the M.2 PCIe x4 slot, which supports significantly faster Gen 4 drives. Overall, this device has a good set of features, that are ruined by some cost-cutting measures. Even the fingerprint reader can’t make up for the flexy body.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/dell-vostro-15-3525/

Pros

  • Upgradability is on point
  • Affordable
  • Has an SD card reader
  • Good input devices
  • Has comfortable viewing angles and good contrast ratio (Innolux YMHWH-156HRA (CMN1522))
  • 120Hz refresh rate (Innolux YMHWH-156HRA (CMN1522))
  • No PWM (Innolux YMHWH-156HRA (CMN1522))


Cons

  • Covers only 57% of sRGB (Innolux YMHWH-156HRA (CMN1522))
  • Questionable build quality
  • Externals get really warm during heavy load

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