Despite its name, it's easy to overlook the Dell Inspiron 7506 2-in-1 as being a little uninspiring. Among the best Dell laptops, you'll find machines that pack in tons of power, or have ultraportable designs, or astounding 4K screens… but there's always something to be said a laptop that just fits a good set of features into a well-priced package.
That's what we've got with the Dell Inspiron 7506. Really useful working features such as a 15-inch touchscreen, number pad and Thunderbolt 4 come in a no-nonsense chassis. There's a good amount of processing power and generous helping of RAM.
This is part of the business range of Inspirons, which leaves it feeling a little bland for home use, and the temptation of it being a laptop/tablet hybrid comes with some issues. However, while it may not be landing right in our list of the best laptops or best 2-in-1 laptops, it might still be just what you need.
Dell Inspiron 7506 2-in-1 review: Price
The model we have for review includes a 15.6-inch 1920x1080 screen, four-core/eight-thread Intel i5 CPU, 12GB of RAM (3200MHz DDR4), and a 512GB SSD boosted by 32GB of Intel Optane memory (459GB available for use), and is available for £849 + VAT (£1,018) in the UK, and $989 in the US.
Those are reasonable specs for the price, though something like the Asus Zenbook UM562IA with its AMD Ryzen 7 CPU and 16GB of RAM, looks like a better deal at the price.
Switching to Dell’s home range nets you a 14.5-inch screen, four-core/eight-thread Intel i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM (but screamingly fast 4267MHz LPDDR4x), and a 512GB SSD without the speed-boosting Optane cache for the same price.
When comparing with that home version, you’re trading RAM for processor speed, essentially, and the i7’s integrated graphics are a little more powerful than the i5’s. The integrated graphics can use up to 4GB of system RAM, so having the extra memory in the business laptop will be important to its performance. No one wants to be left with just 4GB available these days.
It’s very close, and a tough decision to make. In the wider world of laptops, though, it's also worth considering that £999/$999 gets you a MacBook Air (2020, M1), which is a very tempting business workhorse alternative – you get even more processor power, though a smaller screen and fewer ports (and no Windows, of course).
Dell Inspiron 7506 2-in-1 review: Usability and performance
The Inspiron 7506 isn't a bad looking laptop, though it lacks the classy brushed metal effect finish of the Latitude series. The lid is matte silver, while the edges are much shinier, and the keyboard is silver too. It’s large for something with a 15-inch screen, and the extra width means a numpad has been squeezed in next to the keyboard. Slightly distressingly, the touchpad and space bar don’t line up properly (not a major flaw, but it just doesn't sit right…), and the numpad keys are narrower than the keyboard keys, so are just a little harder to hit accurately than most keys.
As a laptop, this is a perfectly usable machine, but suffers when it comes to turning into tablet mode. The Inspiron 7506 is too big and much too heavy to use comfortably in one hand, so it can't double up as a regular tablet. There’s also no stylus (there’s an Element Black edition that does have one), the keyboard feels weird when gripped for support, and it doesn’t lock in the tablet position, so you’re always worrying about the hinge opening up a bit.
Windows 10 itself is a perfectly good touch environment, automatically rotating to portrait and putting itself into tablet mode if you’ve enabled it, but the hardware doesn’t live up to the standards of the software. At least the hinge feels solid, so there's no worry about durability of switching back and forth.
The i5 processor seems to be struggling a bit inside the Inspiron 7506. At least, that’s our interpretation of its constant bursts of audible cooling from its fans. Running Cinebench R20 (for a score of 1634, putting it in the same ballpark as a sixth-generation desktop i7) makes it run the fans for some minutes after it’s finished.
The 11th-gen processors are a product of the CPU war with AMD’s Ryzen chips, so they’re trying to be as fast as possible to stave off the competition, and this leads to extra heat. We get that, and it’s a perfectly snappy CPU for browsing, office tasks, and photo editing. But we were concerned to hear the fans run just while using the Microsoft Edge browser.
The Thunderbolt 4 port provides a lot of flexibility for high-end connectivity, if you need it. You could connect an external GPU, daisy chained monitors, RAID system, Gigabit Ethernet, or several of the above at once. It also functions as a standard USB-C port. It can even charge the laptop, despite it having a separate power connection – like we said, flexible.
Dell Inspiron 7506 2-in-1 review: Design and screen
The large 1080p touchscreen should be the centrepiece of a 2-in-1, and while we had no problems with its response to touch, we do have a complaint about its reflectivity. It has strong mirror-like qualities, the sun’s glare never far away from obscuring some part of it, especially when used outside or by a window.
This isn’t ideal for something designed, at least in part, for video consumption. However, apart from this, the colour reproduction and general sharpness are very good, and it supports Windows HDR Video for streaming apps.
The bezel at the top of the screen is thicker than those at the sides, and houses the 720p webcam. There’s no IR cameras or proximity sensors here for Windows Hello, but the lens does have a privacy shutter. The bottom of the screen sits on a thick strip of black, however, which is aesthetically suboptimal.
To compensate for the lack of Windows Hello, there’s a fingerprint reader integrated into the power button, which is nice to see.
Dell Inspiron 7506 2-in-1 review: Battery life and noise
For a machine running modest specs from the latest generation, battery life is just a little disappointing. You’ll get a solid afternoon’s work out of it, but don’t expect more than six hours. We tried running the Cinebench benchmark on battery power, and it took a full nine percent off the charge. Taxing this processor turns it into a hungry beast.
With some machines offering 10 hours or more (depending on what you do with them), this is just middling. It's better than your average gaming laptop, certainly, but then this is much lower-powered than a gaming laptop. As a work machine, more battery life is always preferred.
We’ve already mentioned the fan, but running Edge on an external monitor results in a constant hissing from the laptop, punctuated by bursts of greater cooling. Anything more taxing than the web browser, such as streaming HDR content from YouTube, caused it to step up a level after a few minutes.
You’ll need to use headphones or turn the internal speakers up to compensate for the fan noise, and luckily the speakers are capable of it. Their grilles are at the front left and right of the chassis adjacent to the touchpad, which is an intelligent place to put them.
Dell Inspiron 7506 2-in-1 review: Verdict
Not all laptops can be thrilling. While the Inspiron 7506 looks good while watching a movie in controlled lighting, and certainly provides enough on the specs front to be a future-proofed work machine, it just doesn't excel. The screen is too shiny, the fan too noisy and frequently used, the battery life not long enough.
The list of features and the general usability are its saving grace, and if you like all the boxes it ticks, there's isn't a huge list of laptops that can match it at this price.
However, it's certainly isn't a cheap machine, and perhaps it’s trying to do a little too much with too little give where the flaws are. If the issues we've mentioned don't sound like they'd bother you, it can be a good option, no doubt. But it wouldn't be our first choice for most people.