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Dell Vostro 1500 Review



Introduction
I sold my previous laptop, a Dell Inspiron 700m 12″ notebook, and shortly after I purchased a Dell Vostro 1500 15″ notebook. I’ve had it for a month and a half now, long enough to make a balanced review.

Dell Vostro 1500
Click to see my hi-res Flickr photoset of the Dell Vostro 1500

Build Specifications
I purchased the laptop as a default build, with the exception of the screen, warranty and graphics card. The specs were:

  • Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T5470 (1.6GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB)
  • Genuine Windows® XP Home
  • 15.4 in Wide Screen SXGA+LCD (1680×1050) Display w/TrueLife™ — Default is the 1280×800
  • 1GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz, 2 DIMM
  • 256MB NVIDIA® GeForce™ 8600M GT — Default is the 8400
  • 120G 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
  • Integrated 10/100 Network Card and Modem
  • 8X CD/DVD Burner w/ double-layer DVD+R write capability
  • High Definition Audio 2.0
  • Dell Wireless 1390 802.11g Wi-Fi Mini Card
  • 56 WHr 6-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery
  • Get $70 Dell Dollars w/3Yr Ltd Warranty and Next Business Day On-Site Svc — Default is 1 year

Final price: $968.00, with free next day delivery. Shortly after I ordered, Dell was giving away free webcams on the LCD, but my order was too late. Subsequently, they gave me a $50 voucher for the difference. That effectively made the final price $918.00.

As soon as I found a deal, I bought a 2x1GB Memory upgrade, “Patriot 2GB (2x1GB) PC2-5300 DDR2 667MHz CL5 200-Pin SO-DIMM”. Aftermarket RAM is always going to be cheaper than ordering it preconfigured with the notebook. I installed the memory via a guide I found, it was easy, took about 20 minutes from powering the laptop down with 1GB to powering it up with 2GB of RAM. Final price including the RAM upgrade: $972.00.

It’s hard to go from a 12″ to a 15″ notebook, but not nearly as hard as it was to go from a 15″ to a 12″ notebook. The hardest things for me to get used to were the new key sizes and the new key placements on the keyboard. The graphics on my 12″ were very sub-par, so comparatively this laptop performs exceedingly well.

Gaming
So far this laptop has played every game I put on it flawlessly, at full settings. I’ve yet to bring it to a LAN party, but given that it’s more powerful than my desktop in every way, I doubt I will be using the desktop for gaming “because my laptop can’t handle it” anymore. The games I play most often on my PC are

  • Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne custom map Defense of the Ancients: Allstars
  • Counter-strike: Source

Admittedly not the most impressive game repertoire, but that will change in time.

I was able to adjust the settings to max for every option on Counter-strike: Source. I could notice a slight lag, but I was still getting 40fps easily.

A few times inside of a game, I’ve had my graphics driver fail, which either causes the system to lockup, or revert graphics to 800x600x16 and not allow correction until reboot. This happens so rarely I won’t really know that it’s fixed. I’ve had the same issue on other systems, other graphics cards, other drivers. I’m certain that there will be an updated graphics driver that will fix it and not mention anything about it in the changelog, so it’s almost not even worth mentioning.

Appearance
The Vostro 1500 has a sleak brushed-looking black Magnesium-alloy chassis. This makes it more rigid looking and feeling than the previous plastic chassis of the Inspirons. Unfortunately, this makes the case very sensitive to fingerprint markings, as can be seen in this picture:
Dell Vostro 1500
No, I didn’t just eat some greasy potato chips and plant my fingers all over this before taking the picture. It’s overly sensitive and shows its markings. This might be a turn-off to some people, not to me.

The latch that holds the lid closed is very cheap and flimsy feeling, and doesn’t come to a snug close. I’ve heard stories of people breaking this off already, and I’m sure (ironically) that it’s not a cheap replacement. Once the lid is closed, there’s a fraction of a millimeter between the screen and the keyboard, just enough so that pressure upon the back of the screen will make it feel like it’s moving toward and away from the keyboard. That’s a little nerveracking, and I feel it detracts quite heavily from the quality of the notebook.

It feels like the hinge that connects the screen to the base is too tight, it’s impossible for me to open the screen from closed position with one hand. This is just a minor annoyance, but it’s constant. Every time I have to put down something in hand #2 to help hand #1 open the screen, I get just a little bit more annoyed at the notebook.

There are some obvious draws to the default specs of the Vostro. It is pretty thick and heavy, and the battery life is less than optimal compared to some other notebooks in its class. I don’t mind it, in fact I prefer it. I’ve had a portable laptop in the past, and frankly I find more use to a decently priced desktop replacement. I guess what I’m trying to say, is if I could get away from paying extra for a lighter, longer-charged, thinner notebook, I would…, and I did. That being said, I was still able to get almost 2 hours of battery life with casual use — more than I’d need.

Administrativa
One of the selling points of the laptop is that it doesn’t come prebundled with Dell’s bloatware. The bloatware never really affected me too much. I ordered the Vostro with Windows XP Home, because I have my student license of Windows XP Pro with which I planned to wipe the hard drive as soon as I received the laptop. I did just that, and found the drivers from Dell’s Vostro 1500 driver page without any problems; every device worked. At some point in the past month and a half, Dell decided to no longer host the Windows XP drivers for the Vostro 1500, now you can only select “Windows Vista 32-bit” as your Operating System. Now this is not to say the drivers they have listed won’t work with Windows XP, it just means that they’re working toward no longer supporting XP on the 1500. This is very discouraging, considering I don’t have a student license of Windows Vista :). As of Oct-12th, Windows XP is available again. It must have just been a temporary outage.

Two or three times since I’ve received the laptop, I would get weird BIOS messages, saying something to the effect that “the battery is not found or not supported.” I wish I would have captured this image to find out more about what it means, but since pressing F3 to ignore has been working, I’ve been content with that thus far. Next time I get it, I’ll be sure to capture it and followup with that error message.

Conclusion
This is only the second laptop I’ve owned or used very heavily, the first being my Dell Inspiron 700m. I’m very impressed with the power of the unit, Dell has made it very customizable and upgradable. There are quite a few shortcomings, this is really Dell’s first shot at a Magnesium-alloy chassis. However, I applaud their efforts, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Score: 9.0/10

Links of Interest:
My Dell Vostro 1500 photoset at Flickr.com
Dell Vostro 1500 Driver Page at Dell.com
Dell Vostro 1500 Manuals at Dell.com



32 Comments »

  1. gravatar

    Brandon Said,

    October 11, 2007 @ 9:36 am

    Looks sweet. Glad it’s working out for you. I’m in the market for a good laptop, so if you see any of those sweet deals floating around, let me know.

  2. gravatar

    Jeff Said,

    October 11, 2007 @ 10:01 am

    http://www.dell.com/outlet

  3. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    October 11, 2007 @ 10:03 am

    Umm, no. http://www.slickdeals.net

  4. gravatar

    laptop » Dell Vostro 1500 Review Said,

    October 14, 2007 @ 1:16 am

    […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

  5. gravatar

    Lambda » New Laptop Said,

    November 7, 2007 @ 2:07 pm

    […] next few months, I figured that having a laptop would be a smart decision. After having read the glowing review that Ray did when he got his, I’ve decided to go with the Dell Vostro 1500. I had been […]

  6. gravatar

    chrusti Said,

    December 1, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

    I got the same battery message a few times , it scared me 😮

  7. gravatar

    Teh Blarg » Dell Vostro AC Power Adapter Error Said,

    December 12, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

    […] I said here: Two or three times since I’ve received the laptop, I would get weird BIOS messages, saying […]

  8. gravatar

    Harry O'Mara Said,

    December 17, 2007 @ 10:06 am

    Love this laptop, but, after three weeks of use my wireless adapter failed. It took me three hours online to convince dell of the problem and get them to send me a new card. I do not know if this is common with the vostro and it concerns me.

  9. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    December 17, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

    {Sent an e-mail to this user asking to specify which wifi card they have}

  10. gravatar

    Yimp Said,

    January 27, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

    Hey, I’m just trying to get my review out to the public.. I hope you don’t mind me posting it here. I linked your review in my review : )

    Let me know if you have any questions.

  11. gravatar

    Yimp Said,

    January 27, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

    http://www.yimpme.com/blogs/article1.php

  12. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    January 27, 2008 @ 6:15 pm

    http://www.yimpme.com/blogs/%E2%80%9Dhttp://raybdbomb.com/p/dell-vostro-1500-review.html%E2%80%9D ?

  13. gravatar

    Nathan Said,

    April 2, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

    Thanks for the review. I have the same 700m. I just bought a Vostro 1500 from Dell as well. I’ll miss the light-weight 700m notebook. But at least I know there’s someone out there that is in the same situation like me. I’ll give the Vostro a try. It definitely has the power to do work. May be it’s time to retire the light-weight and go for something more powerful.

  14. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    April 2, 2008 @ 11:52 pm

    That’s the boat I was in. There are some smaller lighter laptops which have the same or greater potential power, but not at this price point.

  15. gravatar

    Teh Blarg » Replacing Memory in Dell Vostry 1500 Said,

    May 3, 2008 @ 12:15 am

    […] him from the default 2×512MB. I followed a guide when I initially upgraded the memory on my Vostro 1500, and the same guide helped me out this […]

  16. gravatar

    Kami Said,

    August 15, 2008 @ 5:01 am

    Well I’ve Dell Vostro 1500 with better configuration…

    2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T7500 4MB L2 Cache and 800 MHZ FSB
    2GB 667 MHZ RAM – 1 DIM
    160GB Sata
    NVIDIA 8600GS
    8X CD/DVD Burner w/ double-layer DVD+R write capability
    High Definition Audio 2.0
    Dell Wireless 1390 802.11g Wi-Fi Mini Card
    9-cell Extended Lithium Ion Battery
    Integrated 10/100 Network Card and Modem
    CAM, WIFI, BLUE Tooth, True Brite 15″ Color Display

    The problem with dell is at times it produces too much heat you can’t just put it on your lap.

    The Fingre Print Sensitive Casing.

    The Clossing notch is very cheap.

    Otherwise it’s a wonderfull gadget.

    My price was $1085

  17. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    August 15, 2008 @ 9:47 am

    Not bad, thanks for sharing Kami.

  18. gravatar

    KOJO Said,

    September 16, 2008 @ 9:25 am

    I HAVE BEEN TO DELL SITE TO DOWNLOAD SOME DRIVER BUT DIDNT GET DRIVERS FOR VGA AND NETWORK CARD. DELL IS SAYING THEY ARE NOT SUPPORTING THIS MODEL 1500 VOSTRO PLEASE HELP

  19. gravatar

    Vinay Said,

    October 5, 2008 @ 4:32 am

    Vostro 1500 was a night mare when you format laptop and try to install everything new. You don’t get all drivers on dell CD.

  20. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    October 5, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

    All you need is ethernet drivers (which come on the CD) and the Dell driver page. I just formatted it yesterday, and it was a breeze.

  21. gravatar

    Warood Said,

    November 14, 2008 @ 8:36 am

    Hi, I am trying to look for a LAN/ Ethernet driver for my DEll Vostro I cant seem to find it from anywhere. Can anyone guide me whish driver is it and from where I can get from please email me at warood@gmail.com

  22. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    November 14, 2008 @ 10:36 am

    … how can you not locate it? It’s on the fscking Dell Driver page

  23. gravatar

    Kevin Said,

    November 20, 2008 @ 8:26 pm

    where is the modem driver for it for XP, i can not locate it anywhere and need it. please help

    kevinpalmieri@hotmail.com

  24. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    November 21, 2008 @ 12:37 am

    sigh… are you serious?

    I found it in 16 seconds.

  25. gravatar

    scicrazed Said,

    March 31, 2009 @ 6:20 am

    I’m glad you’ve had a good time with it. This is my second laptop. The first having been an old HP model which I purchased second hand. My vostro 1500 was ordered with the same specs as yours… Got it last year, with the two year full-service warrantee.

    Ok, I’ll admit that my Vostro is worked much harder than yours. I not only use it heavily in the classroom for forty hours each week (all parts are used. It’s my DVD player, my Internet access, etc, etc… It’s on the entire time and being used in some way)… But when we get home, the kids have every Sims II pack on it, and when they aren’t playing away, I’m using it to create/edit movies, create/edit powerpoints and create/edit graphics to use at work.

    Here’s what I’ve had to have done on my Vostro in just the last two weeks: (remember, less than 1.3 years since I got it)… Dell tech replaced harddrive and all plug-in’s attached to it. (Video plug in and USB ports had begun to malfunction), Then they sent me new DVD reader and updated Driver program. (Hasn’t solved the issue of the PC not reading DVD R disks but reading DVD RW and CDs. A little problem I had just run across recently…). And maybe when the tech shows up at my home again, I’ll mention that the hinge is getting loose and the fact that the touch pad’s finish has come off and it’s looking like it’s been used for ten years!

    Oh, did I mention that two weeks after I first got the Vostro – the memory/hardware crashed and they had to send me a new one? Lost all work that I hadn’t saved on USB.

    Would I purchase another one? I’m not sure now. I love the thing. It’s easy to use. Perhaps the laptop I’m comparing it to – is just not the thing to compare it with? But that old HP is probably 6-7 years old now and still chugging along for my oldest son at college. It’s even been dropped down a flight of stairs! And has NEVER had a malfunction!!! Oh, and it’s hinge and touchpad finish look/work as nice as when it was brand new!

    Realiability means more to me than a nice looking, easy-to-use laptop. Maybe after my two years of full-service tech support is over – I’ll just replace the thing when it breaks down again? But replace it with something more reliable.

  26. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    March 31, 2009 @ 9:36 am

    Sounds like it’s had a rough go of it. I bet you’re glad you got the 2 year warranty now. Personally, nothing has gone wrong with mine to date, and I use it almost as much as you. Suffice it to say that I’m going to sell my laptop before the warranty expires.

    Thanks for sharing

  27. gravatar

    rockntractor Said,

    August 24, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

    Can you put Xp pro 64 bit on it?

  28. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    August 24, 2009 @ 9:13 pm

    I’m going to say yes.

  29. gravatar

    JP Said,

    December 15, 2009 @ 2:38 am

    I own a Dell Vostro 1500 since 2007. After the Warranty expired, I was able to upgrade the Processor from T7100 to penryn T9300. i was also able to upgrade the RAM with DDR2 800MHz 4GB (2×2GB). Upgraded the Hard Drive to 500GB 7200RPM when it came out this month in the pc store i usually buy.

    Currently i can play Fallout 3 with anti-aliasing and Red Alert 3 at Ultra High setting on 1280×800 res.

    I’m just wondering if anyone know where can i find, or if it’s really possible to upgrade the graphics card. I saw that it’s detacheable but i’m not knowledgeable enough to tinker about laptop graphics adapters.
    I would like to upgrade it before giving to my mom, and buying a new Dell XPS16 (http://cooltoyzph.com/viewitem.php?iid=686) for myself.

  30. gravatar

    Raybdbomb Said,

    December 15, 2009 @ 11:59 am

    Iirc the gpu is soldered onto the motherboard. That would be neat if that’s not the case though, let me know.

  31. gravatar

    Luarvik Said,

    June 27, 2010 @ 9:12 am

    Good review, thanks.

    Good laptop – had for since early 2008 with a similar configuration (no discrete GPU – no gaming for me). I only paid about $600, though. Recently filled up my 120GB with photos, and bought a 320GB replacement from BestBuy (yeah slickdeals – $35 + tax, FS).

    The only complaint is the sometimes flaky b/g WiFi – due, no doubt to the distance between the router (in the basement) and laptop (upstairs). WiFi works flawlessly when the laptop is moved closer.

    The battery life is down to about 1 hour after 2+ year (from about 3 hours). I should have taken it out and stored it in a cool place, as this is mostly a desktop replacement for the kitchen.

    Hopefully, the new harddrive will allow me not to upgrade to a new laptop for another year.

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