Published on June 19th, 2012 | by Mike0
Dell Vostro 3560 review – solid overall 15.6 inch laptop
Dell’s Vostro family of notebooks is designed to bring small and medium business owners the computers they’re going to use to perform all of their daily tasks.
Thus, unlike the Inspirons meant for Home usage, the Vostros offer some extra features and more classic looks that will be appreciated in business and corporate environments.
The Dell Vostro 3560 is their latest machine in this class, recently launched with upgraded Intel Ivy Bridge hardware inside and a very nice screen. I’ve been playing with this unit for the last week or so and this is going to be my Dell Vostro 3560 review, the post where I’m going to share with you guys the impressions gathered after spending these days with this Vostro.
So read along for all the details.
Specs sheet – Dell Vostro 3560
|Dell Vostro 3560
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, matte|
|Processor||Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3612QM quad-core processor, clocked at 2.1 GHz|
|Video||Intel HD 4000 and MAD Radeon 7670 1GB|
|Memory||4 GB DDR3|
|Hard-disk||500 GB 7200 rpm HDD|
|Connectivity||Wireless N, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth|
|Ports||4 x USB 3.0, VGA, HDMI, hunderbolt, LAN, 8 in 1, card-reader, DVD-WR unit|
|Baterry||6 Cell 48 Wh|
|Operating system||Windows 7 Professional|
|Size||28.8-32.5 x 375 x 259 mm|
|Weight||5.8 lbs / 2.6 kg|
|Extras||backlit keyboard as an option, available in silver, red or brown, spill resistant keyboard, 34 mm ExpresSlot, 720p webcam with array mics|
Of course in stores the 3560 will be available in a bunch of different configurations. The one I’ve tested here is closely the most powerful Dell’s offering right now and will be able to handle a lot of heat. But be aware that a pretty hefty price is tagged along with this top config.
Dell Vostro 3560 video review
The clip below will tell you a bunch of things about the Dell 3560, will show you what to expect in terms of build quality and exterior and will also showcase how this laptop performs in daily tasks or even when dealing with games. The goodies lie in the written review though, so keep reading if you want to find all the important things you must know about this laptop.
Design and exterior
The Vostro 3560 is quite a beautiful laptop, in its own classic way. The exterior is made from aluminum, with some rubber plastic on the sides. You can get the laptop in three different colors: blue, brown and silver. We got the latter, probably the most boring one (and the only one that you don’t have to pay extra for), but I was still satisfied with the aesthetics and the build quality of this laptop.
Of course the Vostro 3560 Dell is not the sleekest device out there, with an 1.2 inch thick body and weighing 5.8 pounds (2.6 kg). But it’s not designed to be, Dell have their 15z if you want a slim and light 15 incher, while sacrificing power to some extent.
Turning the laptop upside down you’ll find that the underbelly mixes plastic and aluminum and I can say that’s one of the ugliest approaches I’ve seen ever. Word of advice: stick to one or the other in the future! But at least it’s functional, as that black plastic panel is easily removable in order to get access to the internals.
All the ports are aligned on the sides, as the pictures below will show. I appreciated the fact that the entire right part is designed so the ports are placed towards the back, thus you’ll have just enough space to place a mouse next to your machine.
Also, some of you might enjoy the 34 mm ExpressCard slot offered by this machine, also placed in the right part of the laptop, which can take an mSATA SSD if you want to speed up your device.
Opening the lid, you’ll find a dark-grey interior, sober and reliable. The only glossy plastic part used for this laptop is between the keys and around them on that shinny chromed edge. Everything else inside is covered in this smooth rubbery plastic which actually feels good and did not catch smudges or fingerprints. Even the screen’s hinge is matte as well, as it should be on a laptop designed with business in mind.
Keyboard and Trackpad
There’s no NumPad area on the keyboard of the Vostro 3560 and that’s actually a good thing, cause it leaves plenty of space for a well spaced regular keyboard to be put in place. The keys are proper sized and covered with a soft plastic. The travel is quite good and the keyboard is comfortable and very quiet. It’s also spill resistant. Still, I had to take some time to accommodate with it, cause while accurate, the keys just aren’t springy enough for my liking.
Even so, the keyboard on the Dell Vostro is one of the best I’ve seen lately. It lacks back-lightning on my test model and that is actually its only flaw, but Dell promises to offer an illuminated keyboard as an option as well.
The trackpad is spacious, accurate and smooth. It integrates independent click buttons below as well, so there’s little to nothing you might not like about it. Multitouch gestures are present and working fine, although I did have a hard time using pinch-to-zoom, so I’d say it’s probably not implemented.
Dell equips the Vostro 3560 business laptop with a 15.6 inch display. But it’s not just the average 15.6 inch screen, it offers Full HD 1920 x 1080 px resolution and comes with a non-glare finish. I must say, this is the kind of screen we should see more often on laptops, cause the brightness and contrast are good, the viewing angles are quite solid and the colors aren’t bad either, although I feel that this might not be a wide-gamut panel like we saw on the Asus N56 laptop. I could be wrong though, I don’t have the right tools to measure that unfortunately.
The screen’s hinges are sturdy, solid enough to keep the display in place, but they won’t allow you to lean back the screen too much. That’s OK though, this is a laptop you’re going to use mostly at your desk, so that’s not such a big issue.
Hardware and performances
Like I’ve said above already, I got to test the most powerful config Dell offers on their Vostro 3560 right now, with an Intel Core i7-3612QM processor, 4 GBs of RAM, dedicated AMD Radeon 7670 graphics and hybrid storage (500 GB HDD 7200 rpm with 32 GBs of Flash).
The graphics aren’t really top notch, as they’re pretty much on par with the Nvidia GT 630M chip. Thus don’t expect too much from the Vostro 3560 when it comes to dealing with games, but for anything else it should offer rock-solid performances.
The system automatically changes between the dedicated and the integrated graphics chips based on the app you’re running and whenever you install something new and the system does not where to allocate it, a notification pops out asking for your input. So, I’d say the system is not as seamless as Nvidia’s Optimus, that requires no human input, but it does the job.
I’ve ran a couple of synthetic tests on this unit and the results are below.
All in all, this will handle all your daily tasks and multitasking like crazy. Some more resources hungry apps won’t put any problems either, like some programming or video/photo editing software. Basically, the kinds of apps you’ll run at work, where such a computer is most productive.
Connectivity, speakers, heat/noise and others
Except for a 3G/4G integrated modem, there’s nothing missing on this machine. Gigabit Lan, Fast Bluetooth 4.0 or Wireless N, they are all present. As for ports, you’ll get all you’ll need, with HDMI video output, USB 3.0 ports (one of them with Power Share) and a 34 mm ExpressCard slot as well. There’s no ThunderBolt port though.
The laptop managed to stay pretty cool no matter how hard I pushed it. Yes, the entire left edge does get a bit hot under heavy load, cause there’s where the exhaust is placed, but the palm-rest and the keyboard area will get merely warm at most. And that’s very good, that’s what I want from a powerful laptop these days.
There’s a catch however: the cooling system is a bit loud even under regular daily load and can get annoyingly loud when running some intensive apps. That’s why using this laptop in a quiet environment without a pair of headphones won’t be a pleasure.
As for the speakers, they’re placed bellow the laptop, just under the front edge. They’re overall alright but won’t impress in terms of audio quality. Plus, they tend to distort sound badly when dealing with loud noises, that’s why I once again suggest using some proper headphones.
There’s a 6 Cell 48 Wh battery inside this machine and considering how powerful the hardware inside is, you shouldn’t be surprised that it will only last for just about two and a half hours during average daily use.
You will be able to squeeze up to three when watching Full HD videos and even more for very light tasks, but the battery life can also easily drop below the 2 hours mark when pushing the laptop.
This once again proves that the Vostro 3560 is a desk-laptop that shouldn’t be kept too long far from a power-source.
Prices and availability
The Dell Vostro 3560 is available at Dell’s websites and a bunch of other online and offline retailers in the United States and across the world.
The prices start at $599 for the base model, with an Intel Core i3 Sandy Bridge processor, integrated graphics and a 320 GB HDD.
The top config, the one we tested here, will get to about $1350 and even more if you add extra warranty options. And to be frank, that’s a lot of money for such a computer and I’m not sure I’d recommend going for one unless you really really want it and can’t look at other brands.
All in all, the Dell Vostro 3560 is a very good 15.6 inch laptop. With powerful hardware, Windows 7 Professional, a matte FHD screen, an excellent keyboard and trackpad and a solid built exterior, you’ll hardly find a better computer in its class. And that despite those pesky noisy fans and the below-average speakers.
However, when the top config can easily get to $1500 right now in the US with some extra warranty options (which I would get on a business laptop), one must ask if that’s not actually too much. For the same kind of money or even less the competition offers better configs, with extra features as well. It’s true, those aren’t exactly laptops meant for Small Businesses like Dell claims about their Vostro line, but that doesn’t mean they won’t perform jut as well, if not better, when faced with various tasks.
So, as much as I like the Dell Vostro 3560 (and I do like it a lot), there’s no way I could recommend buying it right now. With some proper price drops, it could be a solid option, but I wouldn’t pay more than $1100-$1200 for the top available config, when for the same kind of money you could get an Asus N56 for instance, that looks better, offers way better graphics and that special audio system. And the Asus is just the first alternative I could think off, since I tested that one not that long ago, HP or Lenovo also have some serious offers of their own.