12 March 2009

Dell Studio 15 review

The delivery came just around 12pm on 11th March 2009. Wasn't at home so mother helped to collect it.

Straight away unpack it when I got home from class.
The box is slightly smaller than Inspiron 1420.
Unboxing Dell Studio 15

Cables and driver discs.
Cables & driver discs

First sight of Studio 15.
First sight

15.6" widescreen display. Please do not focus on the guy in the middle of the pic, instead look at the frame. :P
15.6" widescreen display

Booting it up.
Booting up Windows Vista

Technical specifications:

Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 2.40GHz
Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 32bit
Screen: 15.6" (1366 X 768)
Jet black colour
3GB RAM (1+2GB)
Internal 8X DVD+/-RW combo drive
512MB ATi Mobility Radeon HD 4570
Creative Sound Blaster Xi-F MB

So far it has been running for less than 24 hours.

I must say that Windows Vista is such a slow hag. Booting up and shutting down took quite some time, but overall performance it's still OK.

The ports configurations are quite different from Inspiron 1420 so I have to adjust a little bit to suit the new laptop.

Audio jacks are placed on the left side instead of centre, a bumper. Still, luckily it comes with 3 instead of 2 so that I can do more stuff with the audio settings.
Audio jacks, Firewire 1394 & USB ports

A welcoming new port, HDMI which was not found on the Inspiron 1420. No need to introduce the other 2 common ports, VGA & network port.
HDMI, VGA & Network port

Another sleek stuff, slot-in combo drive instead of the normal tray-drive.
slot-in combo drive

The only downside is it comes with 3 instead of 4 USB ports.

Something interesting with the keyboard....


Studio 15 do not comes with dedicated media keys like other laptops do, instead the media & misc keys are integrated together with the Functional keys (F1 - F12 keys).


Other than the media playback buttons, it can also control wireless, battery & brightness.


So if I want to press for example, the normal F4 key, I will need to press the combination of Fn + F4, or I would just decreasing the brightness only. This is especially not convenient as I frequently hits Alt + F4. Need some time to get used to it.

OK now something about the software and programs.

Desktop view.

Packed with some Windows Sidebar gadgets, and the Dell Dock on top. These stuffs ate up quite a lot of memory, even when I've disabled the AERO theme.

I'm very satisfied with the audio quality, with those built-in audio enhancement programs running, I can customize the sound quality whether I'm using headphone or the laptop speaker.

audio enhancements

I must say that I'm pleased with the stock quality of the speaker, way better than the one from Inspiron 1420.

Of course, to pair it up with a killer headphone would be "God-like", hahah...
Laptop, headphone & mouse

OK this briefly sums up my review on this Studio 15 unit. Hopefully this unit will serve me well until I graduate from university!! :D



  1. What attracted my attention is 'the guy in the photo' instead of the laptop, the LCD screen seem more likely a photo frame.

    Cool design, cool colors, cool specifications, suit you, cool guy.

    Really sexy laptop!

  2. Wow bro! Dell memang Dell. :)

  3. wow very cool dude, esp the black keyboard :P

  4. Mike:
    Hahah Dell really not bad leh, satisfied even heavy user like me. :)

    Yeah it is, there's an option to choose backlit keyboard which shines during dark, lagi cool. But have to add $$ la hahah.

  5. For the F4 thing. actually you can set it at the bios if i'm not mistaken. And also be careful with the usb port on the cdrom side. don plug things that can block the the cd.

  6. yea thanks for the advice. i might wanna find the way how to play around with the Fn key. :)

  7. nice....btw how is the grafix performance?good enuf to run latest games in low quality?

  8. abhishek:
    graphic performance is pretty good, I think should be able to withstand those latest games up to medium settings. (haven't try it though).

    The only game I had right now is GTA:SA, which is capable of playing at max graphic settings without lag.

  9. thanx...
    and by the way...are there any serious flaws with the lappy so far...like frequent hanging,dvd drive probs etc...like the unhappy users who have commented on the dell site?

  10. so far so good, no flaws found in this laptop except Window's fault (Vista is slow!).

    Some of the reviews on the site might be referring to the 15.4" model which is slightly older than the current one, so those may have some issues. I know they complain the speaker is weak but for me it's still OK.

  11. ppl seem to be having issues with this model...especially while playing games...it seems that the games run smoothly for abt 2 mins and just blanks out...seems to be a bios issue
    by the way does the Creative Sound Blaster Xi-F MB make any difference or is it fyn to not opt for it?

  12. my BIOS should be the latest driver.... perhaps they're having issues due to older driver. I've no prob to run the game at all, can play for hours smoothly.

    The Creative Sound Blaster, probably u can hear the difference if u pair it up with a decent speaker. The laptop speaker itself is quite weak to differentiate the change in quality.

  13. i got my dell studio 15 a few days ago. i have a 512 mb ati radeon mobility 4570 graphics card. i am having serious issues with games like nfs most wanted, call of duty- world at war etc.. the games run for a few minutes, then suddenly there are graphic problems in the gameplay and after a while the screen goes black and the laptop freezes. badly need some help. what could be the problem? please let me know.

  14. Judging from this, I guess perhaps u need to update ur graphic card driver?

    so far I only tried GTA:SA & GTA IV, which both works pretty well for me.

    NFS:MW suppose to be working perfect;y as it runs well on my previous laptop.

    Well, you can ring those fellas in Dell tech support should u need any further assistance, they should be able to help you sort it out. That's what you pay for their service.

  15. @ CLF, thanks dude. but considering that this is a brand new laptop, i shouldnt be having to update my drivers. i agree bout the NFS MW part, its a 5 year old game and should be running absolutely perfectly.

    well, anyway thanks for your help. I will talk to the dell guys.

    Btw, any idea how to update graphic card drivers?

  16. yeah, this would be my concern as well, if i were to face this.

    you can get the driver under the Dell support website. just enter your service tag or model, search for the list of drivers. get the one you're using.

    it's quite unlikely that u can get the driver update on the ATi's website (I might be wrong for this one).

    P/S: Where are you located anyway? From my experience with Dell Malaysia, they're sort of professional in solving probs like this. At the end of the day they might just send a tech guy over to solve it for'ya.

  17. @parth-
    pls update if this issue is solved...im luking for a laptop and...i wudnt want 1 which doesnt play games

  18. heh, actually laptop isn't really build for gaming unless you go for those high-end ones.

    if u're planning to play older games is OK, but for the latest games it might need better specs since the laptop ones are compromised due to the size factor, compared to a desktop.

  19. Just an update, today I received an alert regarding updating BIOS driver.

    My current BIOS driver is A03, while the driver update is A05.

    You can get it via Dell's support page I believe.

  20. CLF, i contacted the Dell guys. They told me to do the same as u did. So i updated my BIOS drivers via their website. Problem solved. NFS MW, COD 5 running smoothly at good res. Finally, my studio is complete. :)

    Thanks a ton man.

  21. Yeah no prob man, enjoy your games. :)

    I noticed their laptop BIOS update more or less had something to do with the graphic card though.

  22. Sorry Boss...i wish to disagree with you..I bought a studio 15 in december and am facinf several hardware problems with it..the slot drive keeps on ejecting itself at every boot...the touchpad stops working...the casing is pathetic..and sorry to say..but after so many years of good dell experience, the dell support is really innefficient!!

  23. Sorry to hear that, but according to a Dell technician, initial batch of Studios are having some sort of problems.

    So is your unit fixed from all the problems? Do share with us about it if you like.

    User feedback is crucial for them to improve their services.

  24. This is the mail I have written to DELL finally. Please suggest me what I can do. Have spent so much time and money on this now....

    Dear Sir/ Madam,

    I have bought my Studio 15 laptop in December in Pune, India through Manjunath Bettadpur, Inside Sales Account Manager Dell India Pvt. Ltd. Contact- 080 2506 6131 / 9900447272.

    I moved to London, UK in January and have trasferred my service tag: 4TNP2BS to UK.

    Ever since I have bought the laptop, it has several hardware issues.

    - The slot drive keeps ejecting every time I boot or restart the machine. When this happens, everything else stops functioning.
    - the touchpad on top of the keyboard stops working.
    - Internal speakers stop working, the volume stays constant despite changing levels.
    - The mouse touch pad stops functioning when working on battery. All of a sudden, it behaves erratically.
    -The keyboard stops functioning and is weak.
    - The back casing of the laptop is loose.
    -The remote control slot is loose.
    - The wireless/ blutooth stops working. It has to be reset before it starts working again.
    - The power cord pin fits loosely in its socket

    The problem was first reported to Dell service in January, when I have been told several times by the support engineers to download later versions of BIOS setups etc. This happened 5-6 times.

    Then finally on MAR 11, an engineer called PRITAM ROY could understand the issue and requested me to send my laptop back for servicing. The details of that service call are

    - Service Call number: 04025116870
    - Case number: 636345384

    The laptop was taken back and returned after a week with a replaced motherboard and slot drive. All problems still existed. I tried getting back to PRITAM ROY, but no replies. In fact, the service engineer hadnt even put the casing back properly and the computer was in an even worse shape.

    Then on 31st of March, I managed to get through to another engineer, AVNEET WADEHRA, to explain the situation.
    the details of that service call are:

    - Service Call number: 04025158662
    - Case number: 636345384

    This time an engineer was sent to my place and he replaced the mother board, keyboard and a few other things. Firstly, the engineer didnt come on time. He came to my place at 8 30 at night when I was told that he would come in the afternoon. I was made to buy driver Cds because I have left mine in INDIA, and then the engineer doesnt even use them. He didnt know why I was made to buy them. The problems still exist,and I have tried to get back to AVNEET WADEHRA, but again, in vain.

    Please let me know what I should do.

    I want to know why I was made to buy another set of driver CDs when they werent required at all. I wish that the CDs are taken back and my money is returned.

    I have spent immense time to get this fixed, because of some manufacturing error, and now I want to demand a replacement of the piece.

    Tell me how long I am supposed to wait till I hear back from DELL.

    Please do not ignore this mail, or I will be forced to take serious action. You cant make a customer spend so many days trying to get a problem fixed when it is not even his fault.


    Anupam Barve

  25. Anster,

    I sympathise with the situation you faced. Obviously that's everyone's worst case scenario.

    I would suggest the following methods to get in touch with their support unit.

    I would try to contact them any possible ways I can reach them, for example: phone call, e-mail support (though slower) or online chat support.

    Well hopefully that with the different technicians you came across, someone might be able to help you out.

    Or, you can try goto their HQ in UK to demand full service of your unit, as it's still under warranty and as the consumer you have the rights to do so.
    Trying to contact their higher management might be useful too.

    Alternatively, you can try ask feedback from people on the Dell's Facebook page:

    Then again, hopefully your Dell can be fixed ASAP.
    Good day. :)

  26. any idea where their HQ is? or where I can find out ? they have been wise enough to not let us know where it is...

  27. No idea at all, sorry. Can try to search Google or simply call and ask them the address.

  28. Hey! I'm looking to buy the Studio 15 too. Just one question. Does the 512 MB ATI Radeon HD 4570 play GTA IV even on low graphics? Is it capable of handling that load?

  29. Yes it can play GTA IV, but due to the massive requirement of the game it's not as smooth as San Andreas, but still playable.

  30. Oh ok. Thanks a lot :). I just want to make sure I can play it, even on the lowest graphics :P.

  31. From my experience using it, Studio 15 isn't really meant for gaming.....
    But if you're a heavy multi-tasker you may find it pretty good to handle all the programs running together at the same time.

  32. Ok, just a quick question...when this laptop first came out, it had a hideous milkstain design on the palmrest...is that gone now? It looks clean in the pics. When did dell remove that design?

  33. I got mine on 7th march 2009. It doesnt have the "hideous milk stain on the palmrest". Mine is clean. So go ahead and buy it without any worries

  34. ok...that's good. Haha, what a relief. Thanks for the info!

  35. My 1558's hard drive failed a week into ownership. The USB connectivity failed today, nearly a year after purchase.
    Had used both an external hard drive and an ipod and iphone today, when attempting to sync again with the iphone I could get no connectivity for data. chatted with support for an hour, updated BIOS to no effect. They are sending a tech to replace my motherboard. They also offered to sell me an extended warranty for $179 for a year or about $400 for three years.