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Featured Review: Dell Chromebook 11 (Intel Core i3 Model)

January 24, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

Chromebooks have always been a somewhat of a special market. Basically you see huge Android nerds buying them, as well as people who can’t afford a “good” laptop, which would normally cost around $600 or more. Chromebooks are basically Google’s answer to the Netbook. Netbooks were always super clunky, and didn’t work all that well. I remember the 8.9-inch Acer Netbook I had back in 2009. It was complete garbage. It ran Windows Vista, so that was probably why. But since then, I’ve always had a 13 or a 15.6-inch laptop as my own personal computer. Chromebooks can put in slower processors, and less RAM and even less storage space. Why? Because it’s essentially just running a browser. Not just any browser but the most downloaded and used browser in the world, Google Chrome.

I’ve not had the best experience with Dell in the past. Which made me a bit skeptical when it came to reviewing the Dell Chromebook 11. I had a Dell Inspiron back in 2007, and it was a high-end laptop, but it was pretty much garbage as well. But this Dell Chromebook 11 is the complete opposite. And you’ll find out why in this review.

Hardware

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If you’ve used a Dell laptop, the hardware will look and probably feel familiar. We have a 11.6-inch 1366×768 resolution display here. Technically HD, but it could use some upgrading. It’s a pretty decent display for getting work done. But if you’re looking to watch a movie or something on here, you probably want a more high-res display. It does have a rather thick bezel, at around 0.75-inches all around. So Dell probably could have fit in a 12-inch display here, without any trouble. Especially after seeing what Dell did with their XPS line at CES this past year. It’s not a bad display, but it could be better.

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For the keyboard and trackpad, they feel about the same as any other Chromebook. But what I really like is that the inside of the Chromebook – meaning around the keyboard and trackpad – is all soft-touch plastic. Which makes it extremely comfortable to type on for long periods of time. In fact, I’m typing this review from the Dell Chromebook 11, and it’s really comfortable. Dell put a good amount of spacing in between keys, while not keeping them too close to the edge. On the keyboard, you’ve got all your standard keys, with the top row having your back and forward buttons, refresh, full screen, brightness, volume and power. Also the caps lock key is the search key. But again, that’s all standard on just about every Chromebook out there.

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The Dell Chromebook 11 is a bit hefty, at about 2.9 pounds. It’s still not too bad, but could be a bit lighter. The design of the Dell Chromebook 11 is very nice. Typically laptops around $300 or even just laptops in general, like to look like a cheap Macbook. For example, let’s look at the Toshiba Chromebook 2. It just screams Macbook. However, the Dell Chromebook 11 does not. And that’s a great thing. It’s a good thing because Dell has it’s own style here and it looks great.

Performance

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Many Chromebook makers like to just stick 2GB of RAM into their Chromebooks and send them out the door. Which keeps them cheap. But something I learned early on is that a Chromebook needs at least 4GB of RAM. I learned that with the first Samsung ARM-based Chromebook back in 2013. This Dell Chromebook pairs an Intel Core i3 processor along with 4GB of RAM. Which makes this thing perform like a boss. I’ve actually been using it for everything I do for Android Headlines daily, all week long and it has been working out marvelously. I have not seen a single hint of lag, or where the device ran out of RAM and needed to refresh tabs.

Some might think that an i3 is overkill for a Chromebook, but I actually think it’s perfect. Now if every Chromebook could come with 4GB of RAM or more, I’d be even more happy. The Dell Chromebook 11 is a great Chromebook, and I’d definitely recommend for everyone to pick one up.

Final Thoughts

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Going into this review process, I didn’t really have high hopes. I haven’t really been “wow’d” by many Chromebooks, and given my past experience with Dell products, I wasn’t expecting much. But after using this one for a little over 2 weeks, I am comfortable saying that this is the best Chromebook available right now, that’s under $500. The entry-level Dell Chromebook 11 starts at $279. This i3 model is priced at $379. I’d definitely encourage everyone to get the i3 model, if not, at least get one with 4GB of RAM. You’ll thank me later.