Review: 2021 Dell Inspiron 5406 2-in-1 (5000 Series) laptop with 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7

This is the new Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 convertible touchscreen laptop that supports an active stylus pen and is powered by Intel’s latest 11th generation chips. 


Build-Quality

My review unit is sporting a stylish Titan Grey color. It has a sand-blasted metallic finish which feels very grippy when holding the laptop in your hands. I dig the silver colored Dell logo which nicely complements the silver metallic hinges. The top lid is made from aluminum and feels very solid while holding the laptop. The palm rest under the keyboard is also made from aluminum but the rest of the body is made from injection molded Polycarbonate. In terms of structural integrity, this laptop feels very strong and resistant to flex. It weighs around 3.5 pounds or 1.5 kilograms and is about 0.7 inches thick. There are 2 metallic hinges that hold the screen in various arrangements transforming this laptop from a traditional clam-shell device to tablet. The quality of these hinges is top notch, they are built like a tank and they should last for many years. Overall, Dell has done an excellent job with the build quality of Inspiron 5406 2-in-1 laptop. 

Display

You are getting a 14” Full HD touch screen display that supports an active stylus pen. It's an LED backlit IPS panel pumping out a maximum brightness of 250 nits. By default this display has a warmer tone which is great for watching movies, streaming videos and looking at pictures. But I prefer a cooler color temperature while reading text and working on documents. Fortunately you can easily change the color temperature of this display by using Dell’s CeinemaColor utility. Now the display is glossy in nature and it delivers a nice contrast ratio, making colors pop and texts look sharp. But unfortunately you get lot of reflections and glares when working in a brightly lit room. The display delivers 47% sRGB color gamut which is OK, but nothing earth shattering. 

This laptop fully supports an active stylus pen. My review unit did not include the pen, but you can buy either Dell’s official active stylus pen or many compatible third party pens. I have put links to compatible pens in the video description below if you are interested in purchasing one. These pens provide over 1000 levels of pressure sensitivity and also support palm rejection. This coupled with low latency, results in excellent note taking and sketching experience. I have used various third party pens on this laptop to take notes, jott down equations, make flow-charts, diagrams and digital art in Microsoft OneNote and Windows Ink Workspace. And I have to say that my writing experience on this laptop has been very good. It's right up there with Lenovo Flex 5, my current favorite 2-in-1 convertible laptop for note-taking. Overall, I think Dell Inspiron 5406 is a great laptop for students and working professionals interested in note taking and sketching

Keyboard & Trackpad

Dell Inspiron 5406 has an island style backlit enabled keyboard. The keys are platinum grey in color with white lettering. The cool white back-lighting is user adjustable and it can also be completely turned off if needed. The typing experience on this laptop is fantastic. It features long key travel and satisfyingly clicky feedback. The keyboard deck is made from aluminum and feels very comfortable while resting your palm. Overall I love this keyboard and it's easily one of my favorite 2-in-1 laptop keyboards tied with Lenovo Flex 5. BTW the power button on this keyboard doubles as a fingerprint sensor which is really handy for quick passwordless logins. Ok now let's quickly talk about the trackpad. It measures 4.5 by 2.5 inches which is a little wider than trackpads found on most other laptops. Even though its surface is made from plastic, Dell has added a glass like coating which makes using this trackpad a delight to use. It supports all the multi-finger gestures and taps that you would expect in any modern laptop. 

CPU & GPU

My Dell Inspiron 5406 is powered by an 11th generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor. You also have a choice of going with the slower Core i5-1135G7 and Core i3-1115G4 processor. But I would not recommend the core-i3 model of this laptop because it has a cheap plastic build quality, it lacks a full HD display and it does not support an active stylus pen. Now the Core i7-1165G7 processor in my review unit is a beast and it delivers absolutely blazing performance. Here is the cinebench single core benchmark and you can see that this chip towers above its competition. Dell has also done an excellent job with CPU cooling. I stress tested Core i7-1165G7 by running a prime number extraction algorithm which maxed out all the 4 cores and 8 threads. But the CPU ran at a turbo boost clock frequency of 3.8 GHz in the beginning before settling to 3.2GHz which is much higher than its base clock frequency of 2.8 GHz. The CPU never throttled or slowed down, which indicates a good thermal design. Moving on to the graphics, the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics is pretty food for casual gaming and watching 4k streaming videos. So in summary, this laptop can easily handle day today tasks like internet surfing, running office productivity apps, complex tasks like software development, video editing in davinci resolve and Photoshop with ease. 

RAM & SSD

Regarding system memory, my review unit came with 8GB DDR4 3200 MHz RAM. Kudos to Dell for providing 2 user upgradeable DIMM slots that can be accessed by opening the back of the laptop. You can install upto 16GB RAM in this laptop which should be plenty for most power users. I have linked compatible RAM in the video description below if you are interested in upgrading. Now when it comes to disk storage, this laptop is rocking a 512GB NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive. This is the fastest form of SSD storage and 512GB should be plenty for most folks. The good news is that you can access this NVMe drive and replace it with a bigger one if you want more storage. Links to compatible PCIe NVMe SSDs can be found in the video description below

Battery & thermals

Let's talk about battery life. Dell Inspiron 5406 comes with a 40 Whr battery which is smaller than other competing 2-in-1 laptops like the Lenovo Flex 5. I got about 8 hours of web browsing and about 6 hours of continuous 1080p video playback. So that is little disappointing because competing laptops like lenovo flex 5 easily deliver 2 extra hours of battery life. I wish Dell had included a larger capacity battery. The included 45-Watt A/C adapter uses an old-school barrel connector to charge this laptop. But fortunately Dell provides a USB type-C port which can also be used to charge this laptop. Regarding thermal heat dissipation, Dell Inspiron 5406 uses 1 heat pipe with a small heat spreader, and an average size fan to keep the system cool. The thermal performance of this laptop is really good. Like I mentioned before, the CPU never throttles and always operates at peak performance. Although the keyboard, the palm rest area and the trackpad never get uncomfortably warm during heavy workloads, the fan does get loud. But during normal laptop usage, it remains quiet and does a good job keep the laptop cool

Audio and webcam

Let's talk about audio. Dell Inspiron 5406 has two bottom firing stereo speakers which can deliver a maximum 2.5 watt audio. When the laptop is placed on a solid surface like a wooden table, these speakers produce decently loud sound. But they lack the bass, which is expected considering these are tiny speakers. The laptop also comes with a dual-array microphone which is handy for making video calls. The onboard webcam delivers a 720p resolution video which is nothing spectacular but gets the jobs done provided you have decent lighting. But if you want to level up your video quality, consider getting an external 1080p USB webcam. These are relatively cheap and they dramatically improve your zoom and live streaming video quality. I will drop a link of my favorite 1080p budget webcam that can be directly plugged into this laptop. 

Ports

For a thin and light laptop, Dell Inspiron 5406 offers a pretty good selection of ports. You get 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port which supports both DisplayPort and power delivery. In addition you get an HDMI 1.4 port. So that means you can connect this laptop to 2 external monitors at the same time using both the HDMI and USB Type-C ports. There is also a full size SD card reader for camera nerds. You also get Intel WiFi 6 chipsets for fast wireless internet connection and support for the latest bluetooth 5.1 standard. So I think the port situation is pretty good. Other than a missing ethernet port, Dell has all your bases covered.

Conclusion

Dell has created a worthy contender for the 2-in-1 convertible laptop crown. It has excellent build quality, great keyboard, class leading CPU and integrated GPU performance and a nice display with active pen support. But the battery life is underwhelming especially compared to lenovo flex 5. Overall, if you are in the market for a 14” 2-in-1 laptop, I would definitely consider Dell Inspiron 5406. Now the price will play an important role in your final purchasing decision. So check out the country specific links that I have put in the video description below to find out if this laptop is available in your region and fits your budget

Purchase Links

👉 Buy with Core i7-1165G7
👉 Buy with Core i5-1135G7
👉 Buy with Core i3-1115G4

Buy Active Stylus Pens

👉 Buy Dell Active Pen PN350M
👉 Buy Lazarite Active Pen
👉 Buy Bamboo Ink
👉 Buy Bamboo Ink Plus

Accessories

👉 Buy Laptop Repair Kit
👉 Buy 1080p webcam
👉 Buy 3TB USB HDD
👉 Buy M.2 NVME SSD Enclosure Adapter
👉 Macrium reflect free for SSD cloning

Budget WiFi 6 Routers

👉 TP-Link AX1500 (Archer AX10) 
👉 D-Link EXO AX1500(DIR-X1560-US)
👉 Netgear AX1800 (R6700AX)

Hardware upgrades

👉 Buy recommended RAM upgrades
👉 Buy recommended SATA3 SSD upgrades
👉 Buy recommended PCIe NVMe SSD upgrades



Disclosure: Some links may be affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

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