Dell has given the Vostro range the Ivy Bridge treatment to produce the all-new Dell Vostro 3360. The Vostro 3360 wields an Ivy Bridge i5-3317U with 6GB RAM, and a 320GB hard drive for storage. This particular rig should launch June 21st for $649.
The shell is significantly reduced in size from the old Vostro 3350, weighing just 1.7kg compared with the 3350′s 2.2kg, and shrinking from a chunky 30mm to a more slender 20mm. Optical drive or dedicated graphics card are nowhere to be seen. The design is still based on a mixture of aluminum and plastic for a sophisticated appearance. Build quality is good.
The 13.3-inch 1366 x 768 pixel res panel emits mediocre brightness (177 nits) and a not-very-inky black value (1.11 nits), making for a rather ‘functional’ 158:1 contrast ratio. Fine for the workplace but users will rarely be taken aback by a riot of technicolor on the Vostro 3360′s display. At least the matte display surface makes the 3360 fit for outdoor use.
The typing surface of the 3360′s keys measures 14mm x 14mm, which is reasonable for a 13-inch notebook, and Dell offers a backlit keyboard upgrade. First impressions are that the pressure point slightly uncertain, but it’s probably just part of adjusting to a new keyboard. Nonetheless we think dedicated typists would prefer the HP ProBook 5330m. The 82mm x 45mm touchpad’s accuracy and glide are both first-rate; pinch-to-zoom, swipes, rotations – all execute flawlessly. The mouse buttons also perform well, are are less clacky than those on the last-gen Vostro 13-incher.
There are three USB-3 ports but none doubles as an eSATA combi port. One does feature Dell’s ‘Power Share’ technology, allowing smartphones or MP3 players to be recharged with the notebook off. VGA and HDMI interfaces are both here, an 8-in-1 card slot, and a fingerprint reader for security. WiFi-n and Bluetooth 4 are included, and an optional WWAN module means a SIM card can be used for go-anywhere connectivity. The inbuilt webcam can capture images and video at 1280 x 720 pixels, and delivers above-average images. The on-board microphone also records well, with low background noise pollution.
Despite the lack of an optical drive, Dell has nevertheless supplied a DVD recovery disk for a nice clean re-install when necessary.
The two hyper-threaded cores of the i5-3317M ultra-low voltage CPU are clocked at 1.7GHz and are boostable across both cores to 2.4GHz. The 6GB RAM is expandable to 8GB. The 320GB 7200rpm hard drive musters 90MB/s transfer speeds – about average, although performance would be much improved by taking the SSD option. In benchmarks, overall performance tops out at about the same level as the old Vostro’s i5-2410M full-voltage 35W CPU. But since most applications involve a fair bit of graphical throughput, the improved HD4000 integrated graphics give the new Vostro 13-incher the edge and even current games are playable at much-reduced settings – all the titles tested produced 40+ frame rates at minimum details and 1024 x 768 resolution. Even Diablo III, released this month, plays at medium settings on the native 1366 x 768 res – that’s not all bad.
Speaker quality is middling – high and bass tones are thin, though speech playback renders with good fidelity, and maximum volume is similarly decent.
WiFi-surfing eked 4:18 from the 49-watt battery and 1:40 of flat-out use is acceptable. Still, given the ULV CPU, Dell perhaps ought to have included a battery capable of a full day’s work.
The Dell Vostro 3360′s performance is fine for most uses, but the fact that the machine doesn’t excel in any category means it might be worth upgrading to the full-blooded 15-inch Vostro 3560 for a better all-round package.
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