Dell Inspiron 3542, Reviewing The Value Powerhouse

Dell Inspiron 3542The Dell Inspiron series have always been a desired choice for average users due to its very reasonable prices and satisfying specs. They weren’t the best looking notebooks around in the past, because of their thickness and substandard design. But things have changed. Nowadays Dell offers laptops with decent built and sophisticated appearance while holding an inexpensive price range. And if you are looking for a good example of it, Dell Inspiron 3542 is as perfect as it gets.

Equipped with 4th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB memory and Windows 8.1 operating system, the Inspiron 3542 is surely a good option to consider. Even with an internal optical drive, it is only one inch thick, almost like a Ultrabook. If you need a laptop with decent specs and  latest technologies, If you like a rectangular shaped laptop with matte surface for daily use and don’t mind having a plastic body, maybe the Dell 3542 is the one you are looking for.

However, to make sure you are buying the right thing, you might want to read our review on this laptop first.


  • Brand: Dell
  • Series: Inspiron 15 3000
  • Model: 3542
  • Color: Silver / Black
  • Screen Size: 15.6 inch LED Backlit Display with Truelife and HD resolution
  • Screen Resolution: 1366×768
  • Touchscreen: Optional
  • IPS Display: No
  • Processor: 4th Generation Intel Core i5 4210U
  • Chipset: Intel QM87
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • RAM: 4GB Single Channel DDR3L 1600MHz
  • Storage: Up to 1 TB SATA hard drive (5400RPM)
  • Optical Drive: DVD RW
  • Keyboard: Full size spill-resistant keyboard with Numeric Pad
  • Touchpad: Multi-touch gesture-enabled pad with integrated scrolling
  • Speakers: Stereo Speakers with Waves MaxxAudio processing
  • Cameras: Front, HD (720p) capable webcam
  • Wi-Fi:11N
  • Ethernet LAN: 10/100 Ethernet network
  • Wireless LAN: Dell Wireless N 1705
  • 3G – 4G Mobile Broadband: No
  • Bluetooth:0
  • USB: 2 x USB 2.0 + 1 x USB 3.0
  • Video Ports: 1 x HDMI 1.4a
  • Media Card Reader: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Battery: 40 WHr, 4-Cell Removable Battery
  • Maximum Battery Life:5 Hours
  • Weight: 5.3 pounds / 2.4 Kg
  • Height: 1 inch / 25.6 mm
  • Width: 15 inch / 381.4 mm
  • Depth: 10 inch / 267.6 mm
  • Operating System: Windows 8.1 (64Bit)
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Base Price: $500

Dell Inspiron 3542 keybPros

  • Attractive Design
  • Good Overall Performance
  • Affordable Price
  • Spacious keyboard
  • Good Ventilation System
  • Decent Battery Life
  • Stays Quiet
  • Various Options for Customization


  • Plastic Body
  • Heavy
  • Awful Keyboard Layout
  • Shallow Viewing Angles
  • Glossy Reflective Display
  • Low Screen Resolution
  • Mediocre Audio Quality

Build & Design

Dell Inspiron 3542 lid1Considering the built, the Dell Inspiron 3542 was more focused on cost efficiency and affordability rather than having a strong and premium structure, so don’t expect any revelations from the built quality. At a first glance, the laptop looks quite attractive, but shockingly whole body of the laptop is made of plastic. The lid cover has 2 different colors: silver and black. And the bottom panel is made of rough matt-black unpainted plastic as well.

Dell Inspiron 3542 lid0The cheap plastic feel is quite upsetting, as our expectation from Dell was higher. Though, if you check the lid, it is not that bad. Both silver and black covers have an interesting texture pattern. The surface is not remotely glossy and rather matte looking. The lid cover has good scratch resistance. However, the surface of the interior and sides is not that good. For an example, if you put your hand on the surface, even for a short time, your fingerprint going to leave marks on it. Though the fingerprint can be wiped, but the interior and side surfaces also can be damaged or get a scratch mark simply by using a port without being careful. And that surely is not repairable.


Dell Inspiron 3542 keysNow, if you open the lid and look inside, The Inspiron 3542 has a Chiclet keyboard with numeric keys. Built of the keys are strong and secured. Even under heavy pressure, the foundation of the keys shows no flex and remains straight. There is no backlit, but the keys are marked with neutral color. So, yet the interior is matte and dull looking, it is easy to read the keys without putting any hard effort. Still, there are some things to complain about the keyboard. First of all, there is no backlit but let’s ignore that as it is still considered as a premium feature. But the keys are too much sensitive and bouncy. Besides, they could make the layout of the keyboard better, judging by the space we have for the keys.


Dell Inspiron 3542 touchpadBeside the keyboard and a palm rest, there is a large 60mm/2.4inch touchpad. The design of the touchpad is modern and kept up with new fashionable button-less trend. Below the surface of the pad, there is only one button so far. Rest features are as usual like three-finger flicks, two-finger scrolling, double-finger taps, and Windows 8 swipes-in gestures. There is also a move button which is kind of short but quite good and flexible. But one problem we’ve faced so far is the edges of the touchpad, especially the lower edge which is slightly elevated towards the top.


As we see, the ports are well planned and organized.

Dell Inspiron 3542 ports 1The power connector socket, exhaust ventilation, HDMI output, LAN port, an audio port, one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 port are on the left.

Dell Inspiron 3542 ports 2While an optical drive, a USB 2.0 port and SD Card reader are on the right.

Dell Inspiron 3542 frontOn the front there is nothing but a battery indicator, which glows red when the laptop is low on charge.

Dell Inspiron 3542 backAnd as it is hard to access the backside of the laptop, they kept it completely free of connectivity ports.

Dell Inspiron 3542 bottomHowever, on the bottom panel there is a pair of speakers in the middle. Also, there is a large removable panel provides access to the hard drive, memory modules, and expansion cards. When you need to upgrade modules, you can remove the panel without voiding the warranty.

Dell Inspiron 3542 screen 01Display

The Dell Inspiron 3542 comes with a non touch 15.6 inch LED Backlit Display panel. Maximum resolution is 1366 × 768 pixels. But in general, display is not quite good and appealing. To be honest, the only thing good about this display is the size. Dell Inspiron 3542 screen 02

The display just made of cheap and regular TN matrix with LED backlit. As a result, viewing angles are very small, so when you are working, you have to adjust the angle of the screen a lot. Color temperature is not that smooth as well. Even the white color overestimates the temperature, and that’s why the picture on the screen looks very cold and quite, which at least is pleasing to the eye. Moreover, supply of brightness and contrast are also modest, which is somehow enough for indoor use. But on the outside, the glossy surface of the screen is going to make it worse and the display will fade without a doubt.


Dell Inspiron series was never famous for the sound system, and this 3542 is not an exception. Their Waves MaxxAudio processing is not that much helpful. Of course, it’s not the worst of all tested laptops, but not even nearly good. The only good thing about this built in speakers is its pretty loud volume. The frequency range of the speaker is narrow and there is no bass at all. Yet, the sound quality of the analog audio output is one of the best among the laptops which indicates good quality of the sound card. So, if you want neat sound output, you surely will have to consider external speakers.


Dell Inspiron 3542 cpuAs it was already mentioned, the Dell Inspiron 3542 comes with 4th generation Intel Core i5 4210U processor, which can be found usually in the expensive and premium Ultrabooks. 4210U is a Haswell based ULV dual-core processor clocked at 1.7 GHz with Turbo Boost support up to 2.7 GHz and has an average of 15 watt power consumption. It also has an on chip integrated HD Graphics 4400 and a dual-channel DDR3L memory controller.Dell Inspiron 3542 gpu

We tested the laptop with a popular multiplayer game DOTA2. At maximum graphics settings it was able to provide an average of 18 frames per second, which is completely unplayable. But at minimum settings FPS was 52 which is a much more comfortable, and enough to enjoy the game with pleasure.

Noise and Heat

Haswell processors are renowned for their extremely low power consumption and temperature. So, naturally the laptop runs cool and quiet. We tested the laptop with room temperature of 22 degrees Celsius where the temperature of the hard disk was less than 40 degrees, and the processor, even during the stress test barely passed 70 degrees. Though, things can be different, if you give too much pressure to it for too long. One thing is clear that this laptop was not made for gaming.

Power and Battery Life

The 3542 comes with a 4 cell 40 Wh lithium-ion Battery. For a laptop with 15.6 inch screen, the capacity of the battery is not something to be proud of. However, as this Inspiron is running on Haswell technology, the given battery will probably be sufficient for the average user. We tested the laptop with simultaneously running music and HD videos, where it was able to last roughly 6 hours. Considering the specs of the battery, it is more than what we expected.


To be honest, the 3542 is a perfect example of how Dell can improve the Inspiron series and make it more attractive and powerful while keeping an inexpensive price tag. Having said that, we expected something better than cheap plastic body and mediocre display, but considering all the other features and the price, it is one of the best value laptops currently available on the market. After all, if you want a powerful old-school laptop with a big screen and optical drive. With the latest Haswell i5 processor and elegant outlook, the Dell Inspiron 3542 might be the right thing for you.Dell Inspiron 3542_1

New Dell Inspiron 15 3531 Laptop for $224.99 and Lower After Coupon

If you need a really cheap laptop, check out this deal you can get on the Dell Inspiron 15 3531 laptop.  If you click here and sign up for a mystery coupon then Dell will email either a 10%, 15% or 30% off coupon code that you can use at checkout.  If you get even the lowest 10% off amount you can score the Inspiron 15 3531 laptop for $224.99 and shipping is free on top of that!  The specs for the base model Inspiron 15 are as follows

  • Processor: Intel Celeron N2830 Dual Core CPU
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3
  • Storage: 500GB HDD
  • Screen: 15.6″ 1366×768 LED Backlit Display
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
  • Battery: 4-cell Battery
  • OS: Windows 8.1


These are very basic specs but the laptops computing power and performance will be enough for just about any average workaday Joe so if all you care about is saving money and having a no frills laptop that gets the job done this could be a deal to checkout!

Link to Deal:

Dell Inspiron 17R on Sale for $435 at Dell Outlet

Dell Outlet has a generous $300 off coupon Z2ZR49LBT7HRT9 on the Inspiron 17R-5737 model laptop that’s priced at $735.  The Inspiron 17R-5737 is a 17” screen laptop with the following specs:

  • Display: 17.3-inch LED backlit display with Truelife and HD+ Display
  • Processor: Intel Core 4th Gen i7-4500U processor
  • Memory: 8GB memory
  • Storage: 1TB Hard Drive
  • Web Camera: 1.0MP HD camera with microphone
  • Optical Drive: 8X DVD+/-RW Tray Load Drive
  • OS: Windows 8
  • Dell Wireless-N 1705 + Bluetooth 4.0

Note, the Dell Outlet inventory fluctuates quite a bit throughout the day and this deal is specific to the configuration being sold for $735, you’ll need to keep an eye on the site to get the deal.  Any laptop purchased from Dell Outlet comes with a generous 1-year warranty, just like a new purchase.


Link to Deal: Dell Outlet use coupon code Z2ZR49LBT7HRT9 to get $300 off the Inspiron 17R-5737

Dell Outlet 25% Off any Laptop, Ultrabook or Tablet Coupon

Dell Outlet right now has a 25% off coupon for their refurbished or scratch & dent laptop Laptops and Ultrabooks when using coupon code PCSR2JNF1JRFVT.   An example deal you can get with the 25% off coupon code is an XPS 12 Ultrabook for $599 with the following specs:image

  • Processor: Intel Core 3rd Generation i5-3317U Processor (3M Cache, up to 2.6 GHz)
  • Windows 8
  • 128 GB mSATA Solid State Caching Card
  • 4GB Dual Channel DDR3L at 1600MHz
  • 12.5 Inch (1920×1080) FHD Touch
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • Dell Outlet XPS 12 Convertible Ultrabook

The inventory is continously changing at the Outlet so you might need to check back a few times to find a configuration that you want, the coupon code PCSR2JNF1JRFVT lasts through 3/2 so you have some time to wait for the right system to popup that fits your needs!

Link to Deal: Dell Outlet 25% off coupon code PCSR2JNF1JRFVT

Dell Inspiron 15 Windows 8 Laptop on Sale for $229.99 at Micro Center

Need a really cheap laptop for the most basic of tasks such as surfing the web, paying online bills, watch some Netflix and maybe doing a little homework?  Micro Center has the Dell Inspiron 15 15.6” screen laptop on sale for a mere $229.99 right now, and the specs aren’t as poor as you might thing.  For the $229.99 price you get the following internals:

  • Processor: Intel Celeron 1017U 1.6 GHz
  • Display: 15.6″ Widescreen Display 1366 x 768 resolution
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 8
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3
  • Storage: 320GB Hard Drive 5400RPM
  • Intel HD Graphics
  • Media Card Reader: 8-in-1 Media Card Reader
  • Wireless: 802.11n Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Weight: 4.96lbs

Now granted, the Inspiron 15 isn’t going to win any awards for its rather utilitarian design (see the image below, it’s all black plastic) nor its performance with the Dual Core Celeron.  However, you do get a brand name laptop and 1-year warranty along with the fully fledged Windows 8 OS for the same price as a tablet.  Prices don’t go much lower than this.


You can get the deal in store at Micro Center, sorry, no online purchases.  The Dell Inspiron 15 on sale’s product page is here and you can locate the closest Micro Center using this locator.

Dell Online Black Friday Deals Leaked, $199 Inspiron 15 Laptop

There’s no need to hold your breathe as to what deals you’ll see on come Black Friday as their marketing brochure has been leaked.  Inside reveals that there will be a $199 Inspiron 15 laptop, marked down from $329.  A $99 23” Dell monitor that’s regularly $199 is also going to be available at midnight on 11/29.  Not interested in a laptop?  There will also be a 40” Samsung TV with 1080p resolution on sale for $400, marked down from $529.99.  Check out the entire list of deals in the Dell brochure here:  Dell Black Friday Deals


New Dell Venue 8 Pro 32GB Tablet (Windows 8.1) for $252

81DwiuWcmuL._SL1500_The Dell Venue 8 Pro was just released last week and it’s already on sale for a great price via at $252.65, that’s $47 less than the $299 price Dell is asking for.  While the Venue 8 Pro isn’t a laptop per se, it does run Windows 8.1 (the real deal) and you can get a keyboard accessory to turn it into a pseudo laptop if you’re looking for something that can dual as both a tablet and PC.   The Dell Venue 8 on sale via Amazon is the “low end” 32GB storage version that has an Intel Atom Z3740D processor, 2GB RAM and 8-inch IPS quality display.  It does offer an SD card reader to easily expand your storage options.  Wireless options include BlueTooth 4.0, dual band WiFi and Miracast to broadcast your tablets display to a TV (that’s Miracast compatible).  So far the reviews for the Venue 8 are fairly positive, you can check feedback on Amazon reviews, and  For a tablet device with full Windows 8 and a $252.65 price tag you can’t go too far wrong.

Link to Deal: Dell Venue 8 for $252.65

Dell Announces new Inspiron 7000, 5000 and 3000 Series Models coming this Month

Dell is finally updating their mainstream Inspiron lineup with the new Intel Haswell processor family, and at the same time cleaning up the house with regards to model naming proliferation and confusion.  Starting September 26th you’ll be able to buy the Dell Inspiron 3000, 5000 and 7000 models that each feature a 14-inch, 15-inch and 17-inch size screen.  Instead of going with the standard Inspiron plastic design, Dell has stepped up the game in the design department with these new Inspirons as well.  They will now feature a slim profile with all aluminum surface build and Gorilla glass scratch resistant touchscreens and even a backlit keyboard.  Internally the biggest update of course comes in the form of the new 4th Generation Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 Haswell family processors.   The 15-inch and 17-inch 5000 and 7000 series Inspiron’s will offer Nvidia discrete graphics.

Availability for the new Inspirons starts September 26th via, the 7000 series pricing has been disclosed wherein the Inspiron 14 will start at $849, the 15-inch at $699, and 17-inch at $849.

Dell Inspiron 15R Touch Screen Laptop on Sale for $550.99

Dell Home has their Dell Inspiron 15R Touch Screen Laptop on sale for $600.99 – $50 off with coupon code 0H9Q3PQ6L3744C =$550.99.  This is a really good price for a laptop that combines a touch screen with good performance specs:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 4200U 1.6GHz
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3
  • Storage: 500GB HDD
  • Screen: 15.6″ 1366×768 LED Backlit Touch Display
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • Optical Drive: DVD Drive
  • Wireless: Dell Wireless-N 1705 


This coupon code that knocks $50 off expires on 9/4 (Wednesday) so you have a couple of days to get the deal while it lasts!

Link to Deal: Dell Inspiron 15R Touch Screen Laptop for $550.99 after coupon code 0H9Q3PQ6L3744C

Dell Announces New Latitude 7000 Series Ultrabooks

Taking a page out of their experience with selling popular consumer Ultrabooks, namely the XPS 13, Dell is launching a couple of new business targeted Ultrabooks in the form of the 12-inch Latitude E7240 and 14-inch E7440.  Both new Latitudes feature a carbon fiber reinforced lid for extra durability, spill resistant keyboard, Gorilla Glass scratch resistant screen, powder coated magnesium alloy underside and sealed LCD.   You’re covered in terms of physical durability, but what about software and data security?  Dell wants you to know you’re set there too,  According to the Dell press release the Latitude 7000 series offers “best-in-class Dell Data Protection solutions, comprehensive encryption with Dell Data Protection| Encryption and advanced authentication and leading-edge malware prevention with Dell Data Protection| Protected Workspace”.   Features such as Intel vPro, TPM security, software and hardware based encryption and fingerprint and smart card readers all ensure the corporate IT security guys will remain happy. 


In terms of internal specs, the Latitude 7240 and 7440 are no slouches either.  Each comes with up to an Intel Core i7 Haswell (4th generation) processor, Intel HD 4400 graphics and up to a 256GB SSD.  The standard screen is a 1366 x 768 matte non-touch display, you can upgrade to a 1080p matte screen on the 14-inch model and both will offer a touch enabled Gorilla Glass screen.  The more mobile Latitude 7240 comes in at 0.78-inches thin and has a weight of 2.99lbs.  Order availability starts September 12th with pricing starting at $1,049 for both models.

Source: Latitude 14 7000 Series, Latitude 12 7000 Series

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