In a world of bafflingly complex laptop configurations, the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) keeps things seriously simple. It’s all about maximum features and performance for minimum money. This particular model, based on Intel’s 11th Gen CPU tech, doesn’t have any configuration options at all. It’s available in just the one.
Granted, there’s also a version with Intel’s newer 12th Gen chips which does have a few options. But even then it’s just one CPU upgrade and the choice of a larger SSD. And that’s it. It’s all very welcome given that optional extras are so often used to make an expensive laptop look cheap.
CPU: Intel Core i7-11800H eight-core
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 4GB
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 16-inch, 3,072 x 1,920, IPS
Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
Ports: 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, SD card reader, HDMI 2.1, headphone
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
Camera: 720P webcam
Size: 13.99 x 9.74 x 0.77 in / 35.5 x 24.8 x 1.9 cm
Weight: 4.43 lbs / 2.01 kg
Price the base model low, but make it borderline un-buyable due to its underwhelming specs, forcing customers to add expensive upgrades. That’s a common ruse we see in many laptop series, but it’s totally absent here. Instead you get a mostly well specified - for the money - 16-inch laptop with an intriguing 16:10-aspect screen, surprisingly good build quality and strong performance.
Don't get us wrong – this laptop is not perfect. As we’ll see, it has one or two obvious flaws. But as a value proposition for a do-everything desktop replacement laptop, the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) looks like a winner.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) review: features
The centrepiece of the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) is its 16-inch IPS display with a 16:10 aspect ratio – that little bit taller than the 16:9 masses. It’s also unusual in sporting a 3K native resolution. Specifically, you get 3,072 by 1,920 pixels. That actually makes a lot of sense, as it gives you a bit more vertical space to play with and view web pages and documents, while the 3K res allows for a high DPI experience and crisp fonts, without the expense and elevated battery drain of a full 4K panel, something that would be overkill on a 16-inch screen.
If that’s common to all Inspiron 16 Plus models, our review laptop is fitted with an 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H CPU. Yes, that’s a last-generation chip, but it’s still a 10nm, eight-core monster. Graphics -wise, we’re talking Nvidia RTX 3050 with 4GB of video memory. That’s entry level stuff when it comes to true gaming GPUs, but it’s still a big step up on any integrated graphics.
Rounding out the main spec items is a 1TB NVMe M.2 drive and 16GB of RAM. On both counts, that’s sufficient for all but really demanding workloads, though the ability to at least opt for 32GB of RAM would have been welcome.
When it comes to ports, they’re slightly limited in that there’s just one USB-C socket with Thunderbolt 4 support, a pair of USB-A 3.2 ports, and SD card reader, HDMI, audio and that’s about it. For the record, the USB-C socket does support charging the laptop as an alternative to the bundled power supply and its barrel connector.
Given this is a large 16-inch laptop, we’d have liked to have seen at least one more USB-C port. A dedicated LAN port would be nice, too, though WiFi 6 and Bluetooth are provided. Anyway, you also get a fingerprint reader with Windows Hello support for speedy logins and a 720p webcam, though the latter does not support Windows Hello. Finally, an 86Wh battery provides the mains-free power.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) review: design
Given the competitive design, the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) makes a good first impression. The chassis is all aluminium and reasonably slim, the bezels likewise. OK, it’s not nearly as slick as Dell’s own XPS laptops. But it doesn’t look or feel cheap.
You get a nice big trackpad, albeit made of plastic, and a full sized keyboard with a number pad. The keyboard is a tad mushy and the bed has a little unwanted bounce. But on the whole, this is a very solid portable. It’s also pretty well engineered with fairly hefty cooling, including two fans and three heat pipes and lots of venting on the bottom and sides of the chassis.
One design element we’re less impressed by is the location of the USB-C port near the front of the left side of the chassis. That’s a fairly horrible location should you plan to use the USB-C to connect to a monitor on a regular basis. It really gets in the way and would be far better located nearer the rear of the chassis.
At over 2kg, this is also a pretty heavy machine. It isn’t hugely thick at 1.9 and the slim bezels keep the footprint fairly reasonable. But this isn’t the kind of laptop you pop in a bag and almost forget it’s there, that’s for sure.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) review: price
The Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) currently starts at $719/£919 (with the base UK configuration is currently higher than in the US) and that includes the standout 3K screen. As test, you’re looking at $1,049/£1,099, which is just stellar value given the specification and all-alloy chassis. If you want the latest Intel 12th Gen CPUs, configurations start at around the same price as this version but without the Nvidia graphics. Add the graphics and the 12th Gen models are around $150 or £150 more expensive. And still great value.
Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) review: performance
Cinebench R23: 10,986pts
3DMark Firestrike: 11,430pts
PCMark 10: 6,310pts
Metro Exodus 1080p Ultra: 37fps
Total War: Three Kingdoms 1080p Ultra: 38fps
Crystal Disk read: 3,550MB/s
Crystal Disk write: 3,224MB/s
Crystal Disk 4K read: 73MB/s
Crystal Disk 4K write: 172MB/s
4K x265 encode: 6.9fps
Battery life (1080p video playback): 11h 47m
OK, this model of the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) is running last year’s 11th Gen Intel CPU. But it still cranks out impressive numbers thanks to eight powerful cores. In the real world, you’re not going to notice a huge difference in performance compared to Intel’s 12th Gen chips.
Sure a 12th Gen chip will score over 7,000pts in PC Mark and you’re looking at roughly 30 to 40 percent quicker video encoding. But you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference in most image editing tasks. This rig is plenty quick enough. The same largely applies to the 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD. It's a Gen 3 rather than Gen 4 model, but you’re still getting around 3GB/s raw bandwidth along with decent 4K random access performance. The 16GB of RAM is also plenty for light to moderate tasks.
That said, if you are a heavy multi-tasker and tend to deal with really large numbers of RAW image files, this version of the Inspiron not be the best choice, especially as the version with 11th Gen CPUs can’t be upgraded. If you want more memory, get the Intel 12th Gen version and upgrade to 32GB.
As for the Nvidia RTX 3050 GPU, it’s a decent addition for applications that can benefit from some GPU power, such as filters and effects in video and images. It’s OK for a bit of light gaming, too. But there are far more powerful GPUs available if serious graphics grunt is required.
But what of that intriguing 16-inch, 16:10-aspect screen? We really love the 3K resolution. It delivers a true high-DPI experience including crisp fonts without generating the power draw of full 4K. Less impressive is the limited brightness. Dell rates the panel at 300 nits, which is mediocre by today’s standards. It’s also not an HDR panel, though it can support HDR10 decoding for streaming purposes. Just don’t expect an HDR experience. You’re not going to get one, not even close.
Probably the worst-performing element, however, are the weedy speakers. The volume level is OK, but there’s zero bass and not that much midrange. The sound quality really is very thin and harsh.
There’s much better news when it comes to battery life. In our 1080p video playback test with the screen at a little over half brightness, it returns nearly 12 hours. Bump up the screen brightness a bit and do slightly more demanding work and you should still see eight hours. That’s pretty much all-day battery life. Nice.
Should you buy the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022)?
In a word, yes. More specifically, if you’re looking for a large desktop replacement laptop with great features, functionality and performance at an equally good price, the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus (2022) should certainly be on your shortlist.
The 16:10 3K screen is great in terms of size and resolution, though it could be a little brighter and punchier. There’s bags of CPU performance, reasonable graphics grunt, a very solid chassis and excellent battery life for this class of portable. As a value-orientated mobile work horse for all manner of content creation from images to video and graphics, this Inspiron really is a very compelling option.
It certainly says something that our most significant reservation is the placement of the sole USB-C port, though in all candour only having one USB-C port and locating near the front of the chassis isn’t terribly clever. That aside, there’s an awful lot to like. And in the context of the punchy pricing, very little to quibble over.