Dell Inspiron 6400

The Inspiron 6400 is a mid-range notebook with an entry-level price tag. It'll handle most applications nicely, but it's a little on the heavy side and isn't suitable for extensive gaming.


8.0
CNET Rating
9.1
User Rating

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Design
The Inspiron 6400 is a desktop replacement notebook, offering up the familiar silver and white-accented design that's common to the Inspiron line. It's not exactly a stunner, but you certainly won't be ashamed to tote it around whilst in the public eye.

Being a cheaper notebook, the 6400's chassis is constructed mostly from a soft plastic, so scratching and denting may be an issue for those that use their notebooks haphazardly.

Regardless, the 6400 will likely stay on your desk for most of its existence. Its 2.8kg heft is far from feather-weight, and you'll definitely start grumbling after walking with it for 20 minutes or more. It's fine for shorter distances, but true mobility can only be found in a sub-2kg offering such as the Sony VAIO VGN-TX27GP.

Stereo speakers are mounted on the front of the unit, so sound isn't muffled when the lid is closed. Flanked by said speakers is a row of multimedia shortcut buttons, enabling users to navigate through their audio/video files without placing a finger on the mouse.

The trackpad is large and offers up both vertical and horizontal scrolling, while the keyboard takes up much of the width of the chassis and is comfortable to type on. The left and right mouse buttons are also large, but they don't offer a reassuring "click" when depressed, which took a while for us to get used to.

Another minor design quirk is the fact that the headphone and microphone jacks are placed on the right-hand side of the chassis, and the resulting cords may interfere with external mouse movement.

Features
With a starting price of just AU$1499, the Dell Inspiron 6400 sits towards the top of the entry-level notebook category. Yet its mid-range feature-set defies this market segmentation -- the base model packs an Intel Core Duo T2300 processor, 512MB DDR2 memory and a 60GB hard drive. Since Dell builds its machines to order, users that have more money to burn can choose up to a Core Duo T2600 processor, 2GB of memory and a 100GB hard drive.

The model we tested included a Core Duo 2600 processor, 1GB of memory and an 80GB hard drive, as well as a 256MB ATI Radeon X1400 graphics chip. A 6400 with these specifications will set you back AU$3189.

Dell touts the 6400 as being a "mobile entertainment" unit, but this statement needs to be qualified. The notebook can be equipped with an 8x dual-layer DVD-RW drive (although the AU$1598 model is limited to a 24x CD-RW/DVD combo drive), so it can of course be used for DVD playback. However, gaming is somewhat limited, as the base configuration is hindered by an integrated Intel graphics chip, while the top-end model we tested includes an ATI Radeon X1400 chip, which will struggle running the latest games at smooth frame rates. That said, the 15.4-inch widescreen display is adequate for film viewing and gaming, thanks to its high resolution of 1680x1050 and widescreen aspect ratio.

Despite being on the cheaper side, the 6400 comes equipped with a number of handy multimedia features that are typically reserved for high-end offerings. For starters, it's got a 5-in-1 memory card reader (MS, MS Pro, SD/SDIO, MMC and xD), while TV-out support is provided by an S-Video port. There's even a Firewire connection for hooking up your digital video camcorder, while an ExpressCard slot ensures support for the next generation of notebook expansion cards. Finally, the 6400 makes use of Dell's MediaDirect instant-on technology, allowing for one-button access to digital media stored on the computer itself or on attached devices.

Wireless connectivity options include the mandatory 802.11a/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but there's no infrared.

Performance
On the whole we were pleased with the 6400's performance. It passed our MobileMark2005 office productivity tests with flying colours, landing a score of 209. This is virtually identical to that of the similarly configured NEC VERSA P8210.

BAPCo MobileMark2005 performance rating
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

209 223


Our qualitative tests also yielded positive results, with video playback being superb on the bright, high resolution display and audio coming through clearly and accurately using both the headphone jack and the stereo speakers. The high resolution screen also aids office productivity, as you can have numerous windows onscreen simultaneously

Less flattering is the notebook's gaming performance; the unit struggled to run Serious Sam 2 smoothly -- a relatively dated (although still graphically intensive) game. Suffice it to say, the 6400 will crawl when running the latest games even under low detail settings.

Its battery life trumps most of the desktop replacement notebooks we've seen, clocking in at 242 minutes (around four hours). This means there's enough juice to get through a feature-length film whilst still having time to edit some documents before you'll need to race to a power socket.

BAPCo MobileMark2005 battery life rating
(Longer bars indicate more battery-life minutes)

242 Minutes 124 Minutes


Dell's warranty service is second to none. The notebook comes with the optional three-year support package that includes a three year next business day onsite response service, 24x7 phone support and accident cover for the entire warranty period.

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Bambamthesailor posted a comment   

The Good:Overall great value for money if you exclude the down time/cost of AC power supply failures due to cable wear/poor materials.

The Bad:Dell AC power supply cables

-Dell AC power supply cables are not durable, many similar comments are found on the Dell Website. We have replaced the power supply several times with Genuine Dell parts, they did not last more than 1-2 years. Currently thinking of purchasing a non-Dell AC power supply. I suggest the designers improve the quality of the cables, maybe use stronger materials, maybe use copper instead of aluminium for the conductor/shields, maybe use a better dielectric insulator. A 10-20$ even 30$ increase in the original price to fix this problem would certainly be worth it for the consumer. Secondly, if the AC and DC power supply cable could be both replaced on they're own, the consumer would benefit and also the environment(less electronic waste).
-When it comes to the laptop itself, it has performed well for several years without a single hardware problem. Hope to use it works for several more years.

 

Geo3020 posted a comment   

The Good:performance,durability,Solid Laptop, I like it very much

The Bad:LCD, poor battery life

Is amazing, I actually have one of this.. and I love the performance, I think is affordable and amazing

jj
7
Rating
 

jj posted a review   

The Good:large lcd,great keyboard, color resolution,speakers

The Bad:battery life only 2 years.. problem with memory, heavy in weight and heats up always

i like it however i have to change battery often and yes cover paint is bad.. but functionality wise its good

macgirl
10
Rating
 

macgirl posted a review   

The Good:Good performance, great to type on. Solid Laptop

The Bad:Really heavy with poor battery life

I have a 4 year old 2.16 core duo Centrino with 120GB 7200rpm HDD and 2GB RAM. I run it alongside an iMac 27" i5 and 2.66 core 2 duo MacBook (both 2010 models). The Dell really holds it's own. While I only use it for a few Windows only applications, Internet, email and correspondence, I love it and will be sorry when it finally gives up the ghost.

It never heats up, not even on 36C summer days (although I keep it on a cooling pad). However, I'm on my second battery (and I almost always have it on power since it's too heavy to be portable) and am awaiting another one because battery number 2 is just about to croak...so that's not quite so good. Other than that, it's a joy to use. I've been considering buying a secondhand one to keep on the side for when this one finally dies. I don't particularly like the configuration of the newer Inspirons or the Vostro's.

raymond dv
9
Rating
 

raymond dv posted a review   

The Good:performance,durability,no heating,ilike it very much!!1than acer!!!

The Bad:paint removes quickly,

I bought this laptop,already used,i bought it for only 450rials,this laptop is very good in performance,very fast,and unique design.

Jessica
10
Rating
 

Jessica posted a review   

Is amazing, I actually have one of this.. and I love the performance, I think is affordable and amazing

Maha
9
Rating
 

Maha posted a review   

The Good:Nearly everything-- weight, sound, battery

The Bad:Overheating, cover paint

@Screwed! It must have been your usage, or something wrong with the one laptop you were handed. I've been using this laptop for more than 4 years, and it still works perfect.
I've had scratchy problems with the cover paint, though.

 

annoyed. posted a comment   

The Good:battery life

The Bad:MY SOUND!

MY SOUND DOESNT WORK?! HOW DO I FIX IT ?

Screwed!
1
Rating
 

Screwed! posted a review   

The Good:Nothing!

The Bad:LCD Screen

2 LCD Screens went in less than 3 years. First one just after warrantee was up! Get extended Warrantee if you are going to get sucked in to this computer! Poor customer service! Can't speak proper english! Never buy Dell again!

 

steamed posted a comment   

The Good:not much

The Bad:LCD

I bought a Dell inspirion 6400 only 3 years ago and have had to replace the LCD screen just after the warrantee was off. And now, only 1 year later, It needs replacing again. The service was terrible. They have operaters that don't speak proper english, so when you are already frustrated, that makes it even worse. Also, to be told to just get another computer, because it would be cheaper, and they try to sell you another one, I found extremely self-serving. Not what I wanted to hear at that point when I only had the computer for less than 3 years. Very dissappointed in Dell. I bought elsewhere!


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User Reviews / Comments  Dell Inspiron 6400

  • Bambamthesailor

    Bambamthesailor

    "-Dell AC power supply cables are not durable, many similar comments are found on the Dell Website. We have replaced the power supply several times with Genuine Dell parts, they did not last more t..."

  • Geo3020

    Geo3020

    "Is amazing, I actually have one of this.. and I love the performance, I think is affordable and amazing"

  • jj

    jj

    Rating7

    "i like it however i have to change battery often and yes cover paint is bad.. but functionality wise its good"

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