The Dell Vostro 3300 is a 13.3-inch screen entry level business laptop that comes with the latest Intel Core i3 and i5 of processors and features a thin and light design. The Vostro 3000 series the 3300 belongs to is replacing the old Vostro 1000 series. The new Vostro 3000 series features an updated design and performance improvements. While the Vostro 3300 is marketed under the Dell Business laptop brand, it can serve very well as a student laptop or home laptop since the price is very competitive and has the performance and features desirable to anyone looking for a portable computer to get work done.
The Vostro 3300 I purchased from Dell.com was the base configuration costing $649 without tax or shipping:
- Processor: Intel Core i3-350M (2.26GHz, dual core, 3MB L3 Cache)
- Screen: 13.3-inch LED display, anti-glare (matte) with 1366 x 768 resolution
- Memory: 2GB DDR3 RAM
- Graphics: Intel GMA
- Storage: 250GB 7200RPM SATA HD
- OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium
- Optical Drive: 8x DVD+/-RW with double layer DVD+/-R write
- Web camera 2.0MP and digital array Mic
- Wireless cards: 802.11 b/g/n
- Battery: 4-cell Li-Ion
- Ports: Ethernet LAN, USB 2.0 (2), USB 2.0/eSATA combo (1), Microphone jack, Headphone/speaker out, 5-in-1 card reader, 34 mm ExpressCard, 15-pin VGA video connector
- Weight: 4.28lbs
- Dimensions: 12.8” x .79 – 1.13” x 9.02” (Width x Height x Depth)
Though this is a low priced configuration, you’re able to configure a lot of cool options on the Vostro 3400 that would be more expensive. You can add a backlit keyboard, fingerprint reader, faster Core i5 processor, Nvidia 310m graphics, up to 8GB of RAM, and integrated WWAN wireless. Once you start adding a lot of the higher end features the price can quickly go above $1,000 so you need to pick options that make sense for your needs.
Dell Vostro 3300 Design
The Dell Vostro 3300 design is a definite improvement over the Vostro 1320 we reviewed and that this is replacing. I did not like the glossy finish of the Vostro 1320, the Vostro 3300 instead uses a matte finish and with the Aberdeen Silver color lid I have it looks like an aluminum finish on top. You can also get an attractive Lucerne Red or Brisbane Bronze color finish. The Vostro 3300 is also overall thinner and lighter than the Vostro 1320, which is a big plus.
At the top of the keyboard are touch sensitive media buttons that light up when touched, which is a cool and attractive look. There are also indicator lights on the top row to show things like wireless and hard drive status.
While the keyboard area is all black, the lid color carries over to the left and right sides of the laptop, making for a more uniform and colorful look. I really like the fact that the new line of Vostros aren’t totally black like the last generation.
One thing I don’t like about the design is the fact the frame around the screen is so wide. This is no MacBook Pro like design where the glass screen goes right to the edges or the HP “Infinity View” look which are definitely attractive.
Dell Vostro 3300 Build Quality
The Vostro 3300 has an aluminum case, not plastic, so it looks great and feels quite sturdy. The aluminum is definitely not as thick as you get in other laptops such as the MacBook Pro, so there is a slight amount of flex on the lid and keyboard area. The flex is nothing to be greatly concerned about though, I only noticed this flex when I firmly pushed on the lid and keyboard. During typing I did not notice any flex. The great benefit to aluminum over plastic is that it won’t crack when dropped. The hinges for the screen are very sturdy feeling, there was no wobble to the screen whatsoever and the screen was held firmly in place no matter what angle you place it.
Many people are concerned with the weight of a laptop if they need it for mobile needs. With a 4-cell battery and the optical drive in the Vostro 3300 weighs in at 4lbs and 4.4 ounces, which is 4.275 pounds and almost exactly what Dell’s quoted weight of 4.28lbs is. Overall that’s pretty light weight that will definitely not give you back ache when in a back pack and is very easy to carry with just one hand.
Dell also included a hard drive free-fall sensor so that in the case of drops the hard drive head is parked to prevent data loss. The keyboard has spill proof protection so that during a liquid spill onto the keyboard the liquid is carried away from sensitive internal components.
Overall I think the build quality of the Vostro 3300 is good, it’s not as great or rugged feeling as the Dell Latitude business series but for the price you pay it is impressive.
Dell Vostro 3300 Performance
As I stated at the beginning, the configuration I got for the Vostro 3300 is a budget one as I do not need amazing performance or much power to do my everyday work. I got the slowest Core i3 processor available and the integrated Intel graphics. You can get up to a Core i5 2.4GHz processor, Nvidia 310m graphics and 6GB of RAM in the Vostro 3300 if you’re looking for more horse power.
Frankly speaking, the Core i3 processor and integrated graphics will be enough for many mobile small business users or students that are just looking to use productivity applications such as Microsoft Office and using the web to get work done. If you’re into gaming, multimedia production and design or tons of multi-tasking then you can certainly benefit from a more powerful configuration. Using the Core i3 and just 2GB of RAM I was satisfied with the performance of the Vostro 3300 for everyday tasks. In addition, HD Video playback using online sites such as Hulu.com or YouTube.com was smooth and flawless thanks to the processing power. While the Core i3 isn’t close to being the most powerful new Intel processor, I think it offers plenty enough power for mainstream users.
The bootup time for the Vostro 3300 takes around 45 seconds. There wasn’t much bloatware on board the Vostro 3300 so that definitely helped bootup time along with the fact the hard drive is a speedy 7200RPM.
Below are some benchmark scores for the Vostro 3300. When comparing the Vostro 3300 to other similar sized laptops you can see that the Core i3 processor helps to boost performance over older laptops with Pentium and Core 2 Duo processors.
|Dell Vostro 3300 (Intel Core i3 2.26GHz, 2GB RAM, Intel Graphics)||Sony VAIO CW (Intel Core i3 2.13GHz, 4GB RAM, Nvidia 310m graphics)||Lenovo G450 (Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.1GHz, 3GB, Intel Graphics)||Dell Inspiron 14 (Intel Pentium Dual Core 2.0GHz, 3GB RAM, Intel graphics)||Dell Studio 14z (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.1GHz, 3GB RAM, Nvidia 9400 graphics)|
|PC Wizard Global Performance||29,871||27,952||23,468||–||–|
|Windows Experience Index||3.9||4.9||3.3||3.2||4.8|
Dell Vostro 3300 Screen
The screen on the Vostro 3300 is 13.3” diagonally in size and has a standard 1366 x 768 widescreen resolution, there are no higher resolution offerings for the Vostro 3300. Many will be happy to know the screen is not glossy but instead matte and anti-glare. This is great for working in an office environment since you won’t get any annoying reflections off of the screen. The downside to a matte screen is that colors do not pop as much, but if you’re just trying to get work done that’s no matter.
The actual brightness of the screen is good, it’s as bright as you’ll need inside but of course not bright enough for outdoor viewing (for that you need a specially equipped laptop with a high brightness screen). The viewing angles are not so great, colors change quite a bit if you do not view the screen straight on at a nearly perpendicular angle – which most users do so it’s not a problem.
Dell Vostro 3300 Battery Life
The Vostro 3300 comes standard with a 4-cell battery that fits flush with the body of the laptop. You can get a higher capacity 8-cell battery that juts out the back, but currently those are on back order so you have to order it separately from the Vostro 3300 as an upgrade accessory. Using the 4-cell battery I was able to get exactly 3 hours and 34 minutes with screen brightness set to the third level, wireless on and the laptop idling. Under more realistic usage conditions in which I actually used the laptop to do web browsing and typing documents I got between 2.5 – 3 hours. Compared to other laptops I’ve used recently these battery life numbers are quite poor. If you need long battery life I’d recommend going for the 8-cell battery or considering a laptop that uses an Intel low voltage processor, such as the Vostro V13 maybe, in which the emphasis is battery life over performance.
The power adapter on the Vostro 3300 is quite small, it only added about 12 ounces of weight when carried with the laptop so that’s a bonus.
Dell Vostro 3300 keyboard and touchpad
The keyboard on the Vostro 3300 is full sized and comfortable to use and type on. An added bonus is that it’s spill proof. I mentioned before that there is a bit of flex in the keyboard, especially towards the center, but during actual typing I didn’t notice the flex – you have to physically push down to create any bending of the keyboard. The key travel is solid and fairly short, which allows for fast typing.
I really like the touchpad on the Vostro 3300. I’ve come across so many bad touchpads over the past few months that it was a relief to use one that felt good and simply worked. I think it’s great that the touchpad is recessed so you can easily feel it and slide your finger around. The mouse buttons are fantastic, they’re just the right size and have a nice and soft travel providing just the right amount of feedback to indicate you have clicked. The touchpad supports gestures such as zooming and also offers vertical and horizontal scroll areas.
Dell Vostro 3300 Port Selection
The Vostro 3300 has a pretty standard selection of ports for a business laptop. I was a little disappointed there was no HDMI port for video and audio output, but that’s still considered a port more geared towards consumers so not surprising it is omitted for the Vostro 3300. What you do get in terms of ports are the following: Ethernet LAN, USB 2.0 (2), USB 2.0/eSATA combo (1), Microphone jack, Headphone/speaker out, 5-in-1 card reader, 34 mm ExpressCard, 15-pin VGA video connector. To see where each port is on the laptop let’s take a tour of the sides:
Left side: Power jack, USB port, Ethernet port, optical drive, 34mm ExpressCard expansion slot
Front side: 5-in-1 media card reader, microphone and headphone jack, wireless on/off switch
Right side: USB port, USB/eSata port, monitor out port
Dell Vostro 3300 Audio
The Vostro 3300 only has one speaker on the front side of the laptop, and it’s a small speaker at that. The speaker quality is quite poor, music is definitely not given any justice. A pair of decent headphones to plug-in will definitely be needed if you want good audio quality when watching a movie or listening to your favorite tunes.
Dell Vostro 3300 Heat and Noise
The Vostro 3300 configuration I had gave no issues with overheating or constant fan noise. The only time the fan (located on the right back side) got loud and revved into high speed was during the running of a benchmarking program, which is to be expected. In general the fan was running at a low speed and very quiet. There was some heat buildup on the right palm rest, but nothing I would call exceptional and never was it bothersome to me.
Overall I come away being impressed with the Dell Vostro 3300 as it offers a lot of bang for the buck. For under $700 I got a high quality built laptop with good performance and a light weight. The poor battery life is a bummer for sure, if you need more than four hours on battery you’ll have to get the larger 8-cell battery which will add weight and cost. The fact you get a new Core i3 or i5 processor, optical drive built-in, weight of around 4 lbs, aluminum case, appealing design and very mobile form factor all for $700 – $1,000 depending on the configuration I would consider the Vostro 3300 a strong buy for students and business workers that are interested in this laptop.