Dell Vostro 3450 Review

Dell Vostro 3450The Dell Vostro 3450 is a 14” screen laptop sold via Dell Business.  The Vostro 3450 can be purchased in the $500 range and easily fits a small business or student budget.  Equipped with the latest Intel Core i5 technology and including enticing new features such as the new USB 3.0 port, HD web cam and a backlit keyboard the Vostro 3450 is a laptop that stands out for its price range.  The Vostro 3450 is very similar to the Lenovo ThinkPad T420, ThinkPad Edge E420 and HP dm4x I recently reviewed (all are 14-inch screen Intel Core i5 laptops) so comparisons will be made to those laptops.

The specs for the Vostro 3450 being reviewed are below:

  • Screen: 14.0 inch LED Display (1366 x 768), matte finish
  • Processor:  Intel Core i5-2410M processor 2.30 GHz with Turbo Boost 2.0 up to 2.90 GHz Vostro
  • Memory:  4GB (1-DIMM, 1333MHZ, DDR3)
  • Graphics: Intel HD 3000
  • Storage: 320GB 7200RPM Hard Drive
  • Input: Backlit Keyboard with Gesture Touchpad, Finger print reader
  • OS:  Microsoft Genuine Windows 7 Professional 64 bit Service Pack 1
  • Battery: 6-cell Lithium Ion
  • Optical Drive: 8X DVD+/-RW with double-layer DVD+/-R write capability
  • Color: Aberdeen Silver
  • Weight: 5.0 lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.5” x  9.68” x 1.20 – 1.31” (Width x Depth x Thickness)
  • Ports:  Ethernet RJ-45, 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0 port, 1 USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, Microphone jack, Headphone jack, 34mm ExpressCard slot, HDMI port, VGA Monitor port, 8-in-1 Media card reader
  • Warranty: 2-year Basic Support: Next Business Day Parts and Labor Onsite Response 1 Year Extended

This Dell Vostro 3450 configuration was purchased for $539 during a great sale on a “Quick Ship” model.   It was such a good price and so many people went for it that it caused Dell to run out of inventory and it ended up taking 5-days to receive instead of the promised next day shipping that you’re supposed to get.  It wasn’t a big deal for me as I knew the deal was good and Dell updated me each day with an email on the status and there was an option to cancel, no questions asked and no charges incurred.   Frankly I was pretty impressed by the way Dell handled the delay, their automated email communication is far superior to the experience I’ve had with other laptop vendors.

Dell Vostro 3450 Build Quality

I knew going into the purchase that the Vostro 3450 would be a bit more beefy than other 14” laptops I’ve recently used and reviewed, but I was still surprised by just how heavy and thick this laptop is in the flesh.  I weighed the Vostro 3450 and it was almost exactly 5.0lbs, if you include the charger and cord as travel weight then you’re all the way up to 5.7lbs.  That’s quite a bit heavier than other 14” laptops I’ve been using, the ThinkPad T420 was the next heaviest at 4.8lbs and the HP dm4x was the lightest at a comfortable 4.3lbs.  At the thinnest point the Vostro 3450 is 1.20-inches and goes all the way up to 1.31” at the back, the recent HP dm4x I reviewed was 0.98” thick at the front so this Vostro definitely felt relatively “fat”.  The Vostro 3450 simply does not qualify as a thin and light 14” laptop, but that doesn’t prevent it for being good in other ways.

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The good news is that the weight of the Vostro 3450 has a lot to do with the thick casing and metals used in the chassis, it makes for a very rugged overall feel. The lid is made of a sturdy aluminum and the hinges are thick and metallic. There isn’t an ounce of flex anywhere on the body that I could find. The underneath of the laptop was also very solid which is important for protecting the laptop internals, people tend to clunk laptops down and if you don’t have good protection on the bottom that can lead to damage of internal components. Bottom line, the Vostro 3450 is probably the most durable feeling $500-range laptop I’ve ever used, rugged and tank are two words that come to mind when you pick this thing up.

Dell Vostro 3450 Design

I was pleasantly surprised with the new design of the Vostro 3000 series.  The silver lid is attractive with the black trim, if a silver lid is too boring you have the option of a bronze or red finish to add some design flare.  Once opened the all black inside with chrome trim around the keyboard and touchpad are a nice design touch.  The chiclet style keyboard with rounded keys is also unique and pretty cool looking, but the real design coup is the backlit keyboard.  Not only is the backlit keyboard highly functional and great for working in darkened rooms, it also just looks darn cool!

Dell Vostro 3450 lid Vostro 3450 backlit keyboard
Vostro 3450 front shot Vostro 3450 chrome trim

 

Vostro 3450 Performance

The Vostro 3450 can be configured online via Dell.com, you can choose anywhere from a budget configuration starting at $499 all the way up to a super fast Intel Core i7-2620M 2.70GHz processor and AMD HD 6630M graphics that will cost over $1,000.  The configuration for the Vostro 3450 under review is middle of the road and what I would recommend for most buyers as it’s affordable yet provides ample power for most student needs.  For the price I paid after coupon code of $539 the performance and specs on the Vostro 3450 are quite amazing.  The latest Intel Core i5-2410m dual core processor (Sandy Bridge family) is a fast 2.30GHz and can automatically overclock to 2.90GHz when an extra speed boost is needed thanks to the Intel Turbo Boost technology that is built in.  Also included in this configuration is a fast 7200RPM 320GB hard drive, this is the fastest spinning hard drive you can buy, only expensive SSD would be faster.  Faster hard drive speeds help with bootup times.  The 4GB of RAM included is the perfect amount to provide a smoothly performing laptop, if you wanted to upgrade to as much as 8GB of RAM you can easily access the memory on the bottom of the laptop.  The standard Intel 3000 integrated graphics are good enough for some light 3D gaming, serious gamers that want to play 3D games on high frame rate settings would need dedicated graphics, the AMD HD 6630M dedicated graphics card is available with more expensive configurations of the Vostro 3450 for this.  However, most people buying the Vostro 3450 will want it for its productivity and affordability, not for gaming, so I don’t think it makes sense to spend a ton on an unnecessary graphics card as it won’t help with overall productivity performance.  For a huge majority of students, the Vostro 3450 configured with the Intel Core i5-2410m processor is going to provide more than enough power and will still not be outdated 4-years from now.

For those that like to see benchmark scores to get an idea of performance, I ran the Windows Experience Index and also PCMark Vantage:

– A 4.7 score on Windows Experience Index (scores range from 1.0 to 7.9, higher is better).   The processor scores a high 6.9 while the graphics performance is the lowest score at 4.7.

Vostro 3450 Windows Experience Index

– A 5,901 PCMark score, which is a very respectable score

Vostro 3450 pcmark score

Comparison to other 14.0” screen laptops:

Laptop PCMark Vantage Score Windows Experience Index
Dell Vostro 3450
(Core i5-2410m, 4GB RAM, 320GB 7200 RPM HD)
5,901 4.7
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 (Core i5-2410m, 4GB RAM, 320GB 7200RPM) 6,056 5.9
HP Pavilion dm4x (Core i5-2410m, 6GB RAM, 640GB 5400RPM) 6,204 5.4
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 (Core i3-2310m, 2GB RAM, 250GB 5400RPM) 3,204 4.5

You’ll notice that the Vostro 3450 performance is in line with similarly equipped 14” screen laptops, other than the lower graphics performance on the Windows Experience Index, which is somewhat odd since the same graphics card is used in all three laptops.

Whatever the case, you’ll have no problems multi-tasking and having several browser tabs open with the Vostro 3450’s processing power when equipped with an Intel Core i5.  HD video playback will be excellent, many people mistakenly believe Flash video (which is what a majority of online streaming video sites use) needs a good graphics card to run smoothly, but in fact processing power is more important.

Dell Vostro 3450 Battery Life

Battery life is one of the most important considerations for a student buying a laptop.  The Vostro 3450 comes with a default 6-cell sized Lithium-Ion battery that is user replaceable.  I tested the battery life on the Vostro 3450 by setting the screen brightness to half, leaving wireless on and then doing some light work for a couple of hours and leaving a browser open set to refresh every 60 seconds.  Under this scenario the Vostro 3450 battery lasted 4 hours and 45 minutes before going into hibernation due to a low battery.   That’s a pretty respectable battery life for this sized laptop and I think enough for most students.   You could get over 5 hours of battery life by turning the brightness down, wireless off and disabling the keyboard backlight however that’s not a very realistic usage scenario.  Here’s how the Vostro 3450 stacks up in terms of battery life relative to other 14” laptops I’ve recently reviewed:

Laptop Battery Life (with standard battery)
Dell Vostro 3450 4 hours and 45 minutes
HP Pavilion dm4x 5 hours and 48 minutes
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 4 hours and 9 minutes
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 5 hours

Dell Vostro 3450 underside

The battery  seen here on the underside of the Vostro 3450 is easily removed from the bottom of the laptop by pulling the two locks on the battery outwards.

Dell Vostro 3450 Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard on the Vostro 3450 is both attractive and very usable.  I love the look of the island style rounded keys, even the orange accents on the function keys to indicate the media actions those buttons control is a nice touch.  The backlit keyboard is the sugar and cherry on top in terms of making the looks and usability all that much better.  The keys themselves have a nice travel distance and are pleasant to press, no annoying noises or clickety-clack.  The keyboard is firm, there are no locations where you’ll find annoying keyboard flex.  The backlighting is great for making keys more visible in darkened rooms, and even in lit rooms I find it helps.  There is no ambient light sensor to automatically detect when the keyboard backlighting should turn on/off, it’s just always on unless you disable it.

Vostro 3450 keyboard

While the keyboard is a dream, I’m less enamored by the touchpad.  It’s a bit small and I found it to be flaky when it comes to using gestures.  Even two finger scrolling, a very basic feature, was rather hit or miss to use.  The mouse buttons are also middling, they’re make a hollow click noise when pressed and don’t have a good travel distance or overall feel.

Vostro 3450 backlit keyboard

Above is a picture of the Vostro 3450 keyboard with the backlight on, notice how it’s much easier to see the letters with the lighting turned on, the backlight feature is useful even in a lit room.

Dell Vostro 3450 Screen

The Vostro 3450 has a 14” screen with 1366 x 768 resolution, it has a matte finish.  There are no options for upgrading the screen, for those who want a higher resolution you’d have to look to the Dell Latitude series.  I found the screen to be above average for other 14” business laptops I’ve recently used.  The screen is plenty bright enough on the highest setting, the display is crisp and the colors are great.  As is typical for laptop screens, unless you have a more expensive IPS display, the vertical viewing angles are somewhat limited so you’re best off viewing things straight on with your eyes perpendicular to the screen.  Below are some different viewing angles of the Vostro 3450 screen so you can get an idea of the range and what happens to colors from various angles.

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DSC_3207 DSC_3209

 

Also worth a strong mention is the fact you get an integrated HD web cam at the top of the screen, the picture resolution this camera provides is above the standard web cam and works well for Skype which is pre-installed on the Vostro 3450.

Dell Vostro 3450 Heat and Noise

If you’re in a lecture hall you want a laptop to be as quiet as possible so as not to distract others around you.  Unfortunately, the Vostro 3450 has a habit of kicking on its fans quite frequently, even under light usage, so you unless there is other ambient noise in the room these fans will be heard when they spin up to try and cool the computer.  The fan noise was definitely more noticeable with the Vostro 3450 than other laptops I’ve recently reviewed.  On top of all that, the Vostro 3450 got a whole lot hotter than recently used laptops.  It was uncomfortable to use this laptop on the knees for a length of time over 30 minutes as the entire underside got quite hot.  The palm rest areas also got warm to the touch after 30 minutes of usage.  On the whole, the amount of heat and noise the Vostro 3450 produced is quite disappointing and inferior to other laptops that do a better job of staying cool in a passive manner.

Dell Vostro 3450 Port Selection

One area the Vostro 3450 stands out is in the ports selection.  The new USB 3.0 port technology which provides faster data transfer times to external peripherals (up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0) is provided in two ports.  You also get one regular USB 2.0 port and then a USB / eSata combo port.  The USB 3.0 ports are distinguished by the blue pin connectors inside.  You also get an 8-in-1 media card reader slot to easily pop up media cards from your camera or smartphone.  There’s an all important HDMI connector for output to a higher resolution display such as an LCD TV.  If there’s not already enough ports on board then you have a 34mm ExpressCard slot for expansion needs.  Below is a picture of each side of the laptop along with details of port locations:

DSC_3191

Vostro 3450 left side: VGA Monitor out, HDMI port, USB 2.0 / eSata combo port, USB 2.0 port, 34mm ExpressCard slot, 8-in-1 media card reader

 

Dell Vostro 3450 right side

Vostro 3450 right side: optical drive, headphone out port, microphone in port, USB 3.0 port

 

Dell Vostro 3450 front side

Vostro 3450 front side: indicator lights (no ports)

 

Dell Vostro 3450 back side

Vostro 3450 back side: RJ-45 Ethernet LAN jack, USB 3.0 port, Kensington slot lock, power jack

The Vostro 3450 is clearly provides one of the best port availability features for a laptop in its size and price range and will really appeal to those that like multiple options to interface with other devices and the latest port technology.

Dell Vostro 3450 Speakers

The Vostro 3450 speakers are located on the underside at the front of the laptop, they’re actually quite hard to see as they’re just two little slits emitting audio.  As you’d expect based on the location and size, the audio isn’t exactly that great.  While the mid to high range of audio is crisp and clear, making movie dialogue and video chat just fine, there is no bass so you won’t have a rich sound experience when it comes to music listening.  This is a business laptop, so you just don’t expect much emphasis to be placed on the speakers.  You can easily plug in a set of headphones on the right side for a much better audio experience.

Dell Vostro 3450 Review Conclusion and Summary

The Vostro 3450 certainly has a lot of things going for it and features that will appeal to students and small business buyers.  The price is definitely right, for $500 something you get the latest Intel Core i5 processor technology, a fast 7200RPM hard drive, an ample 4GB of RAM and highly durable laptop.  The screen is great, the look of the laptop is appealing and offers color customization and the backlit keyboard not only looks fantastic but is a pleasure to use.  The battery life of close to 5 hours is also very good and an important factor for those on the go.  If you like to have lots of ports and the latest port technology you’re well taken care of with the Vostro 3450.  On the downside the Vostro 3450 is quite heavy and thick for its class, it could be more bulky that some students will want to carry.  The amount of heat and noise the Vostro 3450 generates is also disappointing, given the weight and heat buildup it’s ironically not a great laptop to use in the lap.  While I prefer the ThinkPad Edge E420 as an option for a 14” small business computer, the Dell Vostro 3450 is still a good choice and has unique features that will fit better with some users needs.

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Filed Under: Feature Articles, Student Laptop Reviews

About AJ

I'm a big believer in the importance of technology usage in education, but not just having blind faith in technology gadgets and using them in a school setting for the sake of it. I review and write about technology devices such as laptops and tablets that have a clear purpose and provide a learning advantage for students.

13 Responses to Dell Vostro 3450 Review

  1. bballgirl343 July 17, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Hi I’m trying to decide on whether or not to buy the Dell Vostro 3450 or the HP Pavilion dm4 2070. I read both of your reviews and they are great! I am a student in college and I’m not quite sure which one would be better.
    Thanks!!

    • Andrew July 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

      Hi, while I think both of these laptops are good, I personally think the HP Pavilion dm4-2070us gets the slight edge because it is lighter, thinner and has better battery life. These are all very important characteristics for a student laptop. Good luck!

  2. Luis Baquerizo July 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    I want to buy a laptop but I can not decide between the vostro or the thinkpad no way I am going back to hp. So I need something to last and dont get warm or hot because of long periods of use. Please help me decide

    • Andrew July 23, 2011 at 7:47 am #

      check out the ThinkPad E420 and T420 reviews on this site, I think both options are good for student laptops and cooler running than this Vostro 3450.

  3. Amit Chavan July 28, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    Hi Andrew,

    I want to buy Laptop, But not yet decided between Dell Vostro 3450 and Thinkpad Edge e420. I have read review of both laptop…. which one i should go for…

    • Andrew July 28, 2011 at 7:02 am #

      Both are good laptops, I don’t know what your needs are exactly but if I had to choose one as being better overall I’d go with the Lenovo ThinkPad E420. The Vostro 3450 is good if you want USB 3.0 though.

      • Amit Chavan July 29, 2011 at 2:04 am #

        I am not student. for my personal use at home use.

        I checked both in terms of specification and price, found lot of variation for RAM, HDD and price for Core i3 second generation

        Lenovo Thinkpad Edge e420 offering me 2gb RAM, 320 GB HDD 5400 rpm with price tag of Rs.33500/- (Indian rupees)

        Dell Vostro 3450 offering – 4gb, 500GB HDD 7200 rpm with price tag of Rs.29,000/0 (Indian rupees).

        please suggest..

      • Amit Chavan July 29, 2011 at 2:05 am #

        I am not student. for my personal use at home use.

        I checked both in terms of specification and price, found lot of variation for RAM, HDD and price for Core i3 second generation

        Lenovo Thinkpad Edge e420 offering me 2gb RAM, 320 GB HDD 5400 rpm with price tag of Rs.33500/- (Indian rupees)

        Dell Vostro 3450 offering – 4gb, 500GB HDD 7200 rpm with price tag of Rs.29,000/- (Indian rupees).

        please suggest..

        • Andrew July 30, 2011 at 8:37 am #

          In this case the Dell Vostro 3450 looks like the better deal, better specs and better price. I wouldn’t buy a laptop with only 2GB of RAM, so you’d need to upgrade that if you went with the E420.

          • Amit Chavan August 1, 2011 at 2:04 am #

            Andrew, Thank you very much.

            But one concern about Heat & Noise. Is this really problem in Dell Vostro 3450 as compared to Lenovo e420.

          • Andrew August 1, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

            The Vostro 3450 did definitely get warmer than the ThinkPad E420, so that is another factor to consider. If you plan on using the laptop on your legs a lot of the time, the Vostro 3450 could be a bad choice, but if you’ll have it on a desk the whole time it won’t be a huge deal.

  4. ken November 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    im thinking to buying this laptop…
    im student and mybe i need a laptop with affordable price and decent performance
    its for my assignment and game of course…
    do u guys think this laptop suits me ?

  5. merc May 7, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    vostro 3450 is really bulky, heavier than vostro 3400. AMD graphics as an option is a poor choice by Dell’s developer since i believed the features it has is too immature. They should instalI nvidia optimus instead. the choice made by the developer shows the lack of understanding in users applications and convenience. I would prefer to have 3400 but i cannot find any 3400 in the market in this days. 3400 has better presentation, light, and tough and sophisticated look.
    Do you know where can i get a new vostro3400 since dell hasnot produce this laptop. Thanks

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