Are you bored of Windows? Want something else for a change? It might be a good idea to pick Chrome powered laptop then. Dell CRM3120-1667BLK is such a Chromebook, sporting a compact 11.6″ screen, Celeron processor and 16GB eMMC storage. Price is in line with other Chromebooks – so in other words, cheap. Let’s examine further what it offers, and if the Dell would ultimately be a good choice for the money.
There’s Intel Celeron N2840 processor in Dell CRM3120-1667BLK. It’s often seen in inexpensive notebooks thanks to its affordable cost and entry-level performance. It contains two cores and clocks at 2.2 – 2.6GHz, the latter when turbo speed is on. The N2840 is not a great performer, getting a paltry 1000 points in CPU Passmark tests (mobile Core i3s, for example, get 2.5 times that). However, for a simple Chromebook it’s good, and everything you can do on the Chrome browser will be well within the Celeron’s limits.
This model has 2GB DDR3L RAM installed. There’s also another version that comes with 4GB. Whether two or four is better solution depends on your use. Generally, for a Chrome notebook 2GB should be fine. The operating system is not as power hungry as Windows, and you won’t be running heavy programs or games on Chrome anyway.
The storage is offered by a 16GB drive. It’s advertised as a solid-state drive, but it’s not a real SSD. Instead, it’s eMMC – embedded MultiMedia Card – which is like a poor man’s SSD. It has slower speeds than a solid-state drive, although it’s still faster than hard drives so system booting up times are golden. The storage itself is just 16 gigabytes, not a lot, but you can get more from Google Cloud (200GB, free for 2 years) or using the SD card slot on the laptop.
Display and graphics
Dell CRM3120-1667BLK has a 11.6 inches non-touch display, something you often see in Chromebooks. It works well for on-the-go computing, although the 1366×768 resolution might disappoint power users. But if you ask me, that resolution is fine for a small screen. Full HD content will play on it, but not on its native quality – it will be downscaled to fit the display. The screen type is matte, with anti-glare coating making it easier on the eye on bright conditions.
The graphics unit is Intel HD (Bay Trail). Gamers probably know that infamous engine and wouldn’t like to see it on their systems at all. But Chrome OS is not meant for playing Windows games (which the poor Intel HD chip couldn’t run well anyway). Instead, browser games are possible, and they should indeed run smoothly on this Chrome-powered Dell.
Dell CRM3120-1667BLK offers two USB ports – the other one is version 3.0. A full size HDMI output is available on the left, allowing you connect the notebook to HDTV or other external display.
There’s no RJ-45 port in this Dell – a common feature amongst Chrome laptops – but you can use the excellent dual-band A/C WiFi to get Internet access. Bluetooth 4.0 is also enabled, although it can’t be used for file transfers due to the OS limitations.
Optical drive is another thing Chromebooks don’t have. If you want to use one, get an external DVD drive. Also keep in mind that you can’t burn DVDs. Even watching movies from discs is impossible: you can only read data discs on Chrome.
The front-facing webcam allows 1280×720 video resolution, good for seeing your friends on Google Hangouts (no Skype video is supported by Chrome).
What other things to keep in mind?
Dell CRM3120-1667BLK weighs 2.79 pounds. Not a lot for a laptop, people who travel would like this kind of low weight. Customers have been reporting 8 to 9 hours of use with web browsing, so also battery life should be solid.
The Dell has a non-backlit keyboard. Because of the small physical size there’s no 10-key pad on the right either.
Summing it up
In essence, all Chromebooks are the same. They’re simple laptops with long battery life for web surfing, text editing and other light activities. Dell CRM3120-1667BLK doesn’t seem to be any different: it’s travelers, students or perhaps some home users who would find it useful. And because the Dell is sturdy yet cheap it is not a risky investment. Somebody looking for a good alternative for Windows should find this notebook well worth its price.