The customisable Dell Inspiron 1525 will please those for whom good performance is a priority.

If you don't like the specifications of the particular Dell Inspiron 1525 we tested, you can easily configure your own online. That's an important difference between this unit and most other inexpensive laptops: you can customise it down to the smallest detail - even lid colour - before finally clicking the 'Buy now' button .

Our review unit will please those for whom good performance is a priority.

Equipped with 2GB of memory and the best notebook CPU Dell offered for this model at the time of our review (a 1.66GHz Core 2 Duo T5450), our £429 Windows Vista Home Premium machine earned a WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 78. That's 17 percent faster than the average sub-£500 laptop's score of 65.

With a standard six-cell 56WHr li-ion battery (it costs £20 to upgrade to a 9-cell 85WHr li-ion), our notebook lasted a fairly generous 4 hours, 4 minutes on one charge, about 10 minutes longer than the budget average.

About the only thing the Dell Inspiron 1525 can't handle is 3D graphics; with an Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 and no dedicated video card option, it's limited to simple games and other 2D applications.

The Dell Inspiron 1525 is wedge-shaped but svelte at 2.8kg, including a 15.4in 1,280x800 resolution screen, a DVD writer and a good keyboard. The port variety and layout is fine (the Dell Inspiron 1525 is one of the few notebooks in this price range with an HDMI connection).

And the Dell Inspiron 1525 gives multimedia lovers lots of entertainment features: an instant-on button, a webcam, and even dual headphone jacks. Alas, the raspy-sounding speakers take some of the shine off the 1525's entertainment appeal.

The real beauty of the Dell Inspiron 1525 is its customisability. For instance, our glossy screen (a no-extra-cost option at the time of our review) was pretty reflective, so you might be happier with Dell's standard antiglare screen. From a base configuration of £329 inc VAT, you can build your perfect sub-£500 laptop that includes a lid in any one of 11 different colours (£30 usually), Bluetooth (£30) an integrated mobile broadband card (£89), and so on.


If choice of features is paramount in your budget laptop, the Dell Inspiron 1525 is your best bet among the models in our test group.