Which computer should I buy: a Dell Inspiron or a HP Probook 4321S?

Danny March 18, 2011
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I am a senior student at college. I have considered buying a laptop/notebook for few months now. I was influenced in my decisions by the good reviews online/in the media, and by my friends’ experiences with use of Dell, Compaq, and HP laptops. So I finally thought, after much reserach and seeking for advice, that Dell was the most popular and comparably less likely to cause issues.

My desired specifications are :
Intel i5 processor
about 2.50 GHz processor speed and above

But I also came across the newly released (or is it really newly released?) HP Probook 4321s laptop, which looks aesthetically great, the keyboard is sleek and leak-proof, the processor runs at 7200, instead of the 5400 (I think) for the Dell. The Dell I am talking about is the Inspiron N5010 and N4010 series. The other specifications are same.

The one thing I think matters (to me in school work and projects, or does it really make a difference?) is that the HP Probook has 13.3 inches display against the Dell’s 14 inches display. And the Probook has LED backlit screen.

Given this scenario, I am also inclined to the Probook in a way. But I am not sure if HP notebooks are known to have more problems than Dells. I am sort of in a dilemma and don’t know which one to buy.

In terms of the price, the HP Probook is about $100-$120 more expensive than the Dell.

If HP Probook were less likely to encounter hardware problems, for example I have heard from friends about the machine heating up fast, or the USB or LAN ports getting degenerated or damaged over time more quickly than other brands, I would invest the extra $ 100 on the Probook.

And finally the 13″ screen also nags me when compared to the 14″ Dell. Not sure if having 14 inches makes any significant difference.

And also one more question: I would like to know which of the chipsets of these two are better: Intel i5-480M vs Intel i5-560M and other three-digit specifications. Does a higher 3-digit number indicate more powerful processor?

Thanks to all and MakeUseOf in adavance! Please give opinions and suggestions.

  1. danny
    March 25, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Many Thanks to Fidelis for his comprehensive answer. Thanks to Tina too.
    In fact, I was a bit late in posting the question given the timing I was going to buy the laptop. Finally, after some more search on the web and asking friends and family, I in fact have bought the HP Probook. And I am, of course, pleased that you guys seem to recommend the same machine I actaully purchased.
    I live in South-East Asia, and paid an equivalent of roughly $ 825 for the HP laptop.
    I have been using it for the last few days and it's been a smooth experience. Of course, due to school, I haven't yet put it through intensive tasks like vidoe compiling, games and multi-application execution several at the same time. But, given the processor specifications and 1 GB ATI Radeon Graphics, I would like to think that it's up to any task. :)

    There is one small problem though. The machine came with Windows 7 Professional (32 bits) and it does not detect my Webcam yet. Do you guys know where I can download the Webcam Driver for the HP Probook 4321s?

    Thanks again to Fidelis for the detailed explanation on the processor powers and hard disk speeds. Looking through the specifications that Fidelis has posted links to, I have a question? What does it mean when it says " Instruction Set = 64 bits" under the Essentials specifications?
    Also a question about the Grpahics cards: Usually which Graphics cards are better?/What are some prominent pros and cons of the two Graphics cards - Nvidia Geforce vs ATI Radeon? ( Mine is "ATI Mobility Radeon, Premium Graphics"). One of the representatives at the sale booth said that Nvidia is superior for heavy graphics and intensive 3D games whereas a bit later when I asked another representative at the same booth, she told me that ATI is better for 3D games and intensive tasks. :) Please tell me from your knowledge and experiences.

    The laptop had Win 7 32-bits installed by default, but I wanted 64 bits. They said that in that case I would have to collect the laptop the next day. So I picked it up with the 32 bits for now. I can later install the 64-bits OS later by myself. And in terms of every day use I think it does not make a big difference. The sales guy was also saying that a lot of the software and applications would be incompatible with 64-bits Win 7, etc etc...which I know is partly true, but most softwares now ship with 64-bits OS compatibility. Do you think installing 64 bits now rather than later is a better decision?

    Also I have had this question in mind for quite some time: Does the computer, in terms of its hardware components exist as a 32-bits or 64-bits computer? In other words, is there 32-bits hardware and 64-bits hardware, or is it just talking about the OS and software applications that we run which we can designate as 32-bits or 64-bits?
    As for the higher heat generation in HPs that I previously heard I am not sure as I haven't yet used the laptop too intensively yet. I hope it does not have a problem.
    Thanks a lot to MUO Answers, to Fidelis and Tina. I hope you guys will find some time to answers my questions once again :)

  2. Tina
    March 21, 2011 at 5:12 pm


    did Fidelis' reply help you make a decision? Let us know!

    March 19, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Hello, these are links for the two processors you were asking about:
    i5 560 Processor:

    iE480 Processor:

    The main difference between the to processors can be found on the advanced technology heading. Based on the specifications for both processors the i5 Processor is better. One of the advanced technology advantages is the AES new instructions. These instructions enable fast and secure data encryption and decryption, using the Advanced Encryption Standard or AES. These instructions provide a better security benefits.

    Another difference is the Intel Trusted Execution Technology. This technology helps to give the system more security because it provides enhanced hardware mechanisms that help protect you computer against software attacks. It also protects the confidentiality and integrity of data stored on your computer.

    The final difference is Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d). Intel VT-d can help end users improve security and reliability of the systems and also improve performance of I/O devices in virtualized environment. Of course, the advantage of this technology mostly benefits the enterprise environment.

    With regards to what brand to buy, there can be many answers. Dell and Hp are good brands for computers and like buying any car, you can still buy lemons. You buy a computer and it might work ok for you, but not working ok for other people. The advantage DELL has is that it provides a superb costumer support program.

    It think when you referred to the cpu running at 7200 rpm you are a little bit misinformed on the term. It think you are referring to the speed of the harddrive. There are many speeds 5400, 7200, 10,000, etc. The more revolutions per minute, the faster the harddrive turns, making it faster. The faster the hardrive, the faster your computer is going to run because usually the harddrive is the main bottleneck for speed on a computer.

    This link shows the specifications for the Hp ProBook 4321s:

    According to these specs, this computer is a fairly decent one and the best thing is that it provides discreet graphics. Discreet graphics mean that it uses its own memory to run instead of using and sharing the memory installed on your system.

    This link shows the specs for the Inspiron laptop:

    The graphics card on this laptop is better than the Dell. It has 1GB of dedicated memory. This system uses the Radeon HD 5470 and the Dell uses the Radeon HD 4350. With regards with the harddrive speed, the Hp laptops has a faster harddrive running at 7200 rpm, meanwhile the harddrive on the Dell runs at 5400 rpm.

    With regards to screen size, that is a personal decision you can only make. You are the only one that knows what you will be using your notebook for. Personally out of the two notebooks you mentioned and based on the specifications, I would choose the Hp laptop. Hope it helps