Maybe you remember the Vostro 5590? We tried it out recently, and it was a heck of a deal! Great looks, good performance, and versatility – both at a good price. Well, nowhere is its smaller brother. Since we’ve tested the big one with only the integrated graphics card, now we’ve decided to max out the Vostro 5490 in terms of computational and graphics performance.

Currently, the max out configuration includes the Core i7-10510U in a combination with the GeForce MX250 (25W). All of this is hidden inside of a chassis that resembles the more premium XPS (and previously Precision) brands of Dell. So, to put it clearly, this notebook is not a budget offering by any means, but more like a compromise between quality and cost-efficiency.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/dell-vostro-14-5490/

Contents


Specs Sheet

Dell Vostro 14 5490 – Specs


Dimensions


321.7 x 227.6 x 17.9 mm (12.67″ x 8.96″ x 0.70″)


Body material


Plastic / Polycarbonate, Aluminum

Ports and connectivity

  • 1x USB Type-A 2.0
  • 2x USB Type-A 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1)
  • 1x USB Type-C 3.0 (3.1 Gen 1), Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort
  • HDMI 1.4b
  • Card reader SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Audio jack 3.5 mm combo

Features

  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot

What’s in the box?

Packaging-wise, the box is square-ish in form. When you open it, you are first met by the 65W power adapter and the appropriate cord for your region. After you remove this cardboard compartment, you can see the laptop itself.

Design and construction

In terms of size, this 14-inch business notebook is as small as it can get. Well, sure, the likes of ZenBook from ASUS can go way smaller, thanks to its ErgoLift hinge mechanism, but Dell has certainly passed on this one… Or were they? Actually, the Vostro 5490 also employs an interesting way of lifting the base of the ground. It is way more subtle than the ZenBooks and does so when you tilt the display way more back. While the laptop weighs 1.49 kg which is great, it also has a reasonable thickness – it is a good balance between breathing space and the actual thickness of the notebook – around 18 mm.

Although the entire body of this laptop is made out of plastic, the lid has an aluminum cover. This makes it a lot stronger than what a polycarbonate one would do. However, the hinges don’t let you open it with a single hand. Nevertheless, we are happy to see a camera above the display, despite the super-thin bezels.

Then we come to the base. As we said for the larger model, the Vostro 5490 also has a little bit of bending going on when you type more aggressively. However, there is no problem when you are not that passionate. The keyboard itself has a decent key travel but is a little mushy. On the bright side, it is equipped with a backlight and the spacing between the keycaps is great, which makes it ever so easy to get used to this keyboard.

Sadly, we were once again unable to test the touchpad as we had problems with this laptop’s drivers as well. It is interesting how a second device of the new Vostro 5000 series has issues with the drivers for its touchpad.

nevertheless, turning the laptop upside down shows us its ventilation and speaker grills, while the hot air is exhausted by a single cut-out from in between the lid and the base.

Ports

On the left side of this notebook, you’ll see the power plug, an HDMI connector, followed by two USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) ports as well as a USB Type-C 3.1 (Gen. 1) port with DisplayPort capabilities. On the other side, there is the RJ-45 connector, a USB Type-A 2.0 port, a headphone jack, and a MicroSD card reader.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

Vostro 5490’s bottom panel has to be removed if you want to access its internals. First, remove all 9 Phillips-head screws. Then carefully pop the bottom panel with a plastic tool. It is easiest to start from the hinge area, as the front side that has tiny creases.

Its cooling doesn’t look terribly sophisticated. There is one rather bulky heat pipe that goes all the way from the CPU to the GPU and finally to the heat sink.

Now, one of the strong points of the Vostro 5490 – upgradability. You can plug up to 1TB of PCIe x4 NVMe M.2 drive and up to 2TB of 2.5″ SATA drive. While there are 4GB or 8GB already soldered to the motherboard, you can also expand it with up to 16GB of DDR4 memory with speeds of 2666 MHz.

Lastly, most of the bottom portion of the notebook’s guts are taken by the 42Wh battery. We really hope it will do the job, as we keep seeing larger batteries inside smaller devices – pretty much not the case here.

Display quality

Dell Vostro 5490 has a Full HD IPS display, model number Chi Mei N140HAC-EAC (CNM14D4). Its diagonal is 14″ (35.56 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1080. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 157 ppi, their pitch – 0.161 x 0.161 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 56 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Its viewing angles are excellent. We have provided images at 45 degrees to evaluate quality.

The maximum measured brightness is 234 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 224 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 13%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6930K (average) – slightly colder than the 6500K optimum for sRGB. The average color temperature through the grey scale before profiling is 6830K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 60% Brightness (White level = 145 cd/m2, Black level = 0.12 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is very good – 1200:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is an essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Dell Vostro 5490’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers just 54% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Dell Vostro 5490 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display can reproduce dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 31 ms

Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Dell Vostro 5490’s display is using PWM to adjust the brightness up to 60 nits. After that its flicker-free. Moreover, the PWM it uses has a very high frequency, making the display comfortable for long hours of work and safe for your eyes in this aspect.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusions

Dell Vostro 5490 has an IPS panel with comfortable viewing angles and good contrast ratio. While it doesn’t use aggressive PWM to adjust its brightness levels, it covers only 54% of sRGB.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Dell Vostro 5490 configurations with 14.0″ Chi Mei N140HCA-EAC (CMN14D4) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS panel.

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia’s products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work - screen profile

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming - screen profile

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

All

Sound

Dell Vostro 5490’s speaker quality is not bad. However, there are deviations across the entire frequency range.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be downloaded from here: https://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/product-support/product/vostro-14-5490-laptop/drivers

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. This notebooks 42Wh battery happened to be pretty effective.

We got 11 hours of Web browsing and 10 hours and 30 minutes of video playback from it.

CPU options

The Vostro 5490 can be paired with a trio of 15W Comet Lake processors from Intel. The first has two cores and four threads and its name is the Core i3-10110U. Next in the line comes the Core i5-10210U, which has double the number of cores and threads. The same can be said about the most powerful of the bunch – the Core i7-10510U.


GPU options

Apart from the integrated Intel UHD Graphics, you can pick an option with the GeForce MX230 or the MX250, which is the “flagship” option for this model.


Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i7-10510U (15W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
Dell Vostro 5490 3.57 GHz (B+98%) @ 90°C 2.51 GHz (B+39%) @ 87°C 2.10 GHz (B+17%) @ 66°C

If we look at the CPU only, this laptop’s cooling seems perfectly fine with it. It begins really strong with almost 3.60 GHz and at the end it still keeps the clock speeds above 2.00 GHz, while the temperature drops to the cool 66C. By the way, in this segment of the test, the fan was fairly inaudible.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)
Dell Vostro 5490 1548 MHz @ 67°C 1457 MHz @ 67°C
Lenovo Ideapad S540 (15) 1608 MHz @ 69°C 1404 MHz @ 59°C
ASUS VivoBook S15 S532 1708 MHz @ 77°C 1480 MHz @ 67°C

Here, however, the plane did indeed take off. Nevertheless, this seemed to have worked, and the temperatures of the 25W version of MX250 never exceeded 67C.

Comfort during full load

In addition to the high noise, the top middle part of the keyboard heats up significantly – it reaches up to 51C.

Verdict

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are familiar with the Vostro 5590, this laptop is obviously not that different from the other. However, the performance figures of the new Core i7-10510U inside this machine are pretty darn good. Sadly, there had to be a catch. Here, the toll is in the form of noise. The fan of this notebook sounds more like one of a gaming laptop, rather than a business ultrabook. Perhaps, this is what you get when you want a powerful laptop that is small in size too.

Let’s not take performance as the key factor here, though. The machine we tested today proved to have a great battery life. Despite the 42Wh unit, we got 11 hours of Web browsing and 10 hours and a half of video playback. From the top-tier level. As it comes nowadays, efficiency goes hand by hand with performance.

Next – the display. Apparently, there are corners to cut, when you don’t want to skyrocket the price tag of your notebook. This is the reason why Dell has chosen a budget IPS panel. While it has comfortable viewing angles, good contrast ratio and doesn’t use aggressive PWM for brightness adjustment, the display covers only 54% of sRGB.

Now, brace yourselves, as we are going to throw some more features in favor of the Vostro 5490. The first will be its I/O, which is really rich for a 14-inch notebook. Although we would be completely happy if it had a Thunderbolt connection, we can give it the green light this time. Then, there is the upgradability – one M.2 PCIe x4 slot and one 2.5″ SATA slot for storage expansion plus a maximum of 24 GB of memory – 16GB via a RAM DIMM and 4GB to 8GB soldered to the motherboard.

So for business purposes, the laptop should do the job great, just keep in mind that if you push it, it is going to roar back.

Pros

  • Minimal stylish looks
  • Nice performance/efficiency ratio + 25W GeForce MX250
  • Good battery life
  • Supports PCIe x4 SSDs
  • Good contrast ratio and comfortable viewing angles
  • Doesn’t use aggressive PWM to adjust its brightness
  • Wide upgradability options

Cons

  • We got some driver issues with the touchpad
  • Lacks Thunderbolt connection
  • Covers only 54% of sRGB
  • Gets warm on the outside while under pressure

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/dell-vostro-14-5490/





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