My Dell Vostro 3560 review

In this post I would like to share with you a personal review of my new business line laptop from Dell, the Vostro 3560. It’s a 15.6″ laptop that has Full HD screen using TN display technology, a 750GB HDD spinning at 7500rpm, 6GB of DDR3 RAM clocked at 1600MHz, with the highest possible Core i7 processor available for this machine, the i7-3612QM, that goes to 3.1GHz with all cores still active.

Overview of the laptop

The good

First, let me talk about what I found to be great about this laptop. The display is great: it’s sharp, the colors are good and it’s bright enough even in strong sunlight — though admittedly here in Berlin there is not much of that.

The keyboard is also magnificent. It’s one of the best keyboards I have ever used, even though I am very particular about my peripherals, especially keyboards and mice. I used to own business Thinkpads and this is the first keyboard that I have found to be as good as or maybe even better than a Thinkpad keyboard.

The system is built sturdily, and the materials used don’t feel cheap in your hands. Though the system isn’t light, it feels easy to hold due to its rigidity and smooth (but not slippery) surfaces.

Finally, the system contains extras that are only mentioned in the service manual. For example, there is an mSATA socket inside the laptop, meaning you can plug a 256GB mSATA SSD into the system in a couple of minutes for a reasonable price (around 200EUR), significantly speeding things up.

The mediocre

The CPU is a trade-off. It’s not the i7-3610QM which would go up to 3.3GHz with all cores still active. The reason for this is interestingly not price: the two CPUs cost the same from intel — the reason is heat removal. The CPU installed only generates 35W of heat while the other generates 45W. Essentially, Dell didn’t work hard enough on the cooling system and the result is that a better CPU cannot be installed. Unfortunately, Dell is not the only one that couldn’t install the 3610QM, other manufacturers such as Sony with the Vaio S series had the same issue. Naturally, Apple with the new MacBook Pro lineup didn’t mess this up.

The included charger is rather bulky. Interestingly, there is a slimmer charger available, for a mere 114 EUR — the one included costs 50EUR on the same Dell webpage. I find this to be rather disappointing.

Bulky charger included
Slim charger, available at 114EUR

The wireless card inside the system doesn’t support 5GHz WiFi. This sounds minor, until you go to a conference or a public place with a WiFi where everyone seems to be able to connect, except you. 2.4GHz WiFi uses a band that is substantially more noisy and since routers on that band cover more area, if many people are in the same place, connection can be very spotty. In comparison, my IBM X61t, released in 2007 (!) had 5GHz WiFi, so it’s hardly new technology. In fact, for about 30EUR you can change your WiFi card inside the case for one that supports Bluetooth+802.11abgn, i.e. all that is inside plus 5GHz WiFi. I still cannot understand why a computer that costs 900+ EUR would cheap out on such a component — especially since Dell can get bulk discount, so the upgrade for them would be around 10 EUR at most.

The system comes with a DVD writer included, but I don’t have any use for that. Who uses DVDs nowadays? If I want to watch a movie, I use Blu-Ray — after all, the display is Full HD! Having a Blu-Ray option would have been easy for the manufacturer, as the DVD player included is a standard one, so it can be easily swapped to an internal notebook Blu-Ray reader. Such readers cost around 60EUR at any online retailer. In fact, a Blu-Ray internal writer would cost no more than 80EUR. Dell missed out on this completely, for no good reason. Yes, it’s for business, but even business people need to back up their HDD and a DVD writer with a capacity of 4GB won’t be of any help.

The bad

Build quality is terrible. This is very surprising at this price range and in this category (i.e. business). First off, the screen’s backplate fits so badly to the front that there are holes larger than 2mm on the right side, and almost none on the left:

Left side of panel
Right side of panel

The same, though less accentuated, is true for the palmrest. You can clearly see that the plastic fits differently on the two sides, and in fact fits unevenly on both:

Left side of front
Right side of bottom


Similarly, the bottom sticker of the laptop with the most important piece of information, the Service Tag, is of such a low quality that after only 2 months of use the numbers got completely erased, and only the barcode (blacked out for privacy) remains readable:

My Service Tag — other than the barcode (blacked out) it’s unreadable

Finally, Linux support is terrible. I wanted to get reimbursed for the Windows 7 licence, but they refused it, which I think is clearly illegal, but of course I don’t have months to waste and money to burn to get some 50-100 EUR back. In the same spirit, there is no proper support for controlling the fan under Linux, as the highest level of the fan cannot be attained with the linux driver, and there is no proper palm detection support for the touchpad. The AMD Linux driver available at the time of purchase crashed X11 at startup, but the new one (fglrx 8.980) is flawless, and I have to commend AMD the on that.


The Vostro 3560 is a nice piece of machine but it’s not quite business quality and its makers prefer not to hear the word Linux uttered. However, if you are ready to shell out some money on a Blu-Ray drive, don’t intend to use Linux and are content with mediocre build quality with holes between elements the size an edge of a penny, the Vostro 3560 is a good choice. Otherwise, maybe hold out for a better offer.








0 responses to “My Dell Vostro 3560 review”

  1. Michael Siebertz Avatar
    Michael Siebertz


    the fan can be controlled via i8kfan. You have to load the module i8k first and can then control the fan in 3 steps. 0,1 and 2.

    The palm detection differs betwenn gnome and xfce. In gnome you can tap with the touchpad and with xfce not. The wifi switch works flawless on gnome. In xfce, if you have disabled wlan on startup, you have to reload the iwlwifi module. At least if you use wicd.

    At the debian setup you need the Modules for realtek ethernet on an usb stick. If you consider all these, it isnt that hard to setup Debian, but you have to do a few work-arounds.

    If you use ubuntu, all these steps dont need to be done, but i like xfce more.


    1. msoos Avatar


      The fan can only be partially controlled and the i8kmon is not exactly perfect: it polls, eating battery, plus it cannot go highest setting, plus it’s buggy. I will look into the palm detection, though. Can you give me some pointers please? I use KDE, but I think it all depends on the synaptics settings.

      The wifi switch works, but that’s not Dell’s doing. As for the other integrated stuff, they work, sure, but again, that’s not Dell’s doing.

      All in all, I was somewhat disappointed with the system. Also note that they don’t reimburse the Windows licence. That’s a big black point in my view.



  2. Carlos Avatar

    Hello, I was considering this laptop because of its “business” character (better quality) but your review has been revealing! Thanks

  3. Greg Avatar

    “who uses dvd” are you kidding. My question to you is what idiot actually uses blue ray. I can’t believe you are reviewing a business laptop on the basis of whether it has a dead optical drive standard. While you on the topic since when can you not get full definition with a DVD. Even if it is marginally better would the naked eye notice the difference? It’s like buying a car for $20,000 more because it goes 1km an hour faster.
    Finally what frigging idiot uses an optical drive for backups!! Do you know anything about computers? Optical backups are extremely unreliable. External hard drives are the way to go and more than one.

    1. msoos Avatar

      Many “idiots” use blu-ray, to watch movies and to make backup. Spinning hard disks are expensive if you treat them as disposable. And if you really care about your data, you keep it at multiple places (encrypted, of course). Also, there are blu-ray disks that are meant to last for upwards of a lifetime, which is good enough for me. As for whether an optical drive is good to have, I agree with you: it would be best to not have it at all — it’s pretty useless to carry around all the time. It would be best as an external accessory. However, it’s built in, and given that it’s built in, I would prefer a blu-ray, which I think makes sense if the assumption is that something has to be inside.

      Also, I prefer not to use analogies, or personal attacks — neither make for good arguments

  4. Mr. AM Avatar
    Mr. AM

    Thanks for the review,
    glad to read the display is good!

    1. msoos Avatar

      IPS display (think: Sony Vaio) would be much better, of course, but for a TN display, it’s good :)

  5. Eric Avatar

    Hi and thanks for this very nice feedback!
    I just ordered a Vostro 3560, mainly because of its Full HD display, backlit keyboard and good price.
    I didn’t know the construction problems on this Vostro range, rather for professionals…
    I hope that this remains acceptable; otherwise, I will refer back to Dell!
    But we must acknowledge that we are accustomed to and overall improved constructions on the PC, and even in the high range… Apple always keeps a nice lead at this level here. What do you think?

    1. msoos Avatar

      Yeah, price is good, much lower than Apple or Sony. But at the same time, the build quality is also lower. It’s a trade-off, really. Overall, it’s a good machine, and I don’t care too much about looks when it comes to a laptop. Also, Dell has an extremely good after-sales service, though it will be interesting how they will determine the service code if the computer doesn’t boot up (BIOS has the code, but the sticker is by now completely unreadable).

  6. anonymousbla blalblaba Avatar

    This will make Ubuntu compatible with Dell pc-s , and other Linux distros. *The fan down and temperature shutdown you get is not from videocard is cpu :)

  7. andrej Avatar

    hey msoos,
    thx for the review.
    Can you say anything about the fan noise when busy? Is it loud, acceptable, annoying?

    1. msoos Avatar

      Under Windows it’s quite bad (I installed Windows in the end, since I got no refund). I use Linux, and sometimes manually manage fan noise, but mostly I just rely on i8kmon. The automatic management in BIOS is noisy (that’s why windows is noisy), i8kmon automatic management (through linux driver) hangs sometimes. So, Dell messed this one up.

  8. mark Avatar

    Thank you for your review – just saw this laptop offered at a very good price, but I will pass.

  9. Shekhar Avatar

    Does this laptop have VT(virtual technology) enabled? I am going to run virtual machines on this laptop. Please suggest?

    1. msoos Avatar

      I believe that depends on the processor you buy with the laptop. Please look up the exact processor type on intel’s website. When you buy the laptop from Dell, there is a point where you have to select the CPU — it displays the exact CPU identification code. Look that up on intel’s site and you will know what it supports. The i7 version I have (i7-3612QM) supports basically everything, including VT (“vmx” in computer-lingo).

      PS: Beware of the fan noise.