Mobile Devices

Dell Inspiron 1501 Notebook Computer Teardown

29 April 2007
The following is an overview of a teardown analysis conducted by IHS Benchmarking.

Main Features / Overview

The Dell Inspiron 1501 is an entry-level 'digital entertainment' (as in, not for heavy processing applications) notebook from Dell. This model starts at $549 and is the least expensive entry point for Dell notebooks at the time of writing. Nonetheless, even the basic configuration is fairly complete. This model came configured with: AMD - Turion 64 MK-36, 2.0GHz, 512KB CPU (with AMD/ATI AMD / ATI - RS485M / SB600 North / Southbridge Chipset), 1GB DDR2 SDRAM, Fax/Modem Data, 56K, V.92 Fax Card, 15.4' TFT LCD, DVD/CD-RW Rom Drive Drawer Load DVD/CD-RW Rom Drive, EIDE/SATA/USB, 8X DVD-ROM Read, 24x24x24x CD-RW, 80GB/2.5' Hard drive (SATA, 5400RPM, 8MB Buffer), WLAN Card: AIRFORCE 54G, 802.11a/b/g Mini PCIe format. This may differ from the currently available minimum configurations available on the Dell website, as their offerings are in constant progression.

Dell Inspiron 1501 Notebook Computer Main ImageDell Inspiron 1501 Notebook Computer Main Image

Target Market

Entry-level home / home-office users, primarily, although could be.



Pricing and Availability

Inspiron 1501s start at $549 depending on configuration and up at the time of this writing (3/2007). This particular configuration, retails for $849 as of 3/22/2007.

Volume Estimations

Based on Dell's market strength, and the relative popularity (in terms of unit shipments) of lower end notebooks, we estimate manufacturing volumes, for the purposes of this analysis, at approximately 5 million units over the course of a two-year manufacturing lifetime (possibly a generous assumption).

As a reminder, volume production assumptions are meant primarily to be used for our cost analysis in terms of amortized NRE and tooling costs, especially for custom components specific to the model being analyzed (mechanical components especially), and not necessarily as a market accurate estimate for a specific model. Our estimations are based on iSuppli market research and we derive rational estimates based on overall market shares of the manufacturer in question, as well as the number of products in a given portfolio and the relative popularity of certain lines of products.

Market Sector / Performance

In 2007, we expect the Notebook PC market to achieve unit shipments of 98 million units, representing annual growth of 23.5 percent. Dell maintained a very prominent market share in the notebook segment through 2006 with, per iSuppli estimates, 17% market share in the overall notebook market, representing a unit growth of nearly 22% in units for Dell over the course of the year. Dell has, as of 2006, the number-two market share position behind HP.

Dell Inspiron 1501 Notebook Computer Cost AnalysisDell Inspiron 1501 Notebook Computer Cost Analysis
Cost Notes

As is often the case with systems we analyze, the majority of dollar value items that drive the total cost of this system can be found in the top handful of items. The following summary just highlights those major cost items. For the exhaustive component-by-component analysis, please refer to the downloadable Excel spreadsheet.

Main Cost Drivers Representing ~84 % of total direct materials costs

AMD - TMDMK36HAX4CM - CPU - AMD Turion 64 MK-36, 2.0GHz, 512KB

Chunghwa - CLAA154WB04 - Display - 15.4' TFT LCD, Widescreen, 1280x800 (WXGA)

(2x) Hynix - HYMP564S64CP6-C4 - SODIMM DDR2 - 512MB, 64Mx64, 533MHz, CL4

Hitachi - HTS541680J9SA00 - 80GB, 2.5', SATA, 5400RPM, 8MB Buffer

Sony - CRX880A - DVD/CD-RW Rom Drive - Slim Internal Type, Drawer Load, EIDE/SATA/USB, 8X DVD-ROM Read, 24x24x24x CD-RW

Dell - GD761 - Battery - Li-Ion - 11.1V, 4.8Ah, 53WH

AMD / ATI - RS485M - Northbridge / Graphic Controller - PCI Express Chipset

Broadcom - BCM94311MCG - AIRFORCE 54G, 802.11a/b/g Mini PCIe Card

Gold Circuit Electronics - - 8-Layer - FR4

AMD / ATI - SB600 - Southbridge - I/O Controller Hub

Lite-On - LA65NS0-00 - AC Power Adaptor - 65W, Input 100-240V ~1.5A, Output 19.5V 3.34A

Keyboard Assembly - Injection Molded Spring-Action Plastic Keys

Foxconn - - Modem Card - Fax/Modem Data, 56K, V.92 Fax, Conexant Chipset

AVC - Cooler Assembly - Die-Cast Metal w/ Copper Heat Pipe and Extruded/Machined Aluminum Fin

Materials and Manufacturing* ~$593
Dell Inspiron 1501 Notebook Computer - Motherboard TopDell Inspiron 1501 Notebook Computer - Motherboard Top

What Is Not Included in our Cost Analysis

The total materials and manufacturing costs reported in this analysis reflect ONLY the direct materials cost (from component vendors and assorted EMS providers), AND manufacturing and test. Not included in this analysis are costs above and beyond the material manufacture of the core device itself - cost of intellectual property, royalties and licensing fees (those not already included into the per component price), software, software loading and test, shipping, logistics marketing and other channel costs including not only EMS provider and the OEM's margin, but that of other resellers. Our cost analysis is meant to focus on those costs incurred in the manufacture of the core device and exceptionally in some circumstances the packaging and literature as well.

Function / Performance

No performance testing was performed on the Dell Inspiron 1501.

Manufacturing NotesDell's ODM Partners and Manufacturing

Dell used ODMs Quanta, Compal and Wistron (all of them Taiwan-based ODMs) in 2006 for manufacturing the "base units (no CPU, No ODD, no HDD, etc), and also perform configure-to-order operations in their internal facilities in Xiamen, China, Penang, Malaysia and Limerick, Ireland.

Dell has its ODMs ship base units manufactured in China to these three hubs depending on where the product's final destination is.

Country of Origin / Volume Assumptions

As with all computer systems, this system has a number of various sub-assemblies built in various countries - see the 'Overview' section on the online presentation for a list of countries of origin for the major sub-assemblies such as display, hard drive, etc. As for final assembly - the product is labeled as Made in Malaysia (see above for more info) however, it is assumed, when not otherwise labeled, that all other unlabeled components and systems were produced by suppliers in areas of the lowest possible regional cost: China.

Country of origin assumptions relate directly to the associated cost of manufacturing, where calculated by iSuppli. In the cases of 'finished' sub-assemblies (such as chargers), we do not calculate internal manufacturing costs, but rather assess the market price of the finished product in which case country of origin assumptions may or may not have a direct effect on pricing.

Dell Inspiron 1501 Notebook Computer - Motherboard BottomDell Inspiron 1501 Notebook Computer - Motherboard Bottom

Design for Manufacturing / Device Complexity

Notebooks are typically fairly complex and dense devices with elevated component counts (when compared with desktops) for obvious reasons. Furthermore, although functionality has a tendency to increase over time, the component counts have not increased dramatically, as each new generation of chipsets and designs tend to integrate functionality that was formerly handled through discrete components.

In terms of interconnect, dense designs often implement expensive flex circuitry to help interconnect various ports. Flex circuits are always more costly than basic rigid PCBAs and manufacturing costs for flex circuits are also more expensive than with rigid PCBAs. A certain amount of flex circuitry is always needed in notebooks to provide interconnect between the main CPU/Motherboard section and the display section. This 'half and half' form factor in notebooks also adds mechanical cost and complexity.

In terms of the component count in the Dell Inspiron 1501, the component count is in line with other notebook computers at a total of 1622 components. But what's most interesting is that in comparison with an earlier entry level Dell inspiron (1200) we analyzed back in 2004, the functionality has increased and the total component count has actually stayed about the same.

The Dell Inspiron 1200 (also an entry level laptop with about the same price point at the time of analysis) notebook had a total component count of 1872 components, HOWEVER, this difference is somewhat phantom in that we have modified our teardown methodology at iSuppli. We (nowadays) do not create entire BOMs for the display, WLAN card, Bluetooth, modem modules for example, whereas our earlier analyses did account for such components at a discrete level. This new methodology is the result of the 'market reality' that such modules are purchased as units with their own market price that is not necessarily just the sum of the component costs.

Interestingly, though, our methodology has not significantly changed for accounting for discrete mechanical components, and this Inspiron features 230 mechanical components, vs the earlier Inspiron 1200 count at 184 components.

Component counts have a direct bearing on the overall manufacturing cycle times and costs, and also can increase or decrease overall yields and re-work. Our calculations of manufacturing costs factor counts and more qualitative complexities in the design

Note that manual labor has a much smaller effect on auto-insertion assembly lines (for the Main PCB, for example), where manufacturing costs are much more capital equipment intensive and driven by these investment costs.

Design Notes

The core design is based on an AMD CPU (TMDMK36HAX4CM) and AMD/ATI Northbridge and Southbridge chipset.

The display module is from Chunghwa Pictures Tube Ltd (CLAA154WB04) and is a 15.4' TFT LCD, Widescreen 1280x800 pixels (WXGA format),. The Hard Drive is an 80GB 2.5' SATA drive from Hitachi, and optical drive (DVD/CD-RW Rom Drive) from Sony. The WLAN (a/b/g) card is from Broadcom in mini PCIe format. See below summary for more design summary details.



IDT - 951462AGLF - Clock Generator


AMD - TMDMK36HAX4CM - CPU - AMD Turion 64 MK-36, 2.0GHz, 512KB

SMSC - EMC4000-FZ6 - TBD

I/O & Interface

Broadcom - BCM4401 - Network Interface Card (NIC) Driver - 10/100Base-T

National Semiconductor - PC87541V-VPC - I/O Controller - Super I/O Devices

Ricoh - R5C832 - Flash Memory Card Controller w/ IEEE1394


AMD / ATI - RS485M - Northbridge / Graphic Controller - PCI Express Chipset, 400MHz Graphics Core


AMD / ATI - SB600 - Southbridge - I/O Controller Hub


Hynix - HYMP564S64CP6-C4 - SODIMM DDR2 - 512MB, 64Mx64, 533MHz, CL4

SST - SST39VF080 - Flash - 8 Mbit Multi-Purpose Flash, 3.6V

Modem Card


Fax/Modem Data, 56K, V.92 Fax

Conexant Chipset




Display Value Line Item - 15.4' TFT LCD, Widescreen, 262K Color (assumed), 1280x800

(WXGA), 16:10 Aspect Ratio, 200 cd/m2 (assumed)

Optical Drive



DVD/CD-RW Rom Drive

Slim Internal Type, Drawer Load


24x24x24x CD-RW

Hard Drive



80GB, 2.5', SATA, 5400RPM, 8MB Buffer

WLAN / Wireless Card




802.11a/b/g Mini PCIe Card

Battery Pack



Battery - Li-Ion

11.1V, 4.8Ah, 53WH

Pointing Device


Touch Pad Assembly


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