Tagged: Dell

Dell has an “If it’s not broken, just make minor improvements and don’t break it” approach to their gaming laptop series. While there are still some improvements that could be made, the Dell G7 15″ laptop is a good example of this ethos at a decent pricepoint.

I’ve previously mentioned that the one thing I’ve really gotten tired of in gaming laptops is the standard black/red colour scheme – it’s interchangeable with a lot of other gaming laptops on the market. But not this time. Unpacking the Dell G7 15” was a delightful change. It was blue! Well, it was black with gorgeous metallic blue accents.

And this wasn’t the only colour option available. Dell also has the G7 15″ available in “Arctic White” with the blue accents, which sounds like a nightmare to keep clean but it’s a refreshing change from the usual colour options.

Yes, I am that excited about a colour change shut up.

Performance-wise, it handled perfectly. Since I work with a limited internet usage cap each month (thanks, Australia!), I network transferred games across to the G7 laptop and installed them easily. Games like Borderlands 2, Fallout 4, and Civilisation 4 were easily played at their highest settings.

The 15″ anti-glare screen works as intended, but like the last Dell laptop I reviewed, the bezel around the screen is obnoxiously large and doesn’t sit flush with the screen. My current laptop (a Dell XPS 13″ from 2013) has a larger bezel around with screen, but it’s glass-fronted, meaning it doesn’t distract from the experience. The FHD screen is nice, but there’s so much more screen potential hidden behind a large border.

My biggest issues with gaming laptops are always space – especially with games like big triple-A titles, I’ve got vanilla games that hit 100GB and that won’t get smaller over time. Dell has attempted to remedy this with a variety of storage options ranging from a straight 1TB drive to SSD and mechanical drives, or a 512GB PCIe SSD. Dell’s big draw is their customisation abilities, so you’ll be able to find something to work with what you want.

Another issue with gaming laptops and where they’re going is the battery life. The G7 has a 4-cell integrated battery, which won’t support long-term gaming and I understand that it isn’t meant to, but superusers, or even just heavy users, will find that the battery will drain sooner than they like. Everyday users will find the battery life to be perfect for their usage, but if you’re looking to run something a little more resource heavy, you’re going to find that the 4-cell battery doesn’t quite cut it. It sounds obvious, but if you’re someone like me who likes listening to Netflix in the background and runs a few programs at a time, you might need to adjust the power settings to find that sweet spot between energy saving and power mode. It’s not a huge issue, but just something worth noting.

If you’re using the G7 as your dedicated gaming machine and you’re going to be plugged in directly to the wall, run this baby in performance mode because you’ll want to get the best out of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 10 series. They’re standard through a lot of laptops now, but there’s a good reason for it – they just work. The highest end of the spectrum will see you get a GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5 video memory which should handle everything you throw at it and you should find it enduring through several years worth of games. Even the lower end GTX 1050 and GTX 1050Ti will faithfully see you through for at least the next 4-5 years.

Reviewing laptops has become kind of a second nature at this point. I’ve had the opportunity to play around with a lot of different models from a lot of different manufacturers and Dell seem to make the ones I like. While there are elements I come back to that I don’t like, they’re always overshadowed by the things I do like. Their customisation options mean you’re getting to make it a bit more of your machine, instead of fitting your needs within a rigid mould. There are sacrifices you’ll have to make, but they can be made up for in other areas. If you’re considering a tidy machine for your gaming needs, which can double as your everyday carry – consider Dell and definitely consider the G7.

My first laptop was a Dell XPS M1530. It was a monster of a thing that stood up to a lot of hardcore gaming, university and an month-long overseas trip. Ultimately, it was the overseas trip that killed my precious laptop, but it served me well. It’s the gaming laptop that I hold all laptops up to as my standard – despite its age, and the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop held a pretty good candle to my ol’ faithful.

Unpacking the Inspiron 15, the first thing that struck me was the matte black finish on the laptop, with the red Dell logo standing proudly in the centre. The edge of the keyboard has a red metallic pattern which brings just enough colour into the picture without being overpowering. As I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews, I like the look of more understated laptops with a minimalist feel. The other option you’ve got for the lid cover is matte red with a black logo – so at least you’ve got some choice in the design.

Since gaming laptops are made for gaming on the go, I carried this thing around with and sat down where ever my legs decided – it feels deceptively light. I stuck it in a backpack and carried it around in my arms, and it wasn’t ever uncomfortable, even while carrying around extra weight with the charging pack, a mouse and a few other bits and bobs. While it’s one of the bigger laptops I’ve reviewed, it carries the weight well.

But like all these laptops, it’s about how good they are to game on. The Inspiron 15 holds a Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti as standard – you know it’s going to take everything you throw at it in stride. The only time I had an issue was with State of Decay where the whole operation thing crashed – although, I think that had more to do with the optimisation of the game, more than the laptop itself. Other than that minor trip up, everything I played ran beautifully – and can be played up to a 4K resolution. Like I’ve said in earlier reviews, 4K Gaming isn’t really my bag but if you’re into that, you’re going to be very happy. However, the screen can take some getting used to and can sometimes look a little lacklustre when you’re looking for real exuberance – especially in 4K.

Big exhaust vents on the rear of the laptop make sure that you’re not going to see spikes and dips because of the hardware shutting down. The only time I really noticed any uncomfortable heat was while I was working in bed and had the laptop sitting on my lap against the quilt – but even this was a minor issue.

I also loved the fact that I could get a good few hours out of the Inspiron 15 while I was working. Not having to rely on the power pack and an available plug means that you could easily take it to university or to your favourite spot and work without a worry. I can’t say the same for a hardcore gaming session, but when you’re running your resources at full speed, battery life is the trade off.

Since I’m a writer, that was another big test. I was working on a few other commissions on Inspiron 15 and the keyboard was comfortable and easy to use. The touch pad gave me the most issues – it’s very touchy. Although, since I’m used to typing on standalone keyboards and spend half the time adjusting my cursor on my everyday laptop because I’ve accidentally knocked the touch pad with my palm, I’m not sure if that’s an issue with the pad or me. Probably me.

The thing that urks me the most is the lack of an optical drive. Call me old-fashioned, but I like having the option – especially if I was to run older programs that aren’t easily downloaded. Although, there are 3x 3.0 USB ports, 1x HDMI and a media card reader to keep you happy if you need to load something on the laptop – If you’ve got the space.

Dell are big on being able to customise your laptop with various options available through their range. Their base laptop only has a 256GB solid state drive which isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things. Game downloads are getting bigger and bigger (60GB+ downloads are a regular thing), you would have to be very selective about what games you install on your hard drive if you end up purchasing the entry-level laptop. Spending the extra $400AUD to move to the middle-tier doubles your RAM and gives you an extra 1TB of space – although the compromise is downsizing your SSD to 128GB.

Overall, it’s a good-looking quality laptop for a decent price if you’re looking to get into the gaming laptop market. Some of the faults (HDD space and screen) can be frustrating but don’t make the Inspiron 15 unusable. It’s compact, pretty and packs enough power to get you through whatever you need to do without breaking the bank – although it’s probably worth throwing a few extra bucks towards the second tier laptop if you’re looking to load your entire Steam list.

Laptop provided by Dell for consideration.