Help Me, Laptop: More Power Or Better Looks?

The hardest part of picking a laptop is getting down to the specs. Once you've narrowed down what you're looking for, including the screen size and price, picking exactly what parts you want can make you rethink your choices over and over again.

Reader mrpitics has already done a lot of homework, and is down to two gaming machines: the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 and the Acer Helios 300 (they didn’t specify if it's the 15-inch or 17-inch version. For our purposes, we're using the 15-inch model, since that's the same size as the Dell).

Mrpitics has also picked their own configurations. The Dell has an Intel Core i5-7300HQ CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The Acer has a Core i7-7700HQ CPU, GTX 1060 GPU, 8GB of RAM, 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD. The reader said that where they're buying it from, prices are the same.

Based on that alone, I'd say to go for the Acer Helios 300. The full 1060 GPU will squeeze out a few more FPS and be better for VR, and you'll also have a faster processor. I also appreciate the 1TB of storage. That holds many more games than the Inspiron our reader is looking at, and you can still use the 128GB SSD as a boot drive and for smaller programs. The Inspiron also has a history of poor displays. The one on the Helios isn't amazing, but it's better than the Dell's, so you might as well go for the better one.

MORE: The Best Gaming Laptops

What the Inspiron will have in its corner is slightly better battery life. We tested that exact configuration, and it lasted for 7 hours and 5 minutes, which is long for a gaming notebook. The Helios lasted 6:48, which isn't much less.

But needing to plug your gaming laptop in isn’t exactly a surprise. If they're the same price, you're getting more for your money if you get the Helios.
Mrpitics suggests that, regarding design, the Dell "looks more mature," and that the Helois is "too in your face." . The Helios definitely looks like a gaming notebook, while the Dell admittedly looks like any midrange laptop. But that's a personal choice. I'd go for the more powerful laptop, and I do appreciate that the Helios uses aluminum in its design.

In general, I suggest practicality over looks. For gaming, it's all about power, and, unfortunately, a lot of companies haven't realized that gamers like clean designs just as much as everyone else (Razer is among the few that  get it right). You're looking for a tool, and the Helios sounds like it will do the better job.

One quick aside: mrpitics suggests that where they're buying this, they won't get a copy of Windows 10 with the Acer Helios. That's rare here in the United States, where we review our laptops, but not impossible, especially overseas. If obtaining and installing a Windows 10 license will be technically or fiscally prohibitive, then go for the Dell, because apparently that one comes with Windows 10.

Credit: Laptop Mag