When it comes to premium laptops like the XPS 13, Dell is definitely a heavy hitter. But when it comes to entry-level gaming systems, the company has work to do.
The company placed last in this year's Best and Worst Gaming Brands category, due to tired, uninspired designs from its Inspiron Gaming line. The good news is that the new G Series line addresses some, but not all, of our complaints.
We saw only three gaming laptops from Dell this year, none of which managed to score above 3.5 stars. The standout was undoubtedly the Dell G3 15 Gaming (3 stars), which offers a new design language that sets itself apart from the Inspiron line. It also delivers solid performance and nearly 7 hours of battery life for under $1,000. However, the system is hamstrung by a bland display and an uncomfortable keyboard.
We recommended the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (3.5 stars) because it was a good deal for an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU. But its keyboard wasn't comfortable and the display wasn't vivid.
What brought the roof down on Dell was the 2.5-star Inspiron 15 5000, which had a horrible display, a stiff keyboard, poor battery life and weak speakers (but a good price). It’s easy to see why Dell is starting fresh with the G Series.
Black was definitely in at Dell; both Dell Inspiron Gaming Laptops have adopted darker schemes. However, aside from the luxurious, soft-touch finish and flashes of red accents on both the 15 5000 and a 15 7000 systems, these notebooks could easily pass for one of the company's plain old Inspirons.
The company looked to shake things up with the G3 15 Gaming, which also has an ebony chassis, but offsets it with attractive blue accents. Even better, at 5.2 pounds and 0.9 inches thick, the G3 15 is the thinnest entry-level gaming rig on the market.
These displays are disappointingly dim as well, averaging 226 nits between them. The G3 15 Gaming didn't fare much better, covering only 61 percent of the color gamut and averaging 231 nits of brightness.
Dell embraced Nvidia's new Max-Q GPUs on notebooks, such as the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming. The result? Sleek gaming laptops that offer solid gaming performance within slim designs for under $1,000. Outside of the slick new design, there wasn't much innovation on the new G3 15 Gaming to speak of.
Unlike Alienware, Dell's satellite brand, Inspiron gaming laptops are lacking when it comes to gaming software. The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 frustratingly includes only Nvidia GeForce Experience, which you could download for free.
MORE: The Best Gaming Laptops
You'll need to download it onto the Inspiron 15 7000; the app didn't even come preloaded on that machine. GeForce Experience's battery-boost and game-optimization tools are at least somewhat helpful.
Configurations and Warranty (5/5)
Those looking to save a few hundred bucks may be better-served with Dell’s budget gaming machines, like the G3 15, Inspiron 15 5000 and 7000 Gaming, which offer GTX 1050 Ti, 1050 or 1060 power starting at just $849. While we came away disappointed with the G Series and Inspirons’ dim displays, they aren’t bad deals for those looking to dip their toes in the PC gaming waters with a serviceable, entry-level machine.