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Dell G3 15 vs. Dell G5 15 SE: Which Cheap Gaming Laptop Is Best?

Dell G3 15 vs. Dell G5 15 SE
(Image credit: Future)

If you're looking for top cheap gaming laptops under $1,000, you'll find it hard not to come across either the Dell G3 15  or the Dell G5 15 SE in your search.

The G3 15 and the G5 15 SE pack the same components and deliver great performance. But since G5 15 SE is technically a step up from the G3 15, what's really better about it? And can it beat the G3 15 in a face-off?

Here's how these two cheap gaming laptops stack up.

Dell G3 15 vs. Dell G5 15 SE: Specs Compared

Dell G3 15Dell G5 15 SE
Price$799$1,019
Display15.6 inches, 1920 x 108015.6 inches, 1920 x 1080
CPUCore i5-9300HCore i5-9300H
RAM8GB8GB
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB of VRAMNvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB of VRAM
SSD128GB SSD + 1TB HDD128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
PortsOne USB 3.1, two USB 2.0, one USB Type-C, HDMI 2.0, RJ45 Ethernet, security lock slot, headphone jack, SD card slotThree USB 3.1, one USB Type-C, HDMI 2.0, RJ45 Ethernet, security lock slot, headphone jack, SD Card Slot
ColorsBlackWhite
Size14.4 x 10.0 x 0.9 inches14.3 x 10.8 x 1 inches
Weight5.4 pounds5.6 pounds

Design

Both the Dell G3 15 and the Dell G5 15 SE sport thick, plastic chassis but stray from the usual gaudy-gamer design (red, black and RGB-ed to hell). The G3 15 has a street car-esque design with the curves on its black hood and its spoiler-shaped glossy hinge. Meanwhile, the G5 15 SE has an elegant white hood paired with a premium-looking silver hinge. Both machines are covered in blue accents.

Dell G5 15 SE

(Image credit: Future)

Whereas the G3 15 has a blue keyboard font and blue backlighting, the G5 15 SE has a white keyboard font and RGB backlighting, which makes it look more appealing. Plus, the blue accent on the G5 15 SE's touchpad is metallic, while the G3 15's has a plain matte texture.

Dell G3 15 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

At 5.4 pounds and 14.4 x 10.0 x 0.9 inches, the G3 15 is slightly lighter and thinner than the G5 15 SE, which comes in at 5.6 pounds and 14.3 x 10.8 x 1 inches. But overall, the slight difference in footprint isn't enough to detract from the G5 15 SE's exceptional design.

Winner: Dell G5 15 SE

Ports

Gaming laptops are typically great when it comes to ports, but since the Dell G5 15 SE is slightly more premium, it does have more to offer than the Dell G3 15.

Dell G5 15 SE

(Image credit: Future)

The G3 15 has one USB 3.1 port, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB Type-C port, an HDMI 2.0 port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, a security lock slot, a headphone jack and an SD card slot. Meanwhile, the G5 15 SE trades the two USB 2.0 ports for two USB 3.1 ports.

Winner: Dell G5 15 SE

Display

Although both machines have a 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display, the Dell G5 15 SE beat the Dell G3 15 by a landslide on our tests. This is partially due to the fact that the G5 15 SE's screen clocks in with a 144Hz refresh rate, while the G3 15's rate is 60Hz.

Dell G5 15 SE

(Image credit: Future)

In the Dolittle film trailer, the onion domes on a castle glowed gold, and some spiraled with bold blue accents on the G5 15 SE's panel. But on the G3 15's screen, the domes took me out of the film's fantastical immersion. Both machines could reveal details of the wall behind Robert Downey Jr. in a dimly lit room. And the stubble on Downey Jr.'s face was equally sharp on either display.

Dell G3 15 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

According to our colorimeter, the G5 15 SE's display covered a strong 154% of sRGB color gamut, which is impressive for a cheap gaming laptop. Meanwhile, the G3 15's screen hit a measly 63%, falling short of the 71% cheap gaming laptop average.

MORE: Best Dell and Alienware Laptops

At 272 nits of brightness, the G3 15's panel is unnoticeably brighter than the G5 15 SE's display (270 nits). Both surpass the 264-nit category average.

Winner: Dell G5 15 SE

Keyboard and touchpad

Keyboard and touchpad

Dell G3 15 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

I nailed 73 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test using the G5 15 SE's keyboard, while I hit 71 wpm with the G3 15's keyboard. Overall, the G5 15 SE has the more appropriate gaming keyboard, thanks to its clickiness and RGB lighting.

Dell G5 15 SE

(Image credit: Future)

You get slightly more real estate with the G3 15's 4.2 x 3.2-inch touchpad than the G5 15 SE's 4.1 x 3.1-inch touchpad, but they feel mostly identical, with a matte texture and shallow clicks.

Winner: Dell G5 15 SE

Gaming, graphics and VR

The Dell G3 15 and the Dell G5 15 SE both pack an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, but only one of them has an edge in performance.

Dell G5 15 SE

(Image credit: Future)

On the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the G5 15 SE nailed 37 frames per second over the G3 15's 30 fps.

The G5 15 SE blasted 85 fps on the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), topping the G3 15's 62 fps.

Dell G3 15 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the G5 15 SE averaged 40 fps, sliding past the G3 15's 38 fps.

The G3 15 came out slightly on top on the SteamVR Performance Test, scoring 5.8 out of 11, compared with the G5 15 SE's 5.6.

Winner: Dell G5 15 SE

Performance

Like with the graphics benchmarks, the Dell G3 15 and the Dell G5 15 SE are equally matched regarding components. Both laptops sport an Intel Core i5-9300H processor with 8GB of RAM.

On the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance test, the G5 15 SE and the G3 15 were practically neck and neck scoring 16,722 and 16,650, respectively.

MORE: Best and Worst Laptop Gaming Brands

Meanwhile, the G3 15 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 14 minutes and 1 second on our HandBrake benchmark, completing it 30 seconds faster than the G5 15 SE (14:31).

The G3 15's 128GB SSD copied 4.97GB of data in 17 seconds, for a rate of 299 megabytes per second. That tops the G5 15 SE's 256GB SSD (130 MBps).

Winner: Dell G3 15

Battery life

The G3 15 and G5 15 SE's both offer impressive battery life for a pair of gaming laptops. After they continuously surfed the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the G5 15 SE survived 6 hours and 53 minutes, while the G3 15 lasted 6 hours and 41 minutes. No matter which model you choose, you're going to get great battery life.

Winner: Draw

Value and configurations

The Dell G3 15 and the Dell G5 15 SE both start out as bread-and-butter cheap gaming laptops, but the G5 15 SE can be configured into a premium machine.

The G3 15 starts at $749 (originally $799) and comes with a Core i5-9300H processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB 5,400-rpm HDD. Meanwhile, the base-model of the G5 15 SE costs $869 (originally $969) and wields a Core i5-9300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD with a 1TB HDD and a GTX 1650 GPU. 

Dell G5 15 SE

(Image credit: Future)

Our G5 15 SE review unit costs $1,019 (originally $1,119) and had the same components but double the SSD storage. The G3 15 that I tested is priced at $799 (originally $899) and is outfitted with an Intel Core i5-9300H processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and a 1TB 5,400-rpm HDD. 

Dell G3 15 (2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

If you're looking to max out the performance with the G3 15, you can get the $1,199 model (originally $1,349) with a Core i7-9750H CPU, a GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Meanwhile, the maxed-out G5 15 SE costs $1,969 (originally $2,169) and comes with a Core i7-9750H CPU, an RTX 2070 GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.

Overall, even at the base price, it's worth getting the G5 15 SE for its bonus features, and its far more configurable.

Winner: Dell G5 15 SE

Bottom line

There's a reason why Dell classifies the G5 15 SE as a step up from the G3 15, and that's because its display, keyboard, ports and design go the extra mile.

Dell G3 15Dell G5 15 SE
Design (10)78
Ports (10)89
Display (15)1114
Keyboard and Touchpad (15)1113
Graphics, Gaming and VR (15)1213
Performance (15)1312
Battery Life (10)99
Value and Configs (10)78
Overall (100)7886

However, if you're on a tight budget, the G3 15 is an excellent choice for a cheap gaming laptop, especially considering its strong performance and graphics.

But overall, you're getting a better deal with the G5 15 SE.

As soon as Rami Tabari sprung out of the College of Staten Island, he hit the ground running as a Staff Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline in Tom’s Guide, taking on the latest Souls-like challenge.