Despite having really good battery life and a thoroughly comfortable keyboard, the Dell G5 15 Gaming doesn't have a lot going for it. It's bigger and heavier than laptops with stronger GPUs, and its Core i7 processor and GTX 1050 Ti GPU don't perform as well as other mainstream gaming laptops. Combine that with its dull 15.6-inch display, distorted speakers and lack of gaming utilities, and it simply isn't worth $1,049 (starting at $949), especially with better gaming laptops out there for a similar or cheaper price.
This is one chunky baby, and not in a cute-and-cuddly way. The G5 15's hood is a black, plastic void with a glossy red Dell logo stamped right in the middle. The gray vents on the hinge and lip of the laptop would look cool if they didn't remind me of how heavy and thick the laptop actually is. The weight is troubling, because it's only 0.6 pounds away from the MSI GT63 Titan 8RG (6.7 pounds), which packs a full Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080.
The red-and-black color palette on the interior has the typical look of a cheap gaming laptop, and the cliche red keyboard backlighting was the final insult that made my eyes roll in the back of my head. The bezels are nearly as thick as the laptop as a whole, which is so annoying it's almost impressive.
At 6.1 pounds and 15.3 x 10.8 x 1 inches, the Dell G5 15 is the heaviest laptop among its competitors.
While the MSI GV62 8RE (5 pounds, 1.2 inches) is the thickest, it's also a whole pound lighter than the Dell G5 15, and the Lenovo Legion Y730 (5.1 pounds, 1 inches) is both slimmer and lighter. Meanwhile, the Dell XPS 15 is incredibly thin and light, at 4.2 pounds and 0.7~0.5 inches.
The Dell G5 15 has a solid selection of ports.
The left side holds a Noble Lock slot, the power jack, an RJ45 port, one USB 3.1 port with always-on charging and a 2-in-1 SD card slot, while the right side features an HDMI 2.0 port, one Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB 3.1 ports and a headphone jack. I just wish Dell had added a Mini DisplayPort to keep parity with competing systems.
The Dell G5 15's 15.6-inch, 1080p, heavily bezeled panel is disappointingly lifeless for a gaming display.
I could barely make out anything in the fortress I was fighting through in Middle-earth: Shadow of War. I had to turn the game's brightness all the way up to see anything beyond what was directly in front of me. Between Talion's worn-out red-and-black clothes and the dull stone walls, I thought I had walked into Zack Snyder's interpretation of Lord of the Rings. Despite all the doom and gloom, however, the strands of hair on Talion's head were sharp and lively as they fluttered through the wind.
In the trailer for Isn't It Romantic, Rebel Wilson's shirt looked like aged honey -- as opposed to the natural yellow it revealed itself to be on my personal laptop -- but at least the stitching was incredibly detailed. Still, I couldn't see half of the surrounding buildings when Wilson was in the middle of New York City sucking face with Liam Hemsworth.
The Dell G5 15's panel covered only 58 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is a touch more than half of the 110-percent mainstream gaming laptop average. The MSI GV62 (72 percent) did slightly better, while the XPS 15 (115 percent) and Legion Y730 (135 percent) excelled.
Measuring 219 nits of brightness, the Dell G5 15's panel is well behind the 284-nit category average. The MSI GV62 also trailed the average at 240 nits, while the Legion Y730 and XPS 15 offer a stunning 302 and 371 nits of brightness, respectively.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Despite the Dell G5 15's low key travel, its keys are surprisingly springy and well-spaced, which almost makes up for how cliche and edgy they look. My fingers blasted across the keyboard at 73 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test, taking out my 66-word-per-minute average like nothing.
The keys traveled a short 1.2 millimeters, falling below our 1.5- to 2.0-mm travel comfort zone. But they do require a solid 74 grams of actuation force, which met the 60-gram minimum we seek for comfortable typing.
The laptop's 4.1 x 3.1-inch touchpad has a soft, matte texture with a shallow click. It was responsive to Windows 10 gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger tabbing.
The Dell G5 15's speakers were muted when I was gaming, but loud and distorted while I was listening to music.
The opening vocals of Jon Bellion's "iRobot" lacked depth, but the speakers were loud enough to fill a small office. However, the vocals became irritatingly high pitched during the chorus, and the clap sound effects that I heard throughout the song were distorted.
When an Olog-hai tried to take a shot at me in Shadow of War, his stone mace left a crater in the ground, but the sound that followed was muffled. The speakers were so quiet that all the suspenseful music was drowned out by the fighting. Even when the orcs were taunting me in front of my face, it was like I was eavesdropping on them from another room.
Thankfully, Dell includes MaxxAudioPro, which allowed me to tune the speakers with settings like Midnight and Intelligent Noise Reduction. It eliminated the distortion in the music but at the cost of treble. I even got louder volume in Shadow of War, but of course that turned every slash and stab into painfully high-pitched sounds. The audio is somewhat serviceable through this app, but even if you find the best settings, the G5's speakers still don't sound great.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
The Dell G5 15's Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU ran Shadow of War at 36 frames per second on Ultra settings at 1080p as I tore up a horde of ghûls. But the experience was choppy, as the game occasionally jumped a full second ahead in combat. In contrast, the Legion Y730 averaged 45 fps, giving it enough buffer room from our 30-fps playability threshold.
On the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Dell G5 15 averaged 25 fps, falling short of the 33-fps mainstream gaming laptop average. The XPS 15 (GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q) and Legion Y730 (GTX 1050 Ti) didn't do any better at 22 and 24 fps, respectively, but the MSI GV62 (GTX 1060) hit a solid 36 fps.
While the Dell G5 15 ran the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p) at a decent 57 fps, it couldn't get past the 65-fps category average or even the XPS 15 (60 fps). It did, however, beat the Legion Y730 (45 fps) and MSI GV62 (51 fps).
On the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Dell G5 15 made it past the playability threshold at 32 fps, but it still lagged behind the 44-fps category average.The Dell G5 15 did manage to slip by the XPS 15 (27 fps), but the Legion Y730 (33 fps) beat it by a single frame. The MSI GV62 emerged triumphant at 48 fps.
The Dell G5 15 scored 3.5 on the SteamVR performance test, and while it can theoretically support an Oculus Rift, due to Oculus' Asynchronous Spacewarp technology, its score is nearly half of the 6.0 category average, so don't expect a good virtual-reality experience. The Legion Y730 (3.4) and XPS 15 (3.0) landed in a similar range, but the MSI GV62 did a much better job, scoring a 7.3.
This chunker powered through 30 Google Chrome tabs, three 1080p YouTube videos and the Xbox app while Shadow of War was running in the background, thanks to its Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and a 1TB 5,400-rpm HDD. Despite that, it didn't do all that well when compared to its competitors.
On the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, the Dell G5 15 scored 16,751, which placed it more than 3,000 points below the 19,834 mainstream gaming laptop average. The MSI GV62 (14,486) didn't do so great, either, with its Core i5-8300H CPU, but the Legion Y730 (18,531) and XPS 15 (21,201) excelled with the same CPU as the Dell G5 15.
The Dell G5 15 was actually the fastest on our Excel test, matching 65,000 names and addresses in 43 seconds, which slides just past the 0:48 category average. The Legion Y730 (1:20), MSI GV62 (0:59) and XPS 15 (0:44) simply couldn't keep up.
On the HandBrake benchmark, the Dell G5 15 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 12 minutes and 14 seconds, which is slower than the 11:32 category average, the Legion Y730 (10:56) and XPS 15 (10:12). It did beat the MSI GV62 (13:09) by nearly a whole minute.
Dell's 128GB SSD copied 4.97GB of data in 50 seconds for a rate of 102 megabytes per second, which is disappointing, compared to the 295-MBps category average. While they didn't make the average, the MSI GV62 (124 MBps), XPS 15 (221 MBps) and Legion Y730 (282 MBps) were faster than Dell's laptop.
For a gaming laptop, the Dell G5 15 has an impressive battery life. After continuously surfing the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the G5 15's battery survived 6 hours and 17 minutes, which is nearly 2 hours longer than the 4:26 category average. The MSI GV62 and Legion Y730 had incredibly poor results, at 2:05 and 2:47, respectively. However, the XPS 15 (which is a nongaming system) nailed a superb 11:53.
The test images I shot on the G5 15 were so blotchy and grainy that I didn't know where my forehead ended and hair began. My charcoal shirt had a white fuzzy design all over it, but it looked pure black in the image, and the lights behind me turned the parts of the ceiling into complete white space. If you're thinking about streaming on this thing, treat yourself to an external webcam.
The Dell G5 15 got pretty warm on our heat tests, but it was never burning hot. After playing Shadow of War for 15 minutes, the underside hit 99 degrees Fahrenheit, which is close to our 95-degree comfort threshold. The touchpad measured 84 degrees, but the center of the keyboard hit 102 degrees. The hottest it got was 130 degrees on the left underside near the vent.
When we ran a less-stressing video test, the Dell G5 15's underside actually got hotter, possibly because the fans never kicked in. After streaming a 15-minute HD video, the underside registered 104 degrees, while the center of the keyboard and touchpad hit 94 and 86 degrees, respectively.
Software and Warranty
There are several Dell-branded apps in this machine, but no sign of any gaming utilities. Among them are SupportAssist (for system optimization, anti-virus protection and driver updates), Dell Power Manager (for customizing battery usage) and Dell Mobile Connect (for calling and texting from the laptop). There's also Dell Help & Support, which features the warranty and manual, and Dell Digital Delivery, which keeps all the OEM branded apps up to date. The included Killer Control Center lets you manage the bandwidth that's being used when you're connected via Ethernet.
Surprisingly, the G5's Windows 10 bloatware is relatively barren, aside from a link to download Royal Revolt 2: Tower Defense. Dell does, however, include some of its own, like Netflix and McAfee Security.
The Dell G5 15 I tested costs $1,049 and comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, a 1TB 5,400-rpm HDD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of VRAM.
If you want to save $100, you can drop down to a Core i5-8300H processor and a sole 256GB SSD. But if you want to go all out and spend $1,399, you'll get 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a GTX 1060 with 6GB of VRAM.
Good battery life in a gaming laptop is quite a rare feature, and it's always nice to have a solid keyboard, but the Dell G5 15 Gaming sacrifices too much in every other area. It's too big and underpowered, and the fact that I can't adjust the fans is frustrating. On top of that, the laptop's low-quality sound and dim display make gaming unenjoyable.
If you're willing to spend an extra few hundred dollars, the XPS 15 ($1,409) can offer double the battery life, a gorgeous display with barely-there bezels, cleaner audio and faster CPU performance -- all packed into a slimmer, sexy body.
But if you're looking to save, the MSI GV62 8RE offers a stronger GPU than both Dells for just $949. While you'll have to drop to a Core i5, you'll also get a comfortable keyboard and a pair of solid speakers packed into a sleek design.
Due to its significant drawbacks, we simply can't recommend the Dell G5 15. You can do better for a mainstream gaming laptop.
Credit: Laptop Mag