I can't believe that it's budget! Dell's new Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop (starting at $799, reviewed at $849) has the looks of a system twice its price. Thanks to its 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor and Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti GPU, this laptop is more than a pretty face. It has plenty of power to play most of your favorite games (on medium settings) and can multitask with the best of them. The lackluster display leaves a lot to be desired and keeps the laptop from earning our coveted Editor's Choice rating. But if you're looking for a solid gaming notebook that doesn't drain your wallet, one thing's for sure -- the price is definitely right.
The Inspiron 15 7000 is a little red corvette in a world full of black-and-gray hatchbacks. The laptop's touchably-soft lid captivates in a shade Dell calls Hibiscus Red. It makes the glossy black Dell insignia in the center pop. The rear hinge is made of a smoky gray plastic while the vents are accentuated with more of that luscious red. If you're looking for something a bit more understated, the system is also available in Matte Black.
The notebook's ebony plastic interior is a bit more tame. The keyboard is separated from the touchpad by a gentle, but well defined ridge with the remainder of the inky plastic spilling over the front lip of the system creating a geometric lattice accentuated by a red undercarriage.
The sides of the laptop are covered with more of that showstopping red, which helps turn your attention to the slew of ports and slots adorning the notebook's sides. Along the right, you'll find a pair of USB 3.0 ports, a full HDMI slot, a Gigabit Ethernet port and a headset jack. The left side is a little less crowded, only housing a single USB 3.0 port, SD card reader, noble lock slot and the AC jack.
|Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Size|
|Dimensions||15.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches|
At 5.8 pounds and 15.2 x 10.8 x 1 inches, the Inspiron 15 7000 is a tad heavier than the Asus ROG Strix GL553VD (5.6 pound, 15.1 x 10 x 1.2 inches).. However, the MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro makes both systems look bulky, thanks to its incredibly svelte 4.2-pound, 14.9 x 9.8 x 0.69-inch frame.
This is a case of you get what you pay for. The sub-$1,000 Inspiron 15's display is sharp but not colorful enough to do the latest games justice depending on which display you outfit your system with.
When I started playing Rise of the Tomb Raider on the non-IPS, I was a little shocked to see how listless everything looked. The typically reddish-brown exterior of a Syrian ruin took on a dusty pink hue against a faded blue sky. Lara's chestnut hair, which usually gleams, looked rather dull. Details were sharp enough to see individual strands of hair or fine cracks in the pottery strewn about the scene, but without the splash of color, it felt a bit lifeless.
Although the IPS version isn't as bright as the base model panel, the same scenes had the rich tones and deep contrasts I was looking for when I watched them on the more-premium display. A small trickle of water turned the red earth beneath it into an even deeper shade of crimson. And when I shimmied into a darkened passage and was showered with a gaggle of black scorpions, I could see the segments in their glistening black stingers.
|Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Display: Test Results|
|Benchmark||Score||How it Compares|
|Brightness||253 nits||Below Average|
|Color Gamut (sRGB)||67 percent||Below Average|
The Inspiron's base-model screen can only reproduce 67 percent of the sRGB gamut, which is well below the 92-percent mainstream average. The Stealth Pro hit 111 percent while the Strix achieved an impressive 122 percent. The IPS panel is a little worse than the base screen at 64 percent.
With the base model screen, the Inspiron 15 7000's color accuracy was laughable at 12 on the Delta-E test (0 is perfect. The IPS model is much closer to the mark with 0.16 That's much better than the 2.14 category average, as well as the 1.6 and 2 obtained by the Strix and Stealth.
Averaging 253 nits, the Inspiron 15's base display isn't the brightness, but it's better than the IPS panel (232 nits) and the Stealth Pro's display (242 nits). However, both the mainstream average and Strix are brighter at 267 and 269 nits.
The Inspiron 15's front-firing speakers and bottom-mounted subwoofer pumps out some solid tuneage. Whether I listened to George Michael's "Kissing A Fool" or Chance the Rapper's "Same Drugs," I heard clean vocals with bright highs and rich lows. Although the default setting sounded great to me, you can toggle the settings in the Waves MaxxAudio Pro software for your optimal listening experiences.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I'm a fan of this Inspiron's island-style keyboard. Measuring 2.1 millimeters (1.5mm) of key travel with 58 grams of actuation (60g is the minimum), the keys are very springy, which made for a comfortable typing experience. I managed to score 70 words per minute on the 10FastFingers Typing test, which is better than my usual 65 wpm.
I appreciate that Dell added a Number Pad so I can map out commands for my favorite games. The red backlighting was bright enough to for me to type in my dimly lit bedroom.
The 4.1 x 3.1-inch touchpad is spacious with a smooth texture and a nice clicky response. Gestures such as two-finger rotate, three-finger press and pinch-zoom were very accurate.
Gaming and Graphics
Thanks to Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti GPUs, gamers can get some of the benefits of the company's new Pascal 10-series chips without cleaning out your bank account. The Inspiron 15 is outfitted with the 1050 Ti GPU, which has 4GB of VRAM.
[sc:benchmarks productName="Dell Inspiron 15 7000" /]
A GTX 1050 Ti GPU isn't enough to support the HTC Vive. But thanks to Oculus' Asynchronous Space Warp technology, it can support the Rift headset. When we ran the SteamVR Performance test, the Inspiron 15 notched 3.3, which places it in the Capable field. That means that the system could potentially run virtual reality applications on medium settings. Still, that's well below the 6.7 average or the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU-powered Stealth Pro, which notched 7.4.
After three rounds of our budget gaming PC test (Rise of the Tomb Raider at the High preset with SMAA anti-aliasing), the Inspiron 15 averaged 49 fps. It beat the 33 fps mainstream average along with the Strix (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU), which notched 38 fps. he Asus Strix GL 553V, which also has a GTX 1050 Ti, was in the same ballpark as the Dell with 47 fps.
When we ran the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (1080p, High Settings), the Inspiron 15 scored 31 fps. It's just above our 30 fps playability threshold and the Strix (23 fps). However, it's not enough to top the 48 fps set by the Stealth Pro and the category average. The GL 553V also did better at 39 fps.
During the Hitman test, the Inspiron 15 attained 35 fps, beating out the Strix's 30 fps. That should translate into some pretty smooth performance. But it's not enough to top the GL 553V's 39 fps, 55 fps category average or the Stealth Pro's 59 fps.
The Inspiron 15 also has an Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU for those less intensive tasks like watching HD video.
The Inspiron 15 is equipped with one of Intel's new 7th-gen Kaby Lake processors, which offer a solid bump in performance and power efficiency compared to the previous Skylake generation. The system's 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor with 8GB of RAM is a capable multitasking machine, allowing me to stream an episode of "Chewing Gum" on Netflix with 10 open Google Chrome tabs while running a system scan in Windows Defender without a whisper of lag.
|Inspiron 15 7000 (Core i5-7300HQ/ Nvidia 1050Ti/ 8GB / 256GB): Performance|
|Benchmark||Score||How it Compares|
|Geekbench 3||9,873||Above Average|
|Spreadsheet Macro Test||3:37||Excellent|
|File Transfer Test||106 MBps||Below Average|
The notebook also gave a solid performance on synthetic tests like Geekbench 3, which measures overall performance. The Inspiron scored 9,873, which was enough to defeat the 8,220 mainstream average. The Stealth Pro and its last-gen 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU hit 13,454 while the Strix notched 13,765.
The Inspiron 15's 256GB SSD duplicated 4.97GB of mixed-media files in 48 seconds for a transfer rate of 106 megabytes per second, which beats the Strix's (1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive) 94.2 MBps. However, it's still below the 166.9 MBps average as well as the Stealth Pro (256GB m.2 SSD), which achieved a scorching 565.5 MBps.
During the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, the Inspiron 15 paired 20,000 names and addresses in 3 minutes and 37 seconds, beating the 4:21 category average and the Stealth Pro's 3:38. The Strix was just a bit faster at 3:31.
Wow. Just wow. With its base model display, the Inspiron 15 lasted a whopping 11 hours and 23 minutes on our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi) making it the gaming laptop with the longest battery life we've ever tested. The IPS version of the laptop clocked in at a significantly shorter time of 8:34, but both systems absolutely destroyed the 6:50 mainstream average, not to mention the Strix and the Stealth Pro and their anemic times of 3:41 and 2:54.
|Laptop||Battery Life (hh:mm)|
|Dell Inspiron 15 7000||11:23|
I spent 15 minutes making my way through an abandoned Russian fortification in Tomb Raider. When I was done, the touchpad's temperature read 88 degrees Fahrenheit. The middle of the keyboard hit 100 degrees while the undercarriage reached 103 degrees. Both temps are higher than our 95-degree comfort threshold. Nevertheless, I never felt uncomfortable holding the system in my lap.
Things cooled down a bit when we streamed HD video; the touchpad and space between the G and H keys measured 83 and 92 degrees. The bottom of the laptop still hit a toasty 100 degrees, though.
The 720p integrated webcam won't capture the sharpest video or images, but it'll do in a pinch. The test shots I took in my bedroom were darker than I would have expected. My midnight blue wall looked black towards the edges of the shot. But despite the overall graininess in the shot, you can still see the wrinkles in my white shirt.
Software and Warranty
Dell preloaded the Inspiron 15 with its fair share of utilities and bloatware. Dell-branded software include Power Manager Lite to manage your power settings, Support Assistant runs diagnostics on your system to make sure it's running at tip-top shape. You also get Dell Digital Delivery, which will download the latest drivers for you to keep everything up to date.
In terms of gaming software, you have Nvidia's GeForce Experience, which offers a suite of apps designed to improve your gaming experience. For example, Game Optimization automatically adjusts your settings; battery Boost will help your battery last just a little bit longer; and GameStream allows you to livestream your game.
Unfortunately, the Inspiron 15 couldn't escape the spectre of bloatware. The system ships with Netflix, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Royal Revolt 2, Drawboard PDF, Asphalt 8 and Twitter. The laptop also comes with a 12-month free subscription to McAfee Livesafe and 20GB of storage on Dropbox.
I got to take the $899 version of the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop for a spin. This notebook comes packed with an IPS display panel, a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor with 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, an Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of VRAM.
If you're looking to save a few more bucks, there's the $799 base model. It has a non-IPS 1080p screen, a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor, 8GB of RAM, 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive with an 8GB SSHD, an Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB of VRAM.
|Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Cost By Configuration|
|Config||Screen||CPU||GPU||RAM / Storage||Price|
|Base||1080p||Core i5-7300HQ||Nvidia 1050||8GB / 1TB HDD||$799|
|Step Up||1080p||Core i5-7300HQ||Nvidia 1050Ti||8GB / 256GB SSD||$849|
|Splurge||4K||Core i7-7700HQ||Nvidia 1050Ti||16GB / 512GB SSD||$1,299|
If you're willing to pay for a little more performance oomph, you can get the $1,299 unit, which upgrades you to a 2.8-GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 Solid State Drive, an Intel HD Graphics 630 GPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4GB of VRAM. You also get a sharper 4K screen instead of the standard 1080p.
If you want to keep things under $1,000, I would recommend going with the $949 version of the system, as you get a 1TB 7,200-rpm hard drive. It took only 4 games to nearly fill my review unit's 256GB SSD.
If you're gaming on a budget, you can't do much better than the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop. Priced at $849, it appeals to the pinch-a-penny-make-Lincoln-cry aspect of my personality, while appeasing most of my demanding gamer sensibilities and delivering a battery life that has to been seen to be believed. Plus, that Hibiscus Red is just plain purty.
The display is its biggest drawback. I can't help but laugh at the irony of such a brightly-colored laptop sporting such a dull, inaccurate display. If you can stomach forking out an $250, the Asus ROG Strix GL553VD has a much better display. Those hungry for more power, specifically to support both the Vive and Rift, you'll have to check out the $1,399 MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro, which has a VR-ready Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU.
But if you're looking for a gaming laptop that can deliver solid framerates without blasting a hole in your wallet, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop should at or near the top of your list.