One of the few certainties about gaming on a laptop, much like death and taxes, is that it doesn’t come cheap. If you’re chasing after the proverbial cutting edge of gaming tech, you’re looking at a hefty five figure sum and up along with the portability of a bank vault.
Dell’s latest refreshed incarnation of the Inspiron 15 7000 is an interesting proposition that attempts to offers quite a bit of gaming bang for the buck for under RM5000. Available in four different configurations with different combinations of Intel Core i5 or i7 Kaby Lake processors, RAM and storage options along with NVIDIA’s recent GeForce GTX 10-series GPU across the range, our test unit was just a step down from the top of the line model and differs in terms on the storage available and the resolution of the panel from UHD to a 1080P display.
Externally, our test unit came in a rather natty shade of metallic red with black trim. The finish itself repels fingerprints and the heavy gauge plastic chassis gives it a rather stylish looking look. The hinge itself is built in a very robust fashion with silent and smooth deployment along with the ability to be opened one-handed if needed. The top lid has no give or flex and is emblazoned with the Dell logo in silver on top.
The right side comes with a host of ports that consist of a HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a 3.5mm audio jack and a pair of USB 3.0 ports. The left side comes with a lone USB 3.0 port, an SD card reader and the port to keep it hooked up to the mains.
The rear vents on the notebook look aesthetically pleasing with red wire mesh overlaid with plastic grilles while the base itself sports a set of rubber feet to prevent it from slipping when placed on a table. It also has a vent for the integrated subwoofer.
Flipping the lid revealed a backlit keyboard with a full sized numeric keypad along with a touch pad that’s angled slightly off left. The whole affair is done up in a matte black plastic that repels fingerprints with generously sized wrist rests.
Overall, the notebook is soundly constructed from the casing all the way to the hinges. While it’s a bit plasticky, it is otherwise sturdy without any wobbling or creaking throughout its construction though it is rather unwieldy, relegating it as a gaming desktop replacement unless you have a sturdy backpack to tote it around in .
Hardware and Performance
In Malaysia, the Inspiron 15 7000 comes in four different configurations, each at differing price points starting from RM3,899 to the fully tricked out variant at RM5,499. Our test rig is just a step down from the highest spec version that features a 4K panel, a larger 1TB hard disk and a 128GB SSD whereas our test unit had a similar 128GB SSD, a more modest 500GB hard disk and a 1080P display. Storage aside, the notebook comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD non-touch capable display, a seventh generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad-core processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, an NVIDIA GEForce GTX 1050 TI GPU with 4GB GDDR5 graphics memory, a 128GB SSD and a 500GB hard disk. To give audio extra punch, the Inspiron 15 sports front-firing speakers and an integrated subwoofer with tweakable settings via their Waves MaxxAudio Pro software.
In benchmarks, the notebook yielded a score of 2,179 in 3D Mark’s Time Spy. In PC Mark’s Work Accelerated benchmark which simulates a normal, non-graphic intensive work setting, the notebook yielded a score of 4,756. Under PCMark Creative where it’s subjected to something to a workload that a creative designer would likely tackle, it yielded a respectable score of 4,341.
When put to the test in a practical fashion with a variety of games, the notebook was able to handle most games at moderate settings smoothly without it keeling over and while it was somewhat warm when subjected to heaving gaming, it was, to its credit relatively quiet. Diablo III along with Bioshock Infinite ran without a hitch at Full HD with lusciously smooth frame rates and high graphic settings.
On the productivity front, the notebook’s seventh generation Kaby Lake processor, scads of RAM and the SSD offered a swift boot-up and silky smooth performance for crunching paperwork. A dozen open tabs in Chrome with Google Docs open along with a 1080P movie playing with a YouTube video streaming in another browser window didn’t even faze it.
The full sized keyboard offered good tactility, decent spacing between the keys and generous wrist rests to make it a viable option for extended typing though some minor niggles are apparent after several hours of use. The enter key itself is rather small, leading to missed button presses and the center of the keyboard, around the F,G,H,J and K keys has a bit too much give around the keyboard inlay with a firm button press resulting in some give and flex in the frame surrounding the keys. There’s no problems, functionally speaking though it does add a disconcerting feeling if you’re pressing it too hard. The touchpad itself is sufficient for work that doesn’t require speed or precision but if you’re looking to game, you’ll likely need to hook up a mouse unless you’re looking for a lopsided kill/death ratio.
That aside, the backlighting, full numeric keypad and the four most important keys of all for games – W, S, A and D rendered a suitably sublime performance in multiple Diablo and Counterstrike: GO deathmatch games. Of note were the built-in speakers that had enough aural punch and beefy bass to make movie watching and gaming a very pleasant affair. There was no distortion even when dialled to maximum volume and mainstream pop songs were rendered in a very listenable fashion along with beefy reports when emptying a magazine on full auto in Counterstrike or thumping someone in the face in Bioshock Infinite.
Price, Battery Life and Conclusion
In terms of endurance, the notebook proved to be a pleasant surprise with enough endurance that you needn’t have it tethered to a power point just to read an email. With casual web browsing and a modicum of videos and paperwork, it lasted a bit of over six plus hours away from the mains. Expect a bit less if you’re gaming with this.
The price tag at just under RM4,999 is a sweet spot for those looking for a rig on a budget and this particular variant combines a current-gen Kaby Lake processor, a nippy SSD and a workhorse NVIDIA GTX 1050TI. It’s not going to let you run everything at ultra high settings but it’s more than sufficient to tackle almost every game currently available on medium to high settings.If you can are looking for a solid gaming rig on a relative budget and live with the middling screen and the somewhat plasticky finish, Dell’s gaming rig is right up your alley.
Dell Inspiron 15 7000
Display 15.6-inch Full HD, 1920 x 1080p LCD|
Processor Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor
OS Windows 10 Home
GPU NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Memory 8GB DDR4 RAM/128GB SSD + 500GB hard disk
Battery 74Whr, 6-cell battery
Size/Weight 384.9 x 274.73 x 25.44mm / 2.65kg
*Review unit courtesy of Dell Malaysia
WHAT WE LIKED Comfy palm rests, backlit keyboard, sturdily built, good battery life
WHAT WE DIDN’T Tiny Enter key, chunky casing, middling display
WE SAY Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop has a few minor niggles but is otherwise a well built, decently priced gaming rig.