Although Dell calls it a “Thin Gaming Laptop”, this 15.6in notebook isn’t especially thin and nor does it have to be used for gaming. With Intel’s new quad-core i5-8300H processor and a 4GB GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card shoehorned into its inch-thick black plastic case, it’s what we’d call a proper old-fashioned do-it-all portable PC. Read our Dell G3 15 Review.
At 2.53kg (three bags of flour in old money), ’portable’ is arguably stretching a point, but you can certainly lug it around if you need to, and the battery lasted a commendably practical 7 hours 30 minutes in our video-playback test.
Easy to upgrade, great keyboard and performs well – but the screen is poor
Compared with slim aluminium unibodies, Dell’s G range has a more traditional construction that makes it much easier to tweak what’s inside. Undo eight screws underneath the G3 15 and you’ll find an empty 2.5in drive bay and a free SODIMM memory slot. The latter makes it easy to double the 8GB of memory, while the former provides a cost-effective way to add to the 256GB SSD.
The base model looks great value. Although the GTX 1050 graphics card is from the bottom of the GeForce range, it’ll run many 3D games on high settings at the screen’s Full HD resolution, and the rest with some options turned down, even if it won’t rise to challenges like virtual reality. It’ll also give a good boost to compatible photo- and video-editing programs.
The i5-8300H laptop processor delivers the kind of test scores we’d have expected from a mid-range desktop PC a few years ago. And although that’s still around 50 per cent below what you could expect from a similarly priced desktop PC with one of Intel’s latest full-power i5s, it’s enough to avoid any noticeable delays in general Windows tasks and cope well with more ambitious jobs.
The full-size keyboard, complete with number pad, is perfectly laid out and backlit in a fetching blue, echoed by a strip around the trackpad. Not so much effort has gone into making it produce letters when you hit it – the action is best described as limp. We’re not sure how well it would survive the hammering of either a keen gamer or a busy typist.
But it’s the screen that, unfortunately, betrays Dell’s biggest compromise. The 1920xl080-pixel resolution isn’t ultra-sharp at this size, but adequate, and although the maximum brightness is underwhelming, that’s probably not a deal-breaker.
The problem is that it covers less than half the sRGB colour range, and even the colours it does show are wrong. A Delta E score of below 1 is ideal, and below 2 is good. The G3 15 scored 7. Of course, if you only ever use your PC for web browsing and spreadsheets, it won’t matter. Even for watching films, it’s no worse than a bargain-bucket TV. But for any kind of colour graphics work, it’s hopeless.
You could plug in a decent monitor for the occasional photo-editing session – the HDMI 2 port can drive up to a 4K screen at a steady 60Hz – but that detracts from the G3’s value and flexibility.
This is so nearly an ideal all-purpose laptop that even enables easy upgrades, but the poor screen would make us think twice
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See also THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO…OLED laptops
If you can live with a dual-core i5 processor and short battery life, you get a much better, brighter screen
2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H quad-core processor • 8GB memory 256GB SSD • 15.6in 1920×1080- pixel screen • Webcam • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 5 • 2x USB 3.1 ports • SD card slot • HDMI 2 port • Gigabit Ethernet port • Windows 10 Home • 22.7x380x258mm (HxWxD) • 2.53kg • One-year warranty