windows 10 gaming laptop – DELL Inspiron 15 7000 – 3/5
This laptop can handle 1080p gaming with ease, but it’s let down by a poor-quality display
NOT MANY LAPTOPS below ,200 can offer a smooth, slick Full HD gaming experience, but Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 does just that. For ,130, this particular configuration offers up an Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, a 4GB GTX 1050 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, coupled with a 1TB hard disk.
The Inspiron 15 7000 looks quite stylish, with a tasteful matt black and red design. However, it opens up via a single, small middle-section hinge – an arrangement that means the panel is prone to flex and wobble. The bezels around the screen are also quite large, making them a little distracting for gaming. The top bezel also houses a frontfacing 720p HD camera.
It’s a relatively heavy laptop, at 2.62kg, and also a little chunky, at 25mm thick. However, it’s well specified: there are full-size HDMI and RJ-45 Ethernet ports, a Noble lock, an SD card reader, three USB3 ports, a 3.5mm headphone/mic jack, and a proprietary Dell power port. The only thing missing is a USB Type-C port; a surprise for a modern laptop.
The Inspiron 15 7000’s keyboard has a slightly mushy feel to it. The spacing feels odd, too, with the keys slightly smaller than we’d expect from a 15.6in laptop. This is thanks to the inclusion of a full numeric keypad alongside the regular keys; if this pad were removed and the keys were slightly larger, it would be easier to type on. Still, it provides extra input options for games and applications.
We weren’t impressed by the trackpad, either: tracking wasn’t always perfectly smooth, and left- and right-click button presses sometimes missed the mark.
At the heart of the laptop is a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor. This is a powerful quad-core CPU, and partnered with 16GB of DDR4 RAM it makes multitasking a breeze.
In our 4K media benchmarks, the Inspiron 15 7000 scored 113 overall, merely a stone’s throw behind its more expensive competitors such as the Kaby Lake Razer Blade and the Gigabyte Aero 15 (both Shopper 356).
This indicates that video encoding, image editing and CPU-heavy games will work very well on this laptop indeed.
YOU CAN PLAY THAT AGAIN
Of course, this laptop isn’t intended solely for CPU-intensive tasks. Graphical performance is a big part of its appeal, and the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 raced through the GFXBench test with flying colours. It managed to run the Car Chase onscreen benchmark at 129fps, and in the onscreen Manhattan 3.0 benchmark it clocked up a ridiculous 251fps.
That translates very nicely to real-world games. In Dirt Showdown, with Ultra settings, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 rendered an average of 78fps. The more challenging Metro: Last Light Redux ran at 69fps at Very High settings with Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) disabled. Turning it on severely affected performance, however, causing the average frame rate to drop to 36fps.
These scores mean that this laptop is practically perfect for 1080p gaming: most AAA titles should run at above 60fps with very high detail settings. There’s just one caveat: you’ll need to keep the laptop plugged in for optimal performance, and you’ll have to live with its fans running at full pelt. During the aforementioned benchmark tests, we saw the processor hit 80°C – edging close to its thermal threshold.
Despite the powerful internals, battery life is surprisingly good. In fact, it’s the best we’ve seen from a gaming laptop, delivering 7h 57m of video playback before needing a recharge.
Storage performance is decent, too.
Our model featured dual drives, partnering a 256GB SSD with a 1TB 5,400rpm HDD.
The former achieved sequential read and write speeds of 479MB/s and 387MB/s in
the AS SSD benchmark, which is more than fast enough for everyday use.
The big problem with this laptop is the display. It’s a 15.6in, 1,920×1,080 TN panel that runs at 60Hz; that sounds fine, but as soon as you look at it, you notice how dull it is. That impression was backed up by our display calibrator, which measured a maximum luminance of just 220cd/m2.
This is very low, and it makes everything look drab. Even worse, colour accuracy and balance are way off: we measured an average delta-E of 6.29, with blues hitting a ridiculously high 22.19. Colour coverage is very poor ,too, representing just 61.6% of the sRGB gamut.
The good news is a 1,054:1 contrast ratio, with a 0.2cd/m2 black level. While the screen certainly lacks vibrancy, it’s not too hard to read text and make out graphical details.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is a competent gaming laptop; in fact, if you’re on a tight budget, you simply won’t do better for the money. It’s just a shame that it’s all let down by the screen: a better, brighter panel would have allowed you to enjoy the full visual impact of your games. If you can, try to stretch to the Dell XPS 15, which packs a 7th generation Core i7 CPU, GTX 1050 GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.
PROCESSOR Quad-core 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ • RAM 16GB • DIMENSIONS 385x275x25mm • WEIGHT 2.62kg • SCREEN SIZE 15.6in • SCREEN RESOLUTION 1,920×1,080 • GRAPHICS ADAPTOR 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti • TOTAL STORAGE 256GB SSD, 1TB hard disk • OPERATING SYSTEM Windows10 Home • WARRANTY Three years RTB • DETAILS www.dell.com/uk • PART CODE 053JW