This laptop can handle 1080p gaming with ease, but it’s let down by a poor-quality display.
If you want slick Full HD gaming in a laptop, you normally have to pay a considerable price. For example, the $2,899 15in Gigabyte Aero 15 comes with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ and a 6GB GTX 1060. Or there’s Dell’s gorgeous $2,599 XPS 15, which features an Intel Core i7-7700HQ and GTX 1050 graphics.
The Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is here to spoil the party, with prices starting at $1,499 – and that still includes a Core i5 and GTX 1050. I tested the $1,999 configuration that ships with a 2.8GHz Core i7-7700HQ, 4GB GTX 1050 Ti graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, coupled with a 1TB 5,400rpm hard disk. That’s meaty power, as reflected in a score of 113 in our benchmarks.
The Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming raced through GFXBench with flying colours, too. It ran the Car Chase onscreen benchmark at 129fps, and clocked up a ridiculous 251fps on the onscreen Manhattan 3 benchmark.
That translates very nicely to real-world games. In Dirt: Showdown, with Ultra settings, the Inspiron rendered an average of 78fps. The more challenging Metro: Last Light benchmark ran at 69fps at Very High settings with Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) disabled. Only turning this on could cripple performance, causing the average framerate to drop to 36fps.
So this laptop is perfect for 1080p gaming: most AAA titles should run at above 60fps with very high detail settings. There’s only one caveat: you’ll need to keep the laptop plugged in for optimal performance, and live with its fans running at full pelt. Despite the powerful internals, battery life is surprisingly good. In fact, it’s the best I’ve seen from a gaming laptop, delivering 7hrs 57mins of video playback.
And, like the Aero, the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming looks stylish, with a tasteful matte black and red design. Inevitably, this isn’t the thinnest nor the lightest laptop around: it weighs 2.62kg and measures an inch thick. However, it’s well specified, with full-sized HDMI and RJ-45 Ethernet ports, an SD card reader, three USB 3 ports and a 3.5mm headphone/mic jack combo. The only thing missing is a USB-C port.
The big problem with this laptop is its display. Its base specification – a 15.6in, 1,920 x 1,080 TN panel that runs at 60Hz – is fine, but it looks dull. That impression was backed up by our i1 DisplayPro display calibrator, which measured a maximum brightness of 220cd/m2.
This is very weak, and it makes everything look drab. And colour accuracy and balance are way off: we measured an average Delta E of 6.29, while colour coverage is poor, representing only 61.6% of the sRGB gamut. The only good news is a 1,054:1 contrast ratio, with a 0.2cd/m2 black level.
I’m not a fan of the keyboard, which has a mushy feel and relatively small keys. These have been squeezed by the full numeric keypad alongside the regular keys; the sole consolation is that it provides extra input options for games. I wasn’t impressed by the trackpad either: tracking wasn’t always smooth, while button presses sometimes missed the mark.
These lacklustre peripherals are why the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming only earns three stars, but gamers on a budget should consider it. It offers all the power you need for Full HD gaming, a scorching-fast processor, buckets of RAM and storage and plentiful ports. For $1,999 it’s a lot of laptop.