Dell In­sp­iron 15 7000 Gam­ing

PC Advisor - - CONTENTS - Andrew Wil­liams

The Dell In­sp­iron 15 7000 Gam­ing is a mid-price gam­ing lap­top. It doesn’t of­fer the most pow­er­ful graph­ics pro­ces­sors around, but does have enough power to work as your main PC and play al­most any game at 1080p with the vi­su­als set to ‘medium’ or ‘high’.

It cov­ers all bases too, with re­mark­ably good bat­tery life a high­light that al­ter­na­tives just don’t get close to. There’s one po­ten­tially fa­tal flaw: most ver­sions of the Dell In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing come with a poor qual­ity screen.

Price

Dell’s en­try-level In­sp­iron 15 7567 Gam­ing is avail­able for £899. That gets you an Nvidia GTX 1050 GPU, a quad-core In­tel Core i5 Kaby Lake pro­ces­sor, a 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM. (In the US ver­sion, you get a 1TB hard drive in­stead of the SSD.)

For an ex­tra £200 – that’s £1,099 – you get the ver­sion we’re re­view­ing here. It has a 1TB hard drive, plus a 256GB SSD, a Kaby Lake Core i7 chipset and a more pow­er­ful GTX 1050 Ti GPU.

Right at the top of the range is the £1,299 model. It has a 512GB SSD and a rad­i­cally more ad­vanced screen. Not only is this a 4K panel, it uses bet­ter IPS tech, too.

Th­ese lap­tops come with a oneyear col­lect-and-re­turn war­ranty as stan­dard. You can up­grade to a bet­ter ‘on-site’ war­ranty for £68 if you buy from Dell, and ex­tend that cover to up to four years. This full­fat cover costs up to £232.

De­sign

Gam­ing lap­tops from Asus, MSI and Acer of­ten have colour­ful key­board back­lights and great big light-up de­signs on their lids. They don’t want to hide their gamer chops.

The In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing is more sub­dued. The Dell logo on the rear is red, and the heat out­lets on the front and back edges are red too, though as you use the ma­chine it looks ex­actly like a ‘nor­mal’ lap­top.

You won’t need to feel em­bar­rassed should you take it out in a li­brary or a Star­bucks, but it has a few more de­sign flour­ishes than a dull of­fice-bound ma­chine.

The Dell’s en­tire shell is plas­tic, but it uses a few dif­fer­ent fin­ishes. Its hinge is sim­ple grey plas­tic, though the lid and in­side are soft­touch black plas­tic. The lid picks up fin­ger­prints read­ily, but looks and feels nicer than that of a ba­sic ‘meat and pota­toes’ model. It’s no Dell XPS 15, though looks good none­the­less.

Weigh­ing 2.65kg, we wouldn’t ad­vise buy­ing the In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing if you want a lap­top to carry around with you ev­ery day. Plus, at 25mm thick, it will take up a lot of space in even a large bag. We wouldn’t want to take this on hol­i­day or out for work trips too of­ten.

Con­nec­tiv­ity

Dell seems to have made this for peo­ple who want an al­ter­na­tive to a desk­top, and you see this in the con­nec­tions, too. There’s an Eth­er­net port for di­rect con­nec­tion to a router, as well as three USB 3.0 ports and a full-size SD slot.

In­ter­est­ingly, Dell has not in­cluded one of the newer USB-C 3.1 sock­ets, which is a slight sur­prise. Most new lap­tops seem to have one. Right now you don’t miss it, but in

You won’t need to feel em­bar­rassed should you take it out to a Star­bucks, but it has a few more de­sign flour­ishes than a dull of­fice-bound ma­chine

two years you might be left wish­ing you had a USB-C.

Key­board and touch­pad

The In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing has a clas­sic ‘larger lap­top’ key­board lay­out. There’s a num­ber­pad as well as a nor­mal set of keys, and im­por­tant keys to­wards the edge, such as Shift, have not been shrunk down.

We re­cently re­viewed Dell’s XPS 15 9560, and while it has a slightly bet­ter, meatier-feel­ing key­board, we’d be more than happy to live with this one. It’s crisp, com­fort­able and has the same sort of light def­i­ni­tion you see in an ul­tra­book key­board.

It also has a back­light: tap on the F10 func­tion key and it switches be­tween medium and high in­ten­sity. There’s no very low key­board back­light level, but if that’s all you need maybe you don’t need a back­light at all.

The track­pad be­low is large for a gam­ing model and has nice click ac­tion. How­ever, it’s not per­fect: it’s made of plas­tic rather than glass, so is a lit­tle less smooth, and there’s some un­wanted ‘pre-click’ give to the pad. It also de­presses a lit­tle un­der the weight of your fin­ger, which is a shame.

Dis­play

The screen is eas­ily the weak­est part of this lap­top. Its size and res­o­lu­tion are fine: 15.6 inches is a great size for gamers and 1080p is the best res­o­lu­tion un­less you’re go­ing to pair it with a true top-end GPU.

How­ever, the In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing has a TN (twisted ne­matic) panel rather than the IPS kind used in the vast ma­jor­ity of higher-end lap­tops. Th­ese TN screens have much poorer view­ing an­gles, suf­fer­ing from con­trast shift when tilted the wrong way, and shifts in the char­ac­ter of the im­age from even a slight an­gle.

Gamers will un­der­stand why Dell has done this: TN of­fers much faster re­sponse times than IPS, which is what you want for com­pet­i­tive gam­ing. But there are good and bad TN pan­els. On the In­sp­iron, colour and con­trast are both poor, and the colour tone changed pretty dra­mat­i­cally af­ter a ses­sion with our cal­i­brat­ing col­orime­ter. The In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing seems to have quite a blue-green tint out of the box. Cal­i­brated or not, it can only cover 54.6 per­cent of the sRGB colour stan­dard. This is pretty stan­dard for a TN dis­play, but it’s not what we ex­pect from a £1,199 lap­top. Colours look washed out as a re­sult.

Con­trast of just 281:1 means blacks are not par­tic­u­larly deep, an­other rea­son for the washed-out, faded ap­pear­ance. Next to the Dell XPS 15 9560, it looks bad.

From a purely prac­ti­cal per­spec­tive it fares bet­ter, though. An anti-glare sur­face min­imises the ef­fect of re­flec­tions and max­i­mum bright­ness of 300cd/m2 is enough for use out­doors.

We’d be much more com­fort­able if this lap­top had an IPS screen, though. It’s an ugly face for what is oth­er­wise a great sys­tem.

Of course, Dell gives you an­other op­tion. The £1,299 ver­sion of the In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing has a much bet­ter 4K IPS LCD screen. We’ve not tested it, but would be sur­prised if it isn’t rad­i­cally bet­ter, hav­ing seen 4K IPS pan­els on the firm’s other lap­tops re­cently.

Per­for­mance

The Dell’s per­for­mance suf­fers from no sim­i­lar is­sues. All of the avail­able spec­i­fi­ca­tions have quad-core In­tel Core pro­ces­sors, and the one we’re test­ing here is a very high-end In­tel Core i7-7700HQ.

This is a ‘do any­thing’ kind of chipset, ca­pa­ble of han­dling video edit­ing, mu­sic pro­duc­tion and in­tense photo edit­ing, as long as you have enough RAM to match. Our 16GB model will sail through more com­plex tasks like that.

Our re­view unit has a ba­sic 1TB 5400rpm hard drive and a faster 256GB SSD, onto which the OS is in­stalled. It’s fast and re­spon­sive, al­though oddly enough we saw a greater per­for­mance dif­fer­ence than ex­pected com­pared to Dell’s XPS 15, which uses the same CPU.

The In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing beat the XPS 15 in PCMark 8, with a very good score of 3105 (to the XPS’s 2810), but per­formed worse in Geek­bench 4. It scored a still-great 12050, around 2000 points less than the XPS.

This seems a bit odd when it’s meant to be a CPU test, but the In­sp­iron does also have a much slower SSD. Its read speeds are around 550MB/s rather than 3000MB/s-plus, write speeds 265MB/s rather than 1700MB/s.

Buy one of the two more ex­pen­sive ver­sions of the Dell In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing and it’ll best the XPS 15 for gam­ing, though. Our re­view model and the top-end 4K

4K one both have Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti cards rather than the stan­dard GTX 1050. This is a faster ver­sion of Nvidia’s lower-mid range card, and is ca­pa­ble of run­ning most games very well at 1080p.

On the 1050 Ti ver­sion we were sent for re­view, Thief ran at an av­er­age of 51.4fps at max set­tings, 1080p res­o­lu­tion, which

is around 9fps more than the Dell XPS 15 man­ages. At 720p, min­i­mum set­tings the frame rate rock­ets to 70fps.

Alien: Iso­la­tion ran at 179fps at 720p low set­tings, and 60fps at 1080p high set­tings. For now at least you can play just about any­thing you like, in­clud­ing pro­ces­sor­in­ten­sive ti­tles. Nvidia’s lat­est cards are very ca­pa­ble.

Typ­i­cal of a gam­ing lap­top, the Dell gets rea­son­ably noisy un­der load, but the fans are not whiny or high-pitched and the wellde­signed air flow stop the parts you touch from get­ting too hot.

Bat­tery life

Lap­tops this pow­er­ful do not tend to last very long off a charge, even when us­ing a bat­tery saver mode. Around 4.5 hours of light use is to be ex­pected, but the In­sp­iron 15 Gam­ing’s stamina is miles ahead of this slightly de­press­ing stan­dard. Thanks to Dell’s clever power man­age­ment, this lap­top lasts stag­ger­ingly long for a quad-core In­tel CPU ma­chine. Play­ing a 720p video on loop with the screen bright­ness at 120cd/m2, it lasted eight hours and 50 min­utes.

It also has rea­son­able speak­ers, with bet­ter-than-av­er­age bass thanks to a ‘sub­woofer’ driver. Un­like some gam­ing ma­chines, clar­ity isn’t thrown away as a re­sult, and the tone is nat­u­ral-sound­ing enough. We’d still choose to plug in some head­phones for gam­ing, though.

Ver­dict

The Dell In­sp­iron 15 7000 Gam­ing gets just about ev­ery­thing right apart from its screen. The de­sign is fine, its per­for­mance ad­mirable and its bat­tery life a jaw-drop­per. This makes its low screen qual­ity all the more an­noy­ing, al­though at least Dell lets you up­grade this if you can af­ford £1,299 rather than £899. It’s some­thing to con­sider care­fully if £899 is your up­per limit, though, as the poor colour and con­trast re­ally does not do games jus­tice.

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