Dell In­sp­iron 15 7000 Gam­ing

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The Core i7 CPU will han­dle any game and most ap­pli­ca­tions

D ell’s In­sp­iron 15 7000 Gam­ing (7577) aims to of­fer abun­dant gam­ing abil­ity with­out the gre­gar­i­ous looks and high prices of Alien­ware ma­chines. It’s a smart sys­tem. The lid’s dark mag­ne­sium al­loy is only dis­turbed by a red Dell logo, and the same colour rings the touch­pad. The key­board has an un­ob­tru­sive white backlight, and the metal is matt and plain – not brushed. Mean­while, the slat­ted front edge con­ceals two speak­ers, while the back has more slats that hide ex­hausts. It takes more in­spi­ra­tion from busi­ness lap­tops than gam­ing ma­chines, which may be prefer­able, de­pend­ing no your tests. It has a sleek de­sign, and there’s no dis­put­ing Dell’s build qual­ity ei­ther. The key­board base and the metal around the touch­pad barely moves, and there’s only a lit­tle more give in the lid. It’s one of the strong­est mid-priced gam­ing lap­tops we’ve seen. The Dell’s strength doesn’t come at the ex­pense of size ei­ther. The In­sp­iron weighs 2.65kg and is 25mm thick, which plants it in the mid­dle of the mar­ket – it’s a tad smaller than Acer’s Nitro 5 (see p30), for in­stance.

The edges pro­vide three USB 3.1 ports, a Thun­der­bolt con­nec­tor and HDMI, but there’s no Dis­playPort and only one au­dio jack. You also get the stan­dard In­tel Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, while the power but­ton dou­bles as a fin­ger­print reader.

Pleas­ingly, re­mov­ing a sin­gle screw also re­moves the base panel. Un­der­neath, you’ll find ac­cess to the bat­tery and stor­age, and a spare mem­ory slot. A shroud cov­ers most of the moth­er­board and cool­ing gear, which makes the in­te­rior look cleaner and pre­sum­ably im­proves strength. That’s fine, but it does make it trick­ier to clean the fans.

Mean­while, the keys have a plain white backlight, but we en­coun­tered a few mi­nor lay­out is­sues. The func­tion and cur­sor keys are small, and the nu­meric key­pad but­tons are a lit­tle nar­row. The Re­turn key is also only sin­gle-height. It’s a mixed bag for typ­ing too. The keys have 1.4mm of travel, which is con­ven­tional, but the ac­tion is qui­eter and softer than keys on ri­val ma­chines. It makes typ­ing com­fort­able, but it’s not nec­es­sar­ily great for gam­ing. The touch­pad’s sur­face is a lit­tle rough too, but the but­tons are good, with a shal­low, fast ac­tion.

On the in­side, Dell’s ma­chine is only the sec­ond one we’ve seen with an Nvidia Max-Q GPU. The Max-Q range re­duces power con­sump­tion, and im­proves bat­tery life and ther­mal per­for­mance by cut­ting clock speeds. The GTX 1060 Max-Q in­side the Dell runs at 1063MHz with a 1342MHz av­er­age boost clock. By com­par­i­son, the full-power GTX 1060 runs at 1404MHz with a 1670MHz boost. You get 6GB of graph­ics mem­ory though.

The low-power GPU is paired with a Core i7-7700HQ CPU, which runs four Hy­per-Threaded cores at 2.8GHz with a 3.8GHz turbo peak.

Mean­while, Win­dows 10 sits on a 256GB Toshiba XG5 SSD, and there’s a 1TB hard disk. There’s 16GB of mem­ory in this ma­chine too, but it’s dis­ap­point­ingly sin­gle-chan­nel.

Dell also makes two other ver­sions of this ma­chine. The cheap­est costs £849, and uses a Core i5-7300HQ CPU with a GTX 1050 GPU, while the mid­dle ma­chine costs £1,049 and pairs the i7-7700HQ with a GTX 1050 Ti. Per­for­mance The GTX 1060 Max-Q’s re­duced speed has an im­pact on per­for­mance, but the mid-range Nvidia card still delivers enough power to han­dle gam­ing on the Dell’s 1080p screen. Deus Ex is our tough­est game, and the Dell still re­turned a min­i­mum frame rate of 30fps along­side a bet­ter fig­ure of 44fps in Fall­out 4.

The Dell fell be­hind in stan­dard bench­marks though. For ex­am­ple, the i7-7700HQ’s im­age edit­ing score of 36,280 is around 9,000 points be­hind that of the Razer Blade Pro (see Is­sue 174, p32), which is much more ex­pen­sive but is based on the same CPU. This test re­sponds to clock speed, so it’s likely the Dell’s CPU isn’t hit­ting its turbo fre­quency as of­ten as the Razer. The Dell’s multi-task­ing re­sult of 89,581 was also slower than that of the Razer, likely down to the lat­ter hav­ing dual-chan­nel mem­ory, among other fac­tors.

The Dell never felt slug­gish, though, and the Core i7 CPU will han­dle any game and most ap­pli­ca­tions, but it’s clear that more speed is avail­able else­where. It’s the same with the SSD. The Toshiba’s read and write re­sults of 2,194MB/ sec and 963MB/sec are much quicker than SATA drives, but Sam­sung’s NVMe drives are quicker. That said, it’s good to see a 256GB NVMe drive in this ma­chine.

In its favour, the Dell was si­lent dur­ing low-in­ten­sity tasks, and dur­ing a gam­ing test, the noise level was mod­est. There

were no ex­te­rior heat is­sues ei­ther - tem­per­a­tures were fine, and the GPU boosted be­yond 1400MHz in games. Dur­ing a full sys­tem stress test, the CPU’s delta T of 68°C was high, but the GPU topped out at a mod­est 50°C. The noise was only a lit­tle louder, and there were no throt­tling or ex­te­rior heat prob­lems.

The Max-Q GPU does help the Dell de­liver slightly bet­ter bat­tery life than many gam­ing ma­chines. The In­sp­iron lasted for just over two hours when gam­ing, which is a solid im­prove­ment over most ri­vals. It also lasted for three hours, 40 min­utes in an ap­pli­ca­tion test.

Mean­while, the screen’s bright­ness level of 239cd/m² is fine, and the black point of 0.19cd/m² is solid, so con­trast is an im­pres­sive 1,257:1.

How­ever, the Dell’s colour tem­per­a­ture of 7,223K is a tad cool, and its delta E mea­sure­ment of 5.76 is medi­ocre. The sRGB gamut cov­er­age level of 56.7 per cent isn’t great ei­ther.

The high con­trast means games will have plenty of punch, even if those colours are a lit­tle dulled. It’s a shame, but at least games won’t be hin­dered.

Fi­nally, the speak­ers lack vol­ume, and bass is a lit­tle weak, which is to be ex­pected from a ma­chine with no sub­woofer. How­ever, tre­ble and high-end fre­quency re­pro­duc­tion is sur­pris­ingly good, with lots of de­tail and punch with­out any tinny high-end hiss. Con­clu­sion Nvidia’s GTX 1060 Max-Q delivers solid gam­ing per­for­mance while con­tribut­ing to de­cent ther­mals and im­proved bat­tery life, and the Core i7-7700HQ re­mains quick. Else­where, Dell’s ma­chine of­fers solid, sub­tle aes­thet­ics and good screen con­trast. How­ever, the In­sp­iron isn’t with­out fault. The ap­pli­ca­tion per­for­mance is gen­er­ally dis­ap­point­ing, as is the lack of dual-chan­nel mem­ory, and the sub­tle key­board isn’t ideal for gam­ing ei­ther.

Dell’s lat­est lap­top doesn’t have any ma­jor is­sues, but those smaller prob­lems pre­vent it from reach­ing great­ness. The In­sp­iron is a solid mid-range gam­ing ma­chine that will han­dle games at its 1080p na­tive res­o­lu­tion, but it doesn’t re­ally ex­cel in any par­tic­u­lar de­part­ment.

The Dell looks more like a busi­ness lap­top than a gam­ing ma­chine. It has a sleek de­sign, and there’s no dis­put­ing Dell’s build qual­ity ei­ther

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