The last time we took a gaming laptop out for a ride, it was the very powerful, very heavy, very stylish Dell Alienware 17 R4. It was a beast, but it was a niche product. The more average consumer of a laptop wants to play games, but he doesn’t necessarily want to splurge. This is the space that the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Series looks to fill in. Does it succeed. Let’s find out.
DELL INSPIRON 15 7000
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop that we reviewed rocked a Nvidia GeForce 1060 with Max Q design. The GPU was complemented by and Intel Core i7 7700HQ CPU and had 16GB (2400MHz) of DDR4 RAM to round it off.
That’s pretty decent, it also gets a 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Anti-Glare LED-Backlit matte screen with good off-angle viewing as well as improved touch-pad performance, a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, 2×2 dual-band 802.11ac wireless and even a fingerprint reader built into the power button for near-instant sign-ins with Windows Hello. And while we are on the finger print scanner, its the best one I have seen apart from the mighty iPhone itself.
The Finger Print Scanner just works.
It has to be noted though that the laptop uses the, so it’s a little less powerful than the regular 1060, but it also runs cooler allowing for a slimmer and more stylish laptop than budget systems from a year or two ago. It’s more energy efficient, too, which is a good thing, because this model has a smaller battery than the 16 model.
For all of that the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 gaming starts from INR 1,27,189.99. You have an option to upgrade the RAM upto 32GB, which might drive the prices up a little bit more, but overall the price specification trade off seems fair for a laptop.
The Inspiron maintains a black-and-red design. Our review unit was a professional matte-black model, with a soft-touch lid bearing Dell’s logo in an eye-popping red. The rear, featuring a series of vents, comes in straight, gray plastic lines. It’s not as fun as the spiderweb accents from the year before, but it looks more laptop than gaming, until you pop it open.
The interior maintains that motif, with a black soft-touch deck, an island-style keyboard with red lettering and back-lighting, and a touch-pad surrounded by a crimson border. I felt the arrow keys were a bit small, but who uses them for gaming anyways. The WASD keys have a border around them but if you are having trouble finding them, I think you might want to lay off from buying this laptop. The keyboard itself is not mechanical, but I liked the rubbery feel of it much more than the Alienware (to each his own I guess).
The touch-pad is 4.1 x 3.1 inches, which is nice and spacious but taller than any reasonable person needs. It’s plastic, so it doesn’t feel as nice as metal or glass touchpads, but it’s accurate when you’re navigating and using gestures like pinch-to-zoom and tapping four fingers to reach the Action Center in Windows 10.
Usage & Battery Life
I used the laptop off and on for a week. The battery life is better than the Alienware for some reason (maybe its all those LEDs) but it still falls in medium zone. Windows 10 might have an atrocious Update cycle, but it recovers from power failures safely enough, so if the battery runs out when you are doing some important work, chances are your work will be safe.
The laptop without any accessories weighs somewhere around 2.65 Kg. Again lighter than its Alienware brethren, but heavier than its XPS cousins. Another trade off you might want to keep in your head.
Anyone planning to use this more as a portable desktop than as a full-time laptop should be happy with the all the connection options Dell packed in. There are three USB 3.1 ports as well as a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port so you can expand as much as you want and still have ports to spare. Those are joined by an HDMI 2.0 output, SD card slot and a headphone/mic jack. Gigabit Ethernet and dual-band 2×2 802.11ac wireless as well as Bluetooth 4.2 round out the package.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 gaming series performs steadily average on all fronts.
Which means that while you might not be able to get god level performance from the laptop, it doesn’t drop off the median as much, which means once you find a suitable marker for your setting, the 7000 will be able to maintain it without a lot of spikes.
In the Cinebench test, the laptop scored 62.39 in the OpenGL test, and 435 in the CPU test. In the 3D Mark time-spy test, the laptop scored 3320 putting it slightly below VR ready Gaming PC with minimum specs.
The Heaven Uni Engine tests on the other hand, over multiple tests gave me an average FPS of 121 on Basic and 23.1 on Extreme. The maximum FPS on an Extreme test maxed out at 56, but in the Basic mode, it recorded a maximum FPS of 419. The minimum FPS in both kinds of tests though hovered around 6-9 FPS.
Through all these tests the temperature never went above 75 degrees. Which is commendable considering the laptop does house a proper GPU in its chassis.
Perfect for playing games, when the laptop is actually in your lap.
While I did not intend to, I played a lot of Ori And The Blind Forest. I know its not the best benchmark, but the game ran smoothly on 60 FPS without me touching any kind of setting.
In my Ashes Of Singularity test though I tried to push the envelope. The game was still able to manage an average of above 30 FPS in all of its sections.
Finally in my week long escapade with Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming, I tried out a bit of CSGO and Rocket League (both games I suck at, and still play), mostly in unplugged mode and got above average performance on both of them.
Finally I rounded off my gaming with some GTA V and Witcher 3. The laptop did struggle to churn out a consistent 30 FPS on them, but turning down anti-aliasing and other such options made the game playable without looking too bad.
In my limited time with the laptop, it appears to me that the laptop efficiently serves the need of an more than casual gamer. The Inspiron gives a steady performance in almost all games that I tried, BUT at basic or Medium settings. The experience is not as good when all the gauges are turned to extreme.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 gaming series looks to fill a gap between an XPS user and an Alienware consumer. Its aimed at the crowd who use their laptop for gaming, as well as for Netflix and Word. For people where gaming is not the primary function, but it is an important one. A crowd that I know exists. It keeps up with all the latest games and performs decently in all the popular ones, a good buy.