It can sometimes feel like budget gaming laptops cut too many corners in order to stay below the $1000 threshold that many expect from manufacturers. The latest Dell 15 7000, although below that threshold, does not cut too many corners and still stands out as a robust gaming and productivity laptop.
This laptop comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with Max-Q design, an Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. These specs are what helps its price start at around $900, but did Dell cut too many corners this time?
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The design of the Dell 15 7000 is a continuation of what you have seen in its previous iteration. This laptop has that sharp and angled look that users have becomes used to in the Inspiron line. The good thing is that Dell did not go too much out of their way to make this laptop look too gamey. That said, it still manages to stand out from the plain look that most business laptops have.
The Dell 15 7000 has a bigger footprint than other gaming laptops and at 5.82 pounds, it is quite hefty.
The red accents on the logo and the red backlight on the keyboard are the oy gamer characteristic this laptop has. One thing you will notice immediately is the bazels; they are huge. Because most of the chassis is made out of plastic, the Dell 15 7000 can feel a bit cheap and oversized, especially when you compare it to the Acer Helios 300 which feels smaller despite both of these laptops having a 15-inch screen.
Lots of USB-A ports
The Dell 15 7000 has a good selection of ports; three USB-A, one HDMI port, an ethernet jack and one USB-c port. We would have liked to see more USB ports but with the way the ports are arranged on the laptop, everything feels like it is where it should be.
Keyboard and touchpad
As mentioned, the keyboard has a red backlight with black on red keys. The travel feels comfortable, but the keys have a gritty feel that doesn’t go away even with constant use. The gritty texture of the keys is the same you will find on the touchpad. On here though, it is a little less pronounced. The touchpad can feel a bit unresponsive with multi-finger gestures not registering a majority of the time. To compound the issue even further, the touchpad is a bit too flexible for our liking.
The Dell 15 7000 comes with a 1,080p display. Because of what is now considered a low-res display, the colours can be a bit off. The sharpness and richness of colours does disappear somewhat and when you look at common logos, like the blue one on Facebook, you can start to see why we are not the biggest fans of this display. That said though, this display is much better than the one in the previous model, just that the improvements are not as big of a jump as we would have liked.
If you like numbers, do note that this laptop supports 46% of AdobeRGB gamut and 71% of the sRGB gamut. That said, the average colour error od 3.28 is much lower than that of the previous model.
Sound and speakers
Although a lot of manufacturers will cut corners when it comes to budget laptops such as the Dell 15 7000, Dell did not do so here. The speaker is loud and clear even at high volumes and is capable of filling a room. The bass does not smother the highs and the details even on low volume.
The Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor does very well to hold its own in everyday situations. It does not slow down in common tasks such as web browsing or opening and working on several spreadsheets at once.
On Geekbench, this humble workhorse was able to hit 3700 on single core performance with around 9900 on multi-core performance tests. It manages to rival other laptops such as the HP Omen 15 which has a core i7-7700HQ.
For 4k encoding tests, the Dell 15 7000 finishes the encoding in around 7 and a half minutes.
All of this is to say that although this laptop will not hold you back in everyday tasks, you might see some slowdowns when doing CPU intensive work such as video encoding.
The 256GB SSD included is quite speedy, surpassing that of the Acer Predator Helios 300. The SSD here is able to hit read speeds of about 2200 Megabytes per second with write speeds of around 1200 megabytes per second.
Due to the use of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q design, the Dell 15 7000 is very quiet even when under heavy load. Despite remaining quiet and cool under heavy load, for example when playing games, this laptop is no slouch. In 3DMark, this laptop hits a respectable 8478.
Some gaming benchmarks
In Deus Ex: Mankind divided, the Inspiron 7000 pushes around 50 frames per second in high settings. This shows that the 1060 with Max Q design beats the 1050TI in the HP Omen 15 and the Origin EON 15-S. In Battlefield, the dell hits 65FPS on Ultra settings.
The Inspiron 15 7000 is mostly free of bloatware, save for a McAfee trial that you can get rid off via a simple uninstall process.
If you have a flexible budget, you can go for the Acer Predator Helios 3000 at $1,000. The Asus ROG Strix GL703VM features the same graphics card, but a much better display (with 120Hz refresh rate) for around $1,600 depending on specifications.
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The Dell 15 7000 is a decent gaming and workspace laptop. The only thing that spoils this otherwise perfect budget gaming laptop is the screen.