The Good: Dell's G5 15 5590 gaming laptop improves on the previous version's design. It has good performance and features for the money -- including the $950 starting model -- and remarkable battery life for a gaming system. The Bad: Features like Thunderbolt 3, four-zone RGB keyboard and a 144Hz display are only available with higher-end graphics. The Bottom Line: Still one of the best mainstream gaming laptops you can find thanks to its strong performance, a variety of component options and a more travel- and user-friendly design. Editors' note, Nov. 25: Since our initial review in July, Dell continues to offer the G5 15 5590 with a wide variety of component options at reasonable prices for entry-level and mainstream gamers. Because of this we have named it our Editors' Choice for budget gaming laptops. Our original review follows.This is either the best time to buy an entry-level gaming laptop or the worst. Both Intel and Nvidia have updated hardware out, which means if you get a new model like the Dell G5 15 5590 you're getting the latest components. And since the G5 is from Dell's mainstream gaming line and not from its Alienware brand, you'll get it at a good price, starting at less than $1,000. International prices start at or .Although the base model is a good value, it's better in the long run to buy a version with better graphics. And if you configure the G5 15 with better graphics you can, in turn, add other features including an RGB-backlit keyboard or 144Hz display. On the other hand, you can potentially get more for your money if you go with the older-but-still-excellent hardware in last year's model, the G5 15 5587, which is available from Dell and elsewhere for as low as $700. From a pure value standpoint, the 5587 would be the way to go, especially if you're . Then again, the 5590 has an updated slimmer, smaller design that puts a few key ports at the rear, making it better for travel and life on a desk hooked up to peripherals. There are thinner bezels around the display like the ones you'd see on pricier laptops, making the whole machine look and feel less like an entry-level gaming laptop than before. Its battery life is better, too, so whichever way you decide to go -- old or new -- the G5 15 is still one of our top gaming picks for the money.Streamlined redesignWhile Dell didn't shed all the G5's gaming flair, it is toned down from the last version. Available in black or a special edition in white, the body is smaller and thinner than before due in part to thinner bezels around the display. There are low-profile fan vents on back and more vents on the sides and bottom (as well as a tinted see-through panel on the special edition), but none of it is terribly showy. The fans won't let you forget they're there when you're gaming, but that's for the best. You won't hear them much at all the rest of the time. You get a full keyboard and number pad and it is backlit in blue with two levels of brightness and the touchpad is surrounded in blue. If you bump up to a pricier configuration, you can get a four-zone RGB-backlit keyboard for $30 more. The keyboard is good, perhaps a little shallow, but still good for typing and gaming. (For $25, you can add a fingerprint reader to the keyboard deck.) While I wish it had discrete buttons for casual gaming, the precision touchpad performs well and didn't have me reaching for a mouse for anything but gaming.