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Dell G5 15 review: New name, same great budget-gaming deal

Only have $1,000 to spend on a gaming laptop? Make this Dell your first stop.

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman

Senior Editor / Reviews

Joshua Goldman is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering laptops and the occasional action cam or drone and related accessories. He has been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 2000.

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Dell's G-series gaming laptops are part of the company's continued push into gaming PCs "for players of all levels and budgets." That basically translates into computers that are cheaper than those from its Alienware division, but still capable of playing the latest AAA titles. 

Dell G series
8.0

Dell G5 15

The Good

Dell's G5 15 is a refinement of last year's model -- the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming -- but continues to offer good entry-level gaming performance with extras like Thunderbolt 3 and PCIe NVMe as well as memory and storage that's easily upgraded or expanded.

The Bad

Some might find the color, contrast and brightness of the full HD display disappointing.

The Bottom Line

Dell's G5 15 still rises to the top as one of the best entry-level gaming laptops you can buy despite being just a minor update from its predecessor.

The 15.6-inch G5 starts at less than $1,000, £730 and AU$1,800 is essentially the same as last year's Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop, but with a new product ID and eighth-gen Intel processors as well as the option for a 4K UHD-resolution display (though those configurations drive the price up considerably). The configuration reviewed here comes in at $1,049 with a hex-core Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics direct from Dell, but you can also find it with a quad-core Core i5 and a GeForce GTX 1060 Max Q for just under $950 from Amazon.

The G5 15 is a great value for what you're getting, but it has some stiff competition in Lenovo's Legion Y530Acer's Nitro 5, doesn't necessarily have the build quality of the Dell, but its price starts around $600 for a strong component and feature set. Likewise, Asus' TUF Gaming FX504GD is competitive at $700 and is designed for better durability. Still, the G5 offers a well-rounded package for the price making it a top pick for an entry-level gaming laptop.  

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Dell G5 15 (5587)

Price as reviewed $1,049
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
CPU 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Storage 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 5.0
Operating system Window 10 Home (64-bit)

A couple bells, one or two whistles 

As was the case with its predecessor, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop, a considerable chunk of your money is going toward the processor and graphics card. That means the rest of the system isn't as polished as something from Dell's Alienware division or a Razer laptop. It's a pretty tame design for a gaming laptop (a plus or minus depending on your preferences). It does, however, feel sturdy, but part of that is its 6-pound weight (2.7 kg) and it's relatively thin for a budget gaming laptop. 

Similarly you won't find a glass touchpad or a mechanical keyboard with multicolored backlighting. You get a full keyboard and number pad and it is backlit in red and the touchpad is surrounded in red. The keyboard is good, perhaps a little shallow and soft, but still good for typing and gaming. And while I wish it had discrete buttons for casual gaming, the touchpad performs well and didn't have me immediately reaching for a mouse. 

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The G5's keyboard is backlit in red. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Likewise, the speakers didn't make me scramble to put on headphones. They have good clarity for movies and music without being too bright and a fair amount of bass to add some heft to gunshots and explosions. You'll hear the dual fans keeping things cool when gaming, but they're not super loud. Still, you'll probably want headphones for the best experience with games and movies. 

The full HD matte 15.6-inch IPS-type display is decent and one of the best you'll find on an entry-level gaming laptop. It doesn't have a lot of punch in color and contrast, and it doesn't get particularly bright. Off-angle viewing is good, though, so at least you can move your head and tilt the screen without losing the picture like the Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD. 

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 2x2 802.11ac wireless as well as Bluetooth 5.0 round out the package.

Dell G5 15 looks good for a cheap gaming laptop

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Leave the six-core, take the 1060

The G5 15 configuration we tested delivered as expected. The six-core Intel processor outperformed other sub-$1,000 gaming laptops fitted with Intel's quad-core Core i5-8300H chip. Likewise, gaming performance was on par with those systems, which all used Nividia's GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. 

However, based on how the G5's predecessor performed with a GTX 1060, you might want to spend your money there instead of on the Core i7 processor. (Unless, of course, you can afford both.) It will give you more headroom for future games. It's worth mentioning, too, that you can easily add more memory or storage yourself by removing one little screw and popping off the bottom panel. 

Our standard test games BioShock Infinite and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ran fine with the 1050 Ti on high settings, but Deus Ex needed a drop to medium to make it smoother. I played a lot of Far Cry 5 on the G5 as well and while it did OK on high, a drop to normal was needed to keep it from stuttering. Tearing was also a bit distracting with that game. Sessions of PUBG and Fortnite were definitely playable, though, as was Overwatch, all at its native 1,920x1,080 resolution and medium detail settings. 

Battery life is on par with the competition coming in at just less than 6 hours. And that's on our streaming video test, so don't expect that for gaming. Basically, if you're going out for the day, you'll probably want to bring the power supply and you'll certainly want it if you're gaming. 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Repeat performance

Despite the new name, the Dell G5 15 isn't strikingly different than its forerunner. In this case, that's certainly not a bad thing as the Inspiron 15 7000 was a solid entry-level gaming laptop and so is the G5. You can, of course, spend two to three times this and get better performance, a nicer display and a higher-quality keyboard and touchpad, but if you can't or don't want to break $1,000, this remains a bargain.  

Geekbench 4 (multi-core)

Dell G5 15 (5587) 17246Acer Nitro 5 14220Lenovo Legion Y530 14171Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 11548Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017) 10611
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multi-core)

Dell G5 15 (5587) 1043Acer Nitro 5 851Lenovo Legion Y530 815Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 599Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017) 510
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Video playback battery drain test (Streaming)

Lenovo Legion Y530 437Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017) 362Dell G5 15 (5587) 359Acer Nitro 5 333Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 300
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Acer Nitro 5 1873Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017) 1871Dell G5 15 (5587) 1851Lenovo Legion Y530 1825Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 758
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Bioshock Infinite gaming test (fps)

Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017) 122.21Acer Nitro 5 98.51Dell G5 15 (5587) 97.81Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 82.92Lenovo Legion Y530 75.38
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gaming test (fps)

Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017) 50.2Acer Nitro 5 37.7Dell G5 15 (5587) 37.5Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 31.2Lenovo Legion Y530 28.4
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Dell G5 15 (5587) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2HGz Intel Core i7-8750H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
Lenovo Legion Y530 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti; 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q Design; 256GB SSD
Acer Nitro 5 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti Graphics; 256GB SSD
Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Graphics; 1TB HDD
Dell G series
8.0

Dell G5 15

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Battery 8