Update: Summer 2018
In April, Dell unveiled its new G-series gaming laptops, which included an updated version of the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming called the G7 15. The 15.6-inch G7 is essentially the same as the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming, but with a new product ID and eighth-gen Intel processors as well as the option for a 4K UHD-resolution display. The older version is still around, though, and you might be able to save yourself some money going that way.
Pricing on the Dell G7 15 starts at $850, although a comparable configuration to what's reviewed here will cost you $1,080. It's an incredible value for what you're getting, but it's not the only option in the sub-$1,000 gaming laptop category. Acer'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 increased durability.
The full review of the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming, originally posted Nov. 30, 2017, and last updated June 22, 2018, follows.
If the words "budget gaming laptop" still bring to mind images of big, bulky laptops that are as short on performance and features as they are on battery life, the new Dell Inspiron 15 7000 should be a pleasant surprise.
Actually, the older version of this 15.6-inch laptop impressed us when we reviewed it earlier this year, and that was in spite of the corners Dell cut to get its sub-$800 price including a mediocre display that immediately faded when viewed from even just a little off-center. The updated version gets a full-HD IPS matte screen with good off-angle viewing as well as improved touchpad performance, a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, 2x2 dual-band 802.11ac wireless and even a fingerprint reader built into the power button for near-instant sign-ins with Windows Hello.
Most importantly, Dell bumped up the graphics power from Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050Ti to a GeForce GTX 1060 card. It's the Max-Q version of the card, 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, helping give this Dell long battery life (though it's shorter than its predecessor's due to a smaller battery). Despite the power differences, though, graphics performance is excellent even with video settings cranked up.
The older GeForce GTX 1050/1050Ti-based version is still available for the time being starting at $899 (£919, AU$1,499), but the new version with the GTX 1060 GPU is $999 for the base configuration -- well worth the extra $100. That config has just a 256GB SSD for storage and 8GB of memory, along with a seventh-gen Core i5 processor. In Australia, you can get the same base configuration for AU$1,599, but in the UK you'll currently pay £1,399 to get one with the GTX 1060, but that also gets you more storage and memory and a Core i7 processor.
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming
|Price as reviewed||$999|
|Display size/resolution||15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 IPS|
|PC CPU||2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ|
|PC Memory||8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2400MHz|
|Graphics||6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (Max-Q)|
|Storage||256GB NVMe PCIe SSD|
|Networking||802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.2|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home (64-bit)|
It's still a mainstream gaming laptop
While Dell made some nice improvements on the updated model, a chunk of your money is going toward that 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) and its plastic body looks and feels less than premium because, well, it is.
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, but I found the shallow key travel a little uncomfortable and the red markings difficult to read against the gray keys. The plastic touchpad performs much better than the previous model's and didn't have me immediately reaching for a mouse.
Likewise, the speakers didn't make me scramble to put on headphones. They had good clarity for movies and music without being too bright and a fair amount of bass to add some heft to gunshots and explosions. The dual fans do get loud trying to keep things cool when under load, so you'll probably still want headphones for the best experience with games and movies.
The switch to an IPS display on this new Inspiron makes a big difference in viewing angles. With the last one, you had to find a sweet spot and never, ever move. It was also pretty washed out with flat colors and poor contrast. The new screen still doesn't have a lot of punch in color and contrast, but it is better. Off-angle viewing is much, much better so that at least you can move your head and tilt the screen without losing the picture.
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 4.2 round out the package.
Gaming performance above all else
Predictably the non-gaming benchmarks were low compared with other mainstream gaming laptops, because of the slower Intel Core i5 CPU here and 8GB of memory, but gaming test results showed the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 could keep pace with laptops that cost much more. Dell does offer 2.8GHz Core i7-7700HQ configurations starting at $1,300, which also doubles the RAM and adds a 1TB 5,400rpm hard drive. If you just want to add more memory or storage yourself, though, one little screw gets you inside.
Our standard test games BioShock Infinite and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ran great, as did newer games like Overwatch, all at native 1,920x1,080 resolution and high detail settings. The 1060 can handle VR games, too, so I took the opportunity to test out Acer's Windows Mixed Reality headset with it. Though the laptop's fans whirred at full strength, it had no trouble keeping up as I blasted away at robots and zombies attacking me from all sides.
The last-gen Inspiron 15 7000 hit a remarkable battery life (for a gaming laptop, at least) of more than 9 hours on our video streaming drain test. For this updated version, though, Dell used a smaller four-cell 56Wh instead of its predecessor's six-cell 74Wh pack. Although the GTX 1060 with Max-Q design is more power efficient, it's not enough to make up for the cell difference, coming in at just over 6 hours.
Giving budget gaming a better name
Dell's last Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop wasn't perfect, but it was a favorite for the money. The updated design and features, in particular the new display, make it much easier to recommend. 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 is a pretty sweet deal.
|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|
|HP Omen (15-inch)||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q Design; 256GB SSD + 2TB HDD|
|Acer Predator Helios 300||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060; 512GB SSD|
|Lenovo Legion Y720||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060; 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD|
|Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD|
|Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (Early 2017)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 256GB SSD|