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September 7, 2017

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 (Late 2017) hands-on review

by John_A

Research Center:
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop (Late 2017)

We didn’t love last year’s Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop. Despite showing a lot of promise, especially given its low price point, our testing revealed some glaring technical issues with the display. The screen was even a step back from .

Dell’s next version of the Inspiron 15 seeks to fix the problem by offering better display options, more powerful hardware, and subdued design. While we won’t be able to say whether the Inspiron 15 has become the budget gaming laptop players have been waiting for until we get it in the office, Dell seems to be moving in the right direction at first glance.

Raising the roof, Max Q-style

While the Inspiron 15 Gaming isn’t a completely new machine, the late 2017 refresh features a new set of hardware that may make it more appealing to players who want to see a range of options, from affordable to fast.

Mike Epstein/Digital Trends

Mike Epstein/Digital Trends

Mike Epstein/Digital Trends

Mike Epstein/Digital Trends

Unlike last year, a maxed-out system can now have an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with Max Q technology. Gamers can also upgrade to a 4K IPS anti-glare panel. Add to that an Intel Core quad core i7-7700HQ processor, with up to 32GB of 2400 MHz RAM, and you have a machine that will do right by any modern game.

The laptop’s surfaces are now covered with a material Dell called “silky plastic.”

These improvements ratchet up the cost for the Inspiron 15 Gaming, though. The 4K UHD model will run you at least $1,450. If you drop 4K, the GTX 1050-equipped model starts at $1,000, which puts it just barely inside what we’d consider a “budget” gaming laptop. In addition to a visual boost across the board, the optional GTX 1060 makes the Inspiron 15 a “VR ready” machine.

The new hardware does come with a slight tradeoff — a smaller 56 Watt-hour battery, down from a 74 Watt-hour battery in the last model. Dell reports that the new battery can last up to seven hours, but that is likely under ideal conditions. In our experience, gaming laptops that have a battery in the 50-watt to 60-watt range don’t fare well in endurance tests.

Beyond those key changes, the laptop is basically the same machine as before. The Inspiron 15 Gaming supports a range of storage options, including a 1TB HDD, a 512GB SSD, or a dual-drive with 1TB HDD and a 256GB SSD. Connectivity still includes an HDMI 2.0 port, a Thunderbolt 3 port, 3 USB 3.1, a 2-in-1 SD card reader, and a headphone jack.

Subtle once more

Aesthetics continue to rank among the Inspiron 15 Gaming’s strengths. Though sleeker, more professional gaming laptops aren’t novel at this point, the Dell continues to impress with a slanted shape, and bright, tactful colors. Remember – this is an affordable gaming laptop. You wouldn’t know that from its looks.

Mike Epstein/Digital Trends

Dell is continuing to offer a second black and red color scheme for the laptop (as opposed to the original red and black). The “Matte black” version features a black top case and red piping instead of the other way around. While the red model was the lead design in 2016 and 2017, we think the black edition is more appealing.

When equipped with a GTX 1060, the Inspiron 15 is a “VR ready” machine.

On the black version, the glow from the optional red LEDs on the backlit keyboard is much more dramatic, so if gamer-style PC lighting is your jam, it will be right up your alley. This is a “budget” device, so don’t expect mechanical keys, but the keys have good, tight feel — par for the course on a modern laptop.

Regardless of whether you choose a red or black system, there are some other minor changes to the physical design. The lid and interior are now covered with a rubberized material Dell referred to as “silky plastic.” It pairs well with the device’s matte finishes. Also, the exhaust grill on the front and top of the laptop are now plain, horizontal stripes — they’re less showy, yet they still look dramatic.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop (Late 2017) Compared To

Origin EON15-S

Asus ROG Zephyrus

Razer Blade (2017)

MSI GS63VR 6RF Stealth Pro

Alienware 13 R3

Acer Predator 15

MSI GS60 Ghost Pro

Acer Predator 17 G9-791-79Y3

Alienware 15 (2015)

Asus ROG G501

Digital Storm Triton

Acer Aspire V15 Nitro Edition

AVADirect Clevo P157SM-A

MSI Global GT60 Dominator Pro

Lenovo IdeaPad Y500

Weight-wise, the Inspiron 15 gets up to a hefty 6.28 pounds with the GTX 1060 and 4K display. That said, compared to other gaming laptops, it does feel manageable. If you need a gaming laptop to play, either because you’re a dorm-bound college student or travel often, this is closer to a conventional notebook than most high-performance gaming laptops.

A step in the right direction

Dell’s latest Inspiron 7000 Gaming seems to be built in response to criticism of the previous model. Though extremely affordable at $800 to start, it suffered an extremely poor display, which ruined the experience. We thought a better display at a higher price point would be better, and that’s what Dell hopes to deliver. Whether it’s successful remains to be seen – we weren’t able to run our display tests during our hands-on time with the laptop – but this does seem a step in the right direction.

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