Introduction & Specification
Welcome one and all to the latest laptop review here on Play3r.net
Dell should need no introduction, they have been in business since 1984 and have produced products aimed a just about every sector in the computing market.
Since buying Alienware back in 2006, Dell’s gaming devices have generally been under that brand, every so often they do lend some gaming power to their more mainstream lines and it is with their Latest Inspiron 15 7000 series that Dell are aggressively targeting the gaming laptop market by coming in with an interesting price to spec market basher.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000, has landed on my review desk and holds within its chassis a fair chunk of gaming prowess.
Processor: 7th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ Quad-Core (6MB Cache, up to 3.8 GHz)
Operating System: Windows 10 Home 64-bit English
Memory: 16GB Single Channel DDR4 2400MHz (16GBx1)
Storage: Dual drives with 256GB Solid State Drive + 1TB 5400 rpm Hard Drive
Graphics Processor: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare LED-Backlit Display
Wireless: Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 + Bluetooth 4.0
1 HDMI 2.0
3 USB 3.0 including 1 with PowerShare
1 Noble lock slot
1 2-in-1 SD (UHS50) / MMC
Chassis Bays: one-screw bay door
Camera: Integrated Widescreen HD (720p) Webcam with Dual Array Digital Microphone
Keyboard: Keyboard UK/Irish (Backlit)
Battery: 74WHr, 6-C (Int) [74 WHr, 6-Cell Battery (Integrated)]
Dimensions: Height: 25.44mm (1.00″) x Width: 384.9mm (15.15″) x Depth: 274.73mm (10.82″)
Weight: Starting at 2.65Kg (5.84 lbs)2
Warranty: 1 year Collect & Return Hardware Support included with your PC Choose Options
With those rather impressive laptop specifications out of the way, we shall now let the Inspiron 15 7000 pose for the camera.
No fancy packaging to show with the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 just a plain brown box with packing labels. So instead I am going straight for the box contents, we also see that there are no frills or extras with the laptop just a power supply, power cord and two booklets comprising of a quick start guide and some safety and regulatory information.
Looking at the top of the lid on the Inspiron 15 7000 we get a red dell logo, where it is normally chrome and a matte rubber coated black material, which is a bit of a fingerprint magnet showing smudges. No illumination, fancy graphics or venting on the lid.
Underneath the Inspiron 15 7000 has a single access panel to the inside, some neat rubber strips front and back to stop the laptop sliding around on the desk, an indented inspiron logo, two air intakes, a grille for the subwoofer and a sticker with serial numbers and such. I like the idea of two air intakes this makes me think the CPU and GPU are separately cooled, it’s also nice to see a subwoofer grille showing an attempt to improve the normally awful sound you get from laptops.
The front of the laptop has an industrial design of triangles with one in the center that lights up when the laptop is charging. This is the first gaming style design I have seen so far on this laptop. We also see from this picture that the laptop isn’t too thick, I have to applaud Dell for keeping a budgeted design quite thin considering the aggressive price point.
Around the back and whoa, this really is starting to look like a gaming machine, the industrial design for the exhausts looking pretty futuristic and gamer centric. The actual fins on the exhaust are painted red which is a nice touch. As you can see the lid is held in place with a wide centered hinge, this in my personal view is better than two individual hinges at the edges, it allows the cables for the screen and quite often the WiFi antenna to be routed through a more sturdy area minimising the risk of the cables being damaged.
On the right-hand side of the Inspiron 15 7000 ports start with a single audio connector, this is in the style of a mobile phone headphone/mic combo 3.5mm jack, some headsets may need an adapter to work if they only have separate cables. Two USB ports follow while these are not colour coded they are all USB 3.0. An HDMI 2.0 Port follows for connecting an external monitor or TV, being a 2.0 port it should allow 4K Displays at 60Hz with a compatible screen. The final port is a Gigabit ethernet RJ45 connector.
Around to the left, there is a Kensington Lock slot, the power connector, the third and final USB 3.0 port and an SD/MMC card reader. Nothing too fancy but functional and easy to access.
Speaking of power connectors, here is something that I really like about Dell’s laptops, many of them come with an illuminated plug, while this isn’t a charging indicator it does show that there is power to the plug from the mains, a great reminder and first step in charging troubleshooting.
Opening up the rather slender lid, we are met with a familiar 15-inch laptop format, if it wasn’t for that centre hinge this laptop could have just about any brand under the screen. The chiclet keyboard is just like so many others, it’s nice they have gone for the full keyboard including the numpad. The trackpad is a good size with left and right clicking buttons at the bottom integrated into it, while this gives a smooth appearance I personally like to have the satisfying feel of a button.
Adorned with the usual spec stickers there isn’t really anything else to say on the keyboard area, the power button is top right and has an illuminated line making the power symbol. The screen is my favourite style for laptops matte, glossy screens can look shiny but reflections from them are mostly terrible especially outside. Above the screen, there is a webcam and microphone pickup, which is par for the course with the majority of laptops these days.
Before I power on the Dell Inspiron 15 7000, I thought it would be an idea to lift off the access panel and have a good butchers at what user accessible parts are inside. Starting from bottom left of the picture we have the Hard Disk Drive, a standard 2.5″ SATA affair this is upgradeable with another hard drive or even an SSD. Just above it, we can see the M.2 SSD drive which is also replaceable as long as it is the same length, although these days there seems to be more of a consensus on M.2 drive length, but do check before buying. To the right of the hard disk is a large 74Wh battery, most laptops of this size have the battery on the outside and at the back under the screen hinges, here we can see that space has been optimised and the drive crammed in under the touchpad area.
To the right of the battery, there is the subwoofer speaker, it’s not very big so we shall have to see what sound it can produce. Above the battery is the single ram slot, this is very strange for a 15″ laptop and does leave us with single channel memory only, while the performance hit is slight, dual channel would be preferable especially on a gaming machine. Sandwiched between the ram and the M.2 drive is the WiFi & Bluetooth card. All of the mentioned parts are user upgradeable, which is actually really good for a laptop, there are some designs and component access challenges that are the thing of nightmares out there.
Switching on the laptop, we can see the display with its matte finish does a fantastic job of warding off glare, even with the photo lights off to the sides there is nothing disturbing a clear view. A big thumbs up for not falling into the glossy screen trap.
Another treat for us with this laptop is white backlighting on the keyboard, Dell does this with quite a few of their laptops even some business models, so it’s nice to see it included here for assistance when gaming in a dark environment.
Time to get down to the nitty gritty and see how the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 copes with some benchmarks and games.
There was an issue getting the Division to run in DX12 as it either ignored the setting change or crashed out at relaunch.
Dell has used a tried and tested laptop design with the Inspiron 15 7000, not too many frills, however, there is a little decorative plastic front and back, with the rear heatsinks painted red too, combined with the red Dell logo it gives the impression there is more than usual under the hood.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 comes with a pretty good keyboard, for a laptop, the backlighting is a nice touch and I didn’t have any problems typing on it, the trackpad is nice and large with integrated mouse buttons which while aesthetically pleasing isn’t as functional as two separate buttons. The display is bright and clear with the welcome use of a matte finish enabling clearer viewing in bright environments. The audio is ok but nothing spectacular, I tried to make the built-in subwoofer sing but it was taking a back seat to the tinny main speakers, the sound system lacking badly on the mid range.
The system comes with separate fans for the GPU and CPU which is great, the fans do however get quite loud when the laptop is under load, it is very difficult to build a silent gaming laptop especially when on a strict budget to challenge cost.
Performance wise, the Inspiron 15 7000 gives us a good showing in benchmarks and games, the GTX 1050Ti coming in within a couple of frames per second of its desktop counterpart’s base performance. The Intel i7 7700HQ ramping up to 3.6GHz with all 8 threads ready to take on the tests. I think the only drawback with this system is the single channel RAM setup with no second slot memory intensive applications suffer a little performance drop. Temperature wise the laptop tops out at around 84°C for the CPU and the GPU only hitting 64°C, I found the thermals to be pretty good on this laptop if a bit noisy.
Dell is really gunning for best price/spec with the Inspiron 15 7000, doing some searching around the web for similarly specced competitors showed Dell to be undercutting the cheapest by a good £100-200, you can match the £1099 asking price for the Dell but you halve the RAM and SSD sizes to make that happen. A further saving can be had until the 3rd May 2017 with a £999 discounted option bringing it below the psychological £1000 barrier; if that were to be the permanent price for the Inspiron 15 7000 Dell could really ruffle some feathers.
I have actually enjoyed my time with the Inspiron 15 7000, while not the snazziest of laptops it certainly offers a price/spec to make me sit up and take notice. Dell are beating even the cheapest outlets on price for an i7 7700HQ with 16GB RAM, a GTX 1050Ti 4GB in a 15 inch system loaded with a 256MB M.2 SSD and 1TB HDD at the normal £1099 direct from Dell asking price this is at the moment unbeatable, again I will add there is a special until the 3rd May 2017 with an extra £100 off.
The Inspiron is definitely getting a gold award for its sturdy build quality and decent performance, along with our value award, as of at the time of writing the price is unbeatable. I would recommend added Dell’s website to your list when shopping for a gaming laptop as it seems they are keen to get gamers on board with their more mainstream product lines.
- Solid Build
- Matte Screen
- User upgradeable with easy access
- Gaming performance at a great price
- Loud fans
- Only uses single channel memory