We find the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming to deliver on nearly aspect of an affordable gaming device, save for the display, which is undoubtedly the weakest point of an otherwise strong, entry-level offering from Dell.
Price and availability
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is available in a series of different configurations, ranging from $799 (£899, AU$1,614) to $1,099 (£1,299, AU$1,999).
It’s available now in the US, Australia and UK, with varying specs based on your location. All models ship within a week of placing an order.
The model we tested is a slight upgrade from the bottom of the pack in the US, priced at $849 (£1,099, AU$1,999). In the next tier, Dell upgrades the base model’s graphic chip to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti from the standard GTX 1050, and replaces a 1TB spinning hard drive with a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD).
On the high end of the specification and pricing sheet, you can go all out, adding an Intel Core i7-7700HQ (7th generation Kaby Lake), a 128GB SSD with 1TB HDD and 16GB of memory.
There’s red, and then there’s red that screams in your face and refuses to apologize about it. Our review unit is the latter, and it looks stunning.
The keyboard deck and palm rest are black with red color accents on the keys, complete with, you guessed it, a red backlight.
For those who prefer a more subtle look, Dell offers a black variant as well – though, there is some red on that model, too.
On the right side, you will find an ethernet port, HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Flanking the left side is a security lock, power port, another USB 3.0 port and, finally, a 2-in-1 SD card reader.
The front speaker grille doubles as an air pathway for the dual-fan cooling system. On the backside of the Inspiron 15 7000 are two grilles on either side of the hinge designed to blow air away from the user.
At nearly six pounds, and over an inch thick, you are going to know when the Inspiron 15 7000 is in your backpack.
It’s far from the smallest laptop you can buy right now. So, if that’s important to you, perhaps you should look at the that’s light, portable and offers enough power for most students and general users.
Dell included a full keyboard, complete with a number pad, using every bit of the laptop’s 15-inch frame. The keys are in a slightly recessed valley, if you will, when compared the to trackpad. Someone who, like this writer, regularly types on the MacBook Pro’s keyboard ( with the butterfly mechanism) may find the keys on the Inspiron 15 7000 to travel a bit too much.
That said, the amount of travel and response is on par with competing Windows laptops we’ve previously tested. Naturally, there’s an adjustment period when switching between keyboards, and with more practice we imagine we’d feel right at home on Dell’s keyboard.
The trackpad is something we continue to struggle getting accustomed to. Specifically, we have a hard time not triggering a right-click regardless of where we touch or press on the trackpad.
In device settings, we currently have the lower right corner of the trackpad set to act as a right-click. We’ve errantly triggered it, however, near the top right of the trackpad, with no plausible explanation, on multiple occasions.
We’ve had to consciously remind ourselves when pressing on the trackpad to stay on the left side of it as much as possible.
That hinge, though
This may sound weird, or maybe it just means we’re weird, but let’s take a moment to point out the hinge on the Inspiron 15 7000 as the best hinge on any Windows laptop this writer has used.
Somewhere along the way, manufacturers quit caring about how stiff of a hinge they use. It’s important to keep a laptop’s screen in place, particularly when a user is typing. As such, we’ve become increasingly annoyed as screens wobble and shake while we pound away on the keyboard.
We’ve even avoided using touchscreen laptops, as the added touch capabilities seem to exacerbate the shake.
Not so with this laptop – at least, not to the point where it’s wobbly enough for us to notice. Granted, this laptop does lack a touchscreen.
Comparing the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 to similarly priced gaming laptops, it's apparent just what you are giving up, and gaining, in exchange for its price tag.
The Asus ROG Strix GL502, for example, starts at $1,399 (about £1,055, AU$1,850) and features a screen we found exquisite. Whereas with Inspiron 15 7000, the screen is a big let down. In its defense, however, battery life in the Inspiron 15 7000 is nearly double that of the GL502.
A similar situation faces the MSI GE62 Apache Pro with a starting price of $1,399 (about £1,124, AU$1,825), with the Inspiron 15 7000 touting the same general specs for hundreds less.
That’s why, if you opt to pick one of these up, we suggest you spend the extra cash for the $949 model, which features a 1TB HDD in addition to an i7 processor. The 256GB SSD on our review unit surely won’t offer enough space for more than a few games. Heck, after installing just a handful of games on the review unit, the SSD is sitting at 200GB of used space.
In Australia, this laptop starts off with similar specs for AU$1,614, but with 128GB SSD and 16GB of memory. In the UK it starts with similar parts at a similar price of £899, the major difference being a 256GB SSD.
As we discussed shortly after getting our hands on the Inspiron 15 7000 in early January, Dell is using Nvidia’s latest, entry-level graphics processors in this budget friendly gaming laptop.
The model we received features the Nvidia GeForce 1050 Ti, with 4GB of video memory. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t come close to hitting 60 frames per second (fps) at Ultra settings during the GTA V benchmark, instead clocking in at 26 fps. That said, running The Division’s benchmark did return an impressive 60 fps at the highest settings.
Even beyond gaming performance, there’s no denying the Inspiron 15 7000 is an all out workhorse.
At no point during testing did we feel as if we were pushing the Kaby Lake Core i5 processor to its limits. This was regardless of how many tabs we opened in Chrome, while jumping back and forth between Steam and checking email.
The laptop’s fans do a decent job at cooling the machine, which at no point during our testing got excessively hot. We felt comfortable with it sitting on our lap, or resting our hands on the keyboard after long gaming sessions when it was hottest. The fans aren’t overly loud or annoying, but you’ll know when they’re running when they do kick on.
Despite the surprisingly solid performance, we find the colors to be dull and muted on the Inspiron 15 7000’s 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED display. Looking at photos we had captured on our Google Pixel XL, we were disappointed in the difference in color reproduction. This was particularly disappointing when gaming, especially after connecting the Inspiron 15 7000 to a 24-inch Dell monitor we own.
With two speakers on the front of the laptop, and a subwoofer pointing down, sound could get muffled depending on how the laptop is resting on your lap. Granted, a laptop of this size isn’t necessarily designed for primary use on a lap, it’s target user will surely appreciate the dual functionality of an everyday PC and a gaming PC all in one.
Other than potential muffling, the speakers are loud and crisp, both during music and gaming.
Gaming laptops aren’t exactly known for amazing battery life. Instead of sipping every last ounce of power out of a battery, gaming machines are designed to prioritize performance over longevity; that’s not the case with the Inspiron 15 7000.
While trying my hand at Tom Clancy’s The Division for right at two hours, on battery power, the battery dropped by 66%. Playing at Ultra settings on battery, naturally, chewed through the juice pack at a faster pace.
However, putting the Inspiron 15 7000 through TechRadar’s movie test saw 7 hours and 38 minutes of constant use, with the PCMark 8 battery life test results showing 5 hours and 51 minutes of battery life. Compare that to the measly 1 hour and 42 minutes of battery power on the same test for the MSI GT83VR Titan and you can’t help but come away impressed.
This thing flies, offers a solid gaming experience, and has a battery that keeps going (all things considered). All of that comes in at a decent, three-digit price to boot.
The display isn’t anything to write home about, sadly, with muted and dull color reproduction. Also, the touchpad is, to be blunt, rather annoying.
Frankly, for everything this budget gaming laptop does right, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming’s display is in need of an upgrade. At one point there was supposed to be a 4K screen available; however, we can’t seem to find it listed on the Dell website.
At the end of the day, Dell’s revamped entry-level gaming laptop does an excellent job of balancing everyday computing needs with the increased demands of handling games while boasting astounding battery life. And, it does all this at a very approachable price point.