“Stylish, powerful and kitted out with a stunning IPS display…”
When I worked in IT services at a college with over 2000 users, we swore by Dell’s products. Nothing could compare for our needs, and nothing looked as sharp and professional as Dell equipment. Some things clearly never change, as the new Dell Inspiron 7000 series gaming laptop which I have been given the pleasure of reviewing is a beauty. Sleek matte black conceals a hefty internal build, which includes the following:
- 7th Generation Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-7700HQ Quad Core (6MB Cache, up to 3.8 GHz)
- Dual drives with 256GB Solid State Drive + 1TB 5400 rpm Hard Drive
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GDDR5
- 16GB DDR4 2400MHz
- 802.11AC + Bluetooth 4.2, Dual Band 2.4&5 GHz,
- Windows 10 Home (64bit) English
- 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare LED-Backlit Display
1.Combo Jack (Headset/Mic) | 2.USB 3.0 port | 3.USB 3.0 Powershare port | 4.HDMI | 5.Gigabit Ethernet | 6.Noble Lock Security Slot | 7.Power | 8.USB 3.0 port | 9.Media Card Reader
Upon opening the box and unwrapping the system for the first time, I am reminded of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I am met with a deep, black monolith, beautifully stylised with red trims to the front and back and embossed with a crimson Dell logo on the rear of the screen. If first impressions make all the difference, Dell sure as hell made one here, he said drooling. Turning the system on for the first time revealed the gently illuminating LED backlit keyboard, which made me giggle with excitement. This sensation was quickly replaced with a gawp of wonder at the new IPS panel that appeared before me; the real selling point of this new range from Dell.
My usual setup boasts an ultrawide IPS panel, so the 15-inch offering on the Dell 7000 series laptop was a little smaller than what I am used to. Nevertheless, this screen has presence; lots of presence. I have used smaller screens since using my ultrawide, and frequently found myself complaining aloud to anyone who is nearby about how it is just not the same anymore. I stand corrected. Not only does this screen offer plenty of space for the user, but the quality of the panel is the best I have seen to date. It is clean, clear and crisp, with a fantastic range of colours and brightness settings to suit any user. The True Color software on the laptop itself ensures an optimal viewing experience for the user as well, which I found particularly pleasurable when writing this review.
I wanted to get down to business with this laptop and see just how good the quality of the visuals could be. I installed a flurry of games to test both the graphical capabilities of the IPS panel in unison with the laptop’s nVidia Ge-force GTX 1050 ti graphics card, and the raw power of the 7th Generation Intel Core i7 7700HQ 2.8GHz processor supported by 16GB of high-end RAM. The selection I opted for included Rocket League, Civilization VI, Cities Skylines and my personal favourite, Rainbow Six Siege. These games have very different requirements to one another, with some pushing the graphical capabilities of the system whilst others increase in their processing demands the deeper you get into the game. But enough small talk; you want to know how the laptop did.
(w/ V-Sync, 1920×1080)
(w/o V-Sync, 1920×1080)
|Rainbow Six Siege||28fps||30fps|
|Sid Meier’s Civilization VI||33fps||35fps|
Performance wise, the Dell Inspiron 7000 series gaming laptop performs adequately under some hefty titles, but not quite as well as many gamers might be looking for. Each game was tested using in game benchmarking or Steam’s frame counter in tangent with Fraps. After a little playing around with settings and software it might be possible to push the laptop further, but the performance of the system as I observed it did not appear as though it could try much harder than it was already. That, for much of the target audience, might be a problem. Checking out other reviews, strategies such as reducing resolution can up the performance, but gaming users looking to play PC games on the move with 1080p visuals may be turned off by this. With that in mind, it is worth considering the type of games you are hoping to play on the laptop before putting your money down.
Naturally, however, there is more to consider than just what is physically capable of. There are features in the design of this laptop which are very, very good, and others which I feel hold some room for improvement. I have already touched on the backlighting of the keyboard and colour scheme of the system, both of which are highly admirable in their own right. So, what else do you need to know?
In terms of performance for both gaming and word processing, I have found the laptop’s keyboard to be extremely comfortable to use. Even after extended periods preforming both tasks, I found that my hands were comfortable with little aching or discomfort to speak of. It was also incredibly rare that I had any miss-keying incidents either, partially thanks to the aptly spaced keys. Bonus points, of course, go to the inclusion of a number pad; something which I know some users may dislike but of which I, personally, am a fan.
The trackpad on the other hand is one of the few elements of this laptop that I am not a fan of. Arguably, trackpads are something I have an issue with anyway, as do many laptop users and especially gamers. In this instance however, I have two specific problems. One is that the trackpad is large, which is great for not having to repeatedly drag and drag to move the mouse, but a bit of an issue when you accidentally touch it with another part of your hand. The larger issue, however, is the fact that the left and right click buttons are integrated into the trackpad itself. This is a problem when, for example, you move the mouse to what you want to click, only to have it move away when you touch the left click part of the trackpad before firmly clicking it. I found that this often meant I needed to use two hands to perform such actions, which does not make for swift and speedy use. I think the case here, as perhaps with any laptop, is that the system is best used with a mouse in addition. For gaming, this is naturally a must anyway.
There are just a few other aspects of build quality which are worth a mention. The laptop runs near silently, which is a great pleasure. At most, under heavy load, you get a light hum, but I never experienced anything more during my time with it. The battery life under light use lasted a good seven hours on a full charge, which was also an impressive feat. I had the laptop plugged into the mains when gaming to avoid any unwelcome surprises, but I feel it would more than likely hold its weight on a reasonably long train journey. Ports wise, the laptop has three high speed USB 3.0 ports, one of which is powered, a HDMI output, an SD card reader and of course an ethernet port and audio jack. I personally felt that the number of USB ports, once you have a mouse, phone and external drive connected, might be a little too few. In a pinch, it is nice to know that you have a spare one available. The lack of a DVD or Blu Ray drive also surprised me somewhat. Although some might say these are outdated, I still like to know one is there if I need it, for example if I want to watch a movie that isn’t on Netflix. With the aforementioned lack of spare USB ports, an external optical drive may not always be an option.
On the whole, the Dell Inspiron 7000 series gaming laptop is easy to recommend to most, but hardcore gamers may be left wanting more. Stylish, powerful and kitted out with a stunning IPS display, this laptop is certainly fit for purpose, but cannot reach the maximum capacity that some gamers might want. The keyboard is comfortable, responsive and easy to get used to, suited both to business and to leisure users. The trackpad is a point for improvement, however the vast majority of gamers would also opt for a mouse in this department anyway. Otherwise, the only real issues come in the form of a lack of ports; a matter which is both reasonably rectifiable as well as being faced by a number of other laptop options on the market. On the whole, the 7000-series system is a great option for some gamers looking to play on the move, and professional looking for a powerful system with longevity. Dell has done it again.