Gaming

Inspiron 15 ideal for mainstream gamers

Gamers are probably one of the biggest spenders in the PC industry now. But not everyone is willing to splurge on a high-end premium gaming notebook from the likes of Alienware and Razer. Thankfully, Alienware's parent company Dell has a more affordable, yet capable gaming notebook of its own - the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop.

Weighing almost 3kg, the chunky 15-inch Inspiron fits the stereotype of a gaming notebook. It lacks any of the snazzy LEDs one would find on an Alienware machine. In fact, the review set looks plain in black and grey, though it also comes in red.

The Dell logo in red is the only outward sign of its gaming slant, though the massive air vents at the rear behind the screen is a telltale sign as well. But the Inspiron could probably pass off as a workstation for graphics and video editing.

The keyboard backlight on my review set is a prosaic white, not the usual gaming red. The letters of the keys are also printed in white. However, one can choose to have the letters in red when ordering. The keys have decent travel distance, but they feel small, especially those of the numeric keypad.

Unlike the smooth glass-coated touchpads found on more expensive laptops, the plastic one on the Inspiron feels a bit more rough. But I did not mind as the tracking and the two-finger scrolling feels effortless.

From what I gathered, the previous Inspiron 15 had a TN (twisted nematic) screen that looks washed out and offers limited viewing angles. The latest version rectifies this with an IPS (in-plane switching) display with a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen resolution. The only improvement I would suggest is a 120Hz, high-refresh-rate display to make graphics look more fluid and smooth.

Also worth a mention is the Thunderbolt 3 port. This high-speed, versatile connector can connect to an external display, transfer data to storage devices and even upgrade the Inspiron's graphics performance via an external graphics dock equipped with a more powerful graphics card. In addition, the Inspiron comes with three USB Type-A ports that are handy for a gaming mouse and other peripherals.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $2,199

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 (Max Q)

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, 1 x Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, SD card reader, audio jack

    BATTERY: 56 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The Inspiron 15 comes with a Max-Q version of Nvidia's mid-tier GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip. This Max-Q edition has lower clock speeds, which would affect its performance slightly, but would also consume less power and produce less heat.

In Crysis 3, it managed around 59 frames per second (fps) at Very High setting. This is a bit lower than the more than 60fps on a laptop with a standard GTX 1060 chip. In Doom, this gap widened - the Inspiron recorded 78fps compared with 94fps with a GTX 1060.

Its fans get fairly noisy during gaming sessions. It is distracting enough that the user would be best off using headphones. The laptop gets warm, but not to the point where the keyboard is uncomfortable to use. However, putting it on the lap is not recommended because of its weight and heat.

The Inspiron lasted around four hours in the video-loop battery test at full brightness - decent enough for a gaming laptop, but poor compared with standard notebooks.

• Verdict: It may look plain and unexciting, but the Inspiron 15 is still a capable gaming laptop for mainstream gamers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 17, 2018, with the headline 'Inspiron 15 ideal for mainstream gamers'. Print Edition | Subscribe