Hands on: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming review

The first affordable Max-Q gaming laptop

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Thinner and more powerful than ever, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming mixes a blend of capabilities and affordability.

For

  • Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics
  • Quick-charge battery
  • Well configured for the price

Against

  • Reduced battery capacity
  • Some odd design choices

With Nvidia’s Max-Q technology, there has been a recent slew of laptops that no longer have to compromise between thin designs, quiet noise profiles, and extreme graphics performance – the problem is that many of them are not affordable.

However, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop goes a long way to remedying this issue – becoming the most affordable Max-Q machine on the market, starting at $899.99 (about £899, AU$1,999). That’s why its first rendition ranks so high in our list of the best laptops

For your money, you’re getting quite a capable 15-inch gaming laptop equipped with Intel Core processors and an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics chip. What’s more, the thinner frame and new features of this affordable Max-Q design make it well worth looking at.

Fast-tracking its way to becoming a key player in the gaming laptop space, the Dell Inspiron 15 deserves a closer look at the very least. 

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Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming 2016 (left) vs 2017 (right)
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Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming 2016 (left) vs 2017 (right)
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Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming 2016 (bottom) vs 2017 (top)

Design

The original Inspiron Gaming laptop had a markedly distinct design, and it’s mostly the same here. This Max-Q version still boasts rounded sides with slanted front and rear edges for a distinctly uniform and retro look.

However, Dell has done something different here in deciding to swap out the soft touch coating on the laptop with a simpler plastic veneer that’s less prone to smudges from greasy fingerprints. The geometric grates on the rear of the laptop have also sadly been replaced by more traditional cooling vents, but this might have been done in service to the cooling the Nvidia GTX 1060 requires.

At 0.98-inches thick the new Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is also just a fraction of an inch thinner than its outgoing, 1-inch tall predecessor.

Features

One of the things we complained about the most with the original Inspiron Gaming Laptop was that it was limited to a Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti that only proved to be semi-capable of Full HD gaming. With the Nvidia GTX 1060 in tow, users should be able to play more games at Ultra quality settings and achieve higher frame rates overall, as we’ve seen from the Origin EVO15-S and Razer Blade.

Priced at $899 (about £899, AU$1,999), this gaming laptop also undercuts some of the most affordable gaming laptops thus far including the $1,399 (£1,499, AU$2,249) Gigabyte Sabre Pro and the $1,399 (about £1,100, AU$1,840) Acer Predator Helios 300.

The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming has plenty more in tow with 7th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors, up to a 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM. It also comes with an upgraded quick charge battery that allows you to recharge up to 80% of the total capacity in just an hour. Unfortunately, the quick charge functionality comes with a compromise to battery capacity, measuring in at 56Whrs, compared to the previous model’s 74Whr.

Other notable goodies include a spill-resistant keyboard (which is optionally backlit), and a fingerprint reader that is built into the power button for secure logins (via Windows Hello) as we saw on the new Dell Inspiron 13 7000.

Having been on sale since September 12, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop also comes with 4K models going for $1,449 (about £1,120, AU$1,155).

Early verdict

The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming seems like it’s going to be a great laptop for casual gamers, or even to the hardcore gamers who are just looking to save some cash. The $899 (£899, AU$1,999) machine is pretty reasonably specced, especially for its asking price, with an Nvidia GTX 1060 and a 256GB SSD at the base level, making this one of the best deals for a gaming laptop that will be able to play all the newest games at high detail setting with respectable frame rates.

That said, the smaller battery capacity worries us, so we’ll run this gaming laptop through our full battery of tests to see if its promises are too good to be true and whether it’s worthy of its Max-Q moniker.

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What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.