Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming review

The first budget Max-Q gaming laptop is both ups and downs

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

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Coming as a surprise to no one, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is generally weaker than the Gigabyte SabrePro 15 and Razer Blade we name-dropped earlier in this review. 

But, because those laptops are $420 (£100, $750) and $920 (£400, AU$1,300) more expensive than this rendition of the Inspiron 15, respectively, we could easily see the compelling price point outweighing the slight performance inferiority.


Here’s how the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Sky Diver: 19,463; Fire Strike: 8,146; Time Spy: 3,151
Cinebench CPU: 513 points; Graphics: 96 fps
GeekBench 4: 4,167 (single-core); 11,097 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,034 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 31 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 4 hours and 21 minutes
Total War: Warhammer II (1080p, Ultra): 37 fps; (1080p, Low): 80 fps
Middle Earth: Shadow of War (1080p, Ultra): 13 fps; (1080p, Low): 25 fps

In the graphically intensive 3DMark Time Spy, for example, our reviews show that the Gigabyte SabrePro scored 3,438 points while the Razer Blade managed a lofty 3,559. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming, meanwhile, proved its limitations at 3,151 points. That said, both of those laptops wielding souped-up Intel Core i7-7700HQ processors to go with their GTX 1060 GPUs.

The good news is that the Max-Q version of the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming here did beat out the 2016 model in virtually every category. In contempt of being 0.02 inches thinner than Inspiron 15 Gaming before it, it’s actually more powerful than ever all the same.

Whereas this year’s Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming could push 96 frames-per-second in the Cinebench graphics test, the previous, GTX 1050 Ti-equipped model could only handle 94 frames. 

That may not seem like much of a difference at first glance, but considering this version still uses the same Intel Core i5-7300HQ processor and a GTX 1060 that’s slightly weakened due to its slimmer profile, it’s a feat worth celebrating. 

In real-world scenarios, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is a force to be reckoned with. We used it to play the PC port of Bayonetta that released last year at the highest settings and with no noticeable frame drops, and the more recent Far Cry Primal, at settings recommended by Nvidia’s GeForce Experience software, with no issues to speak of.

You can look forward to experiencing a game like the latter on medium to high graphics settings,  about on par or slightly better than those of the Xbox One X. Unlike a console, though, Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming can be used to run pretty much every title that’s ever been released on the Windows platform and then some (via emulators) at 60 frames per second.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

Battery life and storage

Among all of its improvements over previous iterations, if there are two areas in which the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming truly suffers, they are battery life and storage. Starting with the former, this laptop lasted 4 hours and 31 minutes in the PCMark 8 battery life test, down from its 5-hour and 51-minute results one year prior. 

In the TechRadar movie test, wherein we loop Guardians of the Galaxy in VLC Player until the laptop’s battery dies, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming lasted 4 hours and 21 minutes, down again from the 2016 model we reviewed last year, which persevered through 7 hours and 38 minutes of the film.

The culprit here is certainly the 56Whr battery inside this laptop compared to the 74Whr juice pack inside the previous model. Luckily, Dell has included a fast-charging technology within this model, bringing it from zero to 80% charge in under an hour.

Likewise, we take equal issue with the lack of storage present in the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming. As it stands right now, a single 256GB PCIe-based SSD is nowhere near enough for the average gamer. 

After installing a total of four games, including Total War: Warhammer II and Middle Earth: Shadow of War – without their 4K texture packs – we were warned that our PC was running out of storage. 

For that reason, and because it’s likely you’ll be using the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming for more than gaming alone, we are hesitant recommend this exact configuration as it stands. Ironically, the cheaper 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD model is a more enticing option for gamers, even if it does weigh 6.28 pounds (2.85kg) as opposed to the 5.82-pound (2.65kg) model we were sent for review.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

We liked

The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is the most affordable Max-Q laptop you can buy. It’s thinner than most gaming laptops and it also touts a design that won’t embarrass you in front of your friends. What’s more, it has plenty of ports and a decent keyboard with a full-size number pad and a fingerprint reader that’s actually pretty useful.

You get what you pay for in terms of performance, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing here. The games you want to play will both look and feel good, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters the most.

We disliked

The trackpad is loud, boisterous and automatically locks when you’re using the keyboard, meaning there are a few extra steps involved to use it for any kind of gaming. We’re skeptical of a laptop that relies on a mouse or a controller since it doesn’t ship with either. 

We’re also unconvinced that 256GB of storage is enough for anyone using their laptop to play games, no matter how much faster and lighter an SSD is than a traditional hard drive. The smaller, four-cell 56Whr battery turned out to be a thick move too, when the beefier graphics card was bound to suck up more juice.

The down-firing speakers are merely icing on the cake of disappointment.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

Final verdict

On paper, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming has it all. A 7th-generation ‘HQ’ series Intel Core i5 processor and a GTX 1060 should be plenty for gaming, right? Sadly, it’s held back by other aspects that you wouldn’t normally think about when purchasing a gaming laptop. 

Given its $949 (£899, AU$1,499) starting price, we don’t blame Dell for cutting corners, nor would we blame you for buying this machine. It’s by no means unacceptable – the performance is still there. Its shortcomings, however, set a worrying precedent for future Inspiron 15 Gaming refreshes, thereby lending itself to a few docked points.

Gabe Carey
Gabe has been writing about video games and technology since he was 16 years old. Currently serving as a Contributing Editor & Producer for TechRadar, where he keeps articles fresh and up to date on the reg, you may recognize his byline from Digital Trends, TechSpot and Kotaku UK. He can't tell if his adoration of Sonic the Hedgehog is genuine or ironic anymore.