Alienware isn't the only grin-worthy gaming laptop brand at Dell anymore. The Inspiron 15 7000 lets you take your PC gaming on the go without necessarily breaking the bank. With a price tag of $999 (£749, AU$1,599) this notebook offers a lot in the way of discrete graphics and a gorgeous, matte HD screen.
This Inspiron stands out as an impressive entertainment system, especially with its loud speakers and subwoofer to give the sound a little extra oomph. In combination with a fleet-footed Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia GTX 960M graphics and 8GB of memory, the Inspiron 15 7000's hardware matches well against other entry-level gaming laptops.
In particular, the sleek HP Omen houses the same Nvidia graphics chip in addition to a 15-inch touchscreen. Then there is the decidedly less flashy Gigabyte P55K V4, which similarly packs performance into a hulking notebook.
Dell has coated the Inspiron 15 7000 in a smooth black exterior with red accents, visible cooling fins along the back, and equipped it with a full backlit keyboard – all hallmarks of a gaming laptop without being excessive.
The spine and left side are heavily vented with two fans, though you won't see them through the decorative, copper-colored heat dissipation fins. Red bands run parallel across the bottom, acting as feet to keep the notebook from slipping on surfaces, while giving the little subwoofer enough room to breathe.
Although the Inspiron's design isn't as bold as the LED lights, patterned surface and the trapizodal shape of the HP Omen, it maintains a sense of power without overstating. More importantly, its sleek looks don't compromise on features or the size of the battery.
Built to boom
One feature that immediately impresses is the Inspiron's loud speakers with built-in subwoofer for superior-sounding explosions in games and movies. I wouldn't say that the bass blows me away, but it is pretty deep for a notebook system.
Sound fidelity may change, depending on what surface the system is resting on, since the speakers fire downward. That said, I have no problem keeping up adequate volume when playing Star Wars: Battlefront.
The system gets very warm during gaming sessions, but never uncomfortably hot (and you can't help noticing the noise from the fans once they kick in). Most of the heat vents out the spine and sides, but you can still feel some warmth coming through the right side of the keyboard.
The Inspiron 15 7000's matte screen is glare-free and offers a stutter-free picture during most fast-paced action gaming sessions. However, the notebook's major weak point is in its 1TB hybrid drive.
Although repeated activities, like booting up Windows 10 or launching applications, are fast (as they are put into the 8GB of cache), the hard drive itself spins at 5,400 rotations per minute (RPM). That means players will be stuck waiting as games install, launch for the first time and while loading levels. Sometimes, it takes so long that I couldn't tell whether the game froze, especially since the laptop's indicator lights are only for power and charging.