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Dell Inspiron 15 7000 review

This unlikely gaming notebook goes boom

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 review

Measuring 15.08 x 10.45 x 1 inches or (38.3 x 26.5 x 2.54cm) (W x D x H), and weighing 5.67 pounds (2.57kg), the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 isn't the kind of notebook you'd characterize as dainty. However, a little extra bulk is the cost of performance, and even though the dimensions aren't all too different from competitors, you certainly feel that it's denser whenever you pick it up.

The Inspiron 15 7000 ends up being the heaviest of the bunch, compared to how the HP Omen weighs 4.68 pounds (2.12kg) and Gigabyte P55K V4 is 5.51 pounds (2.5kg) with a built-in optical drive. While it's not a huge burden, the Inspiron's weight is very noticeable, and puts it more into the desktop replacement category than a get-up-and-go system.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 review

Here is the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 configuration sent to techradar:

Spec Sheet

  • CPU: 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5-6300HQ (quad-core, 3MB Cache, up to 3.2GHz)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M (4GB GDDR5 RAM), Intel HD Graphics 530
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1,600MHz)
  • Screen: 15.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 anti-glare LED-backlit display
  • Storage: 1TB 5,400 RPM hybrid drive w/ 8GB cache
  • Ports: 3 x USB 3.0; HDMI; SD card reader; headphone/microphone jack
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac; Bluetooth 4.0; gigabit ethernet
  • Camera: 720p webcam
  • Weight: 5.67 pounds
  • Size: 15.08 x 10.45 x 1 inches (W x D x H)

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 review

The Gigabyte P55K V4 and HP Omen both have faster, albeit older, Intel Core i7 processors and extra features. You'll get a higher-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M graphics on the Gigabyte, and it boots from a 128GB SSD (with an additional 1TB spinning drive), while the Omen has twice the memory in addition to a 512GB SSD as its only drive.

Keep in mind that extra features mean more money, with the HP Omen priced at $2,219 (about £1,442, AU$2,885) and the Gigabyte going for $1,650 (£1,049, AU $2,230). There are also more high-end configurations of the Inspiron 15 7000, which include a faster processor and a 4K resolution screen, which can bring the price up to $1,199 (£849) – or AU$ 1,899 for the Australian variant that comes with a 4K screen, double the memory and a 128GB SSD. Overall, though, the Inspiron the most affordable among the three.

If you want an alternative while staying in the Dell family, you can check out the Alienware 13. For just $100 more, you could equip it with a 256GB SSD blazing fast load times. You'd have less overall storage capacity, along with half the system memory and VRAM, but you would have the option upgrading your GPU to a desktop card through the Alienware Graphics Amplifier for enhanced performance.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 review

Performance

Although the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics processor might be enough to run most games acceptably, don't expect it to push the limits. The notebook runs games like Star Wars Battlefront, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and Mad Max at around 30 to 40 frames per second (fps) using mid to high settings, but most games have to be significantly dialed down to reach the optimal 60 fps mark.

Benchmarks

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

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 12,945; Sky Diver 11,718; Fire Strike: 3,930
  • Cinebench CPU: 465 cb; Graphics: 46 fps
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,809 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 35 minutes
  • Geekbench 3: Single-Core Score: 2,795; Multi-Core Score: 8,647
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor [1080p, Ultra]: 33 fps; [1080p, Low]: 76 fps
  • Metro: Last Light [1080p, Ultra]: 17 fps; [1080p, Low]: 59 fps

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 review

Despite featuring Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M discrete graphics, the performance of the Inspiron ended up scoring the lowest against its competitors. That's even when compared to the HP Omen, which has better overall benchmark scores (Cloud Gate: 16,952; Sky Diver: 12,616; Fire Strike: 3,965) using the same GPU.

Although average in-game performance in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is about the same (31 fps at ultra settings), the Omen did far better in the Metro: Last Light benchmark (33 fps at top settings).

Similarly, the Gigabyte P55K V4 has a leg up with its Nvidia GeForce GTX 965M graphics providing it significantly better benchmark results (Cloudgate: 18,043; Sky Diver: 14,859; Fire Strike: 4,949), in addition to better in-game frame rates. With the Gigabyte machine, Shadow of Mordor averaged 44 fps at highest settings, while Metro: Last Light got 26 fps.

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 review

Power isn't all about pixels

On the other hand, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 gets high marks with its lengthy battery life. It's pretty much a given that most gaming systems consume battery like popcorn, which makes the long-lasting Inspiron battery all the more impressive. Although power usage may vary from game to game, the system lasted almost 3 hours during our movie test, and the exhaustive PCMark 8 estimate comes out to 3 hours and 35 minutes.

That's quite a feat, given how the Gigabyte's PCMark 8 estimate comes out to 2 hours and 36 minutes, and the HP Omen does even worse, with 2 hours and 6 minutes. The Inspiron 15 7000 might not be the most convenient notebook to lug around, but you can get more time in with it before you have to recharge.

Bundled software

  • My Dell - Technical support software, your direct line to help from Dell
  • Dell Backup and Recover - An automated cloud backup service in the event you're not already on another
  • McAfee Anti-virus - Anti-virus and internet security software that you'd be fine deleting
  • Waves MaxxAudio Pro Audio - Adjust the balance and presets of the laptop's audio