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Review

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) Laptop Review

Dell does gaming.

Dell might not be your first pick for a gaming machine, with the name having long bene synonymous with humdrum office machine. Gamers are more likely to turn to Dell’s own Alienware brand much more closely aligned with the notion of gaming, or turning to Razer, MSI, and other rivals. However, the 7000 Gaming series is a good, solid take on a gaming laptop that packs a punch and can more than handle the latest games.

Having been released at the start of 2017, the 7567 model is now being superceded by the 7577 in September, making some tweaks to the stylings and adding a higher end GPU, there is also a tradeoff in terms of battery capacity with the newer model favouring faster charging. However, the core machine is built around the same CPU models, and there’s a lot of common ground with the overarching design, and so you can use this belated review to inform opinions going forward.

Speaking of the design, the 7567 version of the laptop is particularly distinctive. Its soft touch plastic case is lovely in hand, and there’s a similar texture to the palm rest that makes for a nice contrast to the metals and sharp edges that are so prevalent in laptops these days.

The sides are partiularly rounded off, but the front and rear slant forward, giving the machine an angular look, and there’s a triangular design that really stands out and was part of the reason the laptop could tie in with Spider-Man Homecoming so well. There’s the illusion that this is a single vent through the machine as a consequence, as you can see the heatsink behind the traingular grills at the rear, but in fact the fans drawin air from intakes at the bottom of the machine, and the front of the laptop is there for styling and for the front-facing speakers.

Along the sides you have three USB 3 ports, HDMI, ethernet, an SD card slot and a headphone jack, but there’s no sign of the forward looking USB-C or Thunderbolt 3. That port has been added in the 7577 refresh.

There’s a pleasing solidity to all of this – it weighs a hefty 2.65kg – typified by the sturdy hinge keeping the 15.6 inch display solidly in place. At 1080p, the screen is a good, high resolution at this size, and (after a slight misstep at launch) now features an IPS panel. That gives it a typically great viewing angles, while the matte coating is backed up with a bright backlight to make it usable in light conditions.

There’s a backlit full size keyboard, featuring the chiclet keys that have become standard for most laptops these days. They have a good amount of travel to them, and they feel soft but not overly squishy. I do, however, wish that each key was just 1mm wider and taller, but it’s a minor quibble.

One thing I generally dislike is the trackpad. It features support for the Precision Trackpad features in Windows 10, allowing for various multi-touch gestures to swipe between windows and bring up multi-tasking view, and this is great, but I’m never completely certain when I’m actually trying to click. The lower half of the trackpad is the clickable section, but before you get to the actual click, it can be depressed ever so slightly and makes a light clicking sound as it does so. It’s a slight issue, but one that can lead to misclicks and minor annoyance.

Built with either an Intel Core i5 7300HQ or Core i7 7700HQ – our test laptop and the majority of the range comes with the latter – there’s plenty of CPU grunt to perform high-end productivity tasks, such as video and music editing, and most workloads will find the 16GB of RAM that comes as stock in most models more than enough to handle the tasks. You can get plenty of storage with dual drives combining an SSD and a HDD together, the review laptop loaded with a 250GB SSD and 1TB HDD.

For gaming, this model comes with either an Nvidia GTX 1050 or slightly faster GTX 1050Ti for the higher end models – this will now reach to a GTX 1060 Max-Q in the 7577 refresh. It’s a powerful GPU that’s more than capable of pushing 1080p resolution with high graphic settings, and pushing a good 60fps in many situations.

Here’s how it stacks up against two generations of AMD desktop GPU – the Radeon R9 280X and RX 480 – and the Nvidia GTX 1060 as featured in the Alienware 13 R3. With the same CPU as the Alienware, you can draw a straight comparison to that laptop’s GPU, but it’s not an exact parallel against a mid-range PC. While the display is only 1080p, we pushed the laptop further to 1440p and 2160p, because we could.

While nowhere near as accomplished as the GTX 1060, the GTX 1050Ti in this laptop still puts in a good showing. 1080p60 should be achievable in many games by stepping away from the highest settings and making a few sacrifices to image quality, but it’s on the edge of that being possible. On the other hand, if you can accept 30fps, with many genres being comfortable at this frame rate, then 1440p by way of an external monitor is definitely possible.

Certainly for gaming, you’ll be plugging in the chunky 120W power brick, but there’s a large 76WHr battery in this model of the laptop – this is being replaced by a smaller but faster charging battery in the 7577 refresh – and in everyday use of web browsing and video watching with the screen at 50% brightness, that lasted me in the range of 4-6 hours. Obviously, your mileage will vary depending on workload and how often the laptop decides that you need to use the higher powered dedicated GPU.

That leads to one of my main complaints about the laptop, which is fan noise. The laptop tries to run with no fans running (or at least to the point that they are imperceptible) as much as possible, but can then spin them up suddenly and loudly to try and keep the laptop cool. The fan profile is too conservative on one end of the scale and then too aggressive on the other, I feel, and it can be intrusive.

What’s Good:

  • A solid 1080p gaming laptop
  • High end CPU and good GPU
  • Distinctive angular design
  • Lovely soft touch case
  • Long battery life

What’s Bad:

  • Aggressive fan noise
  • Cheap feeling trackpad
  • This design tops out at a GTX 1050Ti (but a revision is incoming)

No longer wanting to rely solely on their Alienware brand, the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop is a solid entry into the market. It’s well built, feels good to use, and it makes a statement with its distinctive design without going too far overboard. Most importantly, it’s got enough power inside to push 1080p gaming without making too many sacrifices to get there.

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