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Dell G5 15 SE gaming laptop review – PC Gamer

The Dell G5 15 Special Edition gaming laptops are diving headfirst into the affordable gaming laptop market with an AMD-on-AMD model. This Ryzen/Radeon notebook sports the new Ryzen 4000-series mobile processors and Radeon RX 5000-series graphics chips. Featuring AMD’s new Smartshift technology, let’s how the flashy new CPU/GPU combo in the G5 15 SE stacks up against the competition.  

The sample we’ve been testing is the $1,199 price build with an AMD Ryzen R7 4800H, AMD Radeon RX 5600M, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a 144Hz 1080p display. For an extra $100, you can top your system off with a 1TB SSD. Or, if you’re looking for a more budget build, there’s a base model of the G5 15 SE for under $900 that comes with a Ryzen 5 4600H processor, the same RX 5600M GPU, 8GB RAM, 1080p display with 60Hz and a 256SSD. 

The AMD Ryzen R7 4800H performed admirably through most of our CPU benchmarks, clocking in a Cinebench R15 multi-core index score of 1,538, topped 34fps in X264 video encoding and a Geekbench 4 score of 26601.  

While not as powerful as the Asus Zephyrus G14, which sports the wildly powerful Ryzen 9 4900HS (and is only $250 more expensive with an RTX 2060), the R7 4800H inside the Dell G5 15 SE still outperforms some of the other Ryzen 7/RTX 2060 laptops in the $1,200 price range. This mobile chip seems up to the task if you’re a serious multitasker who works in a billion tabs while editing photos or videos. 

These stellar results come down to the AMD SmartShift tech, which essentially gives the laptop a performance boost by having the Ryzen CPU and Radeon GPU tag-team tasks. It adjusts the power consumption of the GPU and CPU on the fly, depending on the job. If you’re playing a graphics-heavy game, Smartshift supplies the juice to the GPU, which in theory, should give you the better performance… and it did in most cases. 

(Image credit: Dell)

Cinebench R15: 1,801 cb (multi-core) 183 cb (single-core)
Geekbench 4: 26601
CrystalDiskMark Q32 Sequential (Read):  1,528 MB/s
CrystalDiskMark Q32 Sequential (Write):  832 MB/s
PCMark 10 Express: 4679 points
x264: 34.2 fps
Metro Exodus (1080p Ultra): 45 fps
Far Cry: New Dawn (1080p, Ultra): 71 fps
Gears V (1080p, Ultra) : 72 fps
3DMark Fire Strike: 15,391 points
Battery Life (gaming): 1 hour 23 minutes (Gaming)

On the gaming side of things, the Dell G5 15 SE ends up in the middle of the pack in most of the benchmark categories with its Radeon RX5600M. If you’re ok with losing out Nvidia specific features like ray tracing or DLSS, you can score some decent frames in games like Gears V or Far Cry: New Dawn at over 70 frames per second. Metro Exodus, which is notoriously known for putting systems through their paces, managed a humble 45 fps. Thanks to Smartshift, it made the G5 SE on par with more expensive systems with an RTX 2060 though we didn’t quite see the 10 percent higher performance touted by AMD. 

Another big notch on the Dell G5 15 SE’s belt is the bright and speedy 1080p 144Hz VA display. As someone who’s now obsessed again with Call of Duty: Warzone, seeing the frantic firefights play out on a vivid, silky smooth screen has been some of my favorite moments. The picture quality is no slouch either; my usual color/performance test of loading an all-Goku match in DragonBall FighterZ showed an accurately colorful mess of Kamehameha Waves resulting in a PASS on the Goku Test. 

(Image credit: Dell)

Design-wise I love that the G-series laptops are subtly taking design cues from their flashy cousins at Alienware. The clamshell design and slick lid look modern without going too over the top. It finds the right aesthetic between working professionals and gamers. If you fancy RGB trimmings or accents on the chassis, then you’re out of luck. What I’m not a massive fan of is the abundance of plastic on the system’s chassis. While great for heat management, it ends up looking and feeling cheap. But the modest-looking design means you can whip out this laptop during a meeting or a class without a twinge of embarrassment.

Fans of RGB, though, will be happy to see that the G5 has four bright RGB lighting zones on the keyboard that can be controlled via the FX tab in the Alienware Command Center. The keyboard feels good as I type this out right now. Unlike more cramped keyboards on other gaming laptops, the keys are nicely spaced out with the shift and control keys being decently sized for gaming. Considering that the keys themselves are pretty small, I was able to work with no significant issues and, more importantly, do it comfortably.

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(Image credit: DELL)
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The touchpad, on the other hand, was a pain to use and felt overly sensitive when trying to edit photos in Photoshop. Just make sure you’ve got yourself a nice gaming mouse, and you should be fine. Though to be fair, that would be our advice for any gaming laptop; but it’s something to bear in mind here for general use.

The Dell G5 15 SE’s impressive CPU performance shows that an all AMD system can compete with anything Intel on the market while keeping costs relatively low. While we weren’t necessarily blown away by the gaming performance, it does a decent job keeping with the big boys, and matching an RTX 2060 at this price is still quite a feat. At $1,200, the impressive work/play balance of the G5 15 SE, coupled with a subtle design, shouldn’t be ignored.

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