Introduction, Design & Features
The Dell Inspiron 15 7559 we reviewed last year was a big hit. Starting at $799, this gaming laptop was a price sensation and hit the sweet spot in the notebook-gaming market for volume sales. We’re sure Dell sold a ton of them, especially in the wake of us granting it a well-deserved Editors’ Choice award.
Fast-forward about a year, and say hello to its replacement, the redesigned Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (Model 7567), which we previewed from CES 2017.
This 15.6-incher still starts at $799 like its predecessor, and it gives you enough power at that price point to play the latest games at a 1080p screen resolution. Its gaming performance has been upped significantly since last year, thanks mainly to its Nvidia GeForce GTX 10-series “Pascal” graphics-chip options. The $799 base version of the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) has the GeForce GTX 1050, while our review unit bumps that to the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti for an extra $100. Both graphics options outclass the GeForce GTX 960M “Maxwell” chip in the Inspiron 15 7559, which is now really starting to show its age. That extra money also gets you a 256GB solid-state-drive (SSD) instead of a 1TB hard drive. It’s a sensible upgrade, in our book.
The exterior of the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) has received a massive makeover, as well. It’s still available in your choice of two colors, but it looks more modern, more aggressive, and much “gamier.” The overall feature set has otherwise remained about the same.
But let’s not cover up the fact you’re reading this review to find out why we didn’t rate the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) quite as highly as we did the last-generation Inspiron 7559. The short version? The performance-per-dollar value is stronger than ever, but the middling-at-best-quality 1080p display that’s standard in the base model gave us some pause. The long version? Well, that’s below.
The Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) has an energetic and friendly look. The soft-touch exterior comes in black or red, with our review unit adopting the latter. The design changes relative to the outgoing Inspiron 15 7559 are significant up close, though you couldn’t tell by the on-paper specs. The two notebooks are borderline identical in size and weight. The Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) is about as large as 15.6-inch notebooks get, with a footprint of 15.2×10.9 inches. The chassis is an inch thick, and the total weight is 5.8 pounds.
Design-wise, a lot has changed. The display hinge now rests on top of the chassis and is center-mounted, as opposed to being hinged on either side of the back of the chassis. This new hinge design seems to resemble what Lenovo has been doing on its own gaming-centric lineup, like in the Lenovo Legion Y720 we saw at CES 2017.
The squared-off corners on the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) lend it a more serious look than the rounded corners of the Inspiron 15 7559. Combined with the angled front and rear edges, the new model looks more grown up. That’s not to say growing up is a perfect process; we found the corners on the front of the chassis to be a bit sharp.
The underside of the chassis is dominated by single big access panel to the system’s internal components. The two larger grates you see below are the inlets for the fans, while the smaller square is the outlet for the dedicated subwoofer. Two rubber feet that run the width of the chassis do a good job of keeping the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) from sliding around.
The all-plastic chassis did a reasonable job resisting our attempts to induce flex. The whole notebook feels solid, probably due in no small part to its compact one-inch thinness. (There’s simply not a whole lot of room left inside the chassis for it to feel hollow.) The lid’s display hinge also seemed plenty strong, and it did a good job of preventing excess display wobble.
We appreciated the extensive use of anti-glare surfaces on the whole notebook, including the display. Glossy plastic can be eye-catching, but it also has a habit of showing up fingerprints and dust.
The Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming’s input and output port selection is average for a big laptop like this. The left edge has the usual Kensington-style cable lock notch, the AC power jack, a USB Type-A 3.0 port, and the SD memory-card reader…
The right edge holds an audio headphone/mic combo jack, a pair of USB Type-A 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI 2.0 output, and an Ethernet jack. There are no ports along the front or rear edges. It would have been nice to see a USB Type-C port.
On the inside, you’ll find an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 card that supports the latest and greatest 802.11ac band. The card also includes Bluetooth 4.2 networking support.
The full-size keyboard has red backlighting, but it is otherwise almost the same as the keyboard that was on the Inspiron 15 7559. The backlighting is bright enough to be visible during the daytime, and it matched nicely with the red exterior of our test unit. The F11 key cycles between the keys’ two backlighting levels, or turns off the lighting entirely. The four-key WASD cluster has red outlines (permanently colorized) to highlight the gaming nature of this notebook.
The keys have a shallow, plastic-like feel with too little in the way of tactile feedback for our liking. A minor nuance in the otherwise-normal layout is the bank of three-quarter-size numeric-keypad keys. This wasn’t hard to get used to, though it looks like there would have been enough width in the chassis to expand the keyboard and make these keys full-size.
The Function Lock feature of the keyboard is a page out of Lenovo’s ThinkPad handbook. Pressing the Fn and Esc keys can make the function row keys, F1 thorough F12, act as their primary “F” functions, or otherwise trigger their secondary commands, such as raising and lowering the volume. There’s no LED indicator to tell you whether the feature is on or off, however. The same goes for the Num Lock key, but oddly enough there is an LED indicator on the Caps Lock key.
We found the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming’s button-less touch pad usable enough. Its clicking action was a bit stiff, and the clicks seemed a bit loud. The slightly grainy anti-glare surface tracked just fine, though.
Dell offers the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) with a 1080p (1,920×1,080-pixel) panel in its base iteration, which is how our review unit was equipped. A 4K panel is also a possibility. (At press time, the 4K-screen option was available only in Dell’s top-end pre-configured model, which started at $1,299 with that screen and a 512GB SSD boot drive.) A touch-input panel isn’t offered in either panel flavor, at least at the moment, but we don’t necessarily miss it on a gaming notebook. (More on that in a moment.)
The 1080p panel on the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) is a significant step down in quality from the same-resolution panel offered on the last-generation Inspiron 15 7559. This new model has a TN-type panel with limited viewing angles, whereas the Inspiron 15 7559 used an IPS-type panel with wide viewing angles. Tilting the 1080p display on the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) forward or back as little as 10 degrees off-center resulted in an increasingly color-inverted or washed-out picture. This is frustrating, as even a small change in your seating position can force you to have to re-adjust the display. This situation can get complicated when two or more people are trying to view the screen.
Gamers might not be too bothered by the limited viewing angles, as they’ll likely be looking at the display head-on at all times. However, they’ll be disappointed that the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming’s display choices lack the option for Nvidia G-Sync support, something we’d have given major points for on a budget gaming notebook. The GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip, the top-level choice Dell offers in the Inspiron 7567, wasn’t capable of maintaining 60fps average in our tested games, especially in the newer titles. G-Sync would have helped smooth out the gaming experience in those situations.
The Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming’s 1080p panel has few redeeming qualities outside of its resolution and the practical anti-glare surface. The picture has a dull and lifeless character due to the anemic color reproduction and weak contrast. Blacks looked more like a dark gray. In addition, the whole display had a cold bluish hue, as opposed to the warmer picture we’d usually see on an IPS panel, such as the one that came on the Inspiron 15 7559. Also, while the maximum brightness level wasn’t dim, to our eyes it should have been able to go up by another notch or two.
We can’t downplay our disappointment with the 1080p display on this notebook next to the one that came on the Inspiron 15 7559, which was offered at the same price point. Even without that comparison, we’d still rate the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming’s 1080p panel as ho-hum at best. The available 4K IPS display option is likely to be a whole lot better than this 1080p panel, but the only configuration we found with that screen, as of this mid-February 2017 writing, started at $1,299.
There may be a saving-grace middle ground for this display, but it’s not here yet. Dell says it will also offer a 1080p IPS touch panel with this model, which sounds like an ideal match to the rest of the hardware. That said, our Dell press rep did not have pricing specifics to share at the time we wrote this; nor could he nail down that screen option’s exact availability, apart from, and we quote, “coming soon.”
We thought the Inspiron 7567’s twin speakers and subwoofer produced reasonable quality sound. The location of the speakers under the palm rest is a little less than ideal, as your wrists will block some of the sound while your hands are on the keyboard. The setup has enough volume and just enough low end to make you not totally regret forgetting your headphones. The audio combo jack on this notebook is static-free at all volume levels.
The Webcam at the top of the display exhibited lackluster image quality even when the lighting is good. Its low 720p resolution didn’t help the muddy-looking picture, either. It will work fine for quick Skype calls, but nothing more adventurous than that.
The Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) comes in a choice of two Intel quad-core processors, depending on the configuration. The least-expensive models have the Core i5-7300HQ, as did our review unit, while the pricier models get the Core i7-7700HQ. The clock-speed difference between the two is minor; the Core i5-7300HQ runs at 2.5GHz base, and up to 3.5GHz in Turbo Boost, while the Core i7-7700HQ has a 2.7GHz base clock, and goes up to 3.8GHz in Turbo Boost. The real performance advantage of the Core i7-7700HQ lies in its support for Hyper-Threading, doubling the amount of threads it can process versus the Core i5-7300HQ. We’re more than happy with a Core i5 quad-core processor in a gaming machine, however, as games tend not to see much of a performance benefit beyond four cores.
Our $899 review unit had the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip, the fastest available in this notebook. It was a $100 upgrade over the GeForce GTX 1050 non-Ti in the base model. That difference is well worth the upgrade cost. The GTX 1050 Ti card has a higher CUDA-core count than the non-Ti, at 768 versus 640, and a higher core clock. Given that the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is already at the upper limits of its capability when playing the latest titles at 1080p and high detail settings, going with the less powerful GTX 1050 would mean you’d have to further sacrifice on the in-game detail settings.
The 8GB of DDR4-2400 RAM in our Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) is the smallest amount the notebook is sold with. You wouldn’t want to go with any less, as demanding titles tend to require at least this much. Up to 32GB is supported via two 16GB DIMMs, though we think 16GB is the ideal balance for a gaming machine. At this writing, 16GB was available only in the $1,299 4K-screen configuration, but you can perform memory upgrades yourself if you’re intrepid.
There are two internal storage bays inside the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567). The first is a M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) slot, populated in our review unit by a 256GB SanDisk X400 SSD. The drive only supports the SATA interface, though Dell offered upper-tier configurations of the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) with newer PCI Express-bus drives. You’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between drives using the two interfaces in everyday usage. There’s also a 2.5-inch bay for storage, in which you can install a traditional hard drive or a second SSD. When we wrote this, Dell was selling a $1,099 configuration using the 1080p TN screen and with both bays populated (128GB SSD, 1TB hard drive).
End-user upgrades on the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) are about as straightforward as they can get. A single Philips-head screw holds the bottom cover onto the chassis. Once removed, you’ll need to use your fingernails or a credit card to gently pry up the leading edges of the panel around the screw. It takes about a minute to remove. Underneath, you’ll find all of the user-upgradable components, including the two DIMM slots for memory, the M.2 Type-2280 slot, and the 2.5-inch bay.
Software-wise, we were disappointed to find a McAfee anti-virus trial installed, which we promptly removed. Dropbox was also installed, along with the usual smattering of Candy Crush and other Windows 10 apps.
We did a 30-minute playthrough of the circa-2013 game Tomb Raider to gauge the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567)’s ability to keep cool. The Core i5-7300HQ reached just 70 degrees C, according to HWMonitor, while the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip only peaked at 59 degrees C. Those are remarkably low temperatures for a gaming notebook. Granted, these are not the most powerful components out there, but keeping it all cool is still a notable feat.
Things also fared well on the outside of the notebook. The highest temperature we recorded on the top of the chassis was right in the center of the keyboard, at 94 degrees F. The palm-rest area stayed at room temperature. We recorded only 93 degrees F on the underside of the chassis. We’d consider about 110 degrees F and above to be hot, so these measurements are more than acceptable.
As for the fan noise, the good news is that most of the time we didn’t hear any. The laptop’s fans tended to stay off even when we were surfing the Web or watching a movie. On the rare occasion they did turn on, it was at a low enough RPM that we had trouble figuring out if the fans were on.
The fans spooled up to their maximum RPM while gaming. The sound they emit is audible across a medium-size room, but ultimately it doesn’t have a high pitch or other bothersome characteristic. We were seated about 15 feet away from the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (7567) while we were running benchmarks, and we had to listen for the fans before we heard them over the background noise. We wouldn’t have a problem gaming with the Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming in most locations, save a place where silence is a valued asset. That means no gaming in class!
On the whole, Dell did an excellent job with the Inspiron 7567’s thermal management.