If you’re trying to spend less than $1000 on a computer you plan to use daily, then you will find yourself making compromises. In the case of the Dell Inspiron 7000, you get a beefy gaming computer that can take whatever game designers throw at it. Unfortunately, its physical design is rife with trade-offs. Indeed, you get a pretty great machine when you spend $900 on Dell’s budget gaming laptop, but you’re never gonna forget it’s cheap.
And $900 is really dang cheap for a 15-inch gaming laptop with a 7th-generation Intel i5 processor, an Nvidia 1050Ti video card, and 256GB SSD. (The base $800 model gives you a slightly slower 1050 video card and a traditional 1TB hard drive.) And for those unfamiliar with specs let me be totally clear: This thing flies. I easily squeaked out a little more than 30 frames per second when I played Rise of the Tomb Raider on High settings. On WebXPRT, a popular synthetic benchmark that tests for browser-based activities like spreadsheets, photo editing, and web page loading, the Inspiron 7000 scored a 412, which is nearly identical to the score notched by the zippy new 13-inch Macbook Pro. And it’s much faster than the gaming-focused Razer Stealth Blade.
The Inspiron 7000 is a device meant to fly despite its price. Nerds will note that it won’t give you 60 frames per second on a graphically intensive game like Battlefield 1 or Rise of the Tomb Raider, but 30fps is more than enough for normal mortals. The cheap machine also gives you a really nice full keyboard with keys backlit by red LEDs. Though the red isn’t just reserved for the keys. The vents are covered in a fine red mesh, and the top and sides of the laptop are covered in a pleasant soft touch red. “That’s gross,” a co-worker opined. “I love it,” I responded, clutching the giant laptop to my chest.
While most budget laptops are thirteen inches or smaller, the Dell Inspiron 7000 is a 15.6 inch machine. And it’s bulky in more than one way, weighing 5.6 pounds and measuring an inch thick when closed. It’s hefty because to keep the price cheap, Dell is using effective—but space consuming—measures to handle the heat put out by the discrete graphics card and processor. (If you want thin, you’ll need to spend a lot more money for something like the 2017 Razer Blade, which starts at $1900, or the MSI GT62VR, which starts at $1700.)
To manage heat cheaply and efficiently, Dell uses a set of fans which roar to life when playing games. Running a game as simple as Civilization VI immediately kicked them into high gear and forced me to turn up the volume of the TV I was watching in the background while I played. But the fans definitely kept the laptop cool, too. A few rounds of Overwatch can make some laptops so hot you don’t want to touch them, but I had zero issues keeping the Inspiron 7000 on my lap.
To get this laptop to such a cheap price Dell also had to skimp on physical build quality and aesthetics. The 15.6-inch 1080p display is…not good. It just has awful viewing angles. Stoop forward or lean back and you instant get a completely different visual experience. Which is deeply frustrating. Just like the sharp corners of the chassis that dig into your forearms when you type.
In the end, the roaring fans and a bad screen are constant reminders that you saved a lot of cash to get this laptop. And you did! There are very few laptops in the $800-$900 price range that are as efficient and fast as this one. But when you’re saving money, you can’t get everything you want. If all you care about is playing some games on a PC, then get the Dell Inspiron 7000. If you want something beautifully engineered then keep saving your money.
- It’s a $900 laptop that lets you play the newest games on high settings.
- The display leaves a lot to be desired, but a full-sized HDMI port means you can always plug it into a nice display.
- A full-size keyboard is welcome for gamers who rely on a number pad.
- Sharp corners near the palm rests will bite into your forearms.
- This thing is fucking huge.
- And its whirling fans are crazy loud.