Gaming notebooks aren’t cheap. On the contrary – they’re usually one of the more expensive notebooks that you can buy today. Turns out playing games on decent-ish framerates and graphical settings require stuffing a notebook with high-end components drive prices up considerably, sometimes to insane levels. But if you look hard enough there are decent options in the market today. Some will say even downright affordable, as far as pricing for gaming notebooks are concerned. Dell’s latest gaming notebook launched in the Philippines, the Inspiron Gaming 15, is one of those notebooks, walking the line between performance and affordability.
Subdued design is a breath of fresh air
Let’s be honest here: a majority of gaming notebooks have gaudy, loud designs, dotted with LED lights and obnoxious exhaust vents. The Dell’s offering is a breath of fresh air in that regard, sporting a matte black outer lid, and a rather subdued design without a single LED strip or light in sight.
There’s a smattering of bright red coloring here and there, most notably on the front of the chassis and the rear exhaust vents, but for the most part the Inspiron Gaming 15 looks more like a business notebook with attitude than a walking personification of pro gaming, which we like. Obviously your mileage may vary, but we’re really digging the aesthetics of the notebook.
Flip the lid open and you’ll see the 15-inch 4K IPS display that comes with the top-tier variant of the notebook. You’d be better off with the full HD variant of the same notebook, because of reasons we’ll explain later.
The display is decent enough, with good viewing angles and color reproduction. Bezels on the notebook is quite thick, which makes the Inspiron Gaming 15 bigger than it actually needs to be. The hinge of the notebook is on the middle instead of on the sides, which should make it more durable than its contemporaries.
The keyboard has a decent amount of travel and is comfortable to type on. Due to the notebook’s size, the keyboard includes a full number pad as well and all the keys are backlit for easier use in low light. We’re actually typing the entirety of this review on the Inspiron Gaming 15’s keyboard, which didn’t present any problems during the time we spent with it.
The trackpad is located right below the keyboard, and is pretty large and generous. In fact, it’s too generous – we found ourselves hitting the trackpad while we were gaming and typing with our palms, which obviously made the mouse pointer move when we didn’t want it too. We’re not sure if the palm rejection software in the Inspiron 15 was simply not sensitive enough (or if there was palm rejection at all) but it was really the thing that bugged us the most with the notebook.
Because of the notebook’s relative size, there’s a full array of ports on the sides for all your connectivity needs, including three USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port, HDMI and SD card slot. No USB Type-C ports in sight, which is unfortunate.
Mid-range hardware can run most games
The Inspiron 15 Gaming has two main configurations when you buy it here in the PH: the lower end configuration is equipped with 4GB of DDR RAM, 6th Gen Intel® Core i5-6300HQ Quad Core Processor and either a drive config with 128GB Solid State Drive plus 500GB 5400 rpm HDD or a single 1TB 5400 HDD. The high end version gets a dual-drive setup but with more storage (256GB SSD plus 1TB HDD). Regardless of the version you buy, you still get a NVIDIA GTX 960M GPU.
While there are gaming notebooks already in the market that run Pascal GPUs like the GTX 1070 and 1060, the GTX 960 is still a rather solid GPU on its own right, capable of running most games nowadays on medium. You’ll also probably be able to run games on high if you tweak the settings enough, though that entirely depends on the game you’re playing. More casual games like Overwatch will run well even on high settings, but more demanding games like Battlefield 1 will require you to tone down the settings.
Remember that 4K display that we mentioned earlier that comes with the high-end version of the notebook? It’s a liability when you start playing games, since a majority of them default to that resolution when you start them. If you don’t reduce the resolution to full HD (1920 x 1080) you’ll quickly find out that the NVIDIA GTX 960M onboard isn’t powerful enough for 4K gaming. We would have preferred if Dell dropped the 4K screen on the high-end version to reduce the overall price of the notebook since 4K is useless in this context.
The notebook is also powerful enough to run photo editing software without any issues – probably the only time that 4K display is going to help is when you start editing videos as you get more real estate when you’re editing compared to just a full HD display.
The notebook produces pretty good sound, and has a subwoofer built-in. Its speakers can cut through the ambient noise of a busy coffee shop though audio gets slightly distorted at top volume.
Battery hungry machine that constantly needs juice
If there’s one thing that gaming notebooks lack, it’s endurance. High-end specs usually mean higher power draw, and the Inspiron 15 Gaming is no exception. Away from the charger, we managed to get around 5 hours of use from it with very basic tasks – think web browsing and typing. Keep close to a power outlet when you’re gaming – it’s only capable of giving you around two hours of unplugged gaming before it’ll need a recharge.
Verdict: Decent gaming notebook, though that 4K display is unecessary
After playing around with the Dell Inspiron Gaming 15 7566 for a couple of weeks, we found it to be a rather decent gaming notebook. It’s capable of playing most games released last year at medium settings without any problems, and even in high if you’re willing to do some tweaking on the settings. We’d suggest to go for the cheaper Core i5 variant of the device (that retails at Php 49,990) since that 4K display that comes with the much more expensive, top tier Core i7 model (Php 69,990), while gorgeous, is a liability.