The Dell G7 is the successor to the Inspiron 15 7000 series and does an excellent job at improving upon the previous design aesthetic while also delivering outstanding performance for the price.
In terms of the build and construction, the G7’s housing is primarily plastic, but has a rigidity that prevents it from feeling cheap. In terms of the aesthetic, Dell is going for a simpler, more elegant design that is unlike their Alienware series laptops. There’s very little about this laptop that screams “gamer”, and I certainly like that about it, as I’m not only just a gamer, but a software engineer. Laptops that one can use in professional situations as well as for gaming are becoming more popular nowadays, and Dell’s G7 is a solid response to that demand. But like any other laptop, I wouldn’t dare let this suffer a drop, as the build materials likely won’t prove to be resilient to abuse.
The 15” 1080p IPS display is quite good on the G7. My unit has the AUO63ED panel which people online have overclocked to 100Hz and beyond (albeit at risk of warranty). Other units have had an LG display which did not achieve such overclocks. The display is matte, so you won’t suffer from tons of reflectivity, and it gets decently bright for most situations. For gamers and typical users, you will enjoy using this display.
The keyboard is one of the things about this laptop that is taking some getting used to. I’m personally accustomed to mechanical keyboards as well as chiclet keyboards. However, both other high-end laptops that I own have better key travel in my opinion, and that’s largely due to the wider spacing between the keys on the G7 as well as the minimal height on the keys. It’s not as though the G7’s keyboard is bad, but my fingers are certainly more accustomed to keys with closer travel and a slightly larger key height. The ones on the G7 are just a bit more recessed compared to what I’m used to. I do want to emphasize that these are observations and my opinions; your experience my differ from mine. Additionally, the keyboard is backlit (blue); I do wish it was white instead, as blue can be fatiguing over time, but I’m not sure if this minimal amount will result in any noticeable impact. When the backlight is on, it has two brightness modes, but there isn’t too much difference between them. The WASD keys also have blue squares around them when the keyboard is backlit, but it’s not something I noticed until just now. If they wanted it to stand out more, they should have opted for a different color like white. Another interesting note is that the keyboard backlight turns off after a minute, but will turn back on once a key is pressed. As far as I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s a way to configure this. If there was, I’d expect it to be in the UEFI/BIOS (F2 upon boot).
The G7 has a Precision Touchpad which is decently large and has good palm rejection, as well. From my usage, it’s quite responsive to gestures as well as general usage, otherwise. One thing that I don’t like as much is that there are no separate mouse left-click/right-click buttons. It’s not a big deal, but I came from another gaming laptop that had them. The G7, in contrast, has very clicky touchpad mouse buttons which some may enjoy, and others may not. If you have to work in a quiet environment, you will tapping to click instead of pressing in the integrated buttons. Other than these nitpicks, I do enjoy using the trackpad and the gestures within Windows 10.
The G7 is equipped with some pretty standard I/O compared to most laptops in this price bracket and demographic. It has 3x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C 3.1 (with Thunderbolt), HDMI 2.0, a 3.5mm Headphone/Microphone combo jack, a full-size SD card slot, and an RJ45 gigabit ethernet port. I do wish some of these ports were located on the back, just below the hinge, but that kind of design hasn’t hit the mainstream yet.
The model I have came equipped with a Toshiba KSG60ZM 256GB NVMe SSD which claims to support 1500 MB/s read and 760 MB/s write. If you’re used to hard drives, this will be a lovely change, but if you’re used to absolute top-tier NVMe SSD’s like I am, you may consider swapping it out. It does support both an m.2 SSD (SATA or PCIe NVMe), as well as a standard SATA 2.5” HDD/SSD. By default, this the G7 has RAID enabled in the BIOS to use the Intel Rapid Storage Technology NVMe controller drivers. If you decide to swap out this drive and use manufacturer drivers over AHCI mode, do a google search on "SOLUTION: Switch Windows 10 from RAID/IDE to AHCI operation". This will let you switch to AHCI without reinstalling windows.
My unit came with 8GB of RAM in total (2x4GB DIMM). This is a bit underwhelming, especially given the horsepower this machine has, otherwise. I would have liked to see 16GB. But if this product is focused on gamers, then the 2x4GB dual-channel memory configuration may have a sizeable enough impact on framerate to justify this decision. Even so, I do think 16GB is a much better choice for individuals like myself who would like to use this computer as a mobile workstation for professional purposes. In the end, I may have to shell out the additional high cost and max this machine out with 2x16GB for a total of 32GB.
The i7-8750H is overkill for most people, but I’m not most people. As a software engineer, I’ve been dying to have more cores in a laptop at this price and configuration. With a total of 12 logical threads, this laptop can do heavy multitasking like running a full suite of docker containers for an enterprise environment (assuming you have the RAM to match). If you’re a game streamer using OBS or similar software that relies on CPU, you may appreciate the extra cores; however, most games won’t benefit a whole lot from the additional cores. That may change in the future, but the majority of today’s titles won’t see improvement from the increase in core count. In general, expect solid multitasking performance. That being said, this CPU runs hot, and undervolting -0.125V using ThrottleStop or Intel XTU can achieve lower thermals—especially considering that the CPU and GPU expel hot air through the same heat pipe. Just keep in mind that undervolting is done at your own risk and is not supported by the manufacturer.
The G7 is equipped with an Nvidia GTX 1060 Max Q. This puts it between the performance of the GTX 1050 Ti and the GTX 1060. As someone who has a custom-built desktop that is much faster than the Dell G7 (but cost way more money to do so), The G7 is really an excellent value and delivers a gaming experience that I am very satisfied with. The Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark was able to pull 60+ fps while set to the Very High preset under DX12 with exclusive fullscreen, FXAA and Vsync off at 1080p. That being said, a more stable framerate with fewer skips can be easily obtained under the “High” preset or by making your own fine-tuned adjustments. Competitive eSports games will also hit well over the 60fps mark. When pushing the graphical limits, this laptop can get loud and can take some time to cooldown after a gaming session. Proper airflow/ventilation will be important in obtaining reasonable temperatures, and undervolting the CPU can also help improve this.
As far as the speakers are concerned, they’re decent. Definitely wish they had a subwoofer bass port to improve frequencies in that range, but that’s a sacrifice Dell chose to make in this design. That being said, I have used cheaper gaming laptops from 2017 which did have better bass response and got louder than the G7 while also maintaining clarity. I don’t think the G7 is disappointing on this front, but I'm also not wowed by their solution. Regardless, I'm happy enough with the solution.
The G7 is an excellent deal with few compromises compared to other laptops in a similar price bracket. I’ve mostly nitpicked in this review, but despite its few minor flaws, it’s an excellent laptop; one that I’m glad to be using and wouldn’t have issues recommending for the price. In fact, I have just ordered an even faster NVMe SSD and 32GB to make the G7 my primary mobile workstation.