Dell G3 15 (3579) review: This budget gaming laptop makes the most of what it’s got

Just don't obsess over the FPS counter.

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors

Top Deals On Great Products

Picked by Techconnect's Editors

1 2 Page 2
Page 2 of 2

General performance

No, the G3 15’s not the most powerful gaming laptop on the block, not by a long shot. But based on our benchmark results (which skipped mainstream tests for the most part), it makes the most of what it’s got under the hood, including eight threads of CPU power. The less expensive Acer Nitro 5 has the same CPU, but the laptop's mere GTX 1050 GPU makes the G3 15's GTX 1050 Ti look good, even as it frequently falls short of the magic 60-fps threshold (when it comes to the latest high-end games, at least). In other words, if the Acer Nitro 5 is a good deal, the G3 15 is a little better, if you can afford the price bump.

HandBrake

In an appropriate challenge for a souped-up multi-core processor, the HandBrake test measures how long it takes for a given laptop to encode a 40GB video file using this free utility. It’s a great test of how a system handles a heavy, temperature-spiking CPU load that could last over an hour in some cases.

dell g3 15 handbrake Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Dell G3 15’s impressive Handbrake performance gets a boost thanks to its Coffee Lake i5-8300H CPU, which boasts HyperThreading support.

The Dell G3 15’s Handbrake score of 2,607 seconds (about 43 minutes) stacks up nicely with that of Core i7 laptops that cost hundreds more, in part thanks to the Coffee Lake i5-8300H CPU and its eight threads of processing power. The G3 15 also manages to smoke last year’s Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming Laptop, a Core i5-7300HQ-powered system that lacks the G3 15’s Hyper Threading support.

During the test, the 0.89-inch-thick G3 15 spun up its fans to a moderate volume, switched on power limit throttling (which puts the brakes on the processor’s wattage output) while holding its CPU package temperature at a reasonable 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit). In other words, the G3 did a nice job of keeping things relatively cool while still making good time with HandBrake.

Of course, a CPU-centric benchmark like HandBrake doesn’t necessarily equate to sparkling gaming visuals. We’ll tackle gaming performance in a moment.

Cinebench

Moving on to more CPU testing, our Cinebench benchmark measures a laptop’s performance as it renders a 3D image in real-time. Since it only takes a few minutes to perform, Cinebench demonstrates how a system handles short bursts of stress. We run the test in both single-threaded and multi-threaded modes, to show the advantage for systems with more cores and threads at their disposal.

dell g3 15 cinebench Melissa Riofrio/IDG

With help from its Coffee Lake i5 processor, the Dell G3 15’s Cinebench score manages to edge those of last-gen i7-powered systems.

The G3 15 once again comes out looking pretty good, behind a few laptops with more powerful 8th-gen processors, but several steps ahead of pricier systems with last-generation Core i7 CPUs. Given that Cinebench rewards systems with the most threads, it’s no surprise that the G3 and its eight-thread i5-8300H snagged high marks.

(Note: Results for the Gigabyte Aero 15X, a system seen in other charts in this story, were not available for this test.)

Gaming performance

Time to move on from the CPU and focus on the graphics. Our first stop: 3DMark’s FireStrike Extreme, a graphics benchmark designed for higher-end gaming systems. This synthetic gaming test doesn’t directly translate into real-world gaming performance, but it’s a good jumping-off point for comparisons.

dell g3 15 3dmark firestrike extreme Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The limitations of the Dell G3 15’s GTX 1050 Ti graphics card became clear once we checked its 3DMark FireStrike Extreme performance.

The G3 15’s spot near the back of the pack isn’t surprising, given that most of its chart competitors boast beefier GPUs. Still, we’re starting to see where the G3’s gaming limitations lie. (Note: Results for the HP Omen 15-ce0xx, a system seen in other charts in this story, were not available for this test.)

dell g3 15 tomb raider Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Dell G3 15 can run 2013’s Tomb Raider at a little over 60 fps, but gaming laptops with more powerful GPUs regularly manage north of 100 fps.

Moving on to 2013’s Tomb Raider, the Dell G3 15 managed to crank out a decent 63 fps with maxed-out graphics settings, a result that reflects the title’s greater reliance on CPU power compared to more recent games. However, gaming laptops with more powerful graphics cards can easily squeeze 100 fps or better out of this older title.

dell g3 15 middle earth Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Dell G3 15’s Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor performance mirrors that of “Tomb Raider”: not bad, but eclipsed by laptops with GTX 1060 or better graphics cards.

We see more of the same with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The Dell G3 15 snagging just shy of 60 fps on the game’s “Ultra” preset, compared to about 90 fps and up for laptops with GTX 1060 graphics or better.

dell g3 15 rise of tomb raider Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Dell G3 15 and its GTX 1050 Ti GPU fall well short of 60 fps on the graphically intense Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Last but not least, the Dell G3 15 had to settle for about 46 fps for the graphically intense Rise of the Tomb Raider on its “Very High” graphics preset. Pricier systems with GTX 1060 (and up) graphics cards are able to achieve well north of 60 fps.

I also tried a few other games that don’t sit in our regular suite of gaming tests. With Diablo III on maxed settings, for example, the Dell G3 15 managed a smooth 120 fps, while I constantly got a solid-looking 45-50 fps on Destiny 2 using its “Highest” graphics preset. With Fortnite cranked all the way up to “Epic” settings, the G3 averaged about 45 fps, occasionally spiking to about 60 fps.

The Dell G3 15 and its GTX 1050 Ti graphics card clearly struggle to deliver 60 fps for many games at max settings. That said, I thought the G3 15 delivered impressive gaming visuals given its $850 price tag, particularly once I stopped obsessing over the FPS counter and focused on tagging the bad guys.

Battery life

Gaming laptops aren’t exactly known for their stellar battery life, but at least the Dell G3 15’s battery won’t give up the ghost before the end of a Game of Thrones double-header.

We test battery life by looping a 4K video using the stock Windows 10 video player, with screen brightness set to 250 nits (which meant cranking the brightness all the way on the G3) and turning the volume halfway up, with headphones plugged in.

dell g3 15 video rundown battery Melissa Riofrio/IDG

Battery life for the Dell G3 15 is pretty solid given its 56 watt-hour battery.

With its score of 327 minutes (a scant 5.5 hours), the Dell G3 15’s battery life sits right where it should be considering its 56 watt-hour battery. Notably, the Acer Predator Helios 300 manages to squeeze out about 80 additional minutes from a slightly smaller battery. While it has a larger battery than the G3 15, the HP Omen 15-ce0xx languishes at the bottom of our chart because it’s saddled with a battery-hogging 4K display.

Conclusion

It’s not the thinnest, lightest, or most powerful gaming laptop on the market, and we wish its 15.6-inch screen were brighter. But for just $850, the GTX 1050 Ti-powered Dell G3 15 packs an impressive punch.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.
At a Glance
  • It’s not the thinnest, lightest, or most powerful gaming laptop on the market, and we wish its 15.6-inch screen were brighter, but for just $750, the GTX 1050 Ti-powered Dell G3 packs an impressive punch.

    Pros

    • Impressive CPU performance for a budget gaming laptop
    • Solid GTX 1050 Ti gaming visuals
    • Decent battery life

    Cons

    • Disappointingly dim display
    • Sub-60 fps frame rates for some graphically intense games
1 2 Page 2
Page 2 of 2
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon