Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop is getting a little more serious this year, graduating to GeForce GTX 1060 discrete graphics and using Nvidia’s Max-Q technology to put more power into (slightly) less space.
The jury’s actually still out on Max-Q—gamers are openly leery of potential compromises. Looking at the main differences between the refreshed line announced Wednesday, however, and the prior generation, you can see how Max-Q is starting to change how laptops are designed.
The Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptops will begin shipping in September. Prices start at $999 for FHD-based configurations and $1,449 for UHD-based configurations, with these main options:
7th-gen Intel Core i5-7300HQ quad-core with clock speed up to 3.5GHz
7th-gen Intel Core i5-7700HQ quad-core with clock speed up to 3.8GHz
RAM: 4GB to 16GB (maximum 32GB) of 2,400MHz DDR4
FHD (1920×1080) IPS
UHD (3840×2160) IPS
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 with 2GB of GDDR5 memory
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of GDDR5 memory
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q and 6GB of GDDR5 memory
Battery: 56Whr, 4-cell
Considering how Dell’s prior generation Inspiron impressed us for its bang for buck, the fact that much remains the same here is a good thing. The new lineup does have a higher starting price, but it’s adding fancier options like the 4K display and the GTX 1060 with Max-Q technology, plus a dual-fan cooling system and a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello. (Maybe it also has better FHD display quality—we didn’t much like the last generation’s.)
Meanwhile, it subtracts battery: The prior generation had a larger 74Whr, 6-cell pack compared to the much smaller one on the new models. Max-Q is supposed to help manage power consumption better. Dell promises anywhere from 7 to almost 10 hours of life depending on the configuration (and of course, what you’re doing). This is in line with our test results for the prior model, so the latest generation is potentially giving you the same battery life with less actual battery. There’s also a new quick-charge technology that will replenish the battery to 80-percent capacity within an hour—that’s nice if you’re actually taking this thing anywhere.
Chances are you won’t take it far, though. Compared to its predecessor the Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop is slightly thinner (0.98 inch compared to an even 1 inch before), but heavier: 5.82 pounds and up for a GTX 1050-based model, and 6.28 pounds and up for a GTX-1060-based model. Last year’s version started at 5.76 pounds.
Note, too, the differences in AC adapter: A 130-watt model for GTX 1050/1050Ti versions, and a 180-watt model for GTX 1060 versions. The larger adapter will be bulkier, of course.
The Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop is just one example of the new wave of Max-Q laptops, joining the Asus ROG Zephyrus and others. In this case, it seems to be taking advantage of the technology to fit more features into the same space rather than go thinner. We don’t know whether it’ll also be quieter. Even with a higher starting price, however, we expect this model will continue to offer a lot of value for gamers.
Melissa Riofrio spent her formative journalistic years reviewing some of the biggest iron at PCWorld--desktops, laptops, storage, printers--and she continued to focus on hardware testing during stints at Computer Currents and CNET. Currently, in addition to leading PCWorld’s content direction, she covers productivity laptops and Chromebooks.