For those of us that love to bargain hunt the best for the least, choosing a new laptop can be a daunting task. With so many options at so many price points it’s hard to wade through what’s good and expensive and what’s cheap and nasty to find that sweet spot of price to performance. But you can relax; Dell has landed squarely within the realm of affordability and performance with the new 2018 G5 15 Gaming Laptop.

Dell G5 Red
Our kitten Walter tried really hard to be involved in this review

 

There’s only two SKU’s available currently for the NZ market, however both serve some pretty impressive specs for their price.

 

Dell G5 15 (Lower Model) Dell G5 15 (Top Model)
Processor 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-8300H Processor (Quad-Core, 8MB Cache, up to 4.0GHz w/ Turbo Boost 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-8750H Processor (6-Core, 9MB Cache, up to 4.1GHz w/ Turbo Boost)
Video Card NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5 NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5
Display 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS
Memory 8GB, 2x4GB, DDR4, 2666MHz 16GB, 2x8GB, DDR4, 2666MHz
Storage 128GB Solid State Drive (Boot) + 1TB 5400RPM Hard Drive (Storage) 256GB Solid State Drive (Boot) + 1TB 5400RPM Hard Drive (Storage)
Battery 56 WHr 56 WHr

 

On hand, we have the higher end model featuring an i7-8750H and a GTX 1060 Max Q GPU, wrapped up in a sleek matte red and black housing.

Dell G5

Aesthetics

This thing is gorgeous. From that soft exterior finish to the cool touch brushed metal bed. The “Beijing Red” isn’t exactly subtle and as much as I definitely won’t lose it on the couch, it will however stand out in any professional setting. But that may be exactly what you’re after!

The massive vents out the rear of the machine are quite striking with a black trim that contrasts nicely. The black vent style is mirrored on the front of the machine disguising the two forward facing stereo speakers. There’s something about red and black that’s just so good… Or maybe that’s just my Canterbury roots showing. Huh! Suck it Hurricanes!

On the inside of the Dell G5, the red and black theme is continued with red lettering on the keys and trim bordering the trackpad. The keys aren’t backlit and I did find in lower light situations that visibility was diminished, however a backlit option is available if customising through Dell’s own website.

On the left hand side of the machine you’ll find a Noble lock slot, power jack, full sized Ethernet port, USB 3.1 type A (With powershare), and a 2 in 1 SD/MicroMedia card reader. On the right, an HDMI 2.0 port, USB-C with Thunderbolt, 2x USB 3.1 Type A ports and a headphone/microphone jack. I/O is not exactly in short supply here and it’s really nice to see the addition of Thunderbolt™ 3 and HDMI 2.0. Basically you won’t need to reach for a dongle any time soon so massive props there!

Dell G5 IO

 

Screen

Sporting a full HD, 1920 x 1080, 15.6”, 60Hz, IPS panel with a matte anti-glare finish. It’s great to see at least an IPS display and it is a vast improvement over the TN panel from the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 of last year.

With the addition of IPS we get a far larger range of viewing angles and a slightly improved vividness. The improvements kind of just stop there. The colour accuracies aren’t the best on this model. With a noticeable dip in contrast, some colours appear paler than what I’m used to. If you’re looking for something with high accuracies for professional use you will be sorely disappointed. As for gaming or video consumption, the display is just fine.

As far as backlight bleed, you’re in the clear. Well I was at least. IPS screens can be susceptible to light bleeding through in dark scenes but I am happy to report I experienced none; however your mileage may vary.

Input Stuff

The full keyboard with a num pad is greatly appreciated. Keys are a decent size and spacing is a winner. A shallow stroke with a nice tactile feel is really great; they aren’t overly mushy with exception to the smaller arrow keys. This may just be due to their smaller size; the stroke feels almost softer in a way. With just the right amount of audible feedback on key strokes to round it out. Well done Dell!

The metal palm rest adds a really nice premium feel and helps to alleviate any flex while typing, like on many of the cheaper laptops I’ve owned!

The trackpad. Other than the screen, this is the only other thing that bugged me. It’s not the worst I’ve ever used, that crown goes to some crappy Acer Aspire I got for $50 at a garage sale. It has muti-touch supported which is nice, but suffers from miss clicks on occasion. That’s mostly down to the inconsistencies with the click the higher up you go. At the bottom it’s a little too easy to depress and at the top damn near impossible. It’s also a little on the small side for my personal preference with multi touch gestures in mind. Though all of this is somewhat voided by the fact that the targeted audience for this machine is gamers, and no one games without a proper mouse or controller.

Dell G5 Keyboard

Gaming

The real meat and veg of any gaming laptop review. How does the Dell G5 game?

Simply put, really REALLY well!

Seen as GTA V is the only game in the array that we ran with a built in benchmark you can expect some more detailed results. As for the others, we ran a 2 minute capture using fraps in an intensive situation.

 

GTA V

Michael himself can attest to how shocked I was when we fired up the first benchmark on GTA V. This thing ate it like it was nothing. My initial prediction was blown out of the water with comfortable frame rates even with everything maxed in 1080p.

Below are the results from the full benchmark run, there were some lows as can be expected with that grass high detail and extended draw distance but you can colour me thoroughly impressed.

Bench Stage Min FPS Max FPS Average FPS
1 4.43 65.29 40.87
2 16.7 62.24 35.68
3 25.96 109.77 43.68
4 27.42 67.7 45.77
5 16 81.32 43.37

Though there were some significant dips as you can no doubt see already, keep in mind that this was with the advanced graphical settings also at max. I was in no way expecting this thing to be playable at these settings but it was! Obviously those of us who prefer to take advantage of gaming on PC over console may prefer to tune down a few things to hit that glorious 60fps, but this thing can take it!

The Witcher 3

With all settings pushed to max but with NVIDIA Hairworks off we managed to get some really great frame rates from The Witcher 3.

Minimum: 38                     Maximum: 72                    Average: 54.8

 

Synthetic Benchmarks

We really did try to throw everything at this thing while we had it. Hopefully it colours a great picture so you know what you’re getting yourself into. In all of the synthetic testing, bear in mind that it is winter currently in NZ so ambient temperature was around the 20 degree mark.

Cinebench – Scored 1079 on the CPU test. Held at 3.8GHz for a while before the CPU hit a thermal limit around 98°C and throttling back to 2.8GHz. Still above the base clock so I’m pretty happy with that.

3D Mark Firestrike – Managing to score 3852 overall in TimeSpy, this puts it squarely in the “Gaming Laptop” category which is good to know. Thanks 3D mark. Overall this is a pretty decent score for a laptop of its caliber.

Unigine Heaven GPU clocks stayed steady, holding at 1670MHz for the entirety of the 30 minute punishment. We reached a maximum temperature of 67°C, which is a little higher than the temps I recorded during our video review below. I’m putting this down to the fact that I caved and bought a heater.

Dell G5 Time Spy screenshot

Should you buy it?

If you’re in the market for a gaming laptop and can’t justify the cost of some outrageous beast, then it’s a resounding yes. Yes you should. The Dell G5 is everything I wanted in a machine, high performance, and low price. Even with the two caveats I mentioned earlier, the screen and the trackpad, I’m still sold. Battery life was impressive, ease of access, upgrade ability, it’s got it all.

If you are looking for a laptop for gaming, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more compelling offering. I really don’t want to send this one back and I’ll be sad to see it go. So sad in fact, that I think the ol’ credit card may need to come out for one to call my own.

 

If you’ve made it this far and got sick of reading part way through, well you’re in luck. You can check out the video review below:

9

Pros

  • Seriously impressive gaming performance
  • Great cooling solution
  • Vibrant matte finish
  • Great keyboard
  • Awesome ease of access and upgradeability

Cons

  • Colour accuracies on the display
  • Trackpad is okay

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