Dell G7 15 review: Dell’s top gaming laptop is at its best when it costs less

Dell G7 15

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Dell G7 15 is a victim of its lower-end linemate’s success. The G5 15 offers a wide variety of component options starting at $900 for entry-level and mainstream gamers and it’s all wrapped up in an attractive and relatively thin and light case, which is how it earned an Editors’ Choice award for budget gaming laptops last year. The G7 15 is the upgraded version with things like a thinner, lighter all-metal chassis instead of plastic, higher-end component and display options and a four-zone RGB LED backlit keyboard. But all of that just isn’t enough to give it an enthusiastic recommendation. At least not for the pricier configuration I tested.

Like

  • Thin and light for a mainstream gaming laptop
  • Offers higher-end components for less than Dell’s Alienware brand

Don’t Like

  • Small, inconsistent touchpad
  • Features like Thunderbolt 3, 144Hz/240Hz displays only available with pricier graphics

The issue I have is the G7 doesn’t differentiate itself enough from the G5 for those on a budget. And for those less restricted by price, the Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card in my review system pushes the price up so that it’s not too far off from the nicer-looking and more capable Alienware m15

Dell G7 15

Price as reviewed $1,350
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920×1,080 144Hz display
CPU 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H
Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2667MHz
Graphics 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
Storage 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe + 1TB HDD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 5.0
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Unless you really want the RTX card’s support for ray tracing or DLSS that improves lighting and detail realism in supported games (there are only a couple dozen at the moment), you’re better off getting the G7 with a GTX 1660 Ti chip, which performs nearly as well for less money. In other words, if you’re going to spend for the RTX 2060, you might as well spend to have it in a better laptop like the m15, too. 

That’s not to say the Dell G7 15 is something you should stay away from. Oddly enough, the Dell G7 15 currently starts at $900 for seemingly the same configuration as the base G5 15. In this case, the G7 is certainly the way to go. 

The G7 base model in the UK is £1,149 and in Australia it’s $2,313, although both are better than what you’ll get in the US. 

I like the look of the G7, too, and the metal case does make it feel more premium than the G5. The keyboard is comfortable for typing and gaming and, because Dell used white markings instead of the G5’s blue, you can read the keys easily with the backlight off. The touchpad, on the other hand, is disappointing. It’s actually smaller than the G5’s and I found it took a couple swipes before it would recognize my touch. 

The rest of the build is similar to the G5, with display ports, Ethernet and the power input on back to make it tidier to use on a desk with peripherals. Along with HDMI, my system had a Mini DisplayPort, which is only available if you get the RTX 2060 card or higher. The same goes for Thunderbolt 3 and display options for 144Hz or 240Hz refresh rates. There’s also an Ultra HD-resolution (3,140×2,160-pixel) OLED available if you want to drive the price up to $2,400. Then again, you can get a similar configuration in the Alienware m15 with an OLED display for $2,750, too.  

Dell G7 15

Sarah Tew/CNET

Basically, if you want the performance of an Alienware for less money and in a body that doesn’t look as much like a typical aggressive gaming laptop, the Dell G7 15 is certainly worth considering. Depending on your configuration and budget, though, you might be better off with the G5 15 or saving up for the Alienware m15.

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery-drain test

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Far Cry 5 (FPS)

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (FPS)

Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52)

Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System configurations

Dell G7 15 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Acer Predator Helios 300 (PH315-52) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti; 256GB SSD
Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581G Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i9-9980; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060; 1TB SSD
Razer Blade 15 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Coe i7-8750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with Max-Q Design; 512GB SSD