If you’re after a reasonably priced laptop which can serve as a workstation, portable gaming device, and even as a decent home computer, the Dell G5 15 should be on your list. Coming in a fetching red or matt black with red highlights (just to let others know this is not a standard laptop), it also boasts a fast-charging battery, built-in webcam, and a plethora of connection options including an HDMI 2.0 port, headphone port, high-speed ethernet, SD-card reader, high-speed USB 3.1, and USB C with Thunderbolt and Display Port support.
Armed with an SSD, Intel Core-i7 CPU and a 6GB GTX 1060 graphics card, when fully updated with the latest drivers the review model proved itself quite a powerful little beast. For a laptop to achieve decent power at a reasonable price point, there will always be some trade-offs. The G5 15 is certainly not the lightest laptop around,and while the monitor is an IPS display and has good viewing angles, the low contrast may make picking out detail in dark environments difficult.
The keyboard is not the easiest to use and it lacks high-end speakers (however, to get these thing you may be looking closer to a $4,000 price-tag). That said, it is an impressively powerful gaming machine.
Windows loaded and ran quickly, and it happily ran Doom on Ultra setting at 90-130FPS, Crysis maintained a comfortable 75+ FPS (on Very High settings, which brought the top-end desktops of its day to their knees), and Final Fantasy XV hovered around the 65 FPS mark and a decent 27-40 FPS when the laptop was powering an external 2560x1440 monitor.
To get the full performance from the G 5 15, however, you’ll really need to plug it into the mains, as when running off battery power it deliberately scales back performance. While this keeps the G5 15 cool and quiet, and gives you about 1.5-2hrs of gaming runtime, battery mode should really be kept for non-gaming activities or for MOBAs and RTS games, as the performance drop is quite severe. Crysis dropped to an unplayable 14 FPS (Very High setting), as did Final Fantasy XV – lowering the graphics settings on all games improved FPS but revealed the frame-rate to be capped at 30 FPS, and despite this both Crysis and Doom had an unpleasant jarring and laggy feel). These issues, however, disappear the moment the laptop is plugged into the mains.
When running at full power, that while the GTX 1060’s slim ‘blower’ fans help keep the laptop cool under load (the exhaust-air got up to maximum 36°C above ambient), it does need to be on a hard surface so you get good air-flow to the fans’ intakes. If you don’t maintain decent airflow – for example, by putting it down on a soft-surface like a thick table-cloth – temperatures can quickly soar.
All in all, the Dell G5 15 is a solid entry in the gaming laptop market. While there are some trade-offs, these are ones which you’ll find in just about any laptop which doesn’t cost the earth and which can all be solved by connecting the G5 15 to an external monitor, keyboard and speakers. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a laptop which can act as both a workstation and powerful gaming rig without breaking the bank, the Dell G5 15 should definitely be on your radar. ■