Dell's $2000 G3 15 Gaming Laptop, Benchmarked

Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)

As is customary, Dell announced earlier this year that their G-series gaming laptops were getting a refresh. So, I wondered, how much gaming do you get for $2000?

That's the cost of the top line Dell G3 15, which is the manufacturer's entry level offerings for those who can't afford to pick up something with the Alienware brand. It comes in five stock configurations, with the cheapest setting you back $1600 for an i5-8300H and a GTX 1050, while the $2000 model gets you 16GB of RAM, an i7-8750H, a GTX 1050 Ti and some more storage.

Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)
Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)

The model we had sent in was the top of the line offering, with the full specs as follows:

CPU: Intel i7-8750H @ 2.2Ghz/4.1GHz
RAM: 16GB DDR4 2666MHz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
Storage: Micron 1100 256GB SSD, Western Digital 1TB 5400RPM SATA
Screen: 1920 x 1080p 15.6" IPS display, 60Hz
Battery: 56Whr 4-cell
Dimensions: 22.7mm x 380mm x 258mm (h/w/d)
Weight: 2.53kg
Ports: 1x USB 3.1 gen 2, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x 3.5mm jack, 1x gigabit ethernet, 2x SuperSpeed USB 3.1
Webcam: 720p

At this price point, you're going to have to make some tradeoffs — it just depends what you're prepared to sacrifice. The biggest change with the higher end laptops this year has been smaller bezels, a thinner chassis, and a bit of a reduction in noise.

The Dell G3 15 is a bit of a hark to the olden days in that regard: at 2.53kg, you won't be lugging this around with any regularity, at least not comfortably. The keyboard and trackpad aren't anything to brag about either. They're functional at best, and the 1080p 60Hz display is rather dull — the Skaven benchmark for Warhammer 2 was difficult to see at anything but the highest brightness levels, and I'd loathe to think what something like Alien: Isolation or a horror game would be like.

But entry-level gaming laptops aren't known for their brightness or comfy keyboards. They're designed to get people into PC gaming at a reasonable price point. A lot of those users will commonly plug the laptop into a second, more competent screen, and the G3 15 does the job relatively well in that respect.

Provided you're happy to play at lower presets, the GTX 1050 Ti and i7-8750H should have no qualms getting 60fps in most blockbuster titles. Ghost Recon: Wildlands was one area where even the Low preset was a bridge too far, but Ashes of the Singularity and Warhammer 2 ran comfortably at the right settings, and less intensive titles like Overwatch, Dota 2 and League of Legends will be no problem given their lower hardware requirements. The more modern CPU in the G3 15, compared to the 7th-generation options in Dell's budget Inspiron line, will also be a huge boon if you're playing something like Civilization 6.

That said, if you do use the 1TB drive for your Steam library, don't expect fast loading times. Dell will let you configure the G3 15 to your heart's content, though, so if you're looking for something in this price range I'd seriously consider a good SSD upgrade.

Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)
Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)

For the record, all tests were run with Nvidia's 398.36 drivers (26/6/2018), which are still relatively fresh. I did have some issues initially with getting games to recognise the Nvidia GPU, but that was resolved by setting the Nvidia Control Panel to use the 1050 Ti exclusively, and disabling the Intel onboard graphics in Device Manager, and a couple of hard restarts.

I tried searching through the G3 15's BIOS to see if the iGPU could be turned off there, but that wasn't an option. It's a handy tip to note if you do run into issues gaming on a laptop: some games are smart enough to pick up the Nvidia GPU automatically, but every game is different. (And you'll notice the difference otherwise: Intel's onboard graphics have come a long way, but not quite far enough to run games like Warhammer 2 at anything beyond the single digits.)

Something worth calling out is that the G3 15's battery life isn't bad for a laptop in this price range. You'll get about four to five hours, depending on whether you're stress testing or just browsing a bunch of Chrome tabs. Gaming on the go while unplugged will absolutely tank the battery life, but that's par for the course for laptops like this. (Precisely how much battery you get will depend on what game your playing, and how much power it's drawing from the GPU.)

Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)

For more info about the Dell G3 15 and the available configurations, you can check them out at the Dell website.


Comments

    That price/performance match-up just extinguished any glimmer of curiosity I had about getting back into PC gaming. It sounds like if you want something in a laptop form that easily and clearly outclasses consoles then you are looking at well over $2K.

      To be fair, this is only a 1050Ti - it isn't a particularly great card. If you hunt around for specials you can occasionally find laptops equipped with 1060s that will be comparable to a desktop. This generation of GPUs are closer than ever before to their desktop cards in performance. They're still going to be more expensive though because you're buying an entire rig.

      As Soldant said, this is a very poor example.

      The only time to buy these Dell's is when they're heavily reduced.
      I bought the old 960m version which listed for 1899 for 1150 from Dell's Ebay store during a sale.

      There are much better options out there though.

    I got the Dell Inspiron equivalent of this last December (same specs, before they rebadged then as the G Series), and love it. On the desk, it acts as a workstation, with mouse, keyboard, and monitor plugged in, and does everything I want.

    I haven't bought any real challenging games for it this year, but it has no qualms with No Mans Sky for example. I probably wont challenge it until Anthem next year to be honest.

    As its basically acting as a desktop, battery life has obviously not been an issue, but the couple of times I've unplugged it to watch something in bed I haven't noticed any problems.

    If someone wants a nice balanced laptop, I would recommend this one without hesitation. The SSD and HD combo is just right, the GPU is strong enough to game as you want, and the i7 powerful enough to do most productive things.

    What's the screen like on these? I've been eyeing it off in store but a lot of US reviews say the screen has bad SRGB and Adobe RGB coverage.

    Last edited 31/07/18 1:13 pm

      It's pretty ordinary. If you don't have another monitor to plug this into, I'd genuinely consider saving up more money to buy a laptop with a better screen. It's not bad relative to other laptops at this price point, but that doesn't make it a joy to use, either.

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