Dell has been in the gaming business long enough with its Alienware lineup of laptops, Inspiron series and its recently announced G-series. Dell has termed the G-series as its ‘affordable’ lineup of gaming laptops. It offers an NVIDIA GTX 10-series GPU and Intel 8th gen processors at a price tag of below Rs 1 lakh. In making the laptop cheap, there have been certain tradeoffs. Most importantly, and I can’t stress this enough, the device looks nowhere like a gaming laptop. I looked at the dull design, felt the jagged edges around the chassis of the laptop and I got the impression that this laptop should not be costing me more than Rs 40,000 – Rs 50,000. It’s only after delving inside the hardware details of the laptop that I got the full measure of it.
The Dell G3 variant which was given to me for review had an 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 4 GB of Nvidia GTX 1050Ti GPU, 16 GB of LPDDRX4 RAM, 1 TB of HDD storage and 256 GB of SSD storage. While the laptop’s price has been listed as Rs 82,090 for the 128 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM variant, the increase to 256 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM and including GST, the price comes to Rs 1,08,503.
The G3 has also been declared as the thinnest 15-inch gaming laptop by Dell. While the device did not feel too thick, and at 2.5 kgs it does not feel very heavy when compared to other gaming laptops, it does not give out the vibes of what a typical gamer might want out of his/her rig. In comparison, at least from the photos online, the Acer Nitro 5 looks very much like it could appease a gamer.
If looks matter to you, you might be better of with the MSI GF Series or perhaps the recently announced Lenovo Legion Y530 for which our review will arrive shortly. But if it is pure internals you are looking for and are on a moderately tight budget, then this laptop is for you.
Build and Design: 6/10
Put the Dell G3 and any regular business laptop such as Lenovo Ideapad 330S side-by-side and you would think that the latter is a gaming laptop. When closed, the design of the G3 is quite low-key. The Dell logo is emblazoned in the centre while the cooling vents sit below the hinges of the G3. Opening the laptop will greet you with more of the same bland design, except for the palm rest, which at least has a pattern on it.
The trackpad is placed slightly on the left side and there are chunky bezels surrounding the display of the laptop. A small detail to notice is the fact that the WSAD keys are outlined with squares. The edges on the end of the palm rest are jagged and not rounded. During long durations of typing, my wrists usually got hurt. All-in-all, the device may not be as light as the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin RF, but it’s not as heavy as the Alienware 17 eitherm which weighs close to 5 kgs. It’s certainly no looker, but to be quite frank, for such heavy-duty internals at this price point, some compromise has to be made.
Keyboard and Trackpad: 7.5/10
The buttons on the G3 were smooth, with flat keycaps, much like keyboards on any other laptop. Obviously, it would be too much of stretch to expect any kind of mechanical keyboard. There is room for a full-size numpad though and the keys are backlit by blue LEDs. The G3’s keyboard was quick and responsive and I did not face any kind of delay in output while typing. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this review on the G3, and the experience has been smooth. Except for, obviously, the sharp edges on the palm rest, which have left quite an impression on my arms.
The trackpad is big and placed slightly to the left. I did not get any kind of unwanted movement of the cursor when accidentally brushing my palm against the trackpad, which is a good sign. However, I felt that the response on the touchpad was just slightly delayed. This was a little irritating but I was using a mouse most of the time, and I trust you will too, especially if you’re buying this laptop for gaming. The buttons underneath the trackpad were working fine.
The Dell G3 is quite well endowed for a laptop costing Rs 1 lakh. The hexa-core 8th-gen Intel i7 processor makes computing a breeze on this PC. This is a 45 W chip with 6 cores and 12 threads, which is something that much more pricier laptops such as the MSI GS65 have in them.
The graphical load of the system is handled by an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4 GB of memory, which is quite a robust entry-level option. This happens to be a shade more powerful than the one in its competitor, the Acer Nitro 5, which has a GTX 1050. But then again, the Nitro is cheaper.
Apart from that, you also get 16 GB of high-speed DDR4 RAM and storage options include a 256 GB SSD and a 1 TB of hard drive. Mind you, this is the top variant of the Dell G3 and there are cheaper and lower configuration models as well. Though we’d recommend you stick to this one for your entry-level gaming needs. A 256 GB SSD means you’ll have ample room for one or two of your favourite games, and with 16 GB RAM, you won’t have reason to upgrade. You can get by with 8 GB of RAM, however.
In terms of connectivity, the Dell G3 offers an HDMI 2.0 port, Ethernet, 2x USB 3.1 Type-A ports, 1x USB 2.0 port, SD-card reader and a combo audio jack. There are no ThunderBolt ports on this laptop, but in the interest of future-proofing, I would have liked to see at least one USB-C port.
Here I believe that the Dell G3 has a bit of a hill to climb. The 15-inch FHD display of the G3, while good under normal circumstances, does not get the brightness level I would’ve wanted. The maximum brightness on the laptop was nowhere near to what I had expected from a gaming laptop. Colour accuracy was also a big issue on the display as our tests showed that the G3 had an sRGB coverage of just 52.4 percent. This is depressingly low as some laptops in its price range such as the MSI GE62 7RE Apache Pro had a sRGB coverage of 87 percent. While all this goes to show that the G3 doesn’t have the best of displays out there, I don’t think casual gamers such as myself would an issue with the display.
Rise of the Tomb Raider looked just as cinematic and visually pleasing as I’ve come to expect. While playing Call of Duty: WWII the opening of the Allied invasion at the beach of Normandy was enthralling enough. I’m not saying that the Dell G3 has a good display. I’m just stating that I don’t have a problem if its colours aren’t as vibrant as it should be. The games still look quite appealing.
This is a part where I’m quite impressed with the Dell G3. As mentioned before, I’ve received the highest specced variant of the laptop and I’m happy to say that it doesn’t disappoint.
While running all the benchmarks, I came to find out that the Dell G3 can definitely hold its own in its price league. While benchmarks tell us how good or bad a device can be in terms of performance, I can assure you that playing games for a long duration is the only real test for a gaming laptop.
The Rise of the Tomb Raider has some of the most visually pleasing graphics I’ve seen and in my humble casual gamer opinion, it can perhaps be matched by Elder Scrolls last instalment, Skyrim. Running the game at Very High settings saw a considerable lag in the first few minutes as the frame rate dropped to a lowly 22-24 fps.
However, this lag vanished after this time period and only returned a few times when the GPU had to render a very wide environment. I was easily getting 30 fps most of the time I was playing. The benchmarking test showed us a 32.7 average frame rate at Very High settings running FHD. Very High settings do push the 1050 Ti beyond its limits.
While playing it on High, there was no visible lag and the game ran at nearly 60-65 fps with negligible frame drop. Again, the only exception I felt was during the very early stages of the game where a massive amount of details had to be rendered. Our benchmarks showed that Tomb Raider touched an average of 54 fps on high settings running FHD.
Doom ran quite effortlessly at over 70 fps on the highest settings, giving me quite the visual pleasure when pulling out the eyeball of Cacodemons. However, here I would like to mention the fact that this laptop has NVIDIA Battery Boost, which basically means that when the laptop is unplugged/not charging, performance drops significantly. In theory, Doom should be running at 30 fps on battery, but I only saw frame-rates of 10-12 fps. Clearly, gaming on battery is out of the question, except for maybe casual titles. When I spoke to Dell about this, they said it was a feature controlled by Nvidia and that there was nothing they could do about it.
Apart from that, Call of Duty: WWII was a breeze on the highest settings and did not stutter even once. I also experienced no lag in gameplay, even when I was twisting and turning English B-25 Mitchell Planes 20,000 meters in the air.
However, talking about gaming and not mentioning either Fortnite or PUBG in this day and age is criminal. Let me give you the low down here. Epic settings on Fortnite are an absolute breeze on the Dell G3. Gamers usually complain about a drop in frame rate just as they are about squeeze that headshot on their opponents. Well, that will not happen in Fortnite. It may, however, happen in PUBG. Running the game on Ultra settings injected a certain amount of lag that will be quite unacceptable to professional players. I would recommend High settings for the game, which gave me a somewhat steady frame rate. The drop in video detail is marginal on this display and to be quite honest, it doesn’t even matter that much.
One other thing that Dell has done well is endowing the G3 some decent thermal management abilities. Temperatures rarely crossed 87°C even during intensive tasks like video rendering. Most laptops in this range easily cross the 90°C mark.
While playing games, I’ll admit that the G3 does indeed get a bit hot, but since the cooling vents are pointed in the opposite direction to the user, the heat doesn’t get to you while playing. The keyboard area also remains relatively cool as well.
The bottom line on gaming is that you can’t ask for more in a Rs 1 lakh laptop. The Dell G3 delivers on many fronts that its competitors such as Asus ROG Strix GL553VE or MSI GE62 7RE Apache Pro can’t, even though they are priced higher. If you want more high-end gaming then it surely will come at extra costs. And if you don’t mind splurging, the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin RF is a great option. It retails for Rs 1.85 lakhs.
Speaking a little about the speakers on the Dell G3, it would seem that while they are definitely loud enough, they are quite hollow. At high volumes, I also find that they start crackling a lot. Also, they are placed below and get blocked when I have the laptop on my lap. It would have been better if Dell could have made front-firing speakers.
Battery life happens to be quite good on the Dell G3. While running the standard PC Mark 10 Battery test I got 2 hours and 23 minutes, which is quite good for a gaming laptop. The MSI GE62 7RE Apache Pro had about 1 hour 50 minutes in it while the Asus ROG Strix GL553VE shuts down at 1 hour and 30 minutes. While unplugged, the Dell G3 runs the Doom Skybox level for 90 minutes, however, it is only at 10-12 fps so it’s basically pointless. The MSI ran for 52 minutes at 30 fps while the Asus ran for 53 minutes at 30 fps. Bottom line is that you can expect decent battery life from the G3, but if you’re gaming, you’ll obviously want to keep your laptop plugged in all the time.
Quite honestly, I believe that the Dell G3 looks like a good deal to me. And there’s no pun here because make no mistake, this is an ugly laptop. It lacks that gaming laptop vibe, and while that can be a good thing at times, the design is too dull even for a normal laptop. The display could also do with an upgrade. These issues aside, the internals are quite good and are great value at this price.
If looks matter, splurge on the Lenovo Legion Y530, which is just as capable, a little more expensive, and features a smaller SSD.