Dell’s prowess in gaming-centric computers is highly notable in the Alienware series. However, for those on a strict budget, there’s the G series that offers a toned-down experience you expect from the Alienware series. Last year, the company updated the Dell G3 and G5 laptops with the Intel 10th Gen processors. The G5 5500 is currently available with two states of tune at fairly low prices, starting at Rs 85,290 for the Core i5 variant.
At this price point, the G5 15 competes with a couple of budget gaming laptops from Asus, Lenovo, and HP. The model I had for review came equipped with the goodness of a faster 120Hz display but relied on a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor and an older NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti. Not an ideal combination of specifications for hardcore gaming but is enough to run the games in decent graphics.
Nonetheless, I replaced the G5 15 for a couple of weeks as my daily work computer and it still left me impressed.
Some of the most ravishing laptops come from Dell’s stables, be it the bonkers Alienware lineup or the seductive XPS ultrabooks. With the G5, Dell plays it safe with a design that will appeal to most at the first glance. Lying on my study table, the G5 15 looks like a bland plastic clamshell that tries to spruce it up with some character lines on the lid.
However, peek at it from certain angles, and depending on the lighting, you can see the lid shimmering with rainbow crystals. This is unlike any other laptop I have ever seen, even for a gaming laptop. The shimmer makes the otherwise dull design of the G5 15 appealing in an unusual way. Combined with the Alienware inspired rugged looks, adorned with all the vents and a slanted rear, this comes across as an interesting looking laptop.
I wish Dell used some of the RGB lighting magic that Asus prides itself on its TUF and ROG laptops. The unit I had was previously used and it showed signs of age with its scratched lid surface and weird marks.
Despite the all-plastic chassis, the Dell G5 15 weighs 2.3 kilos and you are most likely going to notice the bulk when shoving it in the backpack. That said, the bulk allows for plenty of I/O ports to be present all around. You get one HDMI 2.0 port, one USB 3.2 port, two regular USB 2.0 ports, an SD card slot, an RJ45 port, and a USB-C port.
The standard model gets you a 15.6-inch IPS LCD display with 300 nits brightness and 60Hz refresh rate. However, the unit I got weirdly came equipped with a display that showed support for 120Hz refresh rate, an option that does not exist in Dell’s spec sheet. Dell offers the option to choose between 60Hz, 144Hz and 300Hz.
While I did not have access to the color ratings of the display, the performance was adequate. The higher refresh rate made for smoother visuals while the colors themselves look fairly vibrant. At 300 nits of brightness, I never felt the lack of brightness even while working in a sunlit room. The viewing angles are wide as well. The matte anti-glare finish helps with cutting down reflections to a larger extent as well. Whether I was playing games or watching YouTube videos, the experience was good overall. Content creators may feel the need to attach an external display.
Based on the specifications I had on offer, my variant of the G5 15 is at best an entry-level gaming laptop. My unit comes with an Intel Core i5-10300H processor paired to 8GB DDR4 2933MHz RAM. This is accompanied by a NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti graphics card with 4GB of VRAM and 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD storage. While this will aid for faster bootup as well as app loading times, 512GB is far too less for a gaming laptop. The updated variants now come with an extra 1TB HDD and you should get that one, if you play a lot of games.
Back to the unit in hand, the G5 15 performed nicely under my usage. For my daily workflow, which involves a lot of work on Google Chrome with at least 8-9 tabs opened simultaneously, the laptop never threw up hiccups. I was editing photos via online image editing tools, dealing with 2-3 word documents, streaming music, and downloading games on Steam in the background The G5 15 kept its cool and kept chugging along.
It is during gaming when the midrange specifications started showing struggles. I play my favorite F1 2020 from Codemasters a lot and the experience was far from acceptable in the highest of settings. The GTX 1650Ti isn’t a powerhouse and combined with the Core i5 processor, I had to resort to settling for High graphics settings at 1280 x 720 resolution for ensuring a fairly stable frame rate of 50-60 fps. Do note that I had to turn off ambient occlusion as well as reduce the texture processing. Even then, there were occasional hiccups in busy parts of the race tracks.
When it came to newer titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs Legion, I had to dial down the graphics the low-medium mix as well as the lower the resolution. Even then, the frame rate consistently dropped under 30 fps, with frequent stutters and frame drops. For older games like GTA 5 and Need For Speed Payback, the experience was better with high graphics settings in Full HD resolution.
I was impressed with the thermal performance on the laptop. During the long Grand Prix sessions in F1 2020, I did not see the PC drop frames or stutters even after an hour of dedicated virtual driving. The fans can get noisy in silent rooms, however.
If you love playing old titles and seek a PC for basic video as well as photo editing, you won’t face issues with this spec setup. For those who seek better performance, it would make sense to go for the Core i7 variant with a 1660Ti graphics, or opt for the RTX series cards.
The trackpad is decent with its touch responsivity, although I would have preferred a larger surface area. The keyboard is comfortable for typing long documents, with all the keys offering sufficient feedback. The presence of a Numpad is of major help for titles that require keyboard input. The blue backlighting is eye candy, especially in dark conditions. The power key-mounted fingerprint scanner is a big relief while logging in.
With a 52Whr 3-cell battery, the Dell G5 15 barely manages to stay awake on battery power for a full workday. With the workload described earlier, I had to plug in the charging adapter every four hours. Gaming on battery power doesn’t affect the performance but I was able to get a maximum of an hour’s playtime before the laptop started crying for the power adapter.
Starting at Rs 85,290, the Dell G5 15 comes across as a fairly reliable PC with decent gaming capabilities. Do note that only causal gamers will find the performance acceptable. The entry-level model that I got isn’t the best one for gamers and content creators but you can opt for the top-end model with the Core i7 variant as well as more powerful graphics card options. I would also suggest you wait for Dell to update its lineup with the new Intel processors. On the other hand, there are a bunch of good alternatives with more powerful AMD Ryzen processors from Asus TUF series.