Dell G3 15 Review

Dell G3 15 review: Dell's budget gaming laptop range offers a lot of bang for not a lot of buck. But at such low prices, something's surely got to give.

Verdict

For cheap, on-the-go gaming, the Dell G3 15 is an indisputable bargain. 

Pros

  • Astonishing performance considering the price
  • Can run almost every PC game in Full HD
  • Never gets too hot or loud
  • Long-lasting battery life

Cons

  • Sub-par display
  • Dated design
  • No Chroma keyboard option

Key Features

  • Review Price: £779
  • Nvidia GTX 1050/1050 Ti/1060 GPU
  • Intel Core i5-8300H / i7-8750H
  • 8GB RAM / 16GB RAM
  • 15.6-inch Full HD screen
  • 256GB SSD
  • 22.7 x 380 x 258mm
  • Weight: 2.53kg

What is the Dell G3 15?

The Dell G3 15 (3579) is a mid-range gaming laptop that can run some of the biggest games in HD for a super-affordable price.

There are four configurations that you can buy. The cheapest of them all comes in at a very wallet-friendly £690, which has a GTX 1050 GPU and an 8th Gen i5 Intel Core processor. If you’re happy to splash out more cash, though, you can upgrade the storage, CPU and GPU, with the GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 1060 cards on offer.

Our review unit has all the baseline specs of the Dell G3 range, just with a more generous helping of storage with the 256GB SSD. This model comes in at £779.

How has Dell got away with building such a specced-up machine for just shy of a grand? They’ve had to cut a few corners. Screen quality in particular has suffered on the altar of compromise. But considering how low the price is, the Dell G3 is still a very good deal for on-the-go gaming.  

Related: Best gaming laptop 

Dell G3 15 – Design and build

My first thought? The Dell G3 doesn’t look like a gaming laptop. There are no flashing RGB lights or snazzy design quirks here. If you saw the G3 sitting on a shelf beside all the student laptops in Currys, you wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

Whether that’s a positive depends on your tastes. It’s great to have a laptop that can easily fit in at the office and not draw sarcastic comments from your colleagues. If you hate your laptops looking like a Tokyo back alley, then the Dell G3 will be right up your street.

Dell G3 15

The Dell G3 15, viewed from the front, with the Windows 10 lock screen visible.

However, I get the impression that the Dell G3’s lack of bells and whistles is little to do with attracting a mainstream audience, and more to do with pushing the price down. The build of the laptop is a giveaway for this, as it feels distinctly plasticky.

Push down on the surface of the laptop and you’ll notice some flex. It doesn’t feel particularly durable, with the rim of the laptop dented before it even arrived at our office. You’re certainly getting what you paid for in this regard.

Dell G3 15

The Dell G3 15 half opened, turned to the right.

The bezel surrounding the screen is as wide as it is ugly too. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by the Razer Blade 15, but it’s disappointing that budget-priced gaming laptops still suffer big bezels.

Another gaming laptop stereotype the Dell G3 adhere to is its weight. At 2.53kg its a hefty machine, but not so much that you’ll think twice about bringing it into the office for a Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 lunchtime session.

Dell G3 15

A close-up of the left-hand side of the Dell G3 15 showing off its ports: left to right, mains port, HDMI, Ethernet, two USB-A ports, 3.5mm headphone jack.

In terms of ports, there’s everything that you’d need as a gamer. Crucially there’s an Ethernet port so you can get a stable connection for online brawls. There are two USB 3.1 Type-A and one USB 2.0 so you can hook up all your peripherals with ease. An HDMI port is present too, so you’ve the option of switching the action onto an external monitor. A headphone jack and 2-in-1 SD / MicroMedia card reader also make the cut.

What’s it missing? Well, there’s no DisplayPort, but that’s not a big deal. There’s no USB-C either, with Dell clearly trying to keep costs down to a minimum. That said, Dell have still managed to include a fingerprint scanner on the power button, so you can sign in via Windows Hello rather than having to type in your password every time you log in.

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Dell G3 15 – Keyboard and Touchpad

Following on from what I said about the Dell G3 lacking colourful spunk, I’m particularly disappointed by the lack of Chrome-backlit keys. While you do get a backlight, the white glow is only really noticeable when you’re sitting in darkness.

Dell G3 15

Close up of the Dell G3 15’s keyboard. The keys are backlit, but unlike many gaming laptops, they don’t support RGB lighting.

In terms of practicality, the keyboard does a dutiful job. The keys have enough travel and feedback to keep you gaming for hours without cramps. Of course, the built-in keyboard is no substitute for mechanical switches. If you’re looking to play the latest shooters, you’d be better off getting a separate keyboard.

The same applies to the touchpad. It does an okay job. I found it a little unresponsive at times, which can be a matter of life and death in a FPS. But I’d always recommend that any trigger-happy gamer buy a mouse instead of using any laptop touchpad.

Related: Best gaming keyboard

Dell G3 15 – Screen

While the Dell G3’s dated design and lack of rainbow-coloured keys are easily forgivable, the laptop’s lacklustre display is harder to stomach.

Look at the screen straight on and it looks reasonably fine for a Full HD IPS display. However, the Dell G3’s viewing angles are downright terrible. If you’re shifting around in your seat, you’ll see an immediate loss of detail.

Dell G3 15

The Dell G3 15’s backlit LED screen is fine when viewed dead on.

Contrast is pretty poor too, with a ratio of 700:1. Dark scenes can look fuzzy, which is no good for stealth games. This is further illustrated by the substandard black levels of 0.3147 nits. This isn’t the brightest of displays either. Since it has a maximum brightness of 252 nits, you sure as hell won’t want to be playing the Dell G3 outside on a sunny day.

Despite having a great score of 6509K for Visual Colour Temperature, the Dell G3’s display still looks rather warm when compared to other laptops. This isn’t helped by the dismal colour range, with just 51.8% of sRGB colour gamut. The Dell G3 is just not designed for image or video editing, being unable to reproduce colours accurately enough to be a worthwhile asset for such creative work.

In terms of playing video games, this isn’t a huge problem. Everything still looked decent when playing the likes of Civilization VI and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, although pixel purists will most likely want to plug this machine into an external monitor.

Dell G3 15

When viewed at an angle, the limitations of the Dell G3 15’s display become immediately noticeable.

Dell G3 15 – Performance

The one area where the Dell G3 doesn’t stink of budget is the performance. For the price, this is one of the best performing gaming laptops on the market.

There are four configurations to choose from, with each one boasting an 8th Gen processor, ranging from i5 to i7. In terms of GPU, you’ll find a Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics card in the base model and a meatier GTX 1060 in the most expensive. You can see the UK range in the table below:

Spec Option 1 Option 2 (tested) Option 3 Option 4
Display 15.6-inch Full HD, IPS 15.6-inch Full HD, IPS 15.6-inch Full HD, IPS 15.6-inch Full HD, IPS
CPU 8th Gen Intel Core

i5-8300H

8th Gen Intel Core

i5-8300H

8th Gen Intel Core

i7-8750H

8th Gen Intel Core

i7-8750H

GPU Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q
RAM 8GB (DDR4, 2666MHz) 8GB (DDR4, 2666MHz) 8GB (DDR4, 2666MHz) 8GB (DDR4, 2666MHz)
Storage 128GB M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD 256GB SSD 128GB M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD 128GB M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD
Battery 56Wh 56Wh 56Wh 56Wh
Weight 2.53kg 2.53kg 2.53kg 2.53kg
Price £689 £779 £899 £1049

Our review unit houses a GTX 1050, and I was seriously impressed with how it handled some of the most graphically demanding titles. Pick out any game that’s currently available and the Dell G3 can most likely play it in 1920 x 1080 (Full HD).

Dell G3 15

The Dell G3 15 running Civilization VI.

Whether it was Shadow of the Tomb Raider or Civilization VI, I was able to get the games running after a bit of tweaking in the video settings. Bear in mind though, even after dropping the graphics settings to medium or low for these two titles, I couldn’t better 30fps.

I was able to hit the 60fps mark for slightly older games such as Shadow of Mordor and Dirt Rally though. Again, I had to tone down the graphics settings to ‘medium’ but this is still a feat worth applauding considering the price of the Dell G3. This fantastic value is only emphasised by the fact it spat out a 3DMark Fire Strike result of 5502, which trumps the scores of rival gaming laptops that cost significantly more.

Device Geekbench single-core Geekbench multi-core 3DMark Fire Strike
Dell G3 15 3327 8497 5502
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming 4131 12033 4029
Razer Blade 15 4873 17,823 11,624

The Dell G3 15’s CPU benchmark scores are admirable too. Its PCMark 10 test churned out a respectable score of 2145, while its Geekbench single-core and multi-core ratings came in at 3327 and 8497 respectively. Those scores are just shy of what the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming scored, which costs a few hundred quid more.

The Dell G3’s SSD also posted competitive results. With write speeds of 542MB/secs and read speeds of 472MB/secs, it offers a nippy performance that is about as quick as you could wish for at this price point. Loading times rarely outstayed their welcome. 

Throughout the testing process, I threw a lot at the Dell G3 to discover its limit. Whenever I got too ambitious with the settings, games would immediately crash, but the hardware never became annoyingly hot or loud. A lot of care clearly went into the design of the G3. It may not feel premium, but it certainly ensures efficient airflow.

Related: Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti review

Dell G3 15 – Battery

Considering you’ll need the Dell G3 plugged into the mains for optimum performance, battery life isn’t one of the main priorities for gaming laptops. However, just in case you want to play Fortnite in Starbucks or binge Netflix on the train, the G3 offers a solid lifespan inbetween charges.

By running our standard battery test of playing 4K footage on a loop, the G3 survived six and a half hours before taking an emergency nap. We also did a battery test for lighter duties such as standard video playback and browsing – essentially a general day of use. This time, I was able to squeeze close to eight hours of runtime out of it.

These results are seriously impressive for a gaming laptop. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another  that can match for it for both power and battery life.

Why buy the Dell G3 15?

If you can get past the budget design and shoddy display, the Dell G3 is probably the greatest bargain in the gaming laptop space.

For less than £1000, you’re getting a portable machine that can run almost any PC game you throw its way in HD. Okay, so you’re limited to 30fps with modern blockbuster titles, but the fact that the Dell G3 can get these games up and running at all is a bloody marvel.  

Dell G3 15

A close-up of the Dell G3 15’s hinge, with the G3 branding on display.

Games released a couple of years ago are capable of being played in Full HD at 60fps too. The Dell G3 is certainly not a future-proofed machine, but I don’t think there’s a better option if you’re just looking to work your way through your massive back catalogue of games.

Creatives should turn away now – the G3 15 is not for you. But if you fancy a gaming laptop that costs less than a grand, this is the one to plump for.

Verdict

The Dell G3 15 is a lot better than you might give a sub £1000 gaming laptop credit for. If you’re after something which can handle some of the best PC games in recent years at a fair old clip and you’re not bothered about pushing the settings all the way up to max, then this is a great choice. Issues with the screen mean that it’s not great for watching media, or playing games where there’s a lot of darkness and shadows on the screen. But if you’re a thrifty gamer and you can live with those limitations, then the Dell G3 15 is an absolute bargain.

Score