Lest we forget, Dell makes the most iconic gaming laptops in the world. It owns Alienware, see, and who doesn’t want one of those? The trouble is, Alienware laptops are very expensive, for many of us its an aspirational brand. When we actually come to buy a laptop we’re realistically going to be looking at something more like this. The latest Dell Inspiron 15 7559.
Inspiron is Dell’s brand for realists. Consumer laptops which draw on the high end XPS and Alienware design savvy, as well as the business class Vostro range, but make compromises for everyday consumers who don’t want to remortgage for a computer.
So the 15.6inch Dell Inspiron 15 7559 isn’t a megalithic gaming monstrosity on the outside. But inside you will find performance that’ll keep you going through a LAN party.
Dell Inspiron 15 7559 review: High on games
The Inspiron 15 7559 has a lot of competition, though. It sits around the R20 000 price mark which puts it squarely up against a lot of notebooks from MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS, all of which offer similar specifications. You can tell it’s a gaming notebook from the design, because there are red accents on the speaker grill and around the touch pad, and nothing shouts PC games better than go-faster stripes, right?
To be fair to Dell, there’s a lot to like about the 7559’s design. It certainly doesn’t feel like you’re gaming on a budget, and even if the soft coating on the top isn’t quite up to Alienware’s standards it adds to the feeling of quality.
Inside, too, there’s a lot of performance parts. The CPU is an Intel Core i7 6700HQ, which is a true quad-core processor clocked at 2.6GHz capable of accelerating to 3.5GHz when needed. There’s a slight trade-off in that it’s coupled with 8GB of DDR3 memory running at 800MHz – top end notebooks have double the RAM at double the speed these days – but it’s enough to keep us happy for the price.
After powering the notebook on we noticed the fans ramp up quite quickly. The CPU was sitting at 75 degrees after startup out of the box but temperatures came down quickly and sat a reasonable 44 degrees.
For GPU duties Dell went with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5, clocked at 405MHz. There’s faster, sure, but this is capable of running Civilization V, Tomb Raider and DOOM on High presets in the region of 55 to 68 frames per second at the native resolution of 1920×1080. Running 3D Mark Skydiver the average score comes in at 12 478 after four consecutive runs.
And while those CPU fans are noisy, they’re worth putting up with. Using 3D Mark’s built in stress test we didn’t find evidence of overheating and performance loss over time.
The downside is that you will notice a lot – and I mean a lot – of heat coming through the keyboard and out the sides of the notebook. It has to go somewhere, right?
The CPU handles physics rendering fairly well but as more is asked of the i7 it begins to suffer, dropping frames more often than Obama drops mics. The lowest frame rate we recording during physics benchmarking was 22fps.
Dell Inspiron 15 7559 series review: No clip display
As mentioned, our review model of the Inspiron 15 7559 had a Full HD display. There is a 4k touchscreen model available too.
Colours look great and images are sharp, but we do have one complaint about the design of the screen itself.
The lid doesn’t actually close properly.
Unlike most notebooks, there’s no clip or magnetic seal to hold the display tight to the keyboard in transit, and to make matters worse the hinge isn’t solid enough to hold it in place either. The upshot is that when it’s vertically upright in your bag, the screen is going to come away from the base of the machine far enough to allow passing sharp objects to slip between the two and scratch the display.
Dell Inspiron 15 7559 review: The art of the transfer
Handling storage duties is a 1TB 5400RPM Toshiba hybrid drive. It performs well but we really would have preferred an SSD option (we’d pay more for it, honestly) for faster boot times and loading times for games.
With that having been said, transfer speeds aren’t all that bad. Our CrystalDisk Mark 5.1.1 results averaged write speeds of 42.678MB/s and read speeds averaging 92.09MB/s.
The WiFi module in this notebook is an Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165 which is capable of speeds of up to 54Mbps according to Intel, so its unlikely the problem lies there. The more likely issue is the 5400RPM physical storage.
While on the topic of WiFi, it’s as good as you can expect from a AC style connection. When connected to a 5.2GHz band we registered the following internet speeds. Keep in mind that these results will vary depending on your connection, distance from your router and whether the internet gods are smiling upon you.
|Distance from router||Same room||5m away||10m away|
We jest but the main take away here is that the WiFi is more than capable of sustaining gaming online and streaming, whether it be movies or games.
Dell Inspiron 15 7559 review: A night of movies without power
While testing the Inspiron I was unlucky enough to have a power cut. Given that I was trying to stream a movie at the time my heart sank. Dusting my portable hard drive off I started watching a movie, then I watched another, and another. After six hours the battery was depleted. Thankfully the power came back on moments later and the Dell was back up to a full charge in 2h50min.
That’s rather impressive for a notebook running a Full HD display, a discrete graphics card and AC wireless.
Dell Inspiron 15 7559 series review: Working design
Speaking about working let’s talk about actually using the Inspiron.
The input ports that occupy the sides of the notebook there are rather lacking. You’ll find three USB 3.0 ports, and a combination headphone/microphone jack. So if you plan to plug a keyboard and mouse into the notebook make sure you won’t be needing any extra ports.
The decision to include a combination audio jack also struck us as odd, while it isn’t rare to find a three-pole headset, many headsets split the headphones and microphone. While the combination input is popular in slimmed down notebooks many gaming notebooks have a separate inputs to accommodate the “split style” headsets.
Sadly, the keyboard is also disappointing to use.
There is very little feedback from the “island-style” keys and the homing bars on the J and F keys are so shallow they’re hardly noticeable when typing at a speed.
Thankfully the touch-pad is very responsive and large enough to move around the display without having to pick up your finger because you’ve reached the end of the real-estate.
Personally, I don’t like how far to the left the touch-pad is placed either. Its position puts it in a prime location to be accidentally grazed while your fingers are on the WASD keys.
I noticed this while playing a game of Dota 2 and it is extremely frustrating. What’s inexplicable is that there isn’t even the stock hotkey to disable the touchpad, or a software option to turn it off when you plug in a mouse. Which forces you to go into the Windows settings to switch it off while playing. Poor form.
Dell Inspiron 15 7559 series review: Conclusion
And that leads me to my conclusion about the Dell Inspiron 15 7559. The specifications are good for a notebook that retails for R19 999, but it’s one of several good buys at the price which it’ll come down to your personal taste to differentiate between (check out the similarly specced but differently designed Asus N552V, for example).
The Dell has some problematic features – the worst is the flappy lid – but overall it’s good value for money. And while it’s a pokey pixel pusher, it’s just slim enough to be carried around for daily use too. Just.
(It actually measures a beefy 383x265x25.3mm and weighs over 2.5Kg, but it carries it well.)
The Inspiron 7559, then is for the understated gamer. It has a sleek air of professionalism, we’re sure nobody is going to think you have a gaming rig under that Dell logo, red as it may be.