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Dell G5 15 SE Gaming Laptop (2020): Review

The Ryzen CPU gets much power from the Dell G5 15 SE gaming laptop, but its Radeon GPU and all-plastic structure confirm the best value gaming laptop.

The Dell G5 15 SE gaming laptop is the budget plan gaming laptop from the company, refreshing its existing G5 line with an all-AMD configuration that gives its performance incredible value. But while the AMD Ryzen CPU is mighty and exceeds standards in general, we wish we could say the same for the Radeon GPU of the G5.

Quick Review: Dell G5 15 SE Gaming Laptop (2020)

An all-AMD model of the famous G5 15 line is Dell’s latest entry into the value gaming laptop market, and going all-in with Team Red certainly helps keep the cost down. It packs a robust all-around punch for a gaming laptop that starts below $1,000, making it a great value on a budget for gamers.

As fantastic as the G5 15 SE’s overall performance was – thanks to its AMD Ryzen 7 Processor – its Radeon GPU was good but not outstanding. You will probably find the G5 underwhelming if you’re looking for a high-performance gaming laptop as a desktop replacement.

That’s not to suggest that the graphics of the show do not have much going for them. The pictures themselves may be all right, but thanks to the FHD display running at a speedy 144Hz, they’re snappy and fluid.

Another big downside is that you will also find this laptop getting pretty hot under pressure, making its underside and keyboard visibly toasty – but that’s why desks have been invented.

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The only other downside is that the laptop’s construction leaves much to be desired, and even though the laptop itself is enormous, the plastic chassis feels somewhat flimsy. So, well, you don’t want to lose this one, so maybe it won’t.

On a plus point, the Dell G5 15 SE battery life is incredible for a gaming laptop. While many other gaming laptops are dying out before they finish a Netflix movie, this one will remain on for several hours of video or general use daily. When you keep your settings tuned for battery life or balance rather than going all-in on results, you can even get a few hours of moderate gaming out of it.

While the budget bracket includes more powerful gaming laptops, it is difficult to beat the all-AMD G5 quality to the table. It may not be the most powerful machine out there, but this is an excellent combination of power and value that is difficult to pass up for gamers searching for a laptop that won’t bolt up their entire stimulus check.

Specifications:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H 2.90GHz, boostable up to 4.29GHz
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 5600M (6GB GDDR4 VRAM)
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4, 3.2MHz
  • Screen: 15.6-inch, 144Hz, 1080p
  • Storage: 512GB (NVMe SSD)
  • Ports: Mini DisplayPort x 1, USB 3.2 Type-A x 1, HDMI x 1, USB 2.0 Type-A x 2 and USB Type-C x 1, 3.5mm headphone, , Drop-jaw Ethernet, Wedge lock slot, SD Card reader,
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.Camera: 720p
  • Weight: 2.5 kg
  • Size: 14.4x10x0.85 inches (365.5x254x21.6mm)
  • Battery: 3-Cell 51WHr

Price and Availability

The Dell G5 15 SE gaming laptop is available now, starting at $879.99 (about £680/AU$1,270) from Dell’s website. An AMD Ryzen 5 4600H, 8 GB RAM, and a 256 GB NVMe SSD are included in the entry-level model. It comes with a full HD display but has a regular refresh rate, not 144Hz.

The model we reviewed would set you back $ 1,199.99, and there is a $ 1,299.99 higher-level version that increases the ability of the SSD to 1TB.

There are fewer choices for upgrading the SSD, RAM, Wi-Fi adapter, and laptop battery. Still, if you have the hardware lying around or more wriggle in your budget to upgrade down the road, it is certainly possible to pick up one of the more inexpensive setups and build it up.

Design: Dell G5 15 SE Gaming Laptop (2020)

The silvery plastic frame and prismatic Dell emblem on the lid make it look something like the hood of a car when constructing the Dell G5 15 SE. The best thing about the style is that it’s a gaming laptop that doesn’t pretend to look like a modern stealth aircraft.

Dell is known for its traditional design aesthetics on its computers, and if it was not for the weight of the laptop (5.51 pounds, 2.5 kilos), one might be forgiven for assuming that it was one of its company models pulled off the site’s small business list. The giveaway is the keyboard LED-backlight and the chassis base, which does not even pretend to be sleek.

Picking it up, you can undoubtedly tell from the consistency of the construction materials that it’s a budget gaming laptop. The Dell G5 15 SE feels more decadent than its list of 5.51 pounds – mainly because you can’t help but believe that this computer would be damaged by a 4- to a 5-foot drop.

The plastic on the bottom of the chassis feels much more challenging than the lid, which gives the feeling that if you dropped it at just the right angle, the lid’s plastic housing might pop clean off.

The show’s bezels are not letterbox-sized, but they are visible even though they are too speedy to forget. The built-in 720p webcam is located above the display where you would expect it to be, and the laptop speakers are on the front side of the chassis.

There’s enough gradient to the speakers’ underside location that if you put the laptop down on a bed and watched a movie, there’s a reduced chance of them being silenced entirely. However, it’s still a disappointing design option that won’t seem to die with manufacturers.

The keyboard comes with chicklet-keys for the regular laptop and provides a Numpad for those of us who can not get by without one. Given the reduced real estate, the critical spacing is pretty small, so it might take some getting used to if you’re using a full-sized keyboard. But it’s certainly more accommodating than other near-full-sized laptop keyboards.

The keys are sensitive, and since this is a gaming laptop, you can power the keys with RGB LED backlighting from the pre-installed Alienware device configuration utility. Before flipping over to a game controller, the trackpad is good enough for non-gaming use or browsing through your Steam collection.

And while it’s a minor thing, the slim LED light ring on the laptop’s power connector is the right touch and certainly makes it easy to recognize amid the twisted black power cords and cables that clutter our desks.

Performance

Overall, we were pretty pleased with the performance of the Dell G5 15 SE. Our general usage benchmarks lag behind other AMD Ryzen 7 4800H systems – such as the Asus TUF A15 – but not by much. In some samples, it beats out the Alienware m15 R2, but where the Dell G5 15 SE gaming laptop seems to be running into trouble is its AMD Radeon RX 5600M GPU.

In our Complete War: Three Kingdoms battlefield benchmark on ultra settings, the laptop gets 45fps on average, which is not bad, but it’s not perfect either. In the meantime, during our Metro: Exodus benchmark on ultra settings, the GPU put out 42fps on average.

This places it in the Gigabyte Aorus 5 vicinity, but in two of our three 3DMark measures, the Aorus still outperforms – and by quite a bit, too – and the best the G5 might do on Time Spy is to battle the Aorus for a draw.

However, once you get past the G5’s GPU ratings, there is much to say regarding success against its competitors. With its eight-cores and 16 threads, and a frequency up to 4.29 GHz boostable, the Ryzen 7 4800H CPU comes with a lot of processing punch. It does shine for non-graphics-intensive duties.

This is also the first-ever gaming laptop to have the SmartShift technology from AMD, which lets the laptop handle the distribution of power between the CPU and the GPU to get more ability at any given moment where needed.

Thanks to SmartShift, we didn’t see any GPU efficiency gains, so there might still be a few kinks that AMD needs to iron out, but once we see other laptops with the technology, we can’t understand that.

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The thermal efficiency of the laptop is one of the other more obvious performance problems. The laptop gets visibly hot under pressure, both on the underside and hot spots around the keyboard. This is not an issue unique to Dell – most budget laptops are struggling with this problem – but it does not give the Dell G5 15 SE a pass because all the other gaming laptops are melting in your lap.

Overall, even if it’s not going to win the race, the Dell G5 15 SE has much power and puts in a professional performance when gaming on the higher end. However, it does not need to – efficiency, after all, does not occur in a vacuum.

The Asus TUF A15 in our GPU benchmarks may have an advantage over the G5 15 SE, but it also priced hundreds of dollars more. The Dell G5 15 SE gaming laptop is all about having much power at a reasonable price, and the Dell G5 15 SE succeeds in this, making it a great value that any gamer on a budget can hardly overlook.

Battery Power

Gaming notebooks are not known for their battery life, so we were pleasantly surprised by the G5 15 SE battery efficiency. It lasted an average of 7 hours and 3 minutes on a maximum charge in our PCMark ten battery test, and in our film test, it can manage for up to 5 hours, blowing way past the Aorus 5 gaming laptop, which didn’t even complete a single playthrough.

While this is not the best we’ve ever seen, this is still great for a budget gaming laptop – particularly when after two or three hours away from an outlet, other gaming laptops we’ve tested have crapped out. Without top off every few hours, you can feel reasonably confident that the battery can make it through the nationwide flight on a full charge or last through many classes.

Software and Apps

It’s a Dell gaming laptop, so you know the routine; you’re going to have to deal with some bloatware on top of the Candy Crushes and Dropbox deal you threw at by Windows 10. After bringing the Dell G5 15 SE out of the box, you’ll possibly spend a good half-hour just unplugging what you don’t want or need.

However, that’s not to say it’s just garbage. The pre-installed Alienware Command Center program gives you the ability to adjust keyboard lighting, fine-tune the system’s performance for particular games, and look at various handy system statistics.

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