The first half of this review will be about why I chose to buy the Dell Inspiron 7567 over the competition. If you just want to see my review of the laptop, skip down to the Review section. This is the first review that I have written, so leave a comment if there is something that can be improved in the future.
I have been using a Late 2013 model Retina MacBook Pro for the last 3 years and it has been an incredible experience. It has handled every task I have thrown its way with ease, with the single exception being gaming. Now I am by no means a heavy gamer, I chose to get a laptop after all, and have been getting by the last several years with consoles. But I finally decided that there were just too many great games exclusive to the PC that my Mac, as great as it was, could simply not handle. It was time to bite the bullet and get a computer designed for gaming from the ground up. Being a college student on a relatively tight budget, I set myself a $1,000 budget. (And yes, I know gaming is not the best use for money, but we all have our vices. Don’t judge me.) I saved up $400 and sold my MacBook for just over $600. I considered building a PC to get the best bang for my buck, but the portability of a laptop, both for classes and transporting between my home and my dorm room, proved to be too important to me.
So, at this point, my criteria for my new PC was a gaming laptop under $1,000. After some initial due diligence, I decided that a NVIDIA GTX 1050 TI offered the best value. (While there are some occasional sales where laptops with a GTX 1060 are available under $1,000, there are too many corners cut in other areas, such as build quality, that hurt the end result.) After reading a few more reviews and completing some more in depth research, I had narrowed down my choices to the Acer VX 15, Dell Inspiron 7000 Gaming Series (7567), Lenovo Legion Y520, and the MSI GL62M. The specs are very similar between these, mostly differing between a 256 GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. Since I will be using this laptop in class, I did not want it to look too much like a gaming laptop. A quick pros and cons list compiled from the reviews that I read/watched:
*subjective criteria italicized
- Pros: 16 GB Ram, SSD, Dual cooling fans, USB Type-C
- Cons: Red accents
Dell Inspiron 7000 Gaming Series 7567 (Dell)
- Pros: SSD, Dual cooling fans, Good build quality, Price, Battery life, Microsoft Precision Touchpad Drivers, Very easy upgrade access, Very little gaming appearance
- Cons: SCREEN (TN only), No USB Type-C
- Pros: Price, USB Type-C, Minimal gaming appearance
- Cons: Single cooling fan, Touchpad not the greatest
MSI GL62M (Amazon)
- Pros: Dual cooling fans, USB Type-C, Very little gaming appearance
- Cons: Hard drive, Screen, Non-backlit keyboard
Take these with a grain of salt because I only have first hand experience with the Dell. Ignoring my preferences on aesthetics, the Acer is very compelling. I came close to pulling the trigger and getting the VX 15, but the pros of the Dell and the price I was able to get it for ultimately made the decision. The first part of the Inspiron 7567 that I want to address is the screen. While I do not have experience with the TN panel, every review I have seen criticized the screen saying it is one of the worst screens they have seen. Because of this, I customized the Dell with the $50 upgrade to get the IPS display. It appears that this upgrade is only available in the United States and has since become a free upgrade. If you cannot get the IPS screen upgrade, I would hesitate to recommend the Inspiron 7567 over the Acer VX 15 due to the horrible reviews I have seen. Now, what ultimately sealed the deal on the Inspiron was the price. I was able to combine an instant sale, coupon code, and education discount to get it for just over $800. At this price, the Dell offered an unbeatable value. I also used Ebates to get $40 cash back. I will probably make a later post about what Ebates is and how it works. The cooling system was a very important criteria for me, so the Lenovo suffered greatly because of its single fan cooling system. While there was little wrong with the MSI, it did not offer enough to stand out either.
Now that I have explained why I chose the Dell Inspiron 7567, I want to address how well it has met my expectations after using it for 3 weeks.
The build quality is very good. Other then a little bit of flex in the screen, which exists in all plastic laptops, the only negative thing I can say about the build quality is the hinge could be better. While I would not call it bad, it can be tweaked when I open or close the lid from the corners. I will have to see how well it holds up in the long term, but it is not bad enough that I worry about it. There is little to no flex in the bottom half of the laptop or in the keyboard which is a common criticism on budget laptops.
The cooling system does its job well. I have not experienced any thermal throttling or lag after extended gaming sessions and it never gets hot to the touch. The fans do get quite loud while under load, but are nearly silent at idle. One of the most important factors in deciding on a laptop was cooling in order to get as much life out of the laptop as possible, and the Inspiron 7567 does not disappoint.
The battery life on this is great for a gaming laptop. Most gaming laptops typically last for 3 hours of normal usage, while I have had no problems reaching the advertised 6 hours on the Dell. Coming from a MacBook Pro that easily reached 10 hours of battery life, I was concerned whether I would be able to make it all day without the charger. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it easily gets me through my day. I have done very little gaming while unplugged, so I cannot comment on how long the battery lasts while playing games.
Design / Upgradeablity
As I mentioned in my pros and cons list of various budget gaming laptops, the Inspiron 7567 could not be easier to upgrade. To remove the bottom panel and access the internals, all that needs to be done is remove a single screw and then use a credit card to snap the panel off. Since I came in under budget, I used some of the savings to buy a RAM upgrade and an additional 1 TB hard drive to complement the included 256 GB SSD. Both were very easy to install. To install the RAM, I just needed to snap it into place. That was it. The hard drive required a little more work to screw it into the mounts, but it is very straight forward. (Just make sure that the hard drive is aligned correctly. I originally placed it upside down so the SATA connection would prevent the hard drive from laying flat.)
From past experience with Windows PCs, I was expecting several trial software programs, games, and other bloat to be pre-installed. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the only “extra” software that was included was McAfee and some Dell programs. While I still performed a clean reinstall of Windows, it was by no means a necessity as it has been in the past.
For those wondering what the process to perform a clean install of Windows was like, it was very straightforward. The following is a brief overview of what I did and my experience. (Here is a good step-by-step guide to perform a clean-install). The first thing that I did was update the BIOS to the most recent version and download some essential drivers for networking and the chipset. I then used the Media Creation Tool to create a bootable flash drive. After rebooting from the flash drive, I deleted all of the existing partitions and proceeded to install Windows. Following the installation, I was very pleased to find that I did not even need any of the drivers that I downloaded before hand. Windows was able to recognize the wireless network adapter out of the box and went on to download all of the other drivers without any work on my part.
The Dell Inspiron 7000 Gaming Series 7567 provides great performance and build quality for an incredible value. It would be worth considering other options if the IPS upgrade is not available, but this is a hard value to beat.