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Dell G5 15 5500 review: a classy mid-range gaming laptop with great poise

T3 logo T3 22/01/2021 Alex Cox
a screen shot of a computer: Dell G5 15 5500 review © Provided by T3 Dell G5 15 5500 review

Welcome to T3's review of the Dell G5 15 5500, the place where we decide how good this system is and if it is worthy of entering our best gaming laptops guide. 

And, if you're looking for a good mid- to high-end gaming laptop, the Dell G5 15 5500 could fit the bill: Dell has given it a strong screen, a more than reasonable graphics card, an excellent processor, and bundles the whole lot up in a great little case.

So, can the Dell G5 15 5500 hold up to its promise, or does all that potential fall flat? Realistically you've probably read that bit above, so you already know that it's a very decent little machine, but read on to find out exactly why this could be your next gaming laptop.

Dell G5 15 5500 review: Design and build

As the years have rolled by, the lines between Dell and Alienware have gotten fuzzier and fuzzier. This doesn't have the full bug-eyed poise of an Alienware device, nor the extra-terrestrial specs, but it has inherited some of the luxury edge you might expect, combined with Dell's typically solid build quality.

The top cover of the G5 chassis sports an Interstellar Dark finish, for example, which hides an iridescent sparkle inside what, in most lights, is a relatively pedestrian black plastic. Beneath the front edge of the chassis on the model I have here is a 12-zone RBG light bar, projecting a decent arc onto the desk beneath. That's present on all G5 models with a GTX 1660Ti or better; opt for a GTX 1650Ti and you lose out, but the base model makes up for it with a slimmer form factor.

There are a lot of other probably-unnecessary-but-definitely-nice design touches in there too. The screen portion opens on a relatively narrow central hinge. The keyboard - squashed up a little to accommodate the appreciated number pad - lights up a crisp white. Even the underside has had design attention feasted upon it, complementing the light bar with a two-texture plastic design and giving the twin-fan cooling plenty of room to breathe.

This is classy, top to bottom, and sturdy too - admittedly I'd prefer the screen section to be a little stiffer, but the metal keyboard edge is heavyweight enough to make typing solid, and it's a weighty thing overall. 

Dell G5 15 5500 review: Specs and hardware

Gallery: Best laptop 2021: Top general and premium notebooks for working from home and more (Pocket-lint)

Dell supplied T3 with the Nvidia RTX 2060 spin of the G5 here; you can go lower, right down to a GTX 1650Ti, and you can spec it up to an RTX 2070 if you wish, but this is probably the sweet spot, at least until the line gets a 30-series update. I would imagine this would happen later in the year, though that's only speculation.

A 2060 isn't outrageous, but it's enough. It's middle ground in a race where the high end is now so far away from the low that games haven't truly had the chance to catch up - there's nothing you might want to play on the G5 that you'll be denied - though cutting the odd graphical setting corner is probably the order of the day for heavier titles.

Alongside it, Dell has dropped in an Intel Core i7-10750H processor, a current favourite in gaming laptops for its generous speed and decent turbo boosting capabilities, and the only chip available in the G5 line at this time. Again, an 11th-gen upgrade is entirely plausible, but right now the hexa-core 10750H is a solid option - though, as we'll find out, it is barely advanced from the 9750H which came before it.

The screen is one of the most critical components of a gaming laptop given that it's typically going to be exploited to its fullest, and I was, for the most part, very happy with Dell's panel here. It's a 144Hz FHD screen using what Dell calls 'WVA', or Wide Viewing Angle. Presumably this means it is some kind of IPS panel named that way to dodge using LG's IPS trademark. Looks that way, at least: it's very contrast heavy, handling motion well, though there's no syncing and the colours can tend to lack a little vibrancy.

If you're a fan of ports in this progressively more dongle-heavy sector, you'll be happy with the G5 5500's holes: the left side offers mini DisplayPort, HDMI, USB Type-A and Type-C, as well as an Ethernet port; on the other, a pair of USB Type-A sockets, an audio jack, and a full-size SD card reader. There's also a fingerprint reader on top, rolling in some of Dell's business smarts.

Dell G5 15 5500 review: Gaming and performance

It's hard to pick to correct adjective to describe the Dell G5 5500's benchmark performance. It didn't sail through, as such - it was definitely fighting against the wind, if the moderately loud cooling solution is any indication - and this was much more a case of a nutcracker cracking a nut than a sledgehammer doing the same. So let's say it proved itself very functional indeed.

Its scores in 3DMark just about match those of the Acer Nitro 5. One one hand that's unsurprising, given that they share a very similar hardware package. On the other, it does go to show the tiny real-world difference between the 9th- and 10th-generation Intel CPUs they each sport; while the 10750H's moderately improved Geekbench scores show it can push desktop tasks hard, it barely makes a difference in gaming performance. The G5 actually lost out to the supposedly lesser Nitro 5 in a couple of 3DMark tests.

In games, though, this is preferable, and that's mainly down to Dell's slightly superior screen. It may be more compact, but it's also ready to rock hard. Subjective it may be, but I slightly preferred my time murdering for hire in Hitman 2 on the G5, and it handled Shadow of the Tomb Raider like a champ.

Dell G5 15 5500 review: verdict

Dell has made a solid, sturdy, compact and capable mid-range gamer in the G5 15 5500. It's a great looking laptop (if, let's be honest, a little overweight in the belly) that can handle a lot, with a screen that's ready to do it and no compromises on connectivity. The only real concern is the price: comparable specs could cost you some £200/$200 less in a different laptop, so if you're less concerned with aesthetics and happy to give up the G5 5500's niceties, you may be better served looking elsewhere.


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