Dell Inspiron 15 7559 Laptop Review
The Dell Inspiron 7559 is a powerhouse for budget-minded gamers
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It used to be that in order to get a gaming laptop, you'd have to settle for a big, noisy, ostentatious, expensive slab of a notebook. But, as luck would have it, Dell's latest Inspiron 15 7559 (MSRP $749) solves a lot of these issues. Starting at under $800, this budget gaming notebook has all the power you'd want for the money, it's relatively conservatively styled, and even quiet under normal workloads.
Assets like a firm, backlit keyboard and a nice trackpad both bolster this notebook's chops not just as a plaything but also as a work tool. We also appreciate that it's been built for upgradeability—you're only a quick turn of a screwdriver away from accessing the hard drive, adding more RAM, or even popping in an M.2 flash drive. That means if you're on a budget, this computer can continue to get better as you build it up over time. Even battery life was a bright spot, with enough power to get through a day's worth of ordinary tasks.
We struggled to come up with complaints that were showstoppers, but we were a little disappointed by the computer's dim screen, chunky, heavy body, and bloatware. We're willing to overlook the first two since the Inspiron 15 7559 is so well priced and packs so much muscle for everything from games to video editing. If you need a fast computer that's easy to upgrade, and don't plan on taking it everywhere with you, this Inspiron might be exactly what you're looking for.
As far as gaming goes, the more power the better. Dell delivers plenty of oomph in the Inspiron 17 7559 no matter which one you pick out. But with an available quad-core i7 processor and a 4K screen, this Inspiron can get spendy fast. That said, even at its budget price of $749, our entry-level system came with a surprising amount of muscle:
•Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad Core Processor
•8 GB DDR3L RAM
•1920 x 1080 Anti-glare IPS display
•Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M Graphics Chip with 4 GB GDDR5 VRAM
•1 TB 5400 RPM Hard Disk Drive (Hybrid with 8 GB Flash Cache)
•WiFi AC/Bluetooth 4.0
For only $749 on average, this Dell represents an excellent bargain. What's even better is that with one screw, you can pop the bottom open and upgrade it really easily. Dell gives you 1 8 GB stick of RAM, so you only have to add another 8 GB stick to get to 16 GB. There's also an empty M.2 SATA slot so you could augment the stock hard drive with an SSD to add more zippy flash storage.
What We Liked
Very decent build quality where it counts
It isn't very often that we pick up a budget system and come away impressed with its build quality. Though $749 isn't super cheap among regular computers, its high-performing internals are well worth the asking price. Which is why its solid-feeling keyboard and responsive trackpad were great surprises to find.
If you've used a keyboard on Dell's flagship XPS ultrabooks, that's the kind of keyboard experience you can expect from the Inspiron 15 7559. It's a little shallow, but it's backlit and has a firmness that makes it comfortable to type on. Since the Inspiron 15 has a big display, you get a number pad on the righthand side of the keyboard. The numpad keys aren't too small, either, and we had no problems typing out numbers in an Excel document with it.
The trackpad uses Microsoft's Precision drivers, and though it's a textured plastic, it felt more accurate than the average trackpad. Using gestures for scrolling and task switching worked quickly and reliably. At the very least, this trackpad outclassed units we've used on much more expensive gaming laptops we've sampled recently.
Now, perhaps our favorite part of the Inspiron 15 7559 is that it's super easy to upgrade. The bottom plate covering the computer's internals is removable with a single screw, and inside you can access twin RAM slots (that could support 32 GB maximum), put in a different hard drive, or add an M.2 SSD into the mix. All of this makes the entry-level $749 price even more tempting, since the system can get better over time as you add upgrades to it. Dell generally is among the best to encourage repairability of their devices, and the full service manual for the 7559 is online for all to access for free.
Great guts for an excellent price
At the heart of this base-trim Dell are two great chips that helped propel the value-minded $749 version to the top tier of computers we've tested. Its Intel i5-6300HQ quad-core processor and separate Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M (with 4 GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM) gave us a smooth experience when working and especially when running games.
In our standard 1080p, high-setting benchmark test using Metro 2033, we saw an average framerate of 38.33 fps, which is pretty solid. When we fired up Ashes of the Singularity, we saw pretty great results of 31.7 fps across all batches.
Even if you're just interested in getting a laptop like this for intensive multimedia work, the Inspiron 15 7559 can swing that, too. Especially if you put an SSD and up the RAM in this computer, it's got more than enough power on tap to be used as a potent desktop replacement. Even when stacked up to the premium Dell XPS 15 or Samsung's Notebook 9 Pro, the Inspiron holds it own for a lot less dough.
Surprising battery life
Normally, gaming notebooks don't give you a whole lot of performance when you're unplugged. All those power-draining components tend to work against longevity. We don't know what kind of witchcraft Dell worked on the Inspiron 15 7559 but we came away very impressed with the results from our intensive PC Mark 8 Home battery life test.
We measured three hours and thirty-nine minutes from the Inspiron. That's better than average for an ultrabook with an i7 processor, and way better than competing gaming notebooks we've tested recently like the Lenovo Y700 and the MSI GS40 Phantom-001. Of course, if you're hoping to game while away from a power outlet, you're going to inevitably drain the battery a whole lot faster.
What We Didn't Like
It's a big chunk of laptop…but by necessity
We don't mean to take pot shots at this model, since there's a lot on the inside, but it's a heavy computer. At 5.6 pounds, it's not going to disappear into your backpack or laptop bag. We appreciate that it's mostly made out of plastic, which keeps weight down, but the Inspiron 15 7559 is far from being a slim, light computer. You're better off treating it like a portable desktop instead of lugging it around with you everywhere.
Display is only okay, and a little dim
Screen technology can be a real double-edged sword. The Inspiron 15 7559 undoubtedly saves battery thanks to its 1080p, 15.6-inch display, but the screen panel Dell chose is a little underwelming. Display angles are ok, but it's a relatively dim anti-glare screen. We measured around peak brightness of around 220 nits, which is lower that we'd like to see from $750 laptop these days, making it suitable for indoor use only. Colors are also not as vivid as we've come to expect from Dell's screens like on the XPS 13.
Even though you can uninstall all of it, there's a disappointing heap of extra software you don't need onboard. There aren't too many annoying pop-ups, but McAfee is present and accounted for (unfortunately). We were also pretty vexed by the Dropbox 20GB app, which will keep opening itself until you acquiesce or remove the program.
Perhaps our biggest annoyance comes from the built-in audio driver. By default, there's a Maxxaudio sound enhancer that is turned on. With my headphones on, this enhancer made YouTube videos sound dreadful. We recommend that you switch this software off to get a more true-to-life audio experience.
We've taken a look at some other decent gaming laptops this year, but if you're on a budget we can't recommend the Dell highly enough. It's easier to upgrade than the Lenovo Y700 we sampled, and it also gets way better battery life. We liked its keyboard and trackpad better than the MSI GS40 Phantom, which costs a bunch more for only a little more performance. Where the Dell Inspiron really shines is when you need ample horsepower to process photos in Lightroom edit 4K video in Adobe Premiere, or even doing 3D design work in SolidWorks.
Though it's far from maxed out at its $749 price, the Inspiron 7559 makes up for this shortcoming by giving you multiple avenues to wring the most out of the laptop through upgrades. It's clear that Dell designed this model to be upgraded, since it has an empty space for an SSD and another RAM slot that's just waiting to be populated.
So, you could buy the Dell, add in another 8 GB stick of RAM for $30, grab an M.2 SSD to run games from at a higher speed, and still be out the door for under $1,000 including tax. Buy everything at once, or piecemeal when you can afford it—it all adds up to one awesomely powerful laptop.
Whether it's for gaming or serious multimedia work, the Inspiron 15 7559 laptop is an excellent choice.
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