Dell's Inspiron 15 7000 gets a GTX 1060 refresh

Dell is refreshing its Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop with an updated look and some minor connectivity tweaks. Most importantly, though, the company is sweetening the machine with a GTX 1060 graphics chip at the top end of its option sheet, courtesy of Nvidia's Max-Q technology.

The current model, the 7567, is a pretty capable machine, and it recently earned a spot in our mobile staff picks. With this refresh, Dell is doing a few interesting things. Where the previous model offered a GTX 1050 as its base option and topped out at a GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB of RAM, the new Inspiron 15 7000 lets gamers bring a GTX 1060 6GB graphics chip to bear on demanding titles. All of these graphics chips attache to an IPS display available in both 1920x1080 and 3840x2160 variants. Like the previous model, both a seventh-gen Core i5-7300HQ and a Core i5-7700HQ are on offer, and the system can be purchased with as much as 16GB of RAM from Dell. The machine can address as much as 32GB of RAM, but buyers will have to add those SO-DIMMs in themselves.

Along with the beefier GPU, the system is getting changes to its battery, Wi-Fi, and port loadout. While the graphics card is getting bumped up to a GTX 1060, Dell has made the interesting decision to drop the battery down from a 74 Whr battery to a 56 Whr four-cell battery. The battery is a quick-charge pack, meaning that it can go from a claimed 0% to 80% charge with just an hour of plug time. While Dell didn't offer any battery life specs on the previous iteration of the 7000, the company is promising seven hours of battery time (at least from Mobile Mark 14's battery life test) in the machine's highest-end configuration. Expect a small fraction of that if you're going to load up Dota 2 and play a round.

Why Dell chose to go with a smaller battery in the updated machine could be chalked up to a couple reasons. Bigger heatsinks for the GTX 1060 could've demanded a smaller battery to balance out weight and internal space, for example. An IPS display and Thunderbolt 3 are both more expensive base specs, so it may have been a pure cost-cutting measure, as well. Nvidia's Battery Boost 3.0 and Whispermode could mitigate the drain the graphics chip puts on the battery, and that may have helped justify the smaller, lighter cell, too. Still, we'd have rather not seen this spec cut.

The 7000's Wi-Fi offers 802.11ac, but its being bumped up from a 1x1 config to a 2x2 antenna array for improved wireless connectivity and signal strength. The port loadout is pretty similar to previous models, but Dell is adding a Thunderbolt 3-compatible USB Type-C port with support for 10Gbps USB 3.1 Gen2 transfer speed, 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 throughput, and DisplayPort connectivity.

The outside of the system has been given an overhaul, as well. It's a bit thinner than its forebear, and it doesn't so much scream "gamer" as it just mentions it in passing. The housing remains available in a subdued matte black and in an eye-catching red, depending on your tastes.

Alongside the hotter graphics chip comes bigger price tags. Where the previous Inspiron 7000 started at about $850 and maxed out at $1200, Dell is now asking for $999 for the base model and $1,449 for the new system at the top end. We're interested to see how Max-Q tech and that scaled-down battery end up working out in the real world. Dell says the new Inspiron 15 7000 will be available starting September 12.

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