The G3 is Dell’s entry level budget friendly gaming laptop, and it’s been refreshed for 2019, so let’s check it out in this detailed review and help you decide if it’s a laptop you should consider.
Starting with the specs, I’ve got one of the higher specced configurations, so there’s an Intel i7 9750H CPU, Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti Max-Q graphics, and 16gb of memory in dual channel. For storage I’ve got a 512gb NVMe M.
2 SSD, and a 15.6” 1080p 60Hz screen, though 144Hz is available too. For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5. The Dell website says Bluetooth 4.1, but apparently the card installed supports 5.
There are a few different configurations available though, you can find examples and updated prices linked in the description. The G3 is available in Alpine white with blue accents, or Eclipse black with blue accents, which is what I’ve got here.
The lid is a hard textured plastic with subtle grooves on either side of the Dell logo, while the interior is a smooth matte black plastic, and we can see those blue accents all over, around the touchpad, power button, keys and trim of the machine.
All edges and corners were smooth, and the build quality seemed ok for a mostly plastic laptop. I measured the weight of the laptop by itself at around 2.4kg, and then over 3.1kg with the 180 watt power brick and cables included.
The dimensions of the laptop are 36.5cm in width, 25.4cm in depth, and around 2.1cm thick. This smaller footprint allows for thinner screen bezels compared to the older G3, which I measured at around 1cm on the sides.
The 15.6” 1080p 60Hz WVA screen has a matte finish, good viewing angles, though no G-Sync. I’ve measured the colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 62% of sRGB and 47% of AdobeRGB.
At 100% brightness in the center I measured 242 nits with a 840:1 contrast ratio, so lower brightness and colour gamut compared to most machines I’ve tested, though still alright purely for gaming just not excellent.
This is typically expected from a gaming laptop at this price point though. The G3 is also available with a 144Hz screen in the higher end models, so expect different results with that panel. Backlight bleed wasn’t too bad here, just some minor imperfections that I wasn’t actually able to notice while viewing darker content, but this will vary between laptop and panel.
There was some screen flex, but it felt sturdy due to the lid being thick plastic, and I think this is mostly due to the hinge being in the center of the screen which allows it to bend more at the ends.
I could almost open it up with one finger, it did get a bit easier over time though. Despite thinner screen bezels compared to the 2018 model, the camera is still found above the screen. The camera looks ok and it sounds pretty decent, here’s what typing sounds like on the keyboard and this is what it sounds like when you set the fan speed to maximum, so you can still hear me over the fan.
The keyboard in my unit only has blue backlighting, it lights up everything including secondary key functions, however some G3 configurations have optional RGB keyboards. My blue lighting can be adjusted between two brightness levels by using the F10 key or turned off completely.
Like other Dell G series laptops, I wasn’t a fan of the smaller arrow keys. Typing was fine, though I thought the key presses were a little shallow feeling. Here’s what typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect.
There was more flex while pushing down on the keyboard than I’d like, not too unexpected given the entire plastic build, I did occasionally notice this while typing too, but it didn’t cause me any actual problems.
The touchpad has precision drivers, was smooth and worked ok, though I thought it needed to be pressed a little harder than I’m used to. It clicks down anywhere, well almost, it was much harder to press down towards the top, and it’s got dedicated left and right click buttons down the bottom.
Fingerprints showed up fairly easily on the black interior, but as a smooth surface they were easy to clean. On the left from the back there’s the power input, USB Type-C port with DisplayPort support on the 1650 and above models, no Thunderbolt though, HDMI 2.
0 output, USB 3.1 Type-A port, gigabit ethernet port, and 3.5mm audio combo jack. On the right there’s a full size SD card slot, two USB 2.0 Type-A ports and Noble wedge lock slot. On the back there are two air exhaust vents towards the corners, with G3 logo in the middle, while the front is just smooth plastic.
The black hard plastic lid has a textured finish with a blue Dell logo in the center. Underneath there are some air intake vents towards the back with some blue rubber feet that match the rest of the black and blue theme.
The bottom panel can be easily removed by unscrewing 10 Phillips head screws, though the four towards the back do not come out of the panel. Once inside from left to right, there’s the 2.5 inch drive bay, M.
2 slot for storage just above it, WiFi card right next to that, battery underneath, and two memory slots towards the center. The speakers are towards the front left and right corners, they sounded ok but a bit tinny, but got surprisingly loud at max volume, though the Latencymon results weren’t looking great.
Powering the laptop is a 3 cell 51 Watt hour battery, and unlike the G5 and G7 I didn’t see the option to upgrade. I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled, and keyboard lighting off.
While streaming YouTube videos the battery only lasted for 3 hours and 25 minutes, not a great result, and this was with Nvidia Optimus, so with the Intel integrated graphics in use. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 53 minutes in total, however after the first 49 minutes with 6% charge remaining the frame rate dipped to 12 FPS and wasn’t really usable any longer.
The 180 watt power brick that Dell includes with the G3 was plenty for these specs, I didn’t see any battery drain during any of my testing. Let’s move onto the thermal testing. Just for a recap of the cooling design, air comes in through the bottom and is exhausted out of the back vents towards the left and right corners.
There are a couple of heatpipes shared between the processor and graphics, and I noticed straight away that the fans look a bit smaller compared to most other machines I’ve looked at. The Dell G3 allows you to press the G key, or F7, to enable high performance mode.
This slightly raises the power limit of the CPU and also boosts fan speed to maximum. I did have some issues with it though. If I didn’t have the Alienware Control Center software open when I press the key it would raise the fan speed as if about to enter high performance mode, then drop back down, here’s what I mean.
With the Alienware Control Center open the fan speed sticks when entering this mode, and we can see the G up the top turn blue to indicate that it’s enabled, so not sure if this behaviour is a bug. You’d think this would also be a button to enable this mode through software, but it’s not, clicking it does nothing.
Otherwise the Alienware control center also appears to let you set the fan speed manually, however I couldn’t actually find a way of applying these changes in a way that worked, and this was with the latest version of the control center and BIOS at the time of testing, so it may improve over time.
Otherwise the Dell power manager also lets you choose between these modes, and for almost all of the testing I just left this set to ultra performance unless explicitly stated otherwise. Thermal testing was completed in an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments.
Let’s start off with the idle results. This was the only test where I changed the settings in Dell’s power manager. Quiet did run the laptop silently with the fans off, though as a result it was warmer when compared to the default optimized profile.
The rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU workloads, and are meant to represent worst case scenarios as I ran them for extended periods of time. The gaming results towards the upper half of the graph were tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics.
The stress test results shown on the lower half of the graph are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test with only the stress CPU option checked, and the Heaven GPU benchmark at max settings at the same time to fully load the system.
Let’s start with the stress test results at stock down the bottom of the graph. In this test both the CPU and GPU were thermal throttling. By enabling performance mode which sets the fan speed to maximum we’re able to slightly reduce the temperatures, however there was still intermittent thermal throttling it just wasn’t constant.
Undervolting the CPU saw no change to temperatures, but we’ll see how this helped improve clock speed in the next graph. The cooling pad helped out a lot with this machine, we can see here that both the CPU and GPU lowered by 13 degrees Celsius.
While gaming I wasn’t seeing thermal throttling in this specific title. Temperatures go up in performance mode on the CPU despite the increased fan speed, as we’ll see later the power limit increases which results in more heat and performance, then the undervolt helps lower temperatures while again the cooling pad makes the biggest difference, dropping temperatures by 10 to 11 degrees.
These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. Basically there was power limit throttling in pretty much every test. With the stress tests I mentioned there was thermal throttling at stock, well there was power limit throttling too.
With performance mode temperatures did improve slightly as we just saw, but the power limit throttle keeps the CPU performance about the same, however the reduction to GPU thermal throttling did result in a 100MHz improvement.
The CPU undervolt helped the most here as it allows for better performance within the same power limitations. This is why no CPU clock speed change was seen with the cooling pad, although it does help improve temperatures by quite a lot there wasn’t really thermal throttling by this point so no major performance improvements.
That said the GPU tends to see higher performance when using a cooling pad as GPU boost works better with lower temperatures. In the gaming results the CPU clock speed in particular at stock was quite low, we’ll see why in the next graph.
Performance mode improves the situation as this increased the power limit, and again the CPU undervolt helps further, though we’re still not quite able to hit the full 4GHz all core turbo boost speed of the i7-9750H in any of these tests.
These are the average TDP values reported by hardware info during these same tests. With the stress tests the GPU power was noticeably lower due to the thermal throttling taking place there, once this was removed with the other changes it was hitting its 60 watt limit, as per the green bars.
The CPU was hitting the 36 watts defined by PL1 with the stress tests running, though interestingly while gaming at stock PL1 lowered to just 25 watts which is why we saw lower clock speeds in this test earlier.
Once we enter performance mode it was again at 36 watts. I wasn’t able to boost power limits with Intel XTU, not that it matters much given the temperatures we’re already hitting. To demonstrate CPU only performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks.
There was just a slight improvement with performance mode enabled, probably due to the higher CPU power limit, however the undervolt made the largest improvement. I wasn’t able to raise the power limit, so although thermals were ok the score is a few hundred points lower compared to some other 9750H machines that I’ve tested.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was around the normal 30 degrees Celsius. While under combined CPU and GPU stress test at stock it was getting to the low 50s.
While gaming in performance mode it was about the same, and some of the keys were starting to feel uncomfortable, not too hot to touch, just not great. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests.
At idle with the quiet profile set through the power manager software it was completely silent, then the fans were just audible in the default optimized mode. With the stress test running or while gaming the fans were pretty close, and quieter compared to most other gaming laptops, so you do have the option of running quieter at the expense of performance.
With the fans at maximum speed in high performance mode it’s about the same as most other gaming laptops I’ve tested under this same workload. Overall the the Dell G3 gaming laptop ran hot, at least in the worst case stress tests I performed.
It is worth remembering that I’ve got the highest specced model, I’d expect it to run cooler with lower options. Under these workloads thermal throttling was seen on both the CPU and GPU, however as shown we could improve that by enabling performance mode and undervolting.
While gaming, at least in the single title I tested with in depth here, the temperatures weren’t actually that bad, no thermal throttling at least, though that seems to be due to power limit throttling that was happening instead.
I’m guessing these limitations are in place to prevent it from getting even hotter. Next let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks. I’ve tested these games with high performance mode enabled, which as a reminder boosts the CPU power limit and increases fan speed.
Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode, and even at ultra settings it was still playing well at above the 60 FPS sweet spot, while the 1% low wasn’t too far behind, so not really any major noticeable dips in performance, though we could pass 100 FPS at low settings.
Apex Legends was tested with either all settings at maximum, or all settings on the lowest possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined setting presets. It was playing alright at max settings, even the 1% low was right on 60 FPS, though we could boost average FPS by 42% by dropping down to minimum settings.
The Division 2 was tested with the built in benchmark. The 1% low at ultra wasn’t actually all that different compared to other higher specced laptops I’ve tested so far, otherwise the average frame rates were looking pretty fair at all other setting levels in this test.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was also tested with the built in benchmark, and even at maximum settings we’re still able to average above 60 FPS, but we’ll see how the G3 and other laptops compare in this game a bit later.
Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark, and as more of a CPU demanding test the differences aren’t much below other laptops with higher graphics that I’ve tested as it mostly comes down to the 9750H.
Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and at max settings it was still running very well, with over 100 FPS possible with the 1% low not being too far behind, so fairly stable performance, though we could significantly improve this at lower setting levels.
Overwatch is another well optimized game and was tested in the practice range, again good performance, with the highest possible epic settings still hitting above 100 FPS even for the 1% low, so running nice and smooth.
CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and as is pretty much always the case high FPS from this test, and in line with most other laptops I’ve tested, given it depends more on the CPU and most machines I’ve tested have the same CPU that’s expected.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark. Even with maximum ultra settings we’re getting above 100 FPS averages with a 100% render scale while the 1% low isn’t too far behind, so definitely more than acceptable performance for this test.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark and seems to be a CPU heavy test, so as a result the frame rates aren’t too far behind most other machines I’ve covered recently, and given the game doesn’t really need a high frame rate to play anyway I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.
Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane with an average amount of action going on, and the results were quite good here, with above 200 FPS at low settings and still around 150 at ultra without any issues that I was able to notice, again this one seems to reply more on the CPU so the Max-Q graphics don’t really matter.
Watch Dogs 2 uses a lot of resources, however I can play it just fine with a stable 30 FPS, and as we’re getting above this for the 1% low at ultra settings even at maximum it was playing fine, though I’d probably just use very high settings given the 1% low there is higher than the average at ultra and you’re not losing much perceivable visual quality.
The Witcher 3 was playable at ultra settings, still above 60 FPS here with fair 1% low performance, though as a more GPU demanding game that doesn’t really benefit too much from high FPS I’d probably just stick to high settings.
If you’re after more gaming benchmarks check the card in the top right corner where I’ve tested 20 games on the G3. Let’s also take a look at how this config of the Dell G3 compares with other laptops to see how it stacks up, use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different drivers.
In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the Dell G3 highlighted in red near similarly specced machines. It’s one of the lowest results, as expected, the 1660 Ti Max-Q is the lowest powered graphics I’ve tested in a long time.
With that said though, even at max settings it’s still delivering above 60 FPS with a solid 1% low result too, it’s playing just fine. The extra CPU power from the 9750H is able to put it close to the ASUS FX505DU underneath with Ryzen CPU in terms of average FPS, but is significantly higher in the 1% result as that CPU is a fair bit better.
These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. This is more of a CPU heavy game, so we see a good improvement over the FX505DU just below it, however the results are otherwise behind the other non Max-Q 1660 Ti machines that I’ve tested so far.
Again this is fair as this is the Max-Q variant and it’s running with a 20 watt lower power limit too which is worth keeping in mind. These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings.
Once again the G3 is ahead of the FX505DU below it despite the FX505 not having the Max-Q 1660 Ti, and this is due to the lower powered Ryzen CPU that it’s paired with. The other 1660 Ti machines are again ahead as expected, though interestingly the G3 was hitting the same results as the thermally throttled 2018 Alienware m15 with 1070 Max-Q.
Overall I think this configuration of the Dell G3 is providing a decent result. While the performance does look lower compared to the rest of the machines I’ve recently tested, it’s not too far below most other 1660 Ti laptops, and when it comes down to it even at max settings in many games we’re still getting good performance.
The G3 is also available with the i5-9300H CPU, GTX 1050 or 1650 graphics, so expect lower results with those models compared to what I’ve shown here. Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, Port Royal and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.
I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage and the 512gb M.2 NVMe SSD was getting decent read and write speeds, expect different results with different storage options, while the SD card slot was quite slow considering that I was testing with a V90 card, but still better to have one than not at all.
For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US the G3 starts at $800 USD for the lowest specs. The configuration I’ve got here currently goes for $1350 USD, and interestingly, it’s the same price for the same specs but with the 144Hz screen.
This seems a little high to me considering that it’s got Max-Q graphics, when you can get either the Acer Helios 300 or Lenovo Y540 with non Max-Q 1660 Ti for less money, however Dell do regularly run sales so that could change.
It’s a similar story here in Australia, with these specs it’s currently going for $2200 AUD, the same price as the Helios 300 with better specced graphics but also it’s already overclocked and undervolted out of the box for increased performance, so unless the G3 goes on sale for less, it’s difficult to recommend over the competition, especially when the Lenovo Y540 is around $500 AUD less here.
Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing the G3 compared with other models in future videos, I could compare it with the Acer Nitro 5, Helios 300 or Lenovo Y540 for instance. With all of that in mind let’s summarise the good and the bad aspects of the Dell G3 gaming laptop.
First off I want to acknowledge that Dell are now listing dual channel memory configurations for all of the G3 options I can currently see on their site which is great from the perspective of getting better performance out of the box.
I personally like the overall look of the machine, maybe I just prefer the blue accents over the overdone gamer red. The build quality was fine considering it’s mostly a plastic machine, though there was some flex to the screen and chassis.
The gaming performance from these specs is still quite good despite it having the Max-Q variant of the 1660 Ti. While we saw that most other higher specced machines I’ve tested were beating it as expected, it was still performing just fine in most of the games tested even at higher setting levels, so it’s definitely capable of running games well.
Unfortunately it does run at higher temperatures than I’d like, even thermal throttling at stock while under stress test, though granted that is a worst case scenario, I didn’t have these problems while testing select games and as we’ve seen we could improve this by undervolting or using a cooling pad which made the largest change.
Enabling performance mode helped a little as it boosts the fan speed to maximum, which is a good feature to have available and is something others like the Lenovo Y540 are missing. This wasn’t without its problems though, while pressing the G key with the Alienware Control Center software closed it didn’t work properly until I first opened the control center, that may just be how it works but it seems like more of a bug to me given it sort of starts up then stops, but either way you can still get it to work.
As usual the Alienware control center itself was a suboptimal experience, in the latest version I had installed I couldn’t actually apply my custom fan changes. The keyboard and touchpad were ok, I’d say average, though I really am not a fan of the small arrow keys that Dell use on their G series machines.
Battery life was lower than I’d like, so you’ll probably want to keep the power brick close by. The screen quality was noticeably lower in terms of colour gamut and brightness, it just seemed dim.
For just gaming it’ll likely be just fine, most entry level gaming laptops at the $1000 USD point and below have similar panels, though I have a higher specced configuration here. Strangely you can get the 60Hz or 144Hz panel with the i7 and 1660 Ti Max-Q for the same price at the moment, I suspect the 144Hz panel will be higher quality so makes sense to get that in this case.
Otherwise it’s that price that puts the G3 in a difficult to recommend spot, at least at the time of recording, as it costs more than other better performing options that are currently available, however as Dell often run sales this could change from time to time.
If you’re just after an entry level model for the $800 price point though it should do ok at playing most modern games at 1080p with low to medium settings, the GTX 1050 isn’t amazing but it’ll get the job done, just check other benchmarks with it to get a rough idea of what to expect first.
I think this is where the G3 is probably going to make more sense, at the lower price brackets, rather than with the fully specced out model I’ve tested here. Let me know what you thought about Dell’s refreshed G3 gaming laptop down in the comments, and if you’re new to the channel consider getting subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech videos like this one.