Inspiron 7000 15" (7559) Quick Review

Discussion in 'Dell' started by Ramzay, Oct 28, 2015.

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  1. Ramzay

    Ramzay Notebook Connoisseur

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    This is the newly released 7559 model, with the new Skylake CPUs and the GTX 960M from NVIDIA. They can be had for a good price if you haggle/use coupons.

    I got the basic model with the following specs:
    • Intel Core i5-6300HQ
    • NVIDIA GTX 960M 4GB
    • 8GB DDR3
    • 1TB SSHD
    • 15.6” FHD IPS matte IPS-type panel
    • 1 year in-home warranty
    After a few discounts, this came out to $1,017 CAD before taxes (around $770 USD).

    Once I received it, I allowed it to finish setting up Windows. I then created a USB recovery disk (took about an hour or so), then I swapped out some of the hardware for my own:
    • 16GB Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3L 1866 CL10 (2x8)
    • Crucial MX200 256GB M.2 SSD (OS/programs)
    • Crucial MX100 512GB 2.5” SSD (games)
    [​IMG]


    I then re-installed the system from scratch using the recovery disk, which took about an hour. Thankfully, given how new Windows 10 is and how new this laptop is, there were hardly any updates needed. Good stuff.


    Chassis/build quality/looks

    At first glance it isn’t a bad-looking laptop. It’s relatively thin, quite light, and the red accents on black chassis give it a sleek look. The lid is soft-touch plastic, while the palm rests are a rough/rubberized plastic. I like this, since the palm rests are more resistant to smudges and fingerprints than the lid and other machines where a soft-touch finish is used on the palm rests. The area just surrounding the keyboard is a rough plastic, which is very resistant to fingerprints.

    The bottom panel is very easily removed (a single screw then it pops off). This is a blessing, as often machines require removing 10+ screws. The bottom panel has two long red rubber strips/feet that elevate the machine off the surface to allow for airflow. However, accessing the heatsinks so you can remove them to do a re-paste on the CPU/GPU requires almost a complete tear-down, so keep that in mind.

    Overall, the machine is relatively sturdy, and feels good in the hand, thanks to the finishing used on the plastics. It obviously isn’t in the same category of looks/chassis as something like the XPS or other premium thin notebooks, but considering the price, it isn’t bad at all.


    Keyboard/trackpad

    I have very mixed feelings about the keyboard. The keys are just a generic plastic, and travel is quite shallow. I also don’t like the ¾ size numpad (similar to how MSI makes theirs). The arrow keys are small and bunched up, resulting in a bit of difficulty using them. I can’t quite fathom how Dell forgot to including a function-key combo to turn off the trackpad. Almost all multimedia/gaming laptops have these, to ensure you don’t accidentally hit the trackpad while gaming. This Inspiron does not. WTF Dell? The keyboard has two levels of backlight, which are sufficient.

    The trackpad itself is below-average. I hate trackpads with integrated mouse buttons, and this is no exception. The surface is a rough plastic, and after trying to use it for a few minutes, I just went right back to the mouse. Do yourself a favour, and only use the trackpad if you really have to.

    Bottom line - the keyboard and trackpad aren’t a selling feature of this laptop, but aren't really any worse than most other notebooks in this price range.


    Display panel/screen

    Oh Dell, what have you done? I had hoped this would be either the AUO AHVA or LG IPS panels that are common on 15.6” laptops, both of which are pretty good. Nope. This appears to be the BOE NV156FHM-N41 model.

    Here are the hardware IDs/model # I get using HWINFO64:
    BOE062F
    NV15N41
    Dell part # YHDGT
    http://www.panelook.com/NV156FHM-N41_BOE_15.6_LCM_overview_25578.html

    It’s a 6-bit panel, and brightness is low - you probably won’t be using this outdoors on a sunny day. Viewing angles are pretty good, about average as far as IPS-type panels go. But where things go very wrong is when you calibrate the display and get the colour coverage results. Brace yourselves.

    AdobeRGB: 53%
    NTSC: 51%
    sRGB: 70%
    Brightness: 200 nits

    Now, for someone just using this as a casual multimedia laptop, it may not matter. But I’ve been using an ASUS ROG G751JT for the past few months, and that has the excellent LG LP173WF4-SPD1 1080p display panel. It’s bright, good contrast, good colour space coverage. I fired up Diablo 3, and the inferior quality of the Dell display was immediately apparent. Dull colours, a dimmer screen. Dell cut corners to reduce the price, and this is one area where it shows. It isn’t nearly as bad as the shoddy TN panel on the original Lenovo Y50 that came out last year (another example of cost-cutting in the wrong area), and if you’re used to bad TN panels, this will be an upgrade. But if you’re used to good panels from other brands, or even Dells own TrueLife/InfinityEdge/Alienware panels, or you require a bright panel with at least 72% NTSC coverage, you’ll be disappointed. I know I was.

    Bottom line - it’s a better panel than what you’ll find on cheaper laptops. But when you consider 15” laptops in the same price range from Clevo (Sager)/MSI/ASUS have better panels, this was the wrong place for Dell to cut costs.

    UPDATE - It might be possible that Dell is using several different models of FHD LCD panel with this laptop. as I've seen another review where they reported 100% sRGB coverage. This would only be possible if the panel is entirely different. So if this is true and you're lucky, you might get this other, MUCH better panel. Good luck to you in the Dell Inspiron 7559 Display Panel Lottery.

    Heat/noise

    When I first saw the thermal solution on the 7559, I thought it was really good. Two fans, three heatsinks, three shared heat pipes. So how does it actually perform?

    When idle, just fine. It’s virtually silent, and internal component temperatures as well as surface temperatures are just fine. When under load though, things change.

    The CPU doesn’t really get any hotter than other competing notebooks, but the GPU does. For a machine with three heatsinks and three shared heat pipes to allow a GTX 960M to reach above 70C on a mild game like Diablo 3 is disappointing. For comparisons’ sake, a Clevo P650SE with a GTX 970M (a much more powerful GPU) keeps its GPU at 65C or below in the same game.

    When running the Unigine Valley benchmark, the GPU hit 76C. A Clevo W230SD, running the same GPU, hit 68C in that same test. To put that into perspective, the W230SD is a 13.3” machine with a single heatsink/fan to cool both the GPU and CPU. In fact, in most games tested (including demanding titles such as Crysis 3 and Dragon Age Inquisition), the W230SD kept its 960M cooler than the Inspiron 7559 does running the comparatively simple Diablo 3.

    Additionally, the keyboard temps under load got much toastier. I recorded a high of 46C in the top-centre of the keyboard (around the number 8-9 keys), and that was very uncomfortable to touch. However, the area around the WASD keys stayed under 35C, so for most games, it isn’t too bad at all.

    The noise under load is loud, but if you’re using a headset it won’t bother you. It isn’t a high-pitched whining noise, just the sound of fans pushing air.

    Oh, all these temperatures were AFTER I used XTU to undervolt the CPU by around -50mV.

    Overall, while the temperature/noise levels aren’t horrible, they’re worse than I expected given the cooling solution Dell put in, and given how smaller notebooks with similar specs and less fans/heatsinks do a better job.

    All temperature readings are in degrees Celcius at an ambient temp of around 22C.

    UPDATE: Using a cooling pad in subsequent tests showed temperature drops of between 3-5C under load, so I'd highly recommend doing so. It appears air flow intake is a weak point of this laptops' design, so a cooling pad that lifts the laptop off the surface greatly helps with temps/noise.

    XTU Stress Test(-50mV)
    CPU: 73

    Diablo 3 (high settings)
    CPU: 74
    GPU: 77

    Bioshock Infinite Benchmark (high settings)
    CPU: 65
    GPU: 76

    Unigine Valley
    CPU: 69
    GPU: 76

    Keyboard under load
    [​IMG]


    Performance

    Overall performance in benchmarks and games is about where you’d expect given the specs. The i5-6300HQ performs just a bit worse than the previous Haswell i7-4720HQ. Keep in mind that the Skylake i5 is a quad-core chip, and simply lacks HyperThreading compared to the i7 models. Windows 10 installed on a SSD boots up into the Windows log-in screen in under 10 seconds (from a completely powered-off state). Performance is generally snappy in all regular tasks, though I’d probably want to shoot myself if I stuck to the SSHD it came with. Do yourself a favour - install a M.2 SSD for your OS/programs ASAP. They’re cheap, and it will make a MASSIVE difference in your overall enjoyment of this machine.

    3DMARK11
    CPU: 65
    GPU: 68
    SCORE: P5481
    http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/10452976

    3DMark
    CPU: 69
    GPU: 71
    http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/9057376

    Bioshock Infinite Benchmark (high settings)
    Min FPS: 16.88
    Max FPS: 149.5
    Average FPS: 74.86

    Overall, the Inspiron performs pretty much where you’d expect it to, no (unpleasant) surprises here.


    Speakers/sound

    Not much to say here. The speakers are average, and I wouldn’t recommend using them if you have access to a good pair of headphones (or if you’re playing games, given the loud fans). One thing to note, this machine doesn’t have a separate mic and headphone jacks - it uses a single combo headset jack. So you’ll either need to purchase an adapter or a new set of headphones if you want to use the mic on your headset. But overall, the speakers are decent, and they do sound better than some other laptop speakers I've used.


    Battery life

    A combination of some web browsing, writing emails, streaming music, and a bit of Youtube videos yielded around 9 hours of battery time at 50% brightness. So depending on your usage, between 8-10 hours of light/moderate use (non-gaming/no HD video streaming) seems about right.


    Conclusion

    It’s hard to get a proper final verdict on this laptop. With some coupons and haggling, you can get it for a good price, and can potentially match/beat competing models of similar specs, while having better warranty/support.

    It’s well built, looks decently good, feels good in the hand, is cool & quiet when idle, isn’t infested with the bloatware other brands dump on their machines (I’m looking at you, ASUS/MSI/Acer) and performs on par with what its specs would suggest. Dell is also one of the few who will offer in-home warranty service.

    However, it gets hot & loud under load (both in terms of component temps and certain surface temps). The keyboard is average (and has a small num pad) and the trackpad is not pleasant to use. Its biggest downfall, however, is the lacklustre screen - It is dim and has poor colour space coverage. You could also mention the fact it is limited to two RAM slots and two storage drives. And for some reason, Dell decided to cheap out and only provide you with a 1x1 wifi card.

    The GTX 960M is a compelling card due to how well you can over-clock it, but given how hot it already gets in this machine, there is no room left for bumping up its clocks. And that screen, man...It’s probably due to the fact I’ve been spoiled with good displays recently, but I have a hard time using this. It’s dim and has poor colour reproduction. It’s a below-average IPS-type panel.

    I’m also somewhat disappointed that this, the Inspiron 7000, is the pinnacle of Dell’s Inspiron consumer line. While the machine isn’t bad in terms of build quality and looks, I dread to think of what the bottom-tier Inspiron 3000 is like if this 7559 is the best Dell has to offer. I previously owned an Inspiron 17R SE 7720, and that was miles better. Aluminum build (in a honeycomb pattern), better keyboard, and a better display panel (brighter, better contrast, better colours, though poorer viewing angles due to it being a TN panel). In other words, Dell has gone downhill over the years.

    In short, it isn’t a bad machine, and is competitive with other machines offered at a similar price (assuming you can get some discounts applied). All machines it competes with in terms of specs, form factor and price have some flaws, and you need to decide what you’re willing to sacrifice. If you don’t mind the screen (its biggest weakness), keyboard and thermals/noise, it’s fine. If screen quality is important to you, you might want to either look elsewhere, or get it with the UHD display. Just make sure you negotiate a bit of a discount when ordering it (and for the love all things holy, make sure you put a M.2 SSD in it for your OS/programs).
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2015
  2. willyi

    willyi Newbie

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    thanks for the review ramzay!! however you never mentioned battery life, can you comment at all on how the battery itself holds up?
     
  3. Ramzay

    Ramzay Notebook Connoisseur

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    Will do once I have more test data.
     
    jackie89 and willyi like this.
  4. panzer06

    panzer06 His Imperial Majesty

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    Did you run into the WiFi issue so many have had with these? Mine would constantly disconnect and require a restart to connect again. I was annoyed that it was shipped broken and contacted them to return it without doing any troubleshooting. No amount of discounts makes it worth it to get a machine I need to fight with right out of the box.

    After the retentions expert gave me a $100 credit I agreed to keep it and downloaded the latest full Intel driver set. Installed the latest WiFi and BT drivers and the problems went away. Now it's a fairly decent system for under $700 US.

    Your review is excellent. I've been inside probably 20 times and still missed the M2 slot. As soon as I saw your pic with the card installed I was very pleased. Thanks!

    D3 and COH2 run very well and the fans are quieter than my MSI GT70 with the nvidia 880m.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015
  5. Ramzay

    Ramzay Notebook Connoisseur

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    I never had any wifi issues, and that's actually the first I've heard about it. Maybe I got lucky.

    I also run games like D3 without any performance issues, other than the really lackluster screen. The MSI GT70 must've been really loud if this machine is quieter, though I'd heard that those slightly older MSI models had noise/heat issues.

    One of the good things about Dell is that if you talk to the right person, you can get some really good deals. Glad to hear this machine is working out for you, as it is indeed a pretty good deal for the price (after rebates/coupons) if you don't mind its faults.
     
  6. panzer06

    panzer06 His Imperial Majesty

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    I don't really notice the keyboard, trackpad issues since I always use external mouse and keyboard. I have a small 11" MB Air for really portable stuff. I don't really notice the screen, since all laptop screens pale in comparison to my iMac 5K display and even with glasses my vision is far from perfect so I don't notice what others might see. It does have a considerably better display than the cheap $350 Acer I have. :)

    I picked it up as a much lighter weight alternative to this very heavy MSI.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015
  7. HTWingNut

    HTWingNut Potato

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    Great review, thanks! +rep.

    GPU doesn't look that hot, just needs a repaste probably. I think it's a great entry level gaming laptop. Something that can perform and give some longevity for the next few years at a great price.
     
  8. Ramzay

    Ramzay Notebook Connoisseur

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    Yes, just be mindful of the relatively poor screen. Some might not mind it, but it pales in comparison to any decent AUO/LG panel. 200 nits, 50% NTSC - that's pretty bad.

    Also, doing a re-paste on this requires a complete tear-down, so "just needs a re-paste" doesn't mean the same thing as when we're talking about a good Clevo machine.

    Personally though, unless you get a really good deal on the Dell, I'd go with a Clevo N155RD or something like that, if only for the much better display panel. Beyond that, it is a good entry-level gaming device.
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2015
  9. darknessrsie

    darknessrsie Notebook Enthusiast

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    I agree a repaste probably would help a lot, though it clearly would be a pain in the rear.
     
  10. Ramzay

    Ramzay Notebook Connoisseur

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    Updated with a recommendation to use a cooling pad to lift the laptop off the surface, as it will help drop temps by quite a bit according to my tests.

    Undervolting the CPU using XTU also helped a bit.
     
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