Dell’s new G15 gaming laptop actually performs pretty well in games, but there are at least two problems that you need to know about before considering it! I’ve tested it in 13 different games and compared it against other laptops to show you how it stacks up. I bought the 8 core Ryzen 7 5800H with Nvidia RTX 3060 configuration. It came with 16 gigs of memory in dual channel and a 1080p 120Hz screen. The RTX 3060 in Dell’s G15 is able to boost up to the maximum 125 watt power limit specified by Nvidia, though I found when the CPU was also under load the GPU would top out at 110 watts which is a result of dynamic boost.
Dell’s Alienware Command Center is extremely basic on the G15, you can’t even use it to change performance modes. That’s done with the F9 key, or G key, which enables high performance mode, and this is how it’s been tested. Now the G15 does have a MUX switch, so it’s possible to disable optimus and get a speed boost in games, and I’ve done all testing like this for best results. For some reason the G15 didn’t initially release with this. The underlying hardware was always there, but they only added support in a recent BIOS update, and you can only enable or disable optimus through the BIOS, there’s no software option at this time.
The BIOS also seems to note advanced optimus possibly coming in future.
Unfortunately the 120Hz screen isn’t great, it’s got a slower 22ms average grey-to-grey response time, link in the description if you need an explanation on these numbers. It’s one of the slower screens when compared against other gaming laptops I’ve tested, similar to some other 60Hz options. I’m not particularly sensitive to low response time, but even I noticed blur in games when moving around, and this is the main issue I’ve got with the G15. It’s also on the slower side in terms of total system latency, which is the total amount of time measured between a mouse click and gun shot fire in CS:GO.
Generally a MUX switch helps lower this, but the result was still relatively poor. Now although this screen is quite slow, Dell do also offer the G15 with a faster 165Hz panel and they claim that has a 3ms response time, so depending on the price difference that could be a better option.
For some reason though, right now on the Dell website, the faster screen is only an option for the Intel model, the AMD Ryzen models currently available only list the slower screen. Now I mentioned earlier that there were 2 major issues that I’ve got with regards to the G15’s gaming experience. The first one was that slower screen, and the second one is slower memory.
Although my G15 did at least ship with two sticks of memory in dual channel, it’s the slower x16 stuff which just seems to be commonplace in laptops this year, so we can boost gaming performance by upgrading the RAM to x8 sticks, and I’ll show you this soon. Alright so with all of that in mind let’s find out how well Dell’s G15 gaming laptop compares against others in some games, and then after the comparisons I’ll show you how well the G15 performs in even more games at all setting levels. Cyberpunk 2077 was tested the same on all laptops, and I’ve got Dell’s G15 highlighted in red. It’s doing quite well for a 3060 laptop, only being beaten by the Lenovo Legion 5 just above it which has a slightly higher maximum GPU power limit. It’s worth noting that results here are with stock RAM, so both the Dell G15 and Legion 5 have their slower x16 memory that they shipped with.
Both are more than 10% higher than other 3060 laptops with lower power limits below, above 60 FPS at high settings in this test is a decent result. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested with the game’s benchmark, and this time the 3060 laptops were closer together. The HP Omen 15 with lower tier CPU and lower wattage 3060 was actually a few frames ahead, despite not having a MUX switch and being tested with optimus enabled. What I found interesting was the Dell G5 special edition from last year with the Radeon 5600M was so close to the 3060s in this test, make sure you’re subscribed for when I get the newer 6600M, as I’m going to compare that with the 3060 in depth. Control was tested running through the same part of the game on all laptops, and the Dell G15 was back to being one of the better 3060 results.
This is a GPU heavy game, so that’s probably why it’s only just slightly behind the higher wattage Legion 5.
The 5600M is way behind in this game now at less than half the frame rate, while the 3070 in the HP Omen 15 is only like 3 FPS ahead, though that one does limit the GPU power to 100 watts, plus it’s stuck with optimus. So for the most part, the gaming performance coming out of Dell’s G15 is actually looking pretty good for an RTX 3060 laptop, and this is likely thanks to the MUX switch which lets us disable optimus and get a speed boost in games, but as mentioned earlier the memory is definitely holding it back, so let’s upgrade the memory and see what the differences are.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider we’re looking at an 8% boost to average FPS at max settings with the RAM upgrade. The difference will of course depend on the game, setting preset and resolution, but this illustrates that we can definitely get an improvement with this simple change, to the point where it’s now ahead of the 3070 in the Omen 15 just below it.
The downside is of course the additional costs associated with buying better memory. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised to see x16 memory in the G15, it is meant to be a more budget friendly gaming laptop compared to others and Dell are by no means the only company doing this in 2021. From what I’ve heard from other companies like ASUS, it seems like x16 memory is just all they can get in bulk quantities in the year of 2021 and supply shortages, so I guess I can’t hate on Dell too much for this and at least you can upgrade the memory yourself. The slower screen on the other hand is a bit more annoying, and that alone kind of makes me not want to suggest this laptop. 22ms is just too low in my opinion, and there are other similarly priced and specced gaming laptops that do have faster screens.
I should also note that the screen might be less of a concern if you plan on using the G15 with an external monitor, or if Dell otherwise start selling it with that 3ms response time 165Hz option, but again at this time for some reason that only seems available in the Intel models. I doubt it’s Dell trying to make AMD look bad, but it is kind of strange. Now something else important to note is that we would of course expect worse performance compared to what I’ve shown here with either the RTX 3050 or 3050 Ti configurations of the G15. As I’ve shown in this video the 4 gigs of VRAM can definitely be a limitation in modern games, so if you are looking at the Dell G15 and budget permits then I think the 3060 is worth considering.
Now let’s see how well Dell’s G15 performs in more games at all setting levels.
Let’s start with control, we compared this earlier but just at stock, which is shown in the purple bars here. With ray tracing enabled in the green bars, we’re actually able to hit 60 FPS at low settings, though personally I think the game looks better with ray tracing off but instead using high settings, not to mention it performs much better too. This is where DLSS comes in, shown by the red bars. It’s able to boost performance even with ray tracing on, though you could of course use DLSS without RT for FPS higher than the purple bars if you want. Cyberpunk was also compared earlier, but I’ve got the RT plus DLSS enabled modes here now too.
Honestly they weren’t doing too well, but I test with DLSS on quality so you could further boost FPS with some other changes, otherwise only the high preset was getting above 60 FPS.
Call of Duty Warzone was tested with either all settings at max or minimum as it doesn’t have built in presets like the others. It was still playing fine at max settings, easily above 100 FPS, but yeah while playing the blurriness from the slow response time screen was extremely obvious. Microsoft Flight Simulator runs much better after its recent update, before we’d probably be seeing similar FPS to what we have here at max settings but at minimum, so it’s great that higher presets are now smoother with modern hardware like this. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla was just above the 60 FPS point with the highest ultra high setting preset, though we could get closer to 100 FPS with minimum settings should you wish to prioritize smoothness over visual quality.
I’d say Watch Dogs Legion would still be playable at max settings, as many of these AAA games don’t necessarily need high FPS to enjoy, but considering stepping down just one setting preset was able to boost even the 1% low above the average FPS of ultra I think it’s a worthy compromise. Fortnite was running great, the 1% lows at high settings were only just a little behind the screen’s refresh rate, though keep in mind the 1080p screen has a 22ms average grey-to-grey response time, so expect noticeable ghosting in fast paced games like this.
CS:GO was also doing extremely well here. Super high FPS like this is often bottlenecked by laptops that have optimus, so we’re definitely seeing a big boost here thanks to the MUX switch and optimus being disabled. Likewise Rainbow Six Siege also hits super high FPS, no problems at max settings which was reaching 1% lows above the screen’s refresh rate, and as is usually the case in this test, no real difference between high and ultra settings.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was compared earlier, and the high settings I compared with looks like a good sweet spot, still above 60 FPS and not as big of a dip compared to ultra settings, while also not getting that much of an extra boost at lower levels. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was above 100 FPS even at max settings, and same deal for Battlefield V too, no problems at all running these what are now last gen games on current hardware.
Going back even further and The Witcher 3 is fine at max settings too, though you can boost average FPS by 46% simply by lowering from ultra to high settings. I’ll cover absolutely everything else about Dell’s G15 like thermals and battery life in the upcoming full review video, so make sure you’re subscribed to the channel for that future content, as well as for future gaming benchmark videos like this one. Come and join me in Discord and get behind the scenes videos by supporting the channel on Patreon, and check out how well the laptop RTX 3060 compares against other laptop GPUs over here next.
Maybe you don’t need to spend more money on a 3060 and an older option might be for you.