TECHNOLOGY

Dell Inspiron 7577 Review: Unbeatable Value

Dell may have found the definitive sweet spot between price and performance

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BY Rahil Bhagat - 02 Mar 2018

Dell Inspiron 7577 Review: Unbeatable Value

The year was 2016. The phrase “sweet spot” was something you associated with gaming performance on desktops. There were purpose-built gaming laptops, but they were large, gaudy, and expensive. A laptop that could run demanding AAA titles with respectable quality and framerates at below SGD 1,500 was virtually unheard of.

Enter the Dell Inspiron 7559 in early 2016. It looked like a plain jane workhorse. Under the hood, it packed an Nvidia GTX 960M. While you could reliably play games, the spec sheet wasn’t amazing. What was amazing was its thermals. What was downright ludicrous was its price.

By cutting corners where it didn’t really matter and focusing on what truly gives a laptop its gaming DNA, Dell had come up with a veritable blue-collar hero. It had redefined value in the industry. It became the iconic “sweet spot” for laptops.

What I have with me today is the Dell Inspiron 7577 – the latest in Dell’s Inspiron 7000 series. While its performance has received a considerable upgrade, so has expectations. Will it live up to the hype?

Read on to find out.

Performance

Dell Inspiron 7577 Review: Unbeatable Value

PHOTO CREDIT: Company Courtesy

In terms of performance, it seems Dell has never left the sweet spot.

Dell has paired the Intel Core i7-7700HQ in the Inspiron 7577 with a 6GB Nvidia GTX 1060 Max-Q. While I’ve mentioned many times before that you get the best value out of a full GTX 1060, Dell has reached a really good compromise in favor of better battery life and thermal management.

While Nvidia’s Max-Q cards typically run at slower clock speeds to reduce heat and improve longevity, Dell has given the GTX 1060 Max-Q in the Inspiron 7577 a near stock boost clock. I’ll spare you the precise numbers and percentages. You will experience a loss of a few fps in games, but you what you get in return is top notch cooling performance – even on day-long binge gaming sessions.

Throughout my testing, I did not encounter a single instance of thermal throttling. Meanwhile, temperatures inside and out remained comfortable and stable. You would really have to go out of your way to make the Inspiron 7577 break a sweat. The fan noise, or lack thereof, is impressive as well.

Like its predecessors, the Inspiron 7577 remains a reliable workhorse that excels at 1080P gaming.

Design

Dell Inspiron 7577 Review: Unbeatable Value

PHOTO CREDIT: Company Courtesy

While its new design can be divisive, I personally like how the Inspiron 7577 looks.

Looking at it from the back, the only indication one would get that this is indeed a gaming machine is the red Dell logo. The vents, while large and functional, are only in a slightly lighter shade of gray than the lid. The whole machine has this clean matte black aesthetic, only offset by very minor red accents and backlights. It harkens back to the utilitarian Inspiron 7559 rather than the flashier Inspiron 7567.

The build quality, as always, is solid as a rock. I find laptops with hinges closer to the middle to be more robust and less prone to failure. Opening the laptop doesn’t require too much effort and the screen has a tolerable amount of flex. The Inspiron 7000 series has always felt more premium than its price would imply.

Screen

The Inspiron 7577’s screen is just good enough.

At this price point, you can’t expect a cutting-edge display with high resolution or refresh rate, but the Inspiron 7577 doesn’t make you feel like you’re giving up too much.

Gone are the lackluster TN panels that came with the older models in Dell’s Inspiron 7000 series. The Inspiron 7577 comes equipped with a 15.6-inch 1080P IPS display as standard.

As with many aspects of this device, the screen is by no means outstanding, but hits a respectable middle ground. Color accuracy for instance is just decent enough for some productivity. It covers 71% of sRGB and 53% of AdobeRGB. Brightness and viewing angles aren’t amazing by IPS panel standards, but again, they are good enough for outdoor use.

Gaming experience was satisfactory, but here is where I personally wish Dell had done better, especially with a near stock GTX 1060 on board. But when you consider how horrible the old TN panels were, this is a significant improvement. I simply lock the frame rate in games to 60fps, enable v-sync, and move on. Overall, I have no complaints.

Dell Inspiron 7577 Review: Unbeatable Value

PHOTO CREDIT: Company Courtesy

Inputs

The Inspiron 7577’s inputs are worthy of thunderous applause.

Port selection is something I like in particular on the Inspiron 7577. You get a Thunderbolt 3 port that supports four PCI-e lanes. It’s shocking how you can still find it absent on many laptops of this size or even among those in higher price brackets. Simply put, if the GTX 1060 Max-Q is not good enough for you, you could easily hook the Inspiron 7577 up to an external graphics solution.

But wait, there’s more! While a fingerprint scanner was not really on anybody’s wish list, Dell was thoughtful enough to include one – integrated into the power button no less! It’s extremely elegant and works great. Aside from that, you get three USB-3.0, a HDMI 2.0 port, an SD card reader, Ethernet, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. You may leave your dongles at home.

The keyboard on the Inspiron 7577 is middle of the road. It’s not bad at all for typing, but the short key strokes may have you second-guessing your inputs while gaming. It’s worth mentioning at this point that the keyboard deck is built like a tank. You’re unlikely to damage it with heavier presses. Backlighting is fixed, only emitting a red glow beneath each glyph.

The track pad works as you would expect. There is nothing amazing or peculiar about it. The only fault I could find with the Inspiron 7577’s inputs was the webcam. There has literally been no improvement in two years. It is usable, but that’s about it.

Audio

Sound quality on the Inspiron 7577 is above average. While it has done away with the dedicated subwoofer of its predecessors, you won’t find yourself wishing you had more bass. The front-facing speaker produces full-bodied sound that is noticeably clearer than the older models. Cranking it up to max volume will not cause distortion either. It suits games and movies just fine.

Battery

Disappointingly, the Inspiron 7577 was equipped with a smaller battery than its older brethren. With just a 56Wh battery on board, its capacity has dropped by about a third.

This wasn’t as big an issue as I thought it would be, though. While the Inspiron 7577 won’t last as long, the more power-efficient internals ensure that battery life remains respectable against its competitors.

Off the plug, you can get up to three hours of gaming. With the power-saving feature turned on, you can browse the web or watch movies for more than six hours. These are good numbers for a gaming laptop. Heck, the Inspiron 7577 even gives some business laptops a run for their money.

Should you buy it?

There’s no doubt about it, the Inspiron 7577 has my seal of approval due to its sheer value. I feel that you’re getting more than your money’s worth in terms of quality, performance, and the almighty inputs you have at your disposal.

It does have a glaring weakness – its screen. It does now have strong competitors at this price bracket such as the Acer Predator Helios 300 and the Lenovo Legion Y720. Even these machines had to cut corners to keep costs low, but the Inspiron 7577 had chosen the path that I’d personally take. Besides, Dell provides you options that would help you overcome the Inspiron 7577’s flaws.

If you can afford it, you can upgrade to a brighter and more color accurate 4K panel that can take full advantage of the GTX 1060 Max-Q. If you want to save a few hundred bucks, you can still drop down to a GTX 1050 Ti that’s not overkill for the standard screen. For more powerful external displays, you can hook the laptop up to an external GPU.

Prices start at below SGD 1700. There are options for you no matter your means, and its great value is still there at either end of the spectrum.  It’s an easy purchase to make.

Dell Inspiron 7577 Review: Unbeatable Value