Sarah Tew/CNET

The G3 15 is Dell’s entry point for its gaming laptops, at least for those not sold under the company’s Alienware division. This is the step-down model from the G5 15, which won an Editors’ Choice award from us last year, but don’t take that as a knock. Despite being lower end, the G3 and G5 have some component overlap. You can essentially get the same configuration and similar performance for less money by going with the G3, even if the design isn’t as polished or sturdy feeling. 

Like

  • Good performance for the money
  • Thin and light for a gaming laptop

Don’t Like

  • Flimsy build compared to Dell G5
  • Display color could be better

At least, that’s the case for the G3 I tested, which sells for $792 with current promotions, while the same component mix in the G5 is $852 at the moment. That’s not a huge savings, but it’s something. Once you get beyond this configuration though, the price difference gets even smaller and the decision more difficult. Here’s why the G3 is still worth a look. 

Dell G3 15 3590

Price as reviewed $949
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
CPU 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-9300H
Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2667MHz
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650
Storage 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 5.0
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Less is more

Intel and Nvidia’s newer processors run cooler than their old chips, which has allowed PC makers to make thinner and lighter gaming laptops. That’s the case here with the Dell G3 15, which looks much more like a mainstream thin-and-light than what used to be offered at its price just a couple years ago. The G3 is still about 5.5 pounds (2.5kg) and 0.9-inch thick (21.6mm), but that’s less than the G5 and several others in its class.

Slimmer bezels on the sides of the 15.6-inch full-HD display help reduce the G3’s overall footprint and give it a modern look. The display is decent and, again, much better than what you used to get at this price, but it’s still one of the weaker parts of the package. It’s bright when plugged in, but dims on battery power and the screen’s color is unimpressive. Despite having a built-in SD card slot, I wouldn’t recommend this display for doing color-critical work. On the other hand, with both a full-size HDMI port and USB-C port, you could easily connect an external display. 

Dell G3 3590

The keyboard is good for both typing and gaming, but the blue markings are difficult to read when the backlight is off. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

More for less

The G3 I reviewed was running on a ninth-gen Intel Core i5-9300H and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1650. The Intel chip didn’t bring much to the table compared to the eighth-gen version. While it’s nice to have a latest-generation CPU, you won’t see significant performance gains. The GTX 1650 benefits are a little more noticeable, giving you better frame rates than the older GTX 1050 Ti but for about the same price. Get above $1,000 and you’ll find laptops with the Nvidia GTX 2060 and better. 

Basically, with the 1650 you’re unlikely to hit the smooth 60fps we look for on demanding games at 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution, but getting over 30fps at that resolution for current titles is doable. If you want headroom for future games, I recommend saving up for a G5 or another gaming laptop with at least a GTX 1660 Ti or ideally a GeForce RTX 2060.  

Dell G3 3590

Sarah Tew/CNET

There’s not a huge price break between the G3 and G5, but it’s enough that you could put it toward adding more storage or memory (both are easily accessible for you to upgrade) or picking up a good gaming mouse. The G3 is thinner and lighter than the G5, too, and its design is a little less “gamer” as well. Also, if you’re not buying right now, this is one you’ll want to keep an eye on for discounts down the road. 

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Video playback battery drain test (Streaming)

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Far Cry 5 gaming test

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (fps)

HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl

Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Dell G3 15 3590 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-9300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650; 1TB HDD
Lenovo Legion Y545 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660Ti; 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Dell G5 15 5590 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-9300; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
HP Pavilion Gaming 15-dk0045cl Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Ti with Max-Q Design; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Acer Nitro 5 AN517-51-56YW Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-9300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650; 512GB SSD
Lenovo Legion Y730 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2HGz Intel Core i7-8750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti; 2TB HDD + 256GB SSD

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