The Dell G16 is a great gaming laptop that puts performance above all else.
About the Dell G16
Here are the specs of the laptop we tested:
- Processor: Intel Core i7-12700H
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6
- RAM: 16GB DDR5-4800 MHz
- Storage: 512GB SSD
- Display: 16-inch 2160 x 1440p @ 165Hz display, 100% sRGB
- Ports: 3 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x Thunderbolt 4, 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x RJ45 Ethernet, 1 x Headphone/microphone jack
- Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2
- Camera: 0.92MP, 1280 x 720p @ 30fps
- Battery: 86Whr lithium-ion battery
- Weight: 5.95 pounds
- Size: 14.06 x 10.71 x 1.03 inches
- Warranty: 1-year limited warranty
The Dell G16 is a mid-range gaming laptop available in two major configurations. You can choose between the high-end Intel Core i7-12700H processor and the flagship Intel Core i9-12900H processor.
We tested the $1,499 configuration of the Core i7 model, but you can also downgrade the graphics card to an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti, which costs $1,339. The Core i9 version includes an Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti graphics card, 32GB of memory, and 1TB of storage for $2,185.
What we like
Its chassis design prioritizes functionality and repair
This might be the most utilitarian gaming laptop I’ve ever seen. The thick obsidian aluminum is so rigid it feels like it would survive a brick to the lid with minimal damage. The 16-inch display takes up 85% of the lid’s real estate, and the closed laptop looks like any other Dell laptop. It only shows its gamer colors when the keyboard lights up with garish, non-customizable RGB backlighting. But its strongest feature is also one of its greatest weaknesses: it’s a chunky laptop.
Both central and graphics processors have gotten smaller, more efficient, and more powerful over time, so it’s become rarer to see laptops that stick with a bulkier design. In the case of the Dell G16, its extra space allows it to pack in copper pipes and heat sinks that keep the processors cooler than they’d be in a thinner chassis, like the Razer Blade 14.
If you open the laptop from the bottom, you can easily access a lot of essential hardware on the Dell G16. It uses a standard M.2 2280 solid state storage drive and DDR5 memory that can both be replaced with third-party parts.
The display is great for gaming
The G16 1440p display’s 165Hz refresh rate makes everything look incredibly sharp and smooth. It could be a brighter screen, as it only peaks at 300 nits of brightness, but its full coverage of the standard RGB color gamut means its image looks vivid and accurate. Compared to the latest OLED HDR displays on models like the HP Spectre x360 14 it does feel a bit underwhelming, but it’s leagues above anything you’d find on most gaming laptops at its price range.
It performs beyond expectations
The Dell G16’s power brick delivers up to 240 Watts of power—about ten times what a MacBook draws and twice what some power-capped gaming laptops draw. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 is a very capable graphics card with good ray tracing abilities, but it’s not uncommon to run across laptops that handicap it with a low power draw limit. Because of the Dell G16’s solid thermal design, it can push its 3060 and its Intel Core i7-12700H processor harder without worrying about overheating the components.
So, you want to run Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 1080p Ultra graphics? The Dell G16 runs it at 108 frames per second (fps). This laptop also holds its own against the notoriously demanding Cyberpunk 2077, running the game at 74 fps on the 1080p ultra graphics preset without ray tracing, and 23 fps on the same preset with ray tracing.
The slightly cheaper MSI Delta 15, which uses a comparable AMD Radeon RX 6700M graphics card and a Ryzen 7 5700H processor, can run the game at 64 fps without ray tracing and 16fps with ray tracing. Meanwhile, the much more expensive (but thinner and lighter) Razer Blade 14 runs it at 74 fps without ray tracing and 33 fps with ray tracing while using an RTX 3070 Ti graphics card.
Between the great graphics performance and the colorful 165Hz display, the Dell G16 is great for the more taxing cinematic masterpieces of gaming like Red Dead Redemption 2, God of _War, or The Medium. Less demanding games like Fortnite and Final Fantasy XIV will run much closer to 165Hz even at max graphics settings.
Its Intel Core i7-12700H central processor is no less formidable. This 14-core processor is phenomenal for CPU-heavy tasks like model rendering and film editing. In synthetic benchmarks, the Dell G16 is one of the fastest laptops available, scoring 16331 points in Cinebench’s multi-core test and 12441 points in Geekbench 5’s test.
That’s hundreds of points beyond what the MacBook Pro 16 scores, and it’s even a hundred points more than the flagship Acer Predator Triton 500 SE gaming laptop (all of the Dell G16’s cooling pays off). The only processors able to best the Dell G16’s are desktop processors like the Intel Core i7-12700K or AMD Radeon Ryzen 7 5800X.
For single-core performance, it scored 1752 in Cinebench and 1770 in Geekbench. That’s among the higher end of scores for single-core performance, outdone only by the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE’s Intel Core i9-12900H by less than a hundred points.
If you want to know how it performs in real-world tasks, the Dell G16 completed a Blender render in two minutes and 25 seconds with its processor. The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE took three more seconds to render the scene on its Core i9 processor, and the comparable Asus TUF Dash F15 took two minutes and 58 seconds to render the scene with an Intel Core i7-12650H processor. To get better performance, you’d have to step up to a laptop with an Intel Core i9-12900H processor or better (Dell’s Core i9 variant of the G16 is about $600 more expensive at the time of writing for an apples-to-apples price comparison).
Its RGB keyboard is lovely
You can customize the RGB backlighting in the laptop’s Alienware keyboard controller software to just about any color and pattern you want. (Awesome!) But more important than the flashy lights are the keys themselves, and here Dell proves why it’s a favorite brand among typists, too.
The keys are large, well spaced out, easy to press, and feel snappy. There is no mushiness and there are no missed inputs. It’s not as refined as the Dell XPS 13’s keyboard, but it’s a strong offering that hits the essential notes.
What we don’t like
It’s chunky, loud, and hot
The obvious con of thick laptops is that they’re heavier and harder to transport. At almost six pounds, you will feel the Dell G16 put a strain on your back if you carry it around in a backpack. On default fan settings, the laptop’s fans don’t shut up. Yes, it keeps the computer cool, but such powerful hardware hardly needs to waste resources on cooling when you’re just browsing tabs in Google Chrome (however, you can adjust the fans to quiet mode if need be).
And while the Dell G16’s internal components stay relatively cool, that heat has to dissipate somewhere. The laptop’s chassis gets quite hot on the bottom, with temperatures spiking up to 45.6 degrees Celsius (114 degrees Fahrenheit) when running Basemark 3.0, a web-based script that lightly taxes the PC. Even if it were cool enough for your lap, it’s still too heavy to be comfortable (unless you enjoy having the weight of a Siamese cat on your lap for hours).
The keyboard stays cooler, averaging 33.3 degrees Celsius (92 degrees Fahrenheit) all over with a spike of almost 38C (100F) in the top right. On the inside, the components also manage to keep cool, with the CPU averaging 82 degrees Celsius (180F) and topping at 91 degrees Celsius (196F) after running Cinebench for five minutes. The graphics card is basically asleep at a cozy 56 degrees Celsius (133F) on average.
The trackpad is small
For such a large laptop, the trackpad is tiny. There’s at least a half inch of space above and below the trackpad, and lengthwise the pad measures only four inches across. It also feels a bit jumpy, with inputs occasionally going askew. It overall feels lacking in the complete package, which is a shame because the laptop has the space for a large trackpad surface.
Bad battery life
To get a good picture of how well a laptop will stand up to a day away from the outlet, we simulate a casual workload by revolving through dozens of popular web pages while the display is set as close to 200 nits as possible. Then we run the simulation until the battery is dead. When we tested the Dell G16’s battery, it only lasted about two hours before it went kaput. That’s poor battery life, even for a gaming laptop.
The Acer Nitro 5 and the MSI GE76 Raider, for instance, both lasted between two and four hours each. There are plenty of powerful gaming laptops that don’t need to sacrifice battery life—the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, HP Victus 16, and MSI Delta 15 all last eight to nine hours while retaining almost the same amount of performance.
The backports are a blessing and a curse
Another double-edged feature of the Dell G16 is its port selection. It comes with a lot of essential ports, but their placement is a bit haphazard. The laptop includes an Ethernet port and an audio jack on its left and two USB-A slots on the right, but things get weird in the back.
On the laptop’s rear, you can find its A/C power connector, another USB-A port, its sole Thunderbolt 4 port, and the HDMI 2.1 port. The upside is that confining these ports to the rear keeps the cables away from your hands, but it’s much harder to deal with rear ports since you have to tilt the laptop or bend awkwardly to reach them.
Should you buy the Dell G16?
Yes, but you need to keep it plugged in
If what you need is a gaming laptop with raw, unadulterated performance and nothing else, then the Dell G16 is a great gaming laptop without a horrible price tag. It’s not the most portable laptop, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in substance. Plus, it’s modular enough to repair and upgrade, saving you money in the long run.
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop that’s more multipurpose, you may consider looking at something like the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, which has really good performance and battery life in a smaller form factor for about the same price. On the other hand, the Acer Nitro 5 has similar specs and a marginal decrease in performance compared to the Dell G16 for a bit less money (but neither laptop has stellar battery life).
The Dell G16 is a great match for gamers who will be at their desks most of the time. If you decide to buy the Dell G16, remember to shop around and check the various available configurations available, since they like to discount the pricier ones.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Adrien is a staff writer for Reviewed, mainly focused on reviewing laptops and other consumer tech. During his free time, he’s usually wandering around Hyrule.
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