Alienware M15 Review
Aheavy-hitting laptop for gaming on the go, but it’s mighty expensive and faster machines are on the horizon.
Alienware laptops have never been skinny, so the new Alienware m15 is something of a departure.
Still, parent company Dell might be going a bit far by hyping the m15 as the “lightweight champion of the world” and proclaiming it to be the most powerful gaming laptop of its size and weight.
As we’ll see, its performance is certainly up to snuff and it’s light compared to previous Alienware laptops – but it could still stand to lose a few pounds. And that applies to the price as well.
- Six-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor
- 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q design graphics
- 32GB 2,666MHz DDR4 RAM
- 6in 144Hz IPS screen,
- 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
- 2 x 512GBPCIe M.2SSDs
- 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Mini Display-Port
- Thunderbolt 3
- 3 x USB-A 3.1
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Windows 10Home
- 60Wh battery
- 363 x 275 x 17.9mm(WDH)
- 1yr on-site warranty
Alienware never skimps on design materials, and the m15 is more of the same.
The chassis is made almost entirely from magnesium alloy, and at 2.16kg it’s 20% lighter than the Alienware 13 from 2017.
I’m a big fan of the Nebula Red colour scheme on the laptop’s lid, which pairs nicely with the jet black interior.
Alienware also offers a silver finish, but the red is much more fetching.
I also like the rubberised material on the palm rests and base of the m15, which give it a feeling of added quality. But I don’t like the bezels surrounding the display.
Although they aren’t too thick at the sides, the upper and lower bezels are chunky and ugly, making the Alienware m15 appear outdated when compared with, for example, the Razer Blade 15.
It doesn’t help that the surface of said bezels is glossy and reflective, which can be distracting in brightly lit conditions.
- I would have preferred a matte finish.
Many of the Alienware m15’s ports are situated on the laptop’s rear edge, a sensible design feature that helps keep your desk clear of cable clutter.
Hiding back there are the HDMI 2 and mini-Display Port outputs, the power port and one USB-C socket with Thunderbolt 3.
In case you wanted to use the Alienware Graphics Amplifier (£168), there’s also a proprietary eGPU port.
Thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, any Windows 10 laptop can connect any eGPU, so you’re by no means stuck with Alienware’s graphics amplifier.
On the left-hand edge are two USB 3 Type-A sockets, with one more on the opposite edge alongside a single Gigabit Ethernet port.
When opening the laptop you’d assume the speakers sit above the keyboard, where there is a grille panel spanning the width of the m15’s broad body.
But they’re actually closer to the user, more in line with the touchpad, with one speaker on either edge of the base.
I found the m15’s dual speakers to be adequate and nothing more, producing moderate volume levels but without much clarity.
You’ll need a decent pair of headphones to get the most out of your gaming.
As laptop keyboards go, the Alienware m15’s is pleasant to type on.
The click-clack of the keys is satisfying and each individual key feels sturdy, as if they can take a real beating.
I’m less keen on the inclusion of a number pad to the right.
Certain keys have been shrunk to accommodate it and I found my fingers kept missing the half-sized backspace key and hitting Num Lock instead.
- Over time I’d probably adapt, but I’d rather not have to.
As with so many gaming laptops these days, the keyboard also has RGB backlighting and this is adjustable via the Alienware Command Center software.
The LED array behind the keyboard is split into four sections, which can all be customised with separate colours and effects.
I opted for a single green colour across the board to match the alien aesthetic, and likewise with the two glowing Alienware logos on the laptop. T he keyboard “FX” can be switched off with an F12 shortcut.
Thanks to the presence of that number pad, the touchpad has also been pushed towards the left.
Being right-handed, I’d like it to be more centred, but it isn’t a huge issue. It’s a diving board-style touchpad, meaning there are no buttons as such.
The whole touchpad depresses, with the bottom third activating the left- and right-click functions.
Display quality is crucial for gaming laptops and, for the most part, the Alienware m15’s 15.6in IPS panel doesn’t disappoint.
While you can opt for the 4K 60Hz model, it’s better to go with the 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 144Hz display.
Without the 144Hz refresh rate you never get ultra-smooth, higher-than-60fps gameplay, no matter how much power you’ve got under the lid.
The maximum display brightness Of 327cd/m2 isn’t great.
It isn’t the lowest I’ve seen by any means, but neither is it bright enough to comfortably use in bright ambient light –
in the garden, for instance, or next to a window on the train on a sunny day.
More importantly, at least for those looking for a multipurpose machine for photo and video editing, is that colour coverage and accuracy isn’t wonderful.
The sRGB coverage is a disappointing 80.5% and the average Delta E only 3.64.
Contrast is fine, with a measured contrast ratio of 1,338:1, but this display is never going to blow you away with its vibrancy.
Numbers don’t lie, and in our benchmark tests they are very much in the Alienware m15’s favour.
CPU performance is fantastic, as demonstrated by our in-house media benchmarking tests in which the m15 scored a huge 191.
That’s a class-leading result, beating even the Dell XPS 15 and leaving the Razer Blade 15 to eat its dust.
I’ve seen a couple of YouTube reviews where people have complained about overheating when the CPU is maxed out, but I haven’t experienced this myself.
At no point did I find the m15 to be overly hot and Core Temp showed no individual core exceeded 70˚C during my tests.
The laptop’s dual cooling fans are exceedingly noisy, however, especially when you set thermals to “Performance” mode using the Alienware Command Center software.
The Alienware m15 has two separate 512GB PCIe SSDs, allowing it to read files at an outstanding rate.
In the AS SSD benchmark, the sequential file read speed clocked in at 2,560MB/sec, easily outstripping its rivals.
The sequential write speed was less impressive, however, coming in at 709MB/sec.
On-screen gaming performance is top notch, too, thanks to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU (with 8GB of DDR4 RAM) and the silkysmooth 144Hz display.
It ran the demanding 1080p Metro: Last Light benchmark on High settings at an average of110fps.
That’s on par with the similarly specified Dell XPS 15 and Razer Blade 15.
And the GFX Bench Manhattan tests the m15’s performance was cranking out an average of 127fps on-screen and 452fps off-screen.
The Alienware m15 can handle any AAA right up there with its rivals, cranking out an average of127fps on-screen and 452fps off-screen.
The Alienware m15 can handle any AAA game you care to throw at it – and still maintain a high frame rate.
Gaming laptops aren’t known for their long battery life and, with a few exceptions, you won’t squeeze out more than a couple of hours worth of play-time before the power dies.
In our standard video rundown battery test, the Alienware m15 lasted 4hrs 21mins before running out of juice, which is a middling result compared to the competition.
Bear in mind, though, that the laptop was set to “Quiet” mode here with a 170cd/m2 brightness.
When gaming at full pelt, life will be closer to three hours.
It’s true that the Alienware m15 packs a heavy performance punch and it’s also a fact that this is one slim 15in gaming machine.
The trouble for Dell is that there are several alternative laptops with near-identical specifications and much lower prices.
I could understand if you rejected the HPOmen 15, for instance.
Although it’s £850 cheaper than the m15, it’s also significantly bulkier.
Or you could buy the Razer Blade 15 with the same specification, similar dimensions and which costs £200 less.
However, the real problem is that Nvidia used CES to announce RTX graphics, and we already know that Razer will be shipping a version of its Razer Blade for £2,849 that includes an RTX 2080.
Or you can choose the RTX 2070 for £2,450. There really is no contest.
Alienware M15 Pricing:
Note: Pricing may differ depending upon deals, coupons, e-commerce websites, festivals and price down by official manufactures.
- India – Rs. 1,78,399
- USA – $1,359.99
- UK – £1,799.00
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