"Alienwares m15 is a gaming laptop that you crave and should treat yourself to."
It looks terrific
Excellent display options
Many ports in the right places
Solid performance in all games
Bulky for its class
The battery life is predictably okay.
I got the Alienware m15 quickly when it came into the Digital Trends office. It's a laptop I've been waiting to test. Maybe even my most anticipated laptop all year round.
Why? Because it packs the design of Alienware's beautiful Area-51M in a much more practical 15-inch case that only weighs 4.75 pounds. The Area-51M was an eye-catcher, but not a laptop for most people.
The Alienware m15? This is for you. To me. For each. It's no exaggeration to say that Alienware m15 is the Ford F-150 for mobile PC games and has been for a long time. Do you want to play but also need modest portability? This is the standard selection. Now it's an eye catcher too.
Everything about the new m15 is new – but I think the rear light bar, which is completely outside the rear silhouette of the laptop, is the highlight. It's bright and futuristic, but not gaudy or overbearing. This is the most attractive accent lighting of all laptops. Seriously. It's breathtaking.
The rest of the laptop is great too. It dispenses with the hard edges that are common in gaming laptops and ensures a softer, rounded appearance that is reminiscent of the aesthetics of the latest science fiction films. Color path options include the black “Dark Side of the Moon” or the white “Moonlight” to make it clear that the connection is no accident.
The look isn't everything, of course, but the exceptional design of the Alienware m15 is an advantage. You will be proud to have it in your hands.
It is a beast
Do not be fooled. The Alienware m15 looks modern, but it is not the most portable device. This is a 15-inch gaming laptop that supports 9th generation Intel Core i7 processors and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics. That means it has some weight.
His 4.75 pound weight is mid-pack. Razers Blade 15 can only weigh 4.5 pounds, while Acer's Predator Triton 500 weighs 4.41 pounds. The Alienware m15 is not a building block, but you can find easier options. It is hair more than 7/10 inches thick, which is in no way inferior to the competition.
However, numbers don't tell the whole story. The Alienware m15 is brand new, but retains the design of previous Alienware laptops. Seriously. The display hinge is pushed forward from the back of the laptop, which protrudes another centimeter above.
That makes the m15 a hair short of 11 cm deep. The Razer Blade 15 is only 9.25 inches deep and the Acer Predator Triton 500 is 10 inches deep. Even the HP Omen X 2S with a second touchscreen above the keyboard is 10.3 inches deep.
In other words, the m15 is closer to the square than most gaming laptops. This can make it uncomfortable to fit in a laptop bag, even if it's designed for 15-inch laptops.
Unfortunately, the square shape doesn't have room for a great touchpad. It's not too small, but it seems tiny on the otherwise large body of the m15. I was lucky with the keyboard. The layout is spacious and the buttons respond with firm tactile feedback.
My God. It is full of ports
You can curse the size of the Alienware m15 when you put it in a bag, but you'll love it when you need to plug it in. This thing is filled with connectors. Take a deep breath. OK. Ready?
It has a proprietary power connector, an Ethernet connector, two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 connectors, a USB-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 connector with PowerShare, a Thunderbolt 3 connector, an Alienware graphics amplifier connector, and an HDMI 2.0b -Output and a Mini DisplayPort 1.4, a combined headphone / microphone jack and a locking slot.
That is a lot. And it gets better. Many ports are located on the back of the laptop, which simplifies cable management. Simply connect the accessories to the back, put on a Velcro fastener and you're done.
And do not forget. The light bar is also at the back. Connecting a peripheral is a good excuse to remember how great this laptop looks.
Turn it to 240Hz
You may stop looking at the Alienware m15 and decide to play on it. This means that you need to focus your attention on the screen. It's not as exciting as the design of the laptop, but only because Alienware (mostly) preferred the practicality to the specifications.
Four panels are offered, three of which are 1080p. That may seem strange given the modern obsession with resolution (phones usually have more pixels than this laptop), but it makes sense. 1080p looks sharp on a 15.6-inch display and fits better with the functions of modern gaming laptops. I don't know anything about you, but I choose maximum details at 1080p versus medium details at 4K every weekday.
Instead of increasing the resolution, the optional control panels increase the refresh rate. The entry-level option is a standard 60 Hz display. From there, you can upgrade to a refresh rate of 144 Hz or even 240 Hz, which my test device had. The upgrade panels also include Tobii eye tracking technology, but to my dismay, Windows Hello face sign-in isn't supported.
I enjoyed the 240 Hz panel both inside and outside of games. In addition to its even refresh rate, it delivered sharp images with contrast and color accuracy that can compete with anything except OLED, which, due to its much lower black levels, can destroy any conventional LCD device. The solid quality of the 240 Hz panel is worth your attention. In the past I have tested laptops with high refresh rates and disappointing picture quality. You don't have to make this compromise here.
And wow, this display is fluid. I noticed that most of them in Battlefield V, a game that combines excellent art direction with fast-paced action. The game's lively explosions and heavy use of post-process effects can make any stuttering, stuttering, or accidental blurring clear, but everything was crystal clear on the Alienware m15's 240 Hz panel.
I am still not sure if the difference to a 144 Hz screen can be seen. So don't feel bad if you "only" choose this lower, but still spectacular, refresh rate. In fact, the 144 Hz option probably fits better with performance – as I'll explain later. However, the difference is noticeable compared to a 60 Hz OLED screen.
There is a catch. Nvidia's G-Sync, which synchronizes the refresh rate of a display with the frame rate of a game, is not available on any model. The screen is more likely to crack if a game's frame rate does not match the refresh rate. That said, screen tears and stuttering never struck me as a problem.
Remember that a high refresh rate only makes sense if you can get it. A demanding game like Assassin's Creed Odyssey will never get anywhere near 240 or even 144 frames per second.
In these cases, you may want to choose the maximum image quality. This is where the optional 4K OLED panel comes into play. I haven't had a chance to test it on the Alienware m15, but OLED panels generally performed well in our display benchmarks. You achieve a contrast ratio and hue values. State-of-the-art IPS displays simply cannot keep up. The only downside is the price, as the OLED is a $ 330 upgrade from the base screen. That's $ 150 more than the 240 Hz screen I've checked.
All the frame rate you need
Alienware provided me with a high-end m15 with an Intel Core i7-9750HQ processor, Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB solid-state drive. This is an upgrade of the base model with an Intel Core i5-9300H processor, Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics, 8 GB RAM and a 256 GB solid-state drive.
My updated device represents the latest in mobile gaming. You can only get better results with laptops like the Alienware Area-51M, which actually contains a full-fat Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics chip.
That means 60 frames per second at 1080p and maximum detail are easily available. I found that this was true for Fortnite, Battlefield V and Civilization VI. Only Assassin's Creed Odyssey, a notoriously demanding game with maximum detail, fell below 60 FPS. Even then, the Alienware m15 achieves an average of 55 FPS.
These results are comparable to the competition. In these four games, I found that the Alienware m15 was faster than HP's Omen X 2S, roughly on par with the Razer Blade 15, and slightly slower than Acer's Predator Triton 500 (all were powered by RTX 2080 Max-Q- Graphics tested).
There is a part of me that is disappointed with this result. This has to do with the size of the Alienware M15. It's a little bigger, so I hoped this could be a better performance due to the improved thermal.
Still, the performance is respectable and the gap between all the laptops we tested with RTX 2080 Max-Q is small enough not to improve the gameplay. The HP Omen X 2S achieved an average of 52 FPS in Assassins Creed Odyssey with 1080p and maximum detail. The Alienware m15 was 55 on average. You won't notice this gap.
But what about this 240 Hz screen? Can the Alienware m15 develop its full potential?
No, it cannot. Fortnite, the least demanding game in my tests, averaged 149 frames per second at 1080p and medium details. That is far from the full potential of the 240 Hz panel.
My proposition? Save money and stick to the 144 Hz panel. It best matches the performance of the laptop in modern games, and you can save $ 180 by not using the 240 Hz upgrade.
Predictably more battery life
You want to demonstrate the Alienware m15. There is no doubt about that. Unfortunately, you have to choose the Humblebrag tour because the battery life of this laptop is poor.
This is not a surprise. In recent years, gaming laptops have achieved better display quality and higher refresh rates over a long battery life. It is a compromise that makes sense. Players don't expect to spend a lot of time outside an outlet.
The Alienware m15 only managed three hours in our web browsing battery test. The more demanding Basemark browser benchmark took just an hour and a half to charge.
If it is a consolation, these results are not bad for the segment. A high-end gaming laptop with a high refresh rate display is lucky enough to reach three hours. This applies to the Razer Blade 15, HP Omen X 2S and Acer Predator Triton 500. It only belongs to the area.
Alienware's m15 beats the HP Omen X2. It essentially connects the Razer Blade 15 (with 240 Hz display) and the Acer Predator Triton 500.
You still need to keep the charger handy. And that increases the bulk of the laptop when traveling.
The Alienware m15 is a really impressive laptop. It has a completely original and unique design that delivers the gosh wow factor that a player craves but doesn't look or feel gaudy. I don't have a mantelpiece, but if I did I would put the m15 on it.
Alienware underpins its appearance with solid performance, a large selection of attractive displays and numerous connections. The only downside is the size of the laptop, which is bulky in addition to the best competition.
But don't let that stop you. If you are looking for a gaming laptop that looks fantastic even when it's turned off, you've found it.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes. The Razer Blade 15 remains our favorite, even if it's not that attractive. The Blade 15 offers an excellent combination of portability and performance. It feels less like a gaming laptop and more like a great laptop that can play.
The Predator Trition 500 from Acer is a good choice if you value something. It delivers great hardware in several affordable configurations. However, it's not as attractive as the Alienware m15.
How long it will take?
Alienware offers the usual one-year warranty. This isn't the most rugged laptop I've ever felt, but it seems rugged enough to handle everyday use for a long time. I assume that it will take at least five years. With careful treatment, it could take a decade.
Should you buy it
Yes. The Alienware m15 is a stunning gaming laptop with excellent performance.