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Gaming laptops have long been a joke to me. For the longest time I was unable to give them a single thought beyond “it’s such an expensive paperweight” so I was absolutely thrilled to play with the new alienware M15 R7.
Alienware, much like the “gaming laptop” subcategory of computing itself, has always been a bit confusing to me. Flashy computers with well-understood design aesthetics (one of the best aesthetics in the world of gaming peripheralsif you ask me), retained by their heat trap computers (this is not an unpopular opinion).
But perhaps it’s when Alienware develops a laptop that the design becomes fully realized. After all, the two previously linked reviews focus on PC builds and not laptops, so to some extent we should approach this differently.
The Alienware M15 R7, an absolute behemoth of a battle station, with abundant RGB and performance. Here’s what I think.
Alienware M15 R7
WHAT IS THAT?
The latest ultra-powerful gaming laptop from Alienware, Dell’s gaming division.
$2,474 (RTX 3060), $3,399 (RTX 3070 Ti), $4,504 (RTX 3080 Ti)
Terrific gameplay, brilliant RGB and aesthetics, awesome performance.
High fan noise, high price.
First, thanks to Alienware for sending me this laptop for review. Normally, I wouldn’t thank a brand in a review, but the heartbreak I felt when the performance far exceeded my self-built gaming PC shouldn’t go unnoticed. So, you know, thanks for that.
The device I reviewed, although not the only Alienware M15 R7 available (you can adjust the specs when you order the device), packs an RTX 3080Ti GPU, 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700H processor (14 cores , 20 threads at 2.30 Ghz), 32 GB of RAM and a 1 TB NVMe hard drive. There is also a 2K display (2560 x 1440) with a refresh rate of 240 Hz.
On top of that, Alienware’s masterful approach to aesthetics is by no means missing. The laptop’s keyboard and interior are uncluttered, with well-spaced air vents in hexagonal shapes. There’s RGB inside and around the laptop, not done in bad taste either. In fact, let’s talk about the keyboard for a moment: it clicks. The keys click satisfyingly when you press the buttons, and the tactile feedback is very satisfying.
If you haven’t figured this out, all you need to know is that this is an extremely powerful computer. It goes around most computers.
Let’s talk about testing.
When I test laptops at Gizmodo Australia I use the benchmarking tool in Forza Horizon 5as it demonstrates a PC’s ability to support fast-paced gameplay with a giant open world featuring great graphics and plenty of objects in the area to render.
Here’s how the Alienware M15 R7 handled the test. Brilliant.
To put this into perspective, Microsoft Surface Studio we reviewed earlier this year (which packed an RTX 3060 and an Intel i7 11370-H CPU) only scored 55 FPS, recommending the game run on “High” to hit that framerate.
To be fair, the Surface Studio wasn’t primarily a gaming PC, but if we’re talking performance alone, the M15 R7 eats the Surface Studio for breakfast. It makes sense in every way, but gosh…that’s a lot of juice.
In gameplay, the reference holds up. Playing Surveillance (Average FPS on highest settings: 160) and Call of Duty: Vanguard (Average FPS on the highest settings: 145), I didn’t encounter any problems.
On processor and RAM, the laptop performed well in our Chrome tab test. I was able to open 49 simultaneous tabs of random YouTube videos and play them synchronously with only a few hiccups along the way (at tabs 28, 34, and for every tab after 38, the tabs took over five seconds to load. Tab 34 also included a black screen that refreshed after five seconds). At tab 50, Chrome encountered an error and did not load the video.
Additionally, in Cinebench, the laptop’s processor was an outperformer, scoring 1,752 points in the single-core test (first place) and 16,117 points in the multi-core test (fourth place).
The laptop also performed reasonably well in our battery test. Broadcast the entire Avengers: Endgame on battery, the laptop dipped to 77% in the first hour, 51% in the second, and 22% at the end. The Surface Studio outperforms the M15 R7 in this test, however, the Alienware machine packs much more powerful technology.
Just something to keep in mind about battery power: most games won’t run well until the machine is plugged in. I could barely get Forza Horizon 5 to crack 12 FPS without direct power.
Houston we got a problem
Something that doesn’t thrill me too much, however, is the noise this thing makes.
If the Microsoft Surface Studio was a jet engine (which I compared it to in this review), then the Alienware M15 R7 is a spaceship.
In daily use, I never noticed that the noise was bad. Using the laptop for a full day of work, the fans were barely noticeable unless there was no noise around you.
Switch the machine to a graphics-intensive game like Forza Horizon 5however, and you will hear the roar of a Saturn V rocket…in laptop form.
It’s not an appealing cry either. Sometimes a gaming PC will emit a monotonous fan sound which is nice and livable, but the sound of the Alienware M15 R7 going off on all CPUs makes me think the fan bearings are turning red.
I’m worried about the long-term life of this laptop. If you were to run the fans at 100% continuously, something would probably break after a while. If you didn’t run them, the computer would likely overheat and suffer thermal damage, and to be fair, the fans did a pretty good job of regulating the heat (I rarely saw the heat go above 80 degrees).
Too bad the laptop’s speakers, which are pretty decent, are drowned out by fans.
Maybe you should get used to headphones.
lights in the sky
On an Alienware computer, you control RGB, overclocking, and some of the gaming-focused performance stats through the “Alienware Command Center,” a flashy app that’s pretty deep in how it lets you customize lighting. exterior of the device.
Too bad he’s a bit difficult to tame. I’ve used many of these apps, including the Logitech G Hub (the one I’m most familiar with, as I’m a Logitech device user), the Corsair iCUE system, and the Gigabyte RGBFusion app, and while the level of customization is quite deep in the Alienware Command Center, it’s just a bit of a feel. For example, it is difficult to know whether certain settings have been activated, saved or can even be changed at first sight.
That being said, you’ll get used to it after a tutorial and a few tries. If you’re a potential Alienware user, I highly recommend tinkering with this app a bit.
What can you change, I hear you ask? Well, the alien head on the back, the alien head power button inside the laptop, the lighting array on the back and the lighting of each individual key.
Yes. Each key is an individual lighting zone. This means you can set each key to a separate color without having to split the colors into clumped areas.
Amazing, great, well done Dell. On a related note, I like how the power jack is tucked into the back of the device, freeing up the sides and not cluttering up your gaming space. Along with the charging port, you’ll find a USB-C, a USB-A port and an HDMI port. The right side has two USB-A ports and the left has an AUX port and an Ethernet port.
i want to believe
I’m less jaded by gaming laptops now. For a company like Alienware, focusing on how performance meets form factor in a laptop seems to have worked well and so I’m happy to say the Alienware M15 R7 is a great machine.
I just don’t know who would like it. Your average gamer, who would have their machine in one place for months, probably wouldn’t move it? Yes, it has the added benefit of being able to move it more easily, although that’s not the same as being able to play portable, as the machine requires mains power to run high spec games (like all gaming laptops). Plus, equal components on a self-built gaming PC would cost a lot less.
It’s for someone after a freak the computer. A task that probably won’t fail due to a lack of resources. One that’s optimized for graphics-intensive applications, like games and 3D design. One that can be taken between home and the office, lab, test center, or secret government facility in the Nevada desert.
For this I can say that while I would be happy to use the Alienware M15 R7 as my personal laptop, it is super over the top with a price tag to match.
Where can you buy the Alienware M15 R7?
Keep in mind that prices vary depending on the components included.
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