Alienware 13 R3 Review: OLED, GeForce 10 Pop And Performance

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Alienware 13 R3 Battery Life, Thermals And Acoustics

In the following benchmarks we employ two very different battery life tests -- Battery Eater Pro and a custom 1080p HD video loop test -- to prove out battery life with our test group of machines and the Alienware 13. In all tests, Windows 10 Quiet Hours have been enabled and displays are calibrated with lux meters on pure white screens to as close to 115 lux as possible. For the average notebook this is somewhere between a 45 - 60% brightness setting.

Since notebook displays significantly affect power consumption and battery life, it's important to ensure a level playing field with respect to brightness of the display for battery testing. However, since many notebook displays vary in brightness at each respective brightness setting in Windows, this calibration with the meter is also critical to ensure all displays are set to as near identical brightness as possible before testing.

Battery Life Testing
Heavy-Duty Workload And Light-Duty Battery Life Performance Tests
Battery Eater works all subsystems including processor, graphics, memory and storage in its efforts to exhaust a battery as soon as possible. We have lots of legacy comparison data on this test, so we have a wider swath of numbers to compare to.

The custom HD video loop test, however, is relatively new for us here, so we're still compiling reference numbers from a variety of different systems and notebook products.

Aw13 Battery Eater Pro 2

AW 13 Battery Life Video Loop

If you were to ask us to place bets on the previous generation Alienware 13, with its smaller 62 Whr battery but identical OLED display, we would have taken the 76 Whr battery-equipped new Alienware 13 R3 all day long. However, that just didn't prove to be the case. In our HD video loop test, the new AW13 R3 came up 40+ minutes short on battery life versus the previous generation and offered half the uptime in our heavy load Battery Eater test. And so, on second thought, the beefier battery on-board the Alienware 13 R3 isn't enough to power it past a lower-end configuration of the previous generation machine. To be fair, however, the previous generation Alienware 13 we tested has a dual-core Core i7-6500U processor and 8GB of 1600MHz RAM, versus this current gen's quad-core Core i7-6700HQ CPU with 16GB of 2400MHz RAM. Neither of these two tests, however, tax the substantially more powerful GTX 1060 GPU inside the R3 variant of the machine, instead both run on integrated graphics. So in reality, the chips probably fell about where they should have with respect to battery life. Dial back the horsepower on the machine config you go with, and you'll undoubtedly realize better battery life performance with the new Alienware 13. 

Acoustics and Heat:
On the acoustical side of the equation, the new Alienware 13 R3 is actually a very well-controlled and trained little beast of a machine. At idle on the desktop, or when running light duty workloads like our HD video loop test above, or web browsing, the machine is dead silent. Like stick your ear up to the edge of the laptop and see if you can hear a fan spinning kind of quiet. We were impressed by this since, when not gaming, the machine is so subdued. Thermally, it's tame as well under these workloads as well. However, kick the machine into a cutting-edge game engine and it ratchets its fans up a notch or three to be sure.

Under a gaming workload the Alienware 13 R3 is audible and radiates a fair bit of heat from its rear exhaust ports (air intake is on the bottom of the machine), but not in either aspect, is it thermally or acoustically offensive. For a machine that is VR capable and this powerful, the new Alienware 13 puts out about as much noise and heat as the average top-end gaming laptop. You're not going to cook your lap with this machine or drive your roommates out of the house with a racket while gaming, but you'll know for sure its cranked up and grinding pixels for you.

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