Alienware m15 Review: Thin, Light, Dense, Deadly

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Alienware m15 Review - A New Dell Alien Race Is Spawned

The gaming laptop market is one of one of the largest and most diverse segments of the PC industry, with systems ranging in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Dell's Alienware gaming machines typically lean towards the higher-end of the price spectrum, with premium build quality and strong component configurations, like the Alienware m15 that we're looking at here today. Dell's Alienware gaming division has re-tooled this machine as well, almost from the ground-up, while still preserving its classic Alienware design signature. The new Alienware m15 ranges in price from $1,379.99 up to just under $4,000, if you want to go for broke. Our exact test unit is well-equipped, but sits at a more palatable $2,499.99 with a crispy 4K display and a beefy dual NVMe SSD setup.

No question about it, the Alienware m15 we're looking at here is unapologetic and bad to the bone.

Alienware m15 gaming laptop review

The $1,379.99 base model of the Alienware m15 comes equipped with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H 6-core processor that can turbo as high as 4.1GHz depending on workload. The CPU's low-power Intel HD Graphics 630 IGP is employed to render most graphics workloads other than games, though the base model Alienare m15 also has an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 to drive gaming over a 60Hz 1080p display. Memory is a tad constrained in this model, consisting of just a single 8GB DDR4 2,666MHz SO-DIMM, and it's got a conventional SATA-III SSD for storage.

However, the Alienware m15 model we received is a bit more decked-out. Take a quick video tour of the machine with us, then we'll dig into the particulars in detail...


Dell Alienware m15 Gaming Laptop
Specifications & Features
Processor Options 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H Six Core (9MB Cache, 2.2GHz to 4.1GHz)
Display
15.6-inch UHD (3840x2160) IPS (Non-Touch) 60Hz
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 630
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q (8GB GDDR5)
Memory
16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 2666MHz 19-19-19-43-2T
Storage
2 x 512GB Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
Audio 2 x Stereo Speakers
Ethernet Gigabit LAN (RJ-45)
Wireless Connectivity
Killer Wirless 1550 (802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0)
Interface (Left)
Noble Lock Port, RJ-45 LAN, USB 3.1 Type-A, Combo Audio Out
Interface (Right)
2 x USB 3.1 Type-A
Interface (Back) HDMI 2.0, Mini-DisplayPort 1.3, Thunderbolt 3, Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port, DC-In Port
Webcam
Alienware FHD Camera
Operating System
Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
Battery 90WHr Battery
Dimensions 14.3 x 10.8 x 0.83 inches (W x D x H)
Weight
4.78 lbs
Manufacturer Warranty
1 Years Parts and Labor Limited 
Pricing $2,499.99 Current MSRP At Dell.com

Alienware m15 back lid open

Stepping up to the model that we tested gets you a lot of extra firepower. The graphics processor gets upgraded to a significantly more powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU that has 8GB of GDDR5 memory. The Max-Q variant of the GeForce GTX 1070 is slightly slower than the non-Max-Q version, but it has been optimized for increased energy efficiency, along with Alienware's custom thermal solution.

Alienware m15 full shot

As configured by Dell, our test unit also has two 8GB DDR4 SO-DIMMs giving us a total of 16GB RAM operating in a dual-channel configuration. This memory operates at 2,666MHz with timings of 19-19-19-43-2T. The SSDs are similarly acceptable, but perhaps not standout. Our test unit has two Toshiba XG5 drives that can read data at speeds up to 2,700MB/s and write at 1,050MB/s. A quick look at our SSD shopping guide will show you that these are good value drives but there are faster SSDs on the market, though likely more expensive. Our Alienware m15 model also has a larger 90W battery, but this larger battery extends into the space allocated for the system's 2.5" drive bay, which will prevent you from adding a 2.5" drive for more storage down the road. Though again there are actually two M.2 slots in this system that you can populate as well.

Among the more impressive features of this system are its high-quality 4K IPS display and a metal chassis. Although the m15 isn't particularly light, it's also not that heavy for a gaming laptop. According to Dell, the m15 is 14% thinner and 20% lighter than its 13-inch older sibling, the Alienware 13, as well as much thinner and 38% lighter than the previous gen Alienware 15 model. 

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