Alienware m15 R2 Review: Beautiful OLED, Beastly Performance

Alienware m15 R2: Summary and Conclusions

Simply put, Alienware's m15 R2 is a beautiful machine inside and out. For starters, the 4K OLED display the company blessed our review unit with is nothing short of outstanding. Because of its OLED array, dark colors are dark, light colors are bright, and all of the above colors are nice and saturated. The result is a sight to behold while gaming or just watching a YouTube video or browsing the internet. We really like the OLED display option on the m15 R2. While it'd be nice if the company offered a version with a lower resolution and a higher refresh rate, we're hard-pressed to find fault with what the m15 R2 has. 

m15 r2 desktop 2

To go along with that high-tech panel, the exterior feels premium and and the build quality is excellent. Pair with that a good port selection, a very nice RGB-backlit keyboard, and a functional trackpad, and you've got all the makings of a premium-looking machine. There's enough USB ports to go around, the Thunderbolt 3 port adds a degree of future-proofing, and the dedicated slot for a Alienware's Graphics Amplifier ensures that you can get even more performance out of this system while it's sitting docked at a desk if you so choose.

It's not like the company skimped on the innards, though. A 9th-generation Intel Core i7-9750H had plenty of horsepower for gaming and productivity tasks alike, and 16 GB of memory is plenty for playing the latest games and doing all but the most hardcore of productivity tasks. We wish we could upgrade the RAM later on, but cramming all this power into a 15" chassis means a tradeoff somewhere, and Alienware chose to go with soldered memory instead of SO-DIMMs. We found that the system's NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q design has plenty of horsepower to drive the latest games with all the eye candy turned on, too. And the cooling system was more than up to the task of extended sessions. Overall, the Alienware m15 R2 was the fastest 15" notebook we've ever tested. 

m15 r2 rear
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If the m15 R2 stumbled anywhere at all, it's in our battery tests, but every system with high-powered hardware will use plenty of juice. The m15 R2 has a larger-than-average 76-Wh battery, and as a result it turned in some very respectable results among its gaming notebook brethren. You can forget about gaming for extended periods without the power brick, though, since NVIDIA's battery saver torpedoed performance pretty hard. For gaming purposes, the battery is more of a backup uninterruptible power supply good for saving your progress than game extender, but that's expected for all the hardware that the system packs inside. When up against systems with comparable performance, the Alienware notebook lasted the longest of just about all of them. Ray tracing performance in Control was problematic as well, but frame rates were high enough and smooth so the game was still enjoyable, even if it wasn't perfectly smooth. 

Gaming in Style

Gamers in the market for a notebook are usually tight on space or on the road an awful lot. These systems often have compromises and caveats that desktops don't have while carrying price tags much higher than a big beefy tower with similar hardware does. On the other hand, notebooks save a lot of space, tuck nicely into a backpack, and perhaps more importantly have the occasional feature a desktop can't match. Such is the case with Alienware's m15 R2 and its gorgeous 4K OLED display. There's nothing quite like that display on the market for desktops, and in person the panel was beautiful. 

gears 5 m15 r2

That said, these advantages do carry a price tag. While the m15 R2 starts at an affordable $1,299 with a Core i5-9300H, a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, 8 GB of memory, and a 256 M.2 SSD, the base system lacks the 4K OLED panel of our test unit, and upgrades add up. Our test unit rings in at $2,659, but it adds a ton of value with a much better CPU and GPU, double the memory and solid-state storage, and then throws in Tobii's eye tracking technology and the much nicer display panel. There are also plenty of steps in between, including some attractive 1080p panels with high refresh rates. Just about every gaming notebook shopper is bound to find something to like in Alienware's newest gaming notebook.

m15 r2 rear ports

Thanks to all of that extra-fast hardware, the Alienware m15 R2 turns in the best performance we've seen in a 15" notebook. The system's good looks, excellent performance, and gorgeous display option make for an extremely attractive package, too. If you're in the market for a well-endowed notebook to take to your dorm or your next LAN party, this Alienware notebook should be on your short list of systems to check out. For that reason, we bestow upon the m15 R2 Hot Hardware's Approved award.
approved hh
  • Excellent gaming performance at 15"
  • Outstanding 4K OLED display
  • Pleasant RGB-backlit keyboard
  • Interesting Tobii eye tracking tech
  • Expandable with spare M.2 slot and Alienware Graphics port
  • Good battery life outside of games
  • Minimal bloatware
  • Pricey after optional add-ons
  • Not enough battery power for gaming
  • No SODIMM memory, soldered to the board

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