Alienware M15 Gaming Laptop Review
While unboxing Alienware m15 gaming laptop, I didn’t expect that it is going to be a total game-changer. Even while opening wires and protective coverings, I wasn’t paying attention to the details and was completely unaware of its capabilities.
The moment it ﬁrst clicked to me that this is something totally different was when I powered it on. The 4k OLED display that appeared was something that was beyond remarkable, and I knew that LCDs are no match in front of this screen. The display, however, was not the only thing I would look in a gaming setup. It is obvious that I would play games on it rather than just viewing movies and pictures. And for gaming, system performance is absolutely crucial. With further interaction, I realized that the screen not only required money but good performance as well.
Alienware offers different builds, and on the basis, the initial ones are slightly expensive, but the extreme ones can get quite expensive.
According to the build, the high priced ones have:
- Intel Core i9-8950 HK CPU
- 2 1TB SSDs
- RTX 2080 having Max-Q
- A memory of 33 GB.
In comparison, the ones having lower cost have:
- Intel i5-8300H
- GTX 1060 TI
- Memory of 8GB
- Hybrid storage of 1TB.
The model we tested costed an average of highest and lowest cost. The speciﬁcations offered were the following:
- Model: Alienware m15 (P79F001)
- Display: 15.6-inch OLED 60Hz UHD (3840×2160)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H at 2.2GHz (9M Cache, up to 4.10 GHz)
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q (8GB GDDR6)
- Memory: 16GB DDR4
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- Storage: 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
- Webcam: 720p
- Ports: 3 USB 3.1 ports, 1 HDMI 2.0 port, 1 mini-DisplayPort, 1 Ethernet port, 1 Thunderbolt 3 port, 1 Graphics Amplifier Port, 1 audio port
- Connectivity: 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth 5.0
- Dimensions: 14.3 x 10.8 x 0.83-inches (WxDxH)
- Weight: 4.76 pounds
Design and features of Alienware m15
The design comes in epic silver or nebula red. Ours was epic silver. The color you chose isn’t seen anywhere else besides the laptop’s lid. The base color is black, which makes up the rest of the laptop. The sides and keyboard’s base have a ﬁnishing of soft matte, whereas, the keyboard and borders of the display, have a glossy appearance. The combination of a shiny and soft color scheme creates an overall pleasing look. The model we tested costed an average of highest and lowest cost.
The trackpad is aligned in the center with the keyboard, and each key has its own RGB lighting. On the right of the keyboard, there is a number pad, which has lighting at back as well. On the lid of the laptop and below the display, the Alienware logo is seen. The default color of the logo is according to the keyboard colors. However, it can be changed using Alienware Command Center.
The ports are of m15 are located at three places- the right, the left, and the rear. Two USB 3.1 ports can be seen on the right side. Ethernet, power share, headphone/mic jacks along with another USB 3.1 port are on the left side. The rear hosts 2.0 port of HDMI, 3/USB-C thunderbolt port, mini display port, and Alienware’s graphics ampliﬁers port (GAP).
To connect external GPUs for upgrading the system, the GAP comes handy. This way, the system can be upgraded in the future to meet the new standards. However, I feel that with already the presence of Thunderbolt 3 port, there was no need to add an additional proprietary port. A compatible GPU is Alienware’s ampliﬁer, which is available at a lesser rate than other available eGPUs.
With a high resolution of 3840 × 2160, the 60 Hz OLED display is 15.6 inches in size. Though it is listed as having an antiglare screen, I still felt a lot of glare by the surrounding lights. The glare was quite a lot as compared to other laptops, but OLEDs can be a possible reason for it.
The OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) are a feature of the famous smartphones like the iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy s10. Some of its benefits are:
- Color range visible is higher
- Greater intensity of black color
- Consumption of power is lesser
- The contrast offered is high
Out of all Alienware laptops, the m15 is very thin. It weighs 4.78 pounds and has a size of 14.3×10.8 × 0.83 inches. Though it might not be the lightest or thinnest, still it’s quite light and portable to be carried around, and with a backpack, the portability becomes more feasible.
The software of Alienware M15
Making the Alienware Command Center work was actually a task. Be it my past experience, or the current one, there is always an available update that has some issues. The download and installation process starts itself by the command center and seems normal. However, the update either fails or asks me to retry. Even when the update is successful, opening the command center next time means going through this updating process all over again.
Previously, uninstallation and a fresh install resolved the issue, and I assumed it to be one time minor issue. Repetition of the same issue in m15 after months now proves me wrong, and it’s evident that this issue needs some work.
The command center controls the following, if it works:
- Controlling keyboards lightening
- Enabling/disenabling performance modes
- Setting up system proﬁles on the start of a particular game or apps
I appreciate the fact that the system doesn’t have any anti-virus software.
Besides some Command Center and other Alienware apps, there are tools for the installation of updates for the system, phone and laptop connection tools, along with the general utilities of the system.
Performance and gaming experience Alienware m15
The testing done was based on two seperate criteria of screen resolution, and accordingly, the performance varied. The laptop is quite competitive due to the following:
- 1920 × 1080 resolution which is Full HD resolution
- 8th generation CPU of intel core i7
- Nvidia Max-Q tuned at RTX of 2070
- A memory of 16GB.
Gaming while using the maximum potential of 3840×2160 display makes you experience the real performance hit that the laptop can have.
Like always, Benchmarking tests were done at full HD resolution. Previously, another RTX 2070 that I tested was Lenovo legion Y740, which has a similar conﬁgiuration. And in comparison to it, m15 deﬁnitely exceeded expectations in all regards.
From my assumption, I can say that maybe the performance differs in the system due to the difference in the tuning of RTX 2070 with Max-Q. The speed boosted to about 1,185 MHz by tuning Y740 to 855MHz. Whereas Alienware’s have a boost by 20% meets the benchmark score when respective tuning to 1080 MHz and 1305 MHz.
For the testing purpose, ﬁrst frame rates were observed at the resolution of 1080p. Some of the games I played were: Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Battleﬁeld V. Even with high graphic settings, the frames rate stayed between 120-130 frames while playing Apex legends. At epic settings, the frame rate was a bit low in Fortnite, with an average between 110-120. RTX offers real-time ray tracing, which enhances the graphics and makes it realistic. Amongst all games I have, only Battleﬁeld V supported ray tracing. Even with high DXR, the frame rate stayed between 75-80. In this matter, both Lenovo y740 and m15 had a similar performance.
After the FHD tests, the resolution was increased to UHD to experience all its display features. Before launching each game, I searched and found whether each game is supported in high resolution or not.
With the UHD settings, the frame rate became half of the value at 1080p, giving an FPS of 65 in Apex Legends. Fortnite at epic settings showed only 33% of FPS at 1090p, or 40 FPS. However, setting graphics to high increased FPS to 110. For Battleﬁeld V, settings were DXR ultra, and there was a 50% reduction in frame rate, making it only 34 FPS. However, switching to medium graphic settings converted the frame rate to 47 FPS.
In short availing, the full potential of high-resolution 4k OLED display requires a compromise on the FPS rate as it almost becomes half. According to each game, the graphic settings should be adjusted to the point where quality and frame rate seems good enough for you. Alternatively, you can do gaming at 1080p.
Despite all of it, the gaming experience was splendid. Octane’s vest and accessories appeared vivid, and the graphic was fabulous, which made playing Apex Legends a pure delight. The OLED experience is unmatchable, and I wish it existed in other gaming laptops as well.
From my observation, the systems heat up a lot. One-third of vents, resembling honeycombs, and the top left side got extremely hot, to the point where it was getting uncomfortable to keep the ﬁnger on the keyboard for more than two seconds. Even at full speeds, the fans didn’t succeed in eradicating the heat. The fans, as compared to other laptops, were really noisy, and to cancel the noise, speakers had to be turned up drastically, which was irritating.
Despite my liking of island styled keyboards, I found M15’s keyboard a bit hard to handle. Relocating the keys was a task, and key presses had low feedback.
M15 offers an SSD of 512 GB, which quite easily supports the games, benchmarking tests, and other programs installed to check performance. Even space for personal files remains. Whatever conﬁguration of CPU or GPU you choose, the most important thing is to have at least 512GB of storage in m15, if it is affordable. Even if later you feel like upgrading to a higher SSD and RAM, it is quite easy to remove them and upgrade them on your own.
The battery life of Alienware m15
On the laptop, a video of 221 minutes was played nonstop with Bluetooth, backlighting, and wiﬁ turned off and with a brightness of 50%. This 3 hr and 41 minutes of battery life is almost double as compared to Lenovo Y740, which has 87 minutes of battery life. Incorporating so much battery power in such a thin structure is something quite remarkable.
Be it design or the OLED equipped display, Alienware m15 excels in both of them. Though the performance is not the best, gaming can be done at high resolution. The software has some bugs, but in terms of hardware, the laptop is amazing.