Alienware m15 (R2) assessment: Arms-on
It looks like solely final yr that Alienware completely revamped its m15 laptop computer design. Which is, uh, as a result of it was. And but right here we’re, not even 12 months later, with yet one more design for the m15 and its huge brother m17, this time taking design cues from the flagship Space-51m unveiled at CES.
Such a fast redesign is kind of a tacit admission from Alienware that final yr’s fashions weren’t too effectively obtained by followers, however we’re not complaining: the brand new fashions look slick and science fictional, together with up to date specs and cooling that ought to maintain them aggressive with some more and more stiff competitors.
It was sufficient to win the laptop computer one in all our Better of Computex awards – learn on to search out out why.
Value and availability
When Dell introduced the m15 and m17 at Computex it stated that the brand new laptops can be out there from 11 June with costs ranging from $1,499. That is for the US although, and proper now we do not know if the UK launch schedule can be comparable, or if there will be an extended wait.
That is a small soar up from the £1,599/$1,379 beginning value of the earlier m15, however broadly in line, so the UK can in all probability count on a value round £1,600.
Legendary seems to be
The massive modifications listed here are admittedly beauty, however that is underselling issues barely. January’s Space-51m launched the brand new Legend industrial design language to the corporate’s merchandise, and new m15 and m17 see that aesthetic soar from that mammoth laptop computer and down into these extra transportable kind components.
Final yr’s m15 was the corporate’s first try at shrinking its kind components and including some fashionable touches, however the sparse type and large bezels felt a bit like a midway home, lagging behind extra streamlined competitors from day one.
The brand new fashions go a great distance in direction of addressing that. The bezels are all however gone, with the practically edge-to-edge show sitting up barely from the principle physique because of a slick cut-out hinge. That lets it sit nearer to the keyboard, and never fairly behind the physique: as an alternative the rear ports stick out like a spaceship exhaust, in simply one of many many nods to basic sci-fi aesthetics.
The aesthetic continues to be pretty minimal, with huge blocks of strong black or white relying in your color selection (or ‘Darkish Aspect of the Moon’ and ‘Lunar Mild’, to make use of the official names) and comparatively delicate strips out RGB lighting across the exhaust, keyboard, and Alienware logos.
At round 20mm/zero.8in thick it isn’t fairly the slimmest gaming laptop computer round nevertheless it’s getting shut, and even the fully-specced out model caps out at 2.16kg/Four.75lbs – heavy, however actually not back-breaking. This can be a laptop computer that you just genuinely will not thoughts carting round with you, and the look is nearly adequately subtle that you just in all probability will not thoughts taking it out at work or a espresso store whenever you’re not utilizing it for precise gaming.
The keyboard’s gotten a bit of affection in all of this too. Regardless of the slimmed down physique Alienware has truly managed to extend key journey to 1.7mm, whereas additionally making every keycap bigger and introducing N-key rollover and per-key RGB lighting. The corporate has kind of been enjoying catch-up with the competitors right here, so none of those options are groundbreaking, nevertheless it’s nice to see them make it into the m15. Even the trackpad bought a little bit of consideration, with a brand new glass design that is imagined to be extra exact.
For all that focus it is paid to the surface of the design, Alienware naturally hasn’t ignored the internals – although there’s much less right here that stands out from the competitors.
Ninth-gen Intel chips sit on the coronary heart of issues, starting from a Four-core i5 as much as an Eight-core i9 that runs at as much as 5GHz. Graphics choices vary from a GTX 1650 as much as the RTX 2080 Max-Q, so you need to have the ability to push efficiency fairly far. Dynamic overclocking and voltage regulators also needs to enable you eke out additional energy as you go.
Storage ranges from 256GB all the best way as much as 4TB with twin SSDs, so there is not any have to run out of house, however RAM is surprisingly restricted, with solely the selection between 8GB and 16GB. 8GB frankly is not sufficient, and given how OTT the remainder of the specs go it is actually suprising that there is is not no less than a 32GB config out there – particularly since there is a 32GB possibility for the petite XPS 13 2-in-1 that Dell introduced on the similar occasion.
Final yr’s m15 had comparable potential efficiency, however the slim design appeared to trigger some airflow issues, so it ran fairly scorching. Issues ought to be improved this time round although – there are greater followers for each the CPU and GPU for a 20 % improve in airflow. Clearly we’ll want to check how effectively that holds up in actual utilization, however fingers crossed it ought to maintain issues a little bit cooler.
The largest inner modifications are in all probability within the show although. There are a couple of choices out there, however the two standout decisions are a full HD panel with a 240Hz refresh charge for silky smoothness, or a 4K OLED at 60Hz if decision and color vary are your priorities. Both of these prime shows additionally comes with Tobii eye-tracking tech – a primary for a 15in laptop computer apparently – supplying you with one other strategy to management your video games in case you so need.
Lastly, there’s the inevitably mammoth choice of ports. Three USB three.1, one USB-C Thunderbolt three, together with ethernet, audio, HDMI, and Alienware’s proprietary Graphics Amplifier Port if you wish to use the corporate’s eGPU system to amp up the facility much more.
Till we spend extra time with the m15, we will not actually decide how effectively it holds up – however on paper it has prime specs for the shape issue (apart from that pesky RAM cap) and a few severely tempting show choices. The one query mark is de facto how effectively the brand new cooling design manages the facility readily available.
From the surface although, there’s not a lot to complain about right here. These huge ol’ bezels are gone, the keyboard’s stepped up, and the Legend design seems to be lush. That is precisely what an Alienware laptop computer ought to appear to be in 2019 – let’s simply hope it delivers on the promise.