The Alienware m15 is an absolute performance monster. During the trial period, there was no task that the gaming laptop could not handle. Photo editing, current PC games on the highest settings or video editing – all no problem for the notebook. But if you take a look at the built-in hardware of our review unit, you should not be surprised.
The Intel Core i7-8750H not only provides a brisk pace of work but is also suitable as a gaming CPU thanks to the relatively high boost clock of up to 3.9 GHz. Paired with the GTX 1070 in Max-Q design and the almost absurd memory size of 32 GB, the Alienware m15 cuts a fine figure even with current titles such as Apex Legends, Hitman 2 or Far Cry 5 and ensures smooth frame rates, even beyond the magical 60 FPS. The special laptop GPU is not as strong as a normal GTX 1070. However, those who are willing to downsize the settings a bit, or mainly games like Rocket League, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends or playing, can fully enjoy the benefits of the 144-Hz display.
Thanks to its lightweight of just 2.2 kilograms and the compact design, the laptop are also suitable for mobile use, provided that it has a battery life of just over 3.5 hours a day. Keyboard and touchpad make a fantastic impression and left almost nothing to be desired during the test. Especially the good pressure points and the clean processing of both controls left a lasting impression on me.
But does that justify a price of more than 2,000 euros? That’s a question everyone has to answer for themselves. Although gaming notebooks are now gaining in popularity, Alienware with such powerful features is still the undisputed top dog in the division. Although most gaming laptops from other manufacturers get much cheaper, they do not offer a 1 TB PCIe SSD or 32 GB RAM. The Alienware m15 leaves in the package almost nothing to be desired and shows the competition, despite some weaknesses, what a modern gaming laptop can and should do so.
Alienware m15 under test: set up and commissioning
Within 20 seconds, the gaming laptop has fully booted up and can be used. Particularly pleasing: disturbing bloatware, which robs me of the storage space and the last nerve, I could not find on the test device. Top!
The outer shell of the laptop is made of a light metal alloy, which ensures a high-quality look. If you open the screen lid is greeted by a palm rest with rubber coating, an RGB keyboard, and the 15.6-inch display. While Alienware has a matte appearance at the bottom, the speakers and screen are covered with glossy covers. The look of the gaming laptop leaves a fantastic first impression. Although optics is an important purchase criterion for many potential customers, another area is clearly more important: gaming performance.
Alienware m15 in the test: A really hot part
While I was still on a mix between medium and high settings in the test of the cheaper Medion Erazer X6805, in order to achieve the highest possible performance, I pushed the Alienware m15 all controls to “high” or “Ultra”. All tests were performed in a resolution of 1080p, scaling of the resolution did not occur in any of the titles. The following games were tested: Hitman 2, Apex Legends, Far Cry 5, Fortnite Battle Royale, DOOM 2016, Monster Hunter World, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, PlayerUnknowns Battle Grounds, Metro Last Light Redux and Rise of the Tomb Raider :
|game||graphics settings||Ø pictures per second|
|Far Cry 5||High||80-85|
|Fortnite Battle Royal||Epic||90-100|
|DOOM 2016||Ultra||150-250 (depending on the situation)|
|Monster Hunter World||High / Ultra||55-60|
|Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (Death on Dust2 with bots)||High||170-190|
|Metro Last Light Redux||Ultra||75-90|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||High||75-85|
Despite the high graphics settings, many games could benefit from the Alienware m15’s 144 Hz panel, albeit not fully exploited. In almost all games, however, the processor of the laptop quickly reached its thermal limits. Despite the numerous fan outlets on the sides and the back, the i7-8750H purposely drove to the critical 100 degree Celsius after a few minutes of under load. After that, the CPU was throttled by the system. Instead of the original boost clock of around 3.9 GHz, the laptop processor now only worked with a maximum of 3.1 GHz.
However, this did not cause a real slowdown. Even then, the temperatures fluctuated between 80 and 90 degrees Celsius. Despite the throttling of the processor clock, there were no significant performance losses or even micro-snarls. Even over a period of several hours under load, gaming performance remained stable in network operation.
I was a bit scared of the extreme temperatures anyway. Especially since the waste heat is not only delivered via the fan, but also the chassis. If you like to park your laptop while lying on its legs, you should not be surprised if your limbs glow after a long zoo session.
Under load, the cooling solution of the Alienware m15 also became a real noise annoyance – not only for me but also for the people in my immediate environment. The fans not only provide for a light airport atmosphere but in some situations give a high-frequency buzzing. Wearing a headset or headset is essential when playing. This is also due to the built-in speakers. These lack of rich bass and level. The stereo drivers never really get loud. But there is no sound distortion or noise at maximum volume.
Alienware m15 in the test: For working (almost) perfect
Although the 144 Hz screen shows its full potential, especially in games, the higher refresh rate also has a positive effect during a normal working day. Much faster and more accurately you can control icons and buttons with the cursor. The combination of a potent laptop processor and fast PCIe SSD will open programs quickly, and with a whopping 32GB of memory, performance will remain stable with dozens of Chrome tabs open simultaneously and numerous applications running in the background. During desktop operation, the notebook also remains pleasantly quiet.
The performance of the gaming laptop is completely sufficient to make easily image and video editing. Again, video producers will appreciate the extra RAM. The same applies to the pleasantly lightweight of 2.2 kilograms. Although the Alienware m15 is still heavier than any Ultrabook, they do not offer such a high performance. An absolute no-go, however, is the lack of SD card slot dar. Here you have to help out with a corresponding adapter.
Thanks to the – for a gaming laptop – discreet look, the notebook can also be taken to the office without mocking glances from colleagues to reap. Even the lighting of the Alienware logo on the back can be deactivated by software. In addition, the dimensions are pleasantly compact despite the powerful hardware – so the device will find enough space in almost any backpack.
But even users who write professionally or privately a lot on their mobile computer will have fun with the laptop. The individual keys of the chiclet keyboard have a pleasant size and good pressure points. Within minutes, writing on the RGB keyboard felt very natural. There were hardly any typos or wrong entries afterward. Only the vertical arrow keys could have been a bit bigger. The same applies to the number pad on the right side. This looks a bit squeezed compared to the rest of the keyboard. But somewhere you have to make compromises when building a compact gaming laptop.
Also, the operation of the touchpad worked fine. Thanks to the slightly rubberized surface, my finger always has enough grip and also the left and right mouse clicks always resulted in pleasant feedback. The slightly decentralized placement of the touchpad did not bother me once during the entire trial period.
The webcam delivers solid work but tends to strong noise in the absence of lighting. Even with fast movements, there are no dips in the frame rate. Top! However, you can not say that about the recording quality of the microphone. Once the fans turn up, it’s hard to make out other sounds in the video, and even in optimal conditions, voices sound very thin and characterless. There is still a lot of room for improvement here.
Alienware m15 in the test: battery life and mobile gaming performance
In battery mode, the Alienware m15 comes in our practice test (surfing, office work and simultaneously watch a video) on the battery life of just over 3.5 hours. For a complete day is not enough. If you want to use the laptop regularly while on the move, you should also have the charging cable with you or use the 90 Wh model instead of the standard 60 Wh battery.
If you want to play even on battery power, you have a little less than 45 minutes of maximum brightness before the laptop’s screen turns off. If full performance could be obtained during this period, that would be a very respectable result. However, with no power supply connected, the clock speed of the CPU is reduced to a maximum of 2.2 GHz, and the GTX 1070 also switches to power-saving mode. This ensures an overachieving performance in all games.
Especially curious: During my tests in battery mode, I noticed that I could achieve more than 30 FPS in any game. Is there a software hardlock here? We asked Dell, but we did not receive an answer by the time the test was released. Should the company provide an opinion, we will supplement it.
Alienware m15 under test: good to know
- If you buy the laptop from Dell’s own website, you can tailor the hardware to your own needs. In addition to the usual memory and RAM up or Downgrades, in the configurator and the battery, the WLAN / Bluetooth module and even the display can be replaced.
Alienware m15 under test: technical data at a glance
|Display||15,6 Zoll Full-HD-IPS-Panel @ 144 Hz|
|processor||Intel Core i7-8750H (6 cores, 12 threads, maximum boost clock 3.9 GHz)|
|graphic card||Nvidia GTX 1070 Max-Q with 8 GB video memory|
|Storage||512 GB PCIe SSD + 512 GB PCIe SSD|
|random access memory||32 GB DDR4 RAM @ 2.666 MHz (2 deadbolt installed)|
|battery pack||60 Wh, 3.5-5 hours of battery life while surfing and streaming,|
|operating system||Windows 10 Home 64-bit|
|price||2,200 euros (comparable model with RTX 2060)|
The Alienware m15 is an absolute performance monster. During the trial period, there was no task that the gaming laptop could not handle. Photo editing, current PC games on the highest settings or video editing - all no problem for the notebook. But if you take a look at the built-in hardware of our review unit, you should not be surprised.
- Display: A Full HD screen with a refresh rate of 144 Hz? Alienware really has not gotten riot here. Thanks to the IPS panel, the colors are very crisp and colourfast.
- Build quality : No cracking, no creaking and a beautiful look - if you look over the Alienware m15, you will notice that manufacturers have made no compromises not only in hardware, but also in the processing and choice of materials.
- Performance: At no time did I have the feeling that the laptop would run out of steam. Thanks to the two PCIe SSDs, the response times of programs and the time to start up the laptop are very low.
- Design: Beauty is known to be in the eye of the beholder, but the Nebula Red variant has optically knocked me off the stool. Alienware has managed to create a perfect balance between understated elegance and a classic gaming laptop. Only the classic alien logo seems somehow out of place.
- Keyboard: The individual keys of the RGB chiclet keyboard have very good pressure points and a pleasant spacing.
- Noise: You can not call it anything else. Under full load, the Alienware m15 turns into a real foliage blower and gets very loud.
- Heat Generation : Although the fans turn up properly under load, they do not manage to effectively cool the laptop's CPU. The result: the notebook gets warmer and warmer over time.
- Battery Life: The Achilles heel of every gaming laptop. The battery life of the Alienware m15 is in the standard version with just over 3.5 hours quite poor.
- Missing SD card slot: With so much power under the hood, the laptop offers itself almost automatically as a mobile cutting calculator. Still, photographers and cameramen search in vain for an SD card slot. Too bad.
- Alienware Command Center: The software that can adjust the lighting and macros on the RGB keyboard is an absolute horror. This is mainly due to the confusing user interface.
Workmanship, feel and design
Video and audio
Connectivity and memory
Battery and everyday life