Alienware has been a major manufacturer of gaming laptops for the past two decades and the company continues to impress with it’s latest offerings. Recently I was able to get my hands on the Alienware 15.
Our test unit rocked the top-end i7-7820HK CPU, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q graphics processor. The memory consisted of two 16 GB DDR4 2400 Mhz SODIMMs, resulting in a total RAM of 32 GB, and the storage was composed of two drives. A Toshiba XG4 1TB NVMe based SSD and a Hitachi 1TB HDD.
Alienware’s laptops have always boasted the looks and features of enthusiast gaming machines. The Alienware 15 is no exception. A backlit keyboard and trackpad, RGB light-channels that run along both the ends, and last but not the least the emblazoned Alienware logo are more than enough to catch any gamer’s attention.
It features a 15″ Full HD 1080p TN panel with a refresh rate of 120 Hz, and NVIDIA G-Sync support. While the high refresh rate and inclusion of G-Sync are both welcome additions, the viewing angles are rather poor and the colors begin to wash out at the smallest angles.
Moving onto the dimensions, the Alienware 15 measures 15.3 x 12 inches and is an inch thick when closed. Not the lightest notebook, but certainly one of the most powerful. Aesthetically the laptop has a very pleasing built, thanks to the fancy lighting and the high-quality plastic. However, just like many others have complained, the hinge at the back is a major annoyance.
It not only looks ugly, but also makes it difficult to manage the laptop in cramped spaces. The power, HDMI, USB-C and ethernet ports are all located on the hinge, making it painfully hard to use the power connector in tight spaces, for example, while traveling on an airplane. The power cable’s lead protrudes another inch or so, and it’s nearly impossible to place the laptop close to a wall. The reasoning behind the big hinge is the placement of fan vents at the back of the laptop instead of the bottom to improve the thermals, although from what I’ve seen it hasn’t had any major impact.
Alienware 15: Gaming Performance
Since most of you guys are probably more interested in seeing how the Alienware 15 holds up in the latest games, we’ll directly jump into the gaming benchmarks instead of the boring synthetic ones. We tested the most intensive titles and were more than pleased with the results.
All the games (except KCD) were able to achieve well over 60 FPS at the absolute max settings. With a few minor tweaks, even Kingdom Come was able to run at sustained 60 FPS. In fact, we’ll go as far as to say that this laptop should be able to run most games at ultra settings for the next couple of years. At present, it can even render games at 1440p with a mixture of high-ultra settings. So, as far as sheer processing power is concerned, the Alienware 15 is an absolute beast.
Alienware 15: Battery Life and Noise
Most high-end gaming laptops suffer from a mediocre battery life. The Alienware 15 also shares that affliction. We conducted multiple tests to gauge the battery-life of the Alienware under different scenarios.
The idle and non-intensive loads like WiFi surfing and video playback went easy on the battery, but when under full load the Alienware chewed through the battery in a mere two hours. Nothing too surprising, but I was hoping for it to last at least another hour.
The game used to test the battery-life was Deus Ex: Mankind Divided which is quite brutal on the GPU, and less intensive games should probably stretch the battery-life by at another 20-40 minutes. As for the other loads, the WiFi browsing was done using MS Edge and VLC was used to play an H.264 video file.
For the most part, the Alienware 15 runs quietly without making too much noise, but prolonged use heats up the base to the point that keeping it on your lap may result in heat-burns. However, the fans are barely audible even during the most extended playing sessions.
Alienware 15: Verdict
The Alienware 15 may look like a fancy back-lit star-destroyer, but when you compare it to other laptops in it’s performance bracket like the MSI GT75VR (10 lbs) or even the Razer Blade Pro (7.94 lbs), it’s relatively lighter at 7.6 pounds. In terms of performance it lies in between the two. The MSI heavy-weight may be marginally faster, but you’ll have to start working out if you really want to lug it around on your back. Looking at the prices too, the Alienware offers the best bang for your buck, starting at just $1399, while the MSI GT75VR and the Razer Blade Pro are priced no less than $1999.
The Alienware 15 is loaded with premium features. Tobii eye-tracking, back-lit keyboard and trackpad, a big fat NVMe drive, NVIDIA G-Sync and high refresh rates for the most buttery smooth performance. This makes the Alienware 15 the ideal companion for the enthusiast gamer on-the-road.