There are very few gaming laptops on the market that find the perfect balance between crazy high specifications and portability. Dell Alienware M15 R3 seems to have hit the Sweet Spot in between. This is basically a 51 zone after six months of Cardio-it has a similar look and style, but in a much lighter body. So, is there a catch? Find out in our Test.
Alienware M15 R3 design and quality build
The Alienware M15 R3 is very good. The outer shell and keyboard are made of magnesium alloy to keep the weight low while ensuring a solid build quality. It is soft to the touch, but does not look like soft to the touch plastic. It is resistant to fingerprints, stains and scratches, which is very important for the Cheetos-eating gaming audience that this laptop is intended for. However, you can expect it to change color sooner or after, since it is only available in white or, as Alienware calls it, moonlight.
Interestingly, the laptop has nowhere a single sharp corner. This, as well as the grippy texture make it relatively portable, and you can carry it with relative ease, even if it is not so light at 2.5 kg.
Like most other gaming laptops, it is loaded with RGB lighting everywhere. You will find RGB LEDs around the rear vent, in the Alienware Logo on the lid and, of course, on the keyboard, all customizable through the proprietary application that we come to right away. Although LED lighting is not for everyone, I dig this look.
Alienware M15 R3 Connectivity Options
As for I/O, on the left side of the laptop you will find a USB 3.2 port (the only one powered), an Ethernet port and a 3.5 mm multifunction socket. On the right side you will find two more USB 3.2 ports without power and a microSD card slot. On the rear panel are powered ports, Mini DisplayPort, HDMI and a Thunderbolt 3 compatible type-C port, as well as Alienware’s proprietary graphics amplifier connector.
Alienware M15 R3 Display and Sound
My Variant came with a 15.6-inch OLED display with a resolution of 3840×2160 and a refresh rate of 60 fps. Since it has this 4K resolution and OLED Technology, the colors are vivid and almost everything looks gorgeous. It is also HDR500 certified, which means you get local dimming and up to 400 nits of brightness. However, this is not ideal for games, since there is no high screen update rate. It also has a glossy finish; Not only the screen, but also the edges around it, so you might have a hard time action glare if you want to use this laptop in bright environments. However, if you want to watch movies, you can not beat this panel.
The speakers are decent, but not great. They film at the front this time, unlike the low-firing set of the M15 R2. They have good bass and midrange playback, so you should be able to hear the shots clearly in a game, but you miss the high frequencies a bit.
Alienware M15 R3 Performance
Thanks to these bleeding and uncompromising specs in the high-end version of this laptop, I got really good gaming performance all the time. Every game I threw on it, heavy or light, went smoothly at high settings. Even ray tracing tracks worked relatively easily in 4K.
Warzone with ray tracing enabled on the Ultra preset at 4K was constant at about 55 fps, while I could see 65 fps at 1080p. Shadow of the Tomb Raider ran on average at 75fps with Ray Tracing and DLSS enabled at 1080p. If angled on 4K, it could handle 51fps, which is playable. Far Cry 5 at 4K ran 43fps, with high-Level Graphics.
Slightly less heavy titles like Horizon Zero Dawn averaged 71fps at 1080p with high graphics settings.
If you play games with the silent fan modes selected in terms of thermal performance, you will notice a thermal limitation.
I tried this with Horizon Zero Dawn, which ran at 40 fps when silent fan mode was on, whereas I watched 65 fps at higher fan speeds. It was at 1080p with the high graphics setting. It was not uncommon for the CPU temperature to rise to 80-90° C in games like Far Cry 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This laptop tends to run very toasty, even if the fans are set to high, but hey, at least the games work fine.
In terms of Synthetic Benchmarks, PCMark scored 10 points in its Standard Tests and Cinebench R20 achieved 3,065 and 460 points in its Multi-Core and Single-Core Tests. POVRay finished his benchmark race in 1 Minute 32 seconds.
When it comes to graphics performance, the Nvidia GeForce 2080 MaxQ GPU is a beast. 3DMark’s Time Spy and Time Spy Extreme values were 7,349 and 7,349, respectively.
With regular use of non-game, I was surprised to see periodic stutters when navigating between tasks when the fans had to run silently. The laptop works a little hot, even if it is not loaded with heavy applications.