Alienware M15 R3 Review: Extremely powerful, but could use more options

There are very few gaming laptops on the market right now that strike the perfect balance between insane high specs and portability. The Alienware M15 R3 from Dell seems to have hit the sweet spot between the two. It’s essentially an Area 51 after six months of cardio – it has a similar look and styling, but a much lighter body. So is there a catch? Find out in our review.

Alienware M15 R3 prices and variants

The R3 version of the Alienware M15 is very powerful with the processors of the Comet Lake H series of the 10th generation from Intel and is available in three variants. The base configuration, priced at Rs. 2,64,590, consists of an Intel Core i7-10750H, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 GPU, a 4K OLED display, 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of SSD storage. The top variant I received for this test goes one step further with a Core i9-10980HK CPU, 32 GB RAM and a GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max Q GPU and costs Rs. 3,39,990.

Alienware M15 R3 design and build quality

The Alienware M15 R3 is very well built. The outer shell and the keyboard deck are made of a magnesium alloy to keep the weight low and at the same time ensure a solid build quality. It feels soft, but it doesn’t feel like soft-touch plastic. It’s resistant to fingerprints, smudges, and scratches, which is very important to the Cheetos-devouring gaming audience this laptop is made for. However, you can assume that sooner or later it will discolor as it is only available in white or, as Alienware calls it, Lunar Light.

Interestingly, the laptop doesn’t have a sharp corner anywhere. This, along with the grippy texture, makes it relatively portable, and you can carry it around relatively easily, though it’s not that light at 2.5kg.

Main watermarked image Alienware m15 r3

The outer shell and the keyboard deck of the Alienware M15 R3 are made of a magnesium alloy.

Like most other gaming laptops, it’s loaded with RGB lighting everywhere. You’ll find RGB LEDs around the rear vent, in the Alienware logo on the lid, and of course on the keyboard, all of which can be customized via the proprietary app, which we’re about to access. While LED lighting is not for everyone, I like this look.

The display and the keyboard deck are very flexible, which in turn is due to the choice of materials.

Connectivity options for Alienware M15 R3

In terms of I / O, on the left side of the laptop you’ll find a USB 3.2 port (the only one with power), an Ethernet port, and a 3.5mm multifunction jack. On the right side you will find two more USB 3.2 ports without power release and a microSD card slot. On the back there are chargers, mini-DisplayPort, HDMI and a Thunderbolt 3-compatible Type-C port, as well as Alienware’s proprietary graphics amplifier port.

rear port Alienware m15 r3 ports

Connectivity options and RGB lighting on the back of the Alienware M15 R3

Alienware M15 R3 display and sound

My variant was equipped with a 15.6-inch OLED display with a resolution of 3840 x 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 beautiful. It’s also HDR500 certified, which means you get local dimming and up to 400 nits of brightness. However, this isn’t ideal for gaming as it doesn’t have a high screen refresh rate. It also has a glossy finish; Not just the display, but the edges around the display, so you may have trouble fighting the glare when using this laptop in bright environments. However, if you want to watch movies, you cannot beat this panel.

The speakers are decent, if not great. This time they fire from the front, as opposed to the M15 R2’s bottom-firing set. They have good bass and midrange, so you should hear gunshots clearly in a game, but the high frequencies are somewhat lacking.

Alienware M15 R3 performance

Thanks to these ultra-modern, uncompromising specs in the top-end version of this laptop, I’ve always had really good gaming performance. Every game I threw at it, difficult or easy, ran smoothly at high settings. Even ray traced titles ran relatively easily at 4K.

Warzone with activated ray tracing function in the ultra preset at 4K ran consistently at around 55 fps, while at 1080p I saw 65 fps. Shadow of the Tomb Raider ran at an average of 75 fps, ray tracing and DLSS at 1080p. When it’s set to 4K it can manage 51 fps which is playable. Far Cry 5 at 4K ran at 43 fps, with graphics on the highest preset.

Slightly less heavy titles like Horizon Zero Dawn ran with an average of 71 fps at 1080p and high graphics settings.

If you play games with the quieter fan modes, you will notice some thermal throttling.

Temperature 1

Alienware M15 R3 runs hot while gaming.

I tried this with Horizon Zero Dawn which ran at 40 fps with quiet fan mode enabled, while watching 65 fps at higher fan speeds. This was at 1080p with the “High Graphics” preset. It wasn’t uncommon for CPU temperatures to climb to 80-90 ° C on games like Far Cry 5 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. This laptop has a tendency to run very toasted even with the fans on high, but hey, at least the games run smoothly.

In terms of synthetic benchmarks, PCMark 10 achieved scores of 5,349 and 6,413, respectively, in its standard and extended runs. Cinebench R20 achieved 3,065 and 460 points in its multi-core and single-core tests. POVRay finished its benchmark run in 1 minute and 32 seconds.

The graphics benchmark performance of Nvidia GeForce 2080 MaxQ is a beast. 3DMark’s Time Spy and Time Spy Extreme scores were 7,349 and 3,494, respectively, while the Port Royal test scored 4,931.

In normal non-gaming use, I was surprised to find regular stuttering while navigating between tasks when the fans were set to run quietly. The laptop can get hot easily even if it is not loaded with heavy apps.

Alienware M15 R3 software

Some Dell utilities such as Alienware Command Center and Mobile Connect are preinstalled on the Alienware M15 R3. Command Center lets you tweak things like lighting, fan speed, and CPU and GPU frequency and voltage. It is very complex and you can also save profiles for certain games. I found it intuitive to use and you will find that you use it more often than you might think.

The laptop also comes with Tobii eye tracking hardware and software, which is supported by some recent titles. It works wonderfully, especially in games like F1 2020 where you can focus on a specific corner while completing a round. It also works in the Windows user interface, which means you can control certain elements of the operating system, such as the B. multitask, and even move the cursor with just your eyes. This felt a little unnatural at first, but I recorded it faster than expected, and when I returned to my own laptop, the lack of eye gestures really annoyed me.

Alienware M15 R3 keyboard and trackpad

This is the area that impressed me more than the raw performance. Some high-end gaming laptops try to market customers with a half-baked mechanical keyboard, but not this one. It has a fantastic membrane keyboard with slightly flat travel and satisfactory feedback. It is not loud and has a reasonable distance. The keys are very slightly concave and are exactly the size I love. I know it’s a very subjective thing, but it’s done very well.

The trackpad is great too – it’s precise and has a very nice texture. More importantly, unlike many other gaming laptops, it’s not an afterthought. It’s an integral part of the package. That gets a cook’s kiss from me.

Alienware M15 R3 battery life

The Alienware M15 R3 comes with an 86 Wh battery. The huge power adapter weighs around 800g, which can make the entire package too heavy to carry around in a bag. Whether testing with synthetic batteries or real performance, this laptop can last a few hours at most, which is not ideal. The Battery Eater Pro test ended in just 1 hour and 15 minutes, and it takes approximately two hours to charge the device from zero. This can be attributed to the power hungry configuration, so it’s fine for people who are okay with getting them AC power most of the time. They also have an LED light around the charging port – nice touch.

Charger Alienware m15 r3

The charging port of the Alienware M15 R3 has an LED ring.