Alienware m15 Gaming Laptop Review

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Alienware offers several different configurations of the m15, ranging from $1,300 all the way up to $4,300. On the high end, you’ll get an Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU, two 1TB SSDs, an RTX 2080 (with Max-Q), and 32GB of memory. The low end of the m15 pricing scale gets you an Intel Core i5-8300H, a GTX 1060 Ti, 8GB of memory, and 1TB of hybrid storage

  • Model: Alienware m15 (P79F001)
  • Display: 15.6-inch OLED 60Hz UHD (3840×2160)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H at 2.2GHz (9M Cache, up to 4.10 GHz)
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q (8GB GDDR6)
  • Memory: 16GB DDR4
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
  • Webcam: 720p
  • Ports: 3 x USB 3.1, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x miniDisplayPort, 1 x Ethernet, 1 x Thunderbolt 3 port, 1 x Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port, 1 x audio port
  • Connectivity: 802.11ac 2×2, Bluetooth 5.0
  • Dimensions: 14.3 x 10.8 x 0.83-inches (WxDxH)
  • Weight: 4.76 pounds
  • Price (as configured): $2,779

Alienware m15 – Design and Features

The m15 is available in two different colors, epic silver or nebula red. I was sent epic silver, and outside of the laptop’s lid, the color you pick isn’t found anywhere else. The rest of the housing is black, with a soft matte black finish found on the sides and below the keyboard, with a glossy black finish above the keyboard and around the display. It is a mixture of subdued and shiny.

The trackpad is centered with the keyboard that boasts individually lit RGB keys. A number pad is also backlit, to the right of the standard keyboard. A backlit Alienware logo acts as the power button just below the display, as well as on the lid of the laptop. You can control the color of the logos in the Alienware Command Center, otherwise, it will match the color theme of the keyboard.

The m15 has ports on three different sides. The right side sports two USB 3.1 ports. On the opposite side, there’s an ethernet port, another USB 3.1 port with Powershare, and the headphone/mic jack. The rear of the m15 is home to an HDMI 2.0 port, a miniDisplayPort, a Thunderbolt 3/USB-C port, and Alienware’s proprietary Graphics Amplifier port (GAP).

The GAP is used to connect external GPU’s to the system, should you ever outgrow the build you purchase. It’s a way of future-proofing the system, but as I’ve complained about before, taking up space with a proprietary port when another Thunderbolt 3 port would suffice just doesn’t make sense. On the flip side of that, the Graphics Amplifier is only $229, making it one of the more affordable eGPUs on the market.

The 60Hz OLED display has a resolution of 3,840 x 2,160, and measures 15.6-inches. The official listing claims the display is anti-glare, but I experienced more glare on this display than any other laptop I’ve tested. Maybe that’s a side effect of the OLED display, but there was a lot of glare from overhead lights during my tests.

OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode and these displays are commonly found on most flagship smartphones. The iPhone XS and Samsung’s new Galaxy S10 both use OLED displays. The benefits of an OLED display include wider color range, improved contrast, deeper blacks, and lower power consumption.

The m15 is the thinnest laptop Alienware has ever produced, measuring 14.3 x 10.8 x 0.83-inches overall and weighing 4.78 pounds. On paper, it’s not the thinnest gaming laptop I’ve tested, nor the lightest, but it felt small and portable when toting it around my house and office. Carrying it around in a backpack shouldn’t be an issue.

Alienware m15 – Software

I spent a lot of time during my test period trying to get Alienware’s Command Center program to actually run. Back in January, and again with this test unit, every time I open Command Center, I’m greeted with an alert that there’s an update. Command Center begins downloading and installing the update on its own, and everything seems fine. Ultimately, the update either fails and I’m prompted to try again, or a message saying the installation was successful shows up, only for the entire process start over again the next time I launch Command Center.

The last time around, We was able to fix the issue by uninstalling Command Center and performing a clean install. I figured it was a one-off, random issue. But with this m15 doing the same exact thing, several months and updates later, it’s clear it’s a more prominent issue.

Command Center is what’s used to control the keyboard lighting, enable or disable various performance modes, and create system profiles that are triggered when you launch a specific game or app. When it works, that is.

The m15 is free of any anti-virus software, which is worthy of praise from Us

Outside of a handful of Alienware apps, like Command Center, there’s a tool to install system updates, another to connect your phone to the laptop, and the other standard system utilities.

Alienware m15 – Performance and Gaming

It’s best to view the m15 as a laptop with two different performance standards, based on the assigned screen resolution. As a gaming laptop with an FHD (1920×1080) resolution, this m15 and its 8th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, Nvidia Max-Q tuned RTX 2070, and 16GB of memory is very competitive. It’s when you try to take full advantage of the 3,840 x 2,160 display while gaming that you realize the true performance

Comparison

The 512GB SSD is more than enough space for the various benchmarking apps, games, and other miscellaneous programs I install on review devices. There’s actually room left over for some personal files. No matter the CPU and GPU configuration you settle on if you decide to go with the m15, don’t skimp on storage – get at least 512GB if you can afford it.

If not, you can remove the bottom and upgrade the SSD and RAM on your own down the road if needed.

Alienware m15 – Battery Life

The m15 powered through 221 minutes of a video on loop. That’s three hours and 41 minutes worth of constant video playing at 50-percent brightness, with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and any backlighting turned off. That’s more than double the battery performance of the Lenovo Y740, which came in at 87 minutes. It’s impressive that Alienware is able to pack that much battery power into a chassis that’s as thin as the m15.

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