The Dell Alienware 15 R4 is a high-end gaming laptop that comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor and 16GB of RAM. It offers a great gaming experience, thanks to its powerful hardware and its large display. However, it is quite expensive, and it doesn’t have great battery life.
Read our following article to know if you should buy this laptop or not?
Dell Alienware 15 R4 Review
- The new GeForce GTX 3070 GPU can ray trace at 60fps
- Its laptop class has a long battery life
- Standing out in aesthetic
- 4K OLED display, very attractive.
- 1TB SSD storage
- There are many useful ports
- You can customize the keyboard and the chassis lighting.
- Gaming on a 60Hz 4K Display is a difficult choice
- This GPU is not capable of achieving 60fps at 4K, even with ray-tracing enabled.
- Display: 15.6 inches FHD (1920×1080) IPS (60Hz), G-Sync
- CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
- Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 1070 (8GB DDR5)
- Memory: 16GB DDR4-2400MHz
- SSD: 256GB PCIe m.2
- HDD: 1TB 7,200-rpm
- Networking: Killer 1435 802.11ac, 2×2 WiFi, Ethernet Jack
- Video Ports: HDMI, Mini DisplayPort
- USB Ports: USB 3.0, USB Type-C, Thunderbolt 3
- Audio: 2.0 Speaker configuration, headphone jack, microphone jack
- Camera: FHD webcam
- Battery: Optional 99Whr or 68Whr standard
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
- Dimensions (WxDxH: 15.3×12.0x1.0 inches
- Weight: 7.8 pounds
A blackout never looked so good. Alienware added another color to the mix. The optional Epic Black has replaced the Epic Silver paint on the anodized aluminum lid. For 13, the company added additional lighting zones to its laptop. The sizeable alien head provides only lighting on the top at the center, similar to the Alienware 15’s predecessor. You can find the rest of the customizable lighting shown along the sides of the lid or keyboard deck.
It has a 15.6-inch display at 1080p. However, you will notice the large bezel. This is a vast laptop, even for gaming laptop standards. The keyboard is traditional in style and has customizable lighting. The touchpad and the power button are also equipped with RGB lighting. There are 13 options for custom lighting. You can type on the deck with a soft-touch, comfortable material.
On the right side, there is a single USB 3.0 port. On the left, you will find a USB Type C, another USB 3.0 Port, headphone and microphone ports, as well as a Noble lock slot. Moving the hinge forward from its original position on the back of the laptop makes it more accessible for ports such as an Ethernet jack and mini DisplayPort. It also allows Thunderbolt 3 output, Thunderbolt 3, and proprietary graphics amplifier ports.
The Alienware weighs 7.8 pounds and measures 15.3x12x1 inches. This makes it heavier than other products. The Razer Blade 15, (4.6 x 9.3 x 0.7 inch) and MSI GS65Stealth Thin (4.2 x 14.1 x 9.8 x 0.7 inch) are smaller by comparison. MicroCenter’s PowerSpec1510 is lighter and smaller than the Razer Blade 15 (6.5 x 15.3x 10.8x 1.3 inches), but not as much.
3. Touchpad and keyboard
Some gaming laptops have full mechanical keyboards, but the Alienware M15 R4 has a simple membrane design. The keys feel good with a short travel time, quick actuation, and a rapid return. Although I was happy to return to the full-size mechanical model of the m15 R4 after testing it, the keyboard was extremely comfortable as I was using it.
The keys are a bit cramped, and substitution errors were more frequent than I would like. There is a lot of bezel space around the keyboard. This makes me wonder if the keys could have been spaced out more or if there might have been a few programable keys. The four-zone RGB options were a pleasant surprise. They sent a subtle rainbow wave across my keyboards as I typed. Alienware software allows you to change the colors or disable the RGB altogether.
The touchpad of the m15R4 is, however, the most highly rated gaming laptop touchpad I have ever praised: “pretty good.” It was also very comfortable to use, even with my hands resting on it as I typed. It is designed to track purposeful movements and avoid any errant palm inputs. While I recommend a mouse, especially for gaming, I wish that more laptop touchpads could be like the m15R4’s.
4. Audio and display
We reviewed the Alienware M15 R4 with a 4K screen at 60 Hz. You can also order it with a 1080p screen at 300 Hz if you want higher frame rates. Although I cannot comment on the screen at 1080p, I can tell you that the 4K screen has a bright and rich color palette. This is not surprising, considering it’s an OLED screen.
It offers an average brightness of 460 nits, making the screen feel overwhelming at night. Contrast the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with 323 nits and the Acer Predator Helios300 with 276 nits. The first thing I did after setting up the m15 R4 was to lower the brightness. Now I know why.
The m15 R4 can display 211% of the sRGB color spectrum with a 0.32 delta-E accuracy. This is a very high score. The G14 scored 117% in the sRGB gamut, while the Helios 300 only managed 106%. It doesn’t matter what you put on the m15 R4 screen. It will probably look stunning.
Qualitatively, I find only a few issues problematic, but none that are major. The screen is reflective and can be seen from a distance, especially if the window is facing you, which I often do. This issue is not easily fixed. You can either wear dark clothing or change your position. The webcam produces blurry, washed-out images at 720p. It feels underpowered considering the laptop’s other powerful hardware.
A secondary Tobii webcam is required to view the 4K screen. I didn’t find any use for it. It’s impossible to discuss the pros and cons of eye-tracking in streaming and gaming. However, I think it’s not too controversial to state that the number who want it is likely lower than those who want it.
Although the built-in speakers of the m15 R4 are handy, I never had much time to use them. The fan blows out loud air streams almost continuously at the default settings, even when you’re working on productivity tasks. I had to increase the volume to hear music, TV shows, and video games. The speakers can easily distort the sound. It is common to say that you should get a gaming headset when talking about gaming laptops.
Gaming performance is the Alienware M15 R4’s forte. The machine can run at 1080p and can even run at 4K when the graphical settings are turned up to full. You can only get 4K/60fps if you reduce a lot of secondary graphic scenes. However, I don’t know of any laptops that could.
Glitchmind tested the m15 R4 with Assassin’s creed Valhalla (70 fps @ 1080p and 35 fps At 4K), Grand Theft Auto V (1080p) and Red Dead Redemption 2 (128 fps; 27 fps each at 4K), Shadow of the Tomb Raider (77) and 1080p (33.3 fps respectively at 4K). Only Red Dead Redemption 2 delivered a comfortable 4K experience. You can always get a QHD resolution.
This is compared to the Zephyrus G14 equipped with an Nvidia GeForce RTX2060. GTAV scored 115 fps on 1080p, while Shadow of the Tomb Raider earned 49 fps on 1080p. The 2060-equipped Helios 300 also scored 55 fps for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at 1080p (the Odyssey/Valhalla benchmarks were comparable) and 81 fps for GTAV at 1080p. The G14 and Helios 300 did not have 4K displays. This gives the m15R4 an advantage over its competitors.
Qualitatively, I had similar results with Age of Empires III Definitive Edition and Doom Eternal. Also, Control and Final Fantasy XIV. The 4K screen is set at 60 Hz, so I didn’t worry about the frame rate. The games ran well even on Ultra settings, except for Control with ray-tracing enabled. The frame rate dropped to the 20s, and I had to choose between QHD resolution or stunning lighting effects. You’ll want to select one of the more expensive m15 R4 configurations if you need a ray tracing at 4K resolution.
The m15 R4’s powerful hardware meant that I wasn’t surprised it ran flawlessly when I was playing games, no matter if I was exploring cities in Eorzea or building Dutch armies in New World. The thing that impressed me most was the richness of the colors, especially in Doom Eternal’s rocky red landscapes. OLED screens support a vibrant, beautiful palette (remember: 211% sRGB spectrum). No other medium does this as well as gaming.
The Geekbench score for artificial benchmarks was 7,636 for the m15R4. This is relatively high in a vacuum. However, we have not yet tested the laptop on other gaming computers. Compare and contrast the Geekbench score of the m15 R4 with 30,043. This score is only a fraction of the G14 Zephyrus’ 30,181 points, but it’s still surprising that a more powerful, newer machine would get a lower score.
Alienware Suite of Software is also worth mentioning. It allows you to set fan, lighting, and performance profiles for different games and apps. It can keep your system current and connect you to customer support representatives. It’s an essential piece of software and works much better than the Alienware R11 desktop. However, after installing all the necessary hardware updates, I no longer needed them.
The heat management of the Alienware M15 R4 is one of my main complaints. It’s okay in terms of raw temperatures. I rarely saw my GPU reach 60 degrees Celsius. The touchpad is around 81°F while running productivity software. The keyboard rarely exceeds 96°F, which is just a little above our 95-degree comfort threshold.
The keyboard can heat up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit while gaming. This can cause problems if your fingers rest on the keyboard between actions. Although the touchpad doesn’t get too hot, I don’t know of many gamers who use a touchpad.
The problem is that while the fan does a great job cooling the system, it makes constant, loud noise. While testing the machine, my domestic partner was sitting beside me at our dining table. She asked me why her papers were getting blown around. The fan was loud enough to drown out the music and Netflix audio tracks. It was only after I found the Alienware fan profile for “Quiet” that I was able to restore some peace to my apartment.
A loud fan is the better option when it comes down to gaming laptops. A GPU overheating is much more dangerous than excessive noise. The m15 R4 is a loud gaming laptop, even by modern standards. Its default settings do not achieve a good balance between temperature and noise.
7. Battery life
The Alienware M15 R4’s battery life is its biggest weakness. Although the general battery test, which involves surfing the Web in Microsoft Edge continuously, rated the m15R4 at four hours and one minute, I could not achieve anything even with Microsoft Word or Google Chrome. The laptop only had two hours of battery life with a moderate brightness setting and stable Internet connectivity.
According to lab tests, gaming can make the situation worse at one hour and fourteen minutes. I was able to get about 45 minutes of practice. Although it’s better than nothing, the m15 R4 isn’t a great companion for long trips unless you are seated near a power source.
It is easy to upgrade the RAM and storage of the Alienware 15 R4. All you need is a Phillips drill and a plastic ruler for some prying. You will need to take out six screws, all the same length, and then loosen the last one to release the cover from the bottom.
The RAM in our review unit was one 16GB stick with an additional slot to expand up to 32GB. If you require more storage, you will find a place to add another PCIe SSD.
To remove the hard drive, you will need first to remove the cover. Next, remove four screws of a different size.
Clear, vibrant images are provided by the 1080p webcam located in Alienware’s top bezel. I took a picture of me that was clear and precise, even when there was too much light. My navy shirt and navy headphones looked the same in real life. I could even pick out individual hairs on mine.
10. Software and warranty
Only a handful of utilities are included on the Alienware by Dell, but they are most helpful. Alienware Command Center is the most prominent. It serves as both a library for your games and a console to control all the computer’s RGB lighting. It also shows the CPU and GPU performance.
Alienware Mobile Connect allows you to connect your smartphone and send text messages. You can also mirror your Android phone with Android. The Killer Control Center will enable you to prioritize which apps and games have access to your capacity. McAfee Security comes preinstalled.
11. Gaming, Graphics, and VR
It’s not true that the Alienware 15 has middle child syndrome. This is especially true when it packs an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU and 8GB of VRAM. I was having a great time exploring Velen in Witcher 3. When I got into trouble with a giant bear. I used a very successful battle strategy consisting of dodges and sword strikes, as well as fire spells, at 64 frames per second on Ultra settings at 1920×1080.
The laptop performed just as well on other benchmarks. On Rising of the Tomb Raider, the Alienware 15 produced 72 frames per second at Very High at 1080p. This was well above the 58 fps average premium gaming laptop. The Stealth Thin, Zephyrus, and their respective Nvidia GeForce GTX1070 Max-Q GPUs scored 44 and 53, respectively. The PowerSpec 1510 with its GTX 1070 full-featured GPU scored 56. The Blade, with its 1070 Max-Q graphics card, managed 77 fps.
The Alienware 15 achieved 92 fps when we switched to the Hitman benchmark. This beats the category average of 86 fps. At 88 fps, the Zephyrus came in a close second. The Blade, Stealth Thin, and PowerSpec1510 achieved 82 fps, respectively, while PowerSpec 1510 was at 79 fps.
The Alienware 15 achieved 74 frames per second during the Grand Theft Auto V testing. This was just a few frames below the average of 76 frames per second. It was still able to surpass the Zephyrus (70fps), Blade (66.6fps), Stealth Thin (61/61fps), and PowerSpec 1510 (60fps).
With a frame rate of just 82 fps, the Alienware 15 barely missed the benchmark of 84 fps in Middle-Earth Shadow of War with an average of 83 fps. This was enough to surpass Blade’s score at 68 fps.
You can use any virtual reality headset you like, as the Alienware15 quickly passed the SteamVR test at 11 (matching the PowerSpec 1510) and beating the 10.2 average. With scores of 10.9 and 10, respectively, the Stealth Thin, Blade, and Zephyrus were not far behind.
Overall – Should you buy it?
This is a great gaming laptop that I would recommend. This laptop will outperform the most powerful gaming computers. By reducing the number of component choices, you can compensate for the Alienware premium and the new-component tip to achieve the same performance.
The RTX 3070 feels excellent, especially considering that the laptop doesn’t claim 4K gaming. It is still a powerful machine at 1080p. However, I would be cautious about powering it through a 4K gaming monitor. It feels that it outgrows the 1080p screen. A 1440p resolution screen would be a better price and performance option unless you plug it into one of the best gaming monitors or best portable monitors. It doesn’t, and it is still a 1080p gaming laptop configuration.
The starting price for Alienware laptops is $1800. There are already deals and price reductions. Although the RTX3070 laptop’s price is just above $2k, it will still require a little more investment. It doesn’t feel as powerful or impressive as the Alienware models.
Although you won’t get the GDDR6X RAM that the 3080 has over the 3080, you still get all the Ampere architecture features and bonuses. The 3070 is by far my favorite card, and this configuration shows why. The combination of the 30 series laptops and the rumored 1440p screens is what I want to see – that should be a sweet spot for gaming. This laptop is excellent for gaming, and it’s fast enough to run 1080p at 1080p.