Alienware does not need any introductions whatsoever. The gaming subsidiary of Dell, Alienware, started most trends in gaming laptops that you see today. It has one of the most powerful laptops available today, focused purely on performance. Of course, with that performance, you also get the Alienware aesthetics, something the company has been famous for.
You might remember Alienware’s Area51 Threadripper edition that would rip any task you throw at it. It had a workstation CPU with one of the most powerful GPUs in it. But Alienware is also notorious for one more thing, being extensively expensive. Specifically, their laptops start off at $1500 and can go up to $4500.
But the price is justified in our opinion. After all, the laptops have some of the best specs in the gaming laptop market. And the newest models not only perform well, but they look the part. They have the signature Alienware look to them, with a spaceship-like design that looks ready to depart.
Right now, the company is selling 3 models of laptops. There are version differences as well, the older ones are packed with older 9th Generation CPUs. The newer ones have 10th Generation Intel Core i7 and Core i9 CPUs in them.
Alienware does not cap your laptops at all, they are always performing at their peak. That is why Alienware has been notorious for its thermals.
But all of their laptops are packed with high-end components that are meant to do one thing, gaming. Not just ordinary gaming, but gaming at ultra graphics settings.
Before we review the best Alienware laptops in the market, let us go through a small buyer’s guide.
Buyer’s Guide for Best Alienware Laptops
So whether it is Alienware or any other brand of laptops, all of them follow basic principles. They all have their limitations when it comes to thermals, battery life, and performance. The performance aspect depends on a few factors, like the specifications. Lastly, we have displays and aesthetics.
Alienware excels in performance and aesthetics, as these laptops are top of their tier and look amazing. The dimensions and weight is also something to weigh in (no pun intended) your decision when choosing one of these laptops. After all, laptops are meant to have great portability.
From our understanding, Alienware has very little regard for thermals. The reason behind it is that they do not cap their laptops in any way. For instance, Razer has performance caps to keep thermals stable, but it does so for a reason. Because Razer laptops are very thin and light gaming laptops.
Meanwhile, Alienware focuses heavily on performance and excels at beating competition when it comes to it. But the laptops can get pretty toasty, you might hit thermal limits on the CPU under stress.
But that does not mean that the laptops are poorly designed in thermal aspects. They have a good airflow design, they also have a vapor chamber cooling mechanism in one of their high-end models. But you can only crank your laptop performance so much before hitting thermal limitations.
Although all of these laptops pack some heavy batteries, due to having high-end specs the battery life is short. Alienware has never been the one to boast about battery life. But if you are conscious about battery life then a few changes here and there might help you preserve it better.
For instance, if you choose an OLED 4K display, you are deliberately asking for shorter battery life. Since 4K displays take a lot of battery life, it is better to stick to a 1080p display instead. You can also turn the RGB off for saving more battery.
Currently, only the m15 gaming laptop by Alienware has an OLED display. Other laptops do have UHD display options, but you do not get OLED. You can also find 144Hz 9ms FHD panel options along with a 300Hz 3ms display option. So you have a variety when it comes to the display panels.
But the choice is ultimately yours, gaming does not require an OLED display or 4K. It requires a faster refresh rate panel and FHD is more than enough for a laptop in our opinion.
And if you are buying an Alienware laptop, we bet you are buying it for gaming. Unless you do want to use the laptop as for editing tasks, then an OLED display will serve the best for that purpose. Since you are getting true to life colors with OLED displays.
So the m15 by Alienware might be the only laptop that might have any semblance of portability. Otherwise, the other two variants are 17-inches and are beefy as they come.
The beefiness is for a good reason as well, they pack some really powerful specs and cooling solutions. The Area51M R2 is actually a portable desktop that features full desktop components with upgradability options for the future. So you can imagine how thick it will be.
Both the M17 and Area51M have vapor chamber cooling and beefy fans to keep thermals as low as they can. So that takes a toll on the size and weight of the laptop. You will barely be able to take it around with you and you might need some big bags to fit these laptops.
Best Alienware Laptops For Gaming
The m15 is the only laptop from Alienware to have a 4K OLED display. But that is not why we chose it as the best laptop, it is balanced in terms of performance and it is also very thin.
All of the Alienware laptops have some of the best gamer aesthetics we have seen on any laptops in the market. A white magnesium alloy body, which is rigid and very durable, gives the laptop a beautiful yet very advanced feel.
The magnesium alloy also ensures that there is minimal flex throughout the laptop wherever you press on it. The white chassis looks amazing as well as it is strong.
The rear of the laptop looks like the front end of a spaceship with that RGB edge, very Alienware-like look. The RGB is so beautiful, its actually mesmerizing to just look at the laptop. This is what a gamer’s dreams are made of, to be honest.
The RGB can actually be turned off if you feel that it is too flashy for the moment. But if I owned this laptop, I would love to flex that beautiful look and RGB as much as possible. Who wouldn’t after spending so much
The r3 has significant upgrades compared to the previous generation r2 of the m15 by Alienware. You have more memory, in the last generation, you could only get 16GB of RAM soldered on the board.
The speakers have also been upgraded, the sound is amazing thanks to having front-facing speakers along with the bottom ones. The front-facing speakers deliver crisp and clear high and lows.
It just increases the in-game perception of enemy locations and footsteps. If you are someone who does not like wearing headphones while gaming, Alienware seems to have you covered.
If that does not color you impressed, we have 4K OLED for those who might want to use this laptop for editing purposes. With true-to-life colors, you will have the most accurate editing experience ever.
But for gaming, we would suggest a higher frame rate, something like a 300Hz refresh rate 3ms response time FHD display. If you are a little short on budget, you can switch to the 144Hz FHD display instead.
A higher refresh rate gives you a competitive advantage in FPS games. Tech enthusiasts and channels have proved that higher refresh rates give FPS gamers a huge advantage.
For CPU we have the latest 10th Generation Core i7 and Core i9 options. The Core i7-10750H option is what we had for review, it has 6-cores, 12-threads with clock speeds as high as 5.0GHz.
The other option is the i9-10980HK is an 8-core beast with 16-threads with clock speeds of 5.30GHz. This will easily shred any game and task you throw at it.
In the GPU section, we have a huge array of options, starting off from the AMD Radeon RX 5500M 4GB. But that is the only GPU from AMD you will be getting, from there on it is NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti, RTX 2060, RTX 2070, RTX 2070 Super, RTX 2080 Super Max-Q.
The laptop starts at $1500 and the highest config goes for around $4000 on Dell’s Official website.
Area51m is basically a desktop in a laptop body. Forget about carrying it around though, this thing can be heavy. Also, it is powered by 2 power bricks!
So if we are talking about performance, there are not many laptops out there with this much horsepower. The only other laptop we can think of is the desktop replacement ROG Mothership. That laptop also has desktop components, but because of its odd design, we feel that Alienware has a slight upper hand.
The thermals on this laptop are not bad either, if you crank the fans to the max, you are looking at decent thermals at full performance. But it can get significantly louder, so better get some noise-isolation headphones.
This is more of a desktop replacement due to its heavy size and lack of portability. The Area51m R2 falls in the 17-inch category, which in itself makes it less portable. But having desktop components and a beefy cooling solution to cool down those desktop components just makes it even heavier.
The magnesium alloy chassis seems to be doing its magic here as well. There is virtually no flex throughout the body of this laptop. We really love the new Alienware look, the RGB is just as amazing as the m15 r3.
There aren’t many desktop replacements out there that can match this laptop. We really appreciate what Alienware has done with the Area51m R2.
This laptop requires around 600W of power to perform to its max capacity. Depending on the variant you choose, you will get a 330W dc adapter that can run the laptop at light loads but caps its performance. There is also either a 180W or a 240W additional power adapter depending on your configuration.
You will need to plug in both power adapters if you want to see the best this laptop can do. But carrying the whole setup around can be a pain. Because let’s face it, portability was already out of the window with the laptop’s size and weight itself. Carrying around two power bricks is just ridiculous.
For display, you have a UHD display at 60Hz and an FHD display at 300Hz. As we said earlier, if you are planning on gaming on this laptop a higher refresh rate laptop is more beneficial.
In CPU you have the option to choose between a Core-i7 and Core-i9, both of them K variants which are unlocked. So you have overclockable desktop CPUs available on this laptop.
The Core i7-10700K is an 8-core, 16-thread CPU that can boost up to 5.10GHz and beyond. If that was not enough to impress you, the i9-10900K option is a 10-core, 20-thread monster that absolutely crushes. It can clock up to a 5.30GHz to destroy any game you play on it.
For GPU we have a desktop GPU which is quite different, as it is not a complete desktop variant either. You are getting an RTX 2070 Super desktop variant or an RTX 2080 Super.
The GPU thermals seem to be more stable than the CPU. Seems like the Hyper-efficient voltage regulation and vapor-chamber cooling seem to be doing their job well.
So this laptop is upgradeable. By that we mean you can install a 10th Generation CPU in this if you want to. Or if Intel does not change the chipset for 11th Gen CPUs then maybe it might support an 11th Gen CPU too. But that is holding hopes too high for Intel, it never does what you expect it to do.
For some financial reasons you install a Core i7-10700K in the laptop initially, but later on, you save enough to buy a Core i9-10900K, you can replace it with that. The GPU is also upgradeable according to Alienware, and so is the memory and storage.
So in terms of upgradeability, this desktop replacement is way better than the ROG Mothership.
Lastly the price, so this laptop, at its highest specifications costs around $4800. This is significantly less than the ASUS ROG Mothership which costs around $6500.
If you want something in the 17-inch category that won’t weigh you down, the m17 r3 is what you are looking for. It has more screen real estate and way lighter than the Area51M R2 desktop replacement.
We have said before that the 17-inch form factor in laptops is already going towards less portable. But at least the m17 R3 does not weigh a ton and does not require two heavy power bricks to power it up.
With the same legendary scheme just like the past two versions, having that magnesium alloy build, it is pretty sturdy. We felt no flex whatsoever in the build.
So one thing common in all of their laptops is their excellent keyboard and trackpad. In this generation of laptops, including m15 R3 and Area51M R2, they have increased travel in the keys of the keyboard. This makes them excellent for typing, but that is hardly what you would be doing on your Alienware.
But just in case it is great to have a good keyboard if you plan on working on your laptop for a bit. The trackpad is glass with Microsoft precision drivers, it is a bit on the small side compared to what we get on Razer. But still a great, smooth, and accurate tracking with the glass trackpad.
Also, the body of these laptops has somewhat of a tendency to pick up fingerprints. The m17 R3 is no different, but it is way better than the last generation as well, so does not require cleaning as often.
Let’s go into specifics of the m17 R3, you have a 17.3″ 144Hz display with 72% NTSC color gamut. Not as great as what you might get on the other two laptops in terms of display. There isn’t a higher refresh rate or UHD option in the 17-inch variant. Seems like Alienware does not have the same amount of love for the m17 r3.
Jokes aside, we feel that that is because Alienware is trying to pull people towards the desktop replacement option since its more expensive. It is normal for a company to try and attract people towards the more expensive option to profit.
The laptop has, like the m15 r3, soldered-on RAM, which means no upgradability once you configure it out of the factory. But you have upgradability in the storage department though, with 3 NVMe slots. Two are already populated out of the factory. There is a smaller M.2 slot in case you want to expand your memory.
The GPU choice also seems limited in this form factor, we start off with the Radeon RX 5500M. Then we go up to the NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti, RTX 2060, RTX 2070, and RTX 2070 Super. So very limited options in terms of GPU due to preserving either battery life or because of the limited cooling solution.
In CPU we have the 10th Generation Intel Core™ i7-10750H, a 6-core, 12-thread processor. It is powerful enough to be paired with the best GPU out there, but sadly you only get up to the RTX 2070 Super.
When we said the limited cooling solution for the GPU, we meant that because the GPU is only cooled by copper heat pipes. Meanwhile, the CPU is what is cooled by vapor-chamber cooling. The GPU stays cool with the heat pipes alone, it is the CPU that throttles a lot. Maybe that is why there is no RTX 2080 or RTX 2080 Super in the GPU options.
The thermals on the laptop are stable, it is cool, does not throttle, and performs really well. We would highly recommend it for gaming only because the display is not very color accurate so editing will not bring the best results. The m15 R3 would be better suited for that task than the m17 R3.