For me, Alienware enjoys a creme-de-la-creme status in the gaming PC market. Although always on the expensive side, Alienware laptops are the most capable gaming machines on the market. Its latest m15 R7 is a 15-inch laptop with 12th-gen Intel Core H-series processors and the latest RTX 30 Series laptop GPUs. But who should buy a gaming laptop as powerful as this in 2022? I spent a few days with the Alienware m15 R7 to check if this laptop promises the thrills I expect from a high-end gaming machine.
Alienware m15 R7 review: Design and aesthetics
If I was the casting director of the next Star Wars movie, I would have cast the Alienware m15 R7 in an important part. Seriously, the m15 R7 has a sci-fi vibe to it and the honeycomb vents, rear ringed LED and the illuminated alien head logo accentuate the aura of a laptop true to Alienware DNA. The m15 R7 has a feel of “uncomplicated luxury”. The black Dark Side of the moon paint job is refreshing to look at: sometimes playful, and sometimes whimsical and quirky. I like the design; it’s modern yet has an artistic style to it. The build quality is strong, too. While not all-metal, the body is made of fairly strong plastic, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Considering the specs it comes with, the notebook is surprisingly thin. I won’t say the m15 R7 is as thin as a MacBook Air – that’s stupidity to even think about. For a pro-level notebook, the m15 R7 is comparable to a power-packed gaming laptop in terms of weight and thickness. But yes, the bulky power adapter that comes with this laptop needs to shed off some weight.
While designing the m15 R7, Alienware didn’t make any major omissions in terms of ports. You will find ports on the right and left sides as well as on the back of the laptop. The left flank of the laptop includes two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, while the right side hosts a headphone jack and a full-sized Ethernet port. A full strip on the back has the maximum number of ports including the power connection, an HDMI 2.1 port, and a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4. The lack of an SD card slot is a big omission. Below that display is an array of honeycomb cooling vents that let the machine breathe cool air in, along with the machine’s bottom vents, and it’s then exhausted out the side and rear vents of the laptop. On the back, there’s this eye-catching LED ring, which looks really cool. Interestingly, you can adjust its colour and intensity.
Alienware m15 R7 review: Display and speakers
Once you open the lid, you will notice a 15.6-inch QHD LCD (2560 x 1440) screen. There is no OLED or mini LED option here, but the screen itself looks fantastic, ideal for gaming, content consumption and editing videos. The display offers strong colour reproduction and the refresh rate has been pushed to 240Hz. Serious gamers, the ones who are the target audience of this laptop, will love the display’s ridiculously fast response times and high refresh rate. Centered above the screen is a 720p webcam with dual mic arrays. Sadly, the lack of a 1080p webcam on a notebook as expensive as this is appalling. The m15 R7 has great speakers. They sound full and well-balanced, good enough for playing games, watching movies, and listening to casual music.
Alienware m15 R7 review: Keyboard and trackpad
The m15 R7 has a great keyboard. The m15 R7’s keys are enjoyable to type on; key travel is relatively deep at 1.5mm with nice tactility. The keys are good enough for everyday browsing, though typing for longer periods did become a little uncomfortable. The RGB backlighting looks especially nice. The touchpad has a glass surface that ensures smooth tracking, but its smaller surface area is a little odd. But those who buy this laptop are likely to be professional gamers and I believe they will have a gaming mouse plugged in all the time. Still, a larger touchpad would have made a huge difference.
Alienware m15 R7 review: Performance and gaming
Inside the m15 R7 is an impressive set of specifications. The base model starts at Rs 169,989 and comes with a 12th generation Intel Core i7-12700H processor, the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, a 512GB solid-state drive, 16GB DDR 5 RAM and the 165Hz display. My review unit, which costs Rs 274,989, ships with the same Core i7 processor but has 1TB of SSD storage, 32GB of DDR 5 RAM, and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU and the 240Hz display. This is the model that is designed to run the most demanding games on the market, which is why it costs the way it is. To test the performance of the m15 R7, I used this laptop for both work and play. When playing Red Dead Redemption 2 and Doom Eternal, the m15 R7 delivered smooth frame rates.
Performance was different for each game, depending on the settings they were running but I got phenomenal frame rates for some demanding games. To be clear, this laptop has the best hardware on the market, from 32GB of DDR5 RAM, 12th generation Intel Alder Lake processors and the RTX 3080 Ti graphics card. Not many people, including casual gamers, need this type of configuration on a laptop, something you need to keep in mind before shelling out Rs 274,989 on the m15 R7. I tried to push the m15 R7 to the fullest. Still, I am not the target audience of this notebook. Think of the m15 R7 closer to a portable studio, an incredibly powerful workstation a creative professional or a pro-level gamer would want to buy.
And what about the battery?
I watched a couple of videos on YouTube, played games for a few minutes, wrote and filed a number of stories, surfed the internet…and guess what? The battery lasted between 4 and 5 hours on a single charge. I won’t lie. I was expecting this kind of battery life with a high-end gaming laptop like this. If you are travelling, you will want to keep the power adapter with you.
Alienware m15 R7 review: Should you buy it?
If I compare gaming laptops of the past to the new ones, I see a big shift. Sure, high-end gaming notebooks will still blow one away in terms of performance but now they are much lighter and more versatile. The Alienware m15 R7 brings power previously only available in the form factor of a desktop. Now, I can imagine a high-end gaming notebook with a high-refresh-rate display and serious computing power, all in a clamshell you can close and stuff in your backpack. It’s not cheap. But that’s okay. The m15 R7 is a tool for professional gamers and podcast editors, and it has to be built with their needs in mind.