Alienware M15 R2 Vs Razer Blade 15 (2020)

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Winner
Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop 2019: Intel Core i7-9750H 6 Core, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, 15.6" FHD 1080p 240Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, CNC Aluminum, Chroma RGB Lighting, Thunderbolt 3
Best Price
Dell Alienware M15 R2 Gaming Laptop 15.6 Inch FHD 256GB SSD 2.6GHz i7-9750H (8GB RAM, Tobii Eyetracking, GTX 1660 Ti, Windows 10 Home) Lunar Light, Newest Version
Model
Blade 15
M15 R2
Test Result
Test Result 9.7/10 Excellent June 2020
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
Razer
Alienware
RAM
16 GB
8 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-9750H 6 Core
Intel-Core i7-9750H 6 core
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
Storage Capacity
512 GB SSD
256 GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.74 lbs
5.80 lbs
Pros
  • Best Gaming performance
  • Excellent 144 Hz display
  • Long battery life
  • Still great gaming performance
  • Better Price
  • Brilliant display
Cons
  • More Expensive
  • Gets Noisey when Gaming
Winner
Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop 2019: Intel Core i7-9750H 6 Core, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, 15.6" FHD 1080p 240Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, CNC Aluminum, Chroma RGB Lighting, Thunderbolt 3
Model
Blade 15
Test Result
Test Result 9.7/10 Excellent June 2020
Manufacturer
Razer
RAM
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-9750H 6 Core
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
Storage Capacity
512 GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.74 lbs
Pros
  • Best Gaming performance
  • Excellent 144 Hz display
  • Long battery life
Cons
  • More Expensive
Best Price
Dell Alienware M15 R2 Gaming Laptop 15.6 Inch FHD 256GB SSD 2.6GHz i7-9750H (8GB RAM, Tobii Eyetracking, GTX 1660 Ti, Windows 10 Home) Lunar Light, Newest Version
Model
M15 R2
Test Result
Test Result 9.4/10 Very Good June 2020
Manufacturer
Alienware
RAM
8 GB
CPU
Intel-Core i7-9750H 6 core
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti
Storage Capacity
256 GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
5.80 lbs
Pros
  • Still great gaming performance
  • Better Price
  • Brilliant display
Cons
  • Gets Noisey when Gaming

We tested and compared the Alienware M15 R2 versus Razer Blade 15 in terms of Gaming Performance, Display Quality, Price, Battery Life, Portability and more.

Above you can see the Ranking with the Results and below you will find the in-depth test report about the two Gaming Laptops.

Ranking First: Razer Blade 15

Razer Blade 15 review


Pros

  • Best gaming performance
  • Excellent 144 Hz display
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • More Expensive

Razer revolutionized gaming notebooks a few years ago with the blade. Suddenly there was a manufacturer who never had anything to do with notebooks and brought a slim and powerful device to the market.

Meanwhile, Razer is established in the gaming notebook segment and the Blade series has developed quite a bit. Thus, it has divided the Blade 15 model series into two, the Razer Blade 15 Base and the Advanced (“Pro”).

This test will be about the 2019 Razer Blade 15 Base. Razer notebooks are luxury devices, with a corresponding price. The base model should appeal to users who cannot and do not want to spend $2000+ on a notebook.

But can the 2019 Razer Blade 15 Base Model 2019 convince at all or is it only half-baked? Let’s find out in the test!

Razer offers its Blade 15 in various versions. You have to distinguish between the “Profi” model and the “Base” model.

The base model, which we have here in the test, is a bit thicker and “only” compatible with current midrange GPUs. But it is about $400-$500 cheaper than the professional model with the same configuration.

Design

With 355x235x19.9mm, the Razer Blade 15 base model can also be described as pleasantly compact. It’s not super slim, but slim enough to be carried around daily. The weight of just 4.74 lbs fits this, despite the complete aluminum case.

Razer Blade 15 test

This is without question the highlight of the Razer Blade 15 base model! On the one hand the workmanship is absolutely top! The Razer Blade models are not without reason called “black MacBooks”. We are on the same level as Apple when it comes to the quality of workmanship.

But also the design is very chic! The clean lines combined with the simple design give the Razer Blade 15 an almost professional look. Yes, you can argue about the Razer logo on the back, but I think the Blade 15 is generally very successful!

Further bonus points are given for the very narrow display frames and the port equipment.

On the left side, the blade first has the charging port, Gbit LAN, two USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5mm headset port. On the right side is a mini display port, HDMI 2.0, another USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3.

Perhaps a card reader would still be desirable, but the current port equipment should also be suitable for all potential users.

Fortunately, the included power supply is pleasantly compact and valuable for the performance!

Keyboard and Touchpad

The base model of the Blade 15 has a simple RGB illuminated keypad. We have a zone lighting and not one LED per key. I don’t think this should scare anyone away, especially since the lighting looks good!

Razer Blade 15 light weight

But more important is how the keyboard feels. In general, it makes a good impression. The touch is nice and solid. Thanks to the aluminum case, nothing bends, even if you hit the keys harder.

The pressure point is crisp and precise, but the keys feel quite flat. This is also my only criticism.

In direct comparison, a Dell XPS 15 looks a bit better, especially if you are a frequent typist. Nevertheless, we clearly have one of the better keyboards in front of us.

I can speak even more positively about the trackpad. This is world class! We clearly have one of the best trackpads in a Windows notebook in front of us.

The tracking is super precise, movements are recognized cleanly and the surface feels valuable. Great Razer!

Speakers

The Blade 15 has two loudspeakers, which are located on the side of the keyboard. The loudspeakers are thus directed towards the user, which is already optimal.

Razer Blade 15 gaming

The loudspeakers are neat in terms of sound! A bit more depth would have been nice, but in general the speakers sound pleasantly full and clear.

The Blade offers above average performance here.

Display

There is the Razer Blade 15 Base with two different display options. Both options have 15 inch and a Full HD resolution. One has only 60Hz and the other 144Hz.

Of course, the 144Hz version tends to be preferred. My Blade 15 only has the 60Hz option.

Apart from that the display is decent! Subjectively, it is sufficiently sharp and clear, colors look clean and viewing angles are also completely okay.

Razer Blade 15 test gaming benchmarks

The readings also look good! The display achieves a good 94% of the sRGB color space (73% AdobeRGB), as well as a good contrast of 1:790.

Merely the maximum brightness is rather mediocre with 258cd/m². Thus, the Blade 15 Base is not an outdoor notebook.

Benchmarks

In my Blade 15 Base is an Intel Core i7-9750H which is combined with a GTX 1660Ti. Thus the Blade 15 Base is certainly not an absolute high-end notebook, but it is located in the solid upper middle class for a gaming notebook.

Let’s take a look at how this combination performs in benchmarks.

Razer has apparently set the i7’s power limit to 35W instead of 45W, as would be usual for the i7-9750H.

Razer Blade 15 side view

Here I convert a 4K video into another format, which is a very CPU intensive task. Here the Blade 15 Base is still significantly faster than the Intel “U” CPUs thanks to 6 cores, but about 20% slower than a regular notebook with Intel Core i7-9750H and 45W PowerLimit.

Gaming Performance

But what about games?

Here the picture tilts a bit. While the Razer Blade 15 Base Model was always a bit slower than the competition in the last benchmarks, it even tends to be faster than average in games!

This can easily beat the Acer Helios 300, although it is also equipped with an i7-9750H and a GTX 1660Ti. Games don’t load the CPU as much as video editing programs etc. do. Therefore, the power limit hardly plays a role.

In general, the Blade 15 Base can convince in games. Most titles easily exceed the 60 FPS limit at full details and Full HD resolution.

Here and there there are games that only reach 40-50 FPS, but these are in the minority.

Storage

The Blade 15 Base Model has two speaker bays. One M.2 slot and one 2.5 inch slot.

In my model you will find a 128GB Liteon CV8 SSD and a 1TB Seagate ST1000LM048 HDD.

Razer Blade 15 display

The SSD is unfortunately a SATA based model, which accordingly only reaches 555MB/s read and 412MB/s write. Sufficient but also nothing special.

The HDD manages the usual 140MB/s.

Noise levels

Razer Blade notebooks are not necessarily known for their particularly low volume. So the Blade 15 Base is no exception. This is clearly not as loud as earlier Razer Blades, but also not the quietest.

The fans are mostly inaudible in Windows mode. The fans quickly turn up a good bit under load and become noticeably audible.

Temperature

I must admit, I’m a little surprised here. Because of the power limit of only 35W and not the usual 45W, the Intel Core i7-9750H clocks at 2.5Ghz under constant load.

This is not surprising. But I would have assumed that Razer has reduced the PowerLimit to prevent overheating. However, the CPU just reaches relaxed 60 degrees, which is very little!

Razer Blade 15 test

You might even be able to manually increase the power limit again (at your own risk).

But what about games?

Exciting! In The Witcher 3 the CPU clocks almost constantly at 4GHz, which is very fast. However, the temperatures are a bit higher here. These reach 7xdegrees but can also rise up to 8x. But this is still absolutely bearable for such a notebook.

The GPU is a bit warmer with 78 degrees, but clocks quite constantly at 1500mHz.

Battery life

Let’s just get back to the battery. This one’s mediocre. In normal operation you can expect 4-5 hours of runtime.

Razer Blade 15 ports

You might be able to get a little more out of it if you swap the HDD for an SSD. But calculate with +-4 hours.

Verdict

Basically, the Blade 15 Base is a very chic notebook with an excellent workmanship and feel. Razer is simply world class here and can definitely keep up with manufacturers like Apple. But the keyboard and trackpad are also top class, the display is good and the general equipment is also convincing.

Thus, the Blade 15 offers all ports you could wish for, including Thunderbolt 3. Even the speakers are decent!

However, there are also points of criticism. Unfortunately, Razer has throttled the Intel Core i7-9750H to a power limit of 35W. So the i7-9750H is still very fast on the road, but with very CPU intensive applications you can miss +- 20% performance.

This is hardly noticeable in gaming, though. On the contrary, the Blade 15 Base Model is fully convincing.

The GTX 1660Ti is very fast on the road and even in current titles usually breaks the 60 FPS barrier in full details. Many ESport titles, however, have 100 FPS+ in them without a problem.

Super!

Thus, the Razer Blade 15 Base is generally recommended for gamers looking for an especially valuable notebook.

However, one must also clearly say that there are technically faster notebooks for the same money. Especially the throttling of the Intel Core i7 hurts a bit.

In return, you will of course give up the chic design and the excellent workmanship. You just can’t have it all, unless you buy the more expensive Razer Blade Profi model.

Ranking Second: Alienware M15 R2

Alienware M15 R2 review


Pros

  • Still great gaming performance
  • Better Price
  • Brilliant display

Cons

  • Gets Noisey when Gaming

They’re here! The new High End Intel mobile CPUs and thus also a completely new generation of notebooks.

Already with the new Intel Ultrabook processors there was a huge leap from the 7th to the 8th generation and it seems that there is also a significant leap in performance with the High End CPUs of the 8th Gen.

Intel has now also brought the i9 CPUs into notebooks for the first time, in the form of the i9-8950HK.

One of the first notebooks with the i9-8950HK is the Alienware M15 R2. The Alienware M15 R2 is an upgrade of the already highly praised R3 with new cooling and even more importantly the new 8th Gen Intel CPUs.

Let’s take a look at the test to see if the new Alienware M15 R2 can convince with the i9-8950HK and if there are other improvements apart from the new processor.

Ports and Design

However, I think the design Dell/Alienware is very well done. The Alienware 15 doesn’t try to look slimmer than it is, as many notebooks from MSI or XMG try. Dell doesn’t work with bevelled edges in the Alienware 15, which artificially make the notebook thinner in photos.

Because of the very angular shape, the Alienware M15 R2 looks a bit more colossal than it really is in practice, especially compared to GTX 1080 notebooks.

Alienware M15 R2 test

Merely the weight is really quite high with a solid 5.8 lbs!

However, the high weight also has an advantage, the Alienware M15 R2 seems incredibly massive! I am inclined to call this the Thinkpad among gaming notebooks.

Alienware/Dell uses plastic for the notebook’s interior and the basic construction, but the Alienware M15 R2 looks incredibly thick and robust. As if Dell had filled the notebook with lead inside.

This is no comparison to cheaper gaming notebooks, where you often can’t push in the lid and case as far as it will go. The Alienware M15 R2 is the most massive thoroughbred gaming notebook I’ve come across so far.

Of course you can argue about the design, especially when it comes to the LED lighting. Alienware of course uses a “gamer” design, which I find successful, though.

The Alienware 15 appears angular, massive, “industrial” and also high-quality. This is not a 08/15 red illuminated plastic gaming notebook with a brushed lid. The Alienware 15 stands out from the mass of notebooks, which I like very much.

A certainly very controversial design feature is the extended back or “spoiler” (or whatever you want to call it).

In the first moment this also bothered me a bit. But in practice this is not a serious point of criticism. Similar to the Notch on modern smartphones, this spoiler is more or less invisible in practice, especially since the display hinge looks a good bit more massive.

Alienware M15 R2 backside

What about the Alienware M15 R2’s connections? Basically very good!

On the left side of the notebook there are two separate 3.5mm ports for headphones/headsets, a USB 3.0 port with charging function for smartphones and a USB C 3.0 port.

However, most of the connections are found on the back. Here is the connector for the power supply, a LAN port, a mini Displayport 1.2, a HDMI 2.0 output and a USB C port with Thunderbolt 3!

There is also a connector for Dell’s external GPU case on the back. On the left side is another lonely USB 3.0 port.

The Alienware M15 R2 isn’t a connection wonder with that. However, apart from an SD card reader, everything you need in everyday life is available.

LED Lighting

Aber es geht noch weiter, auch die Tastatur ist beleuchtet und das Trackpad! Das Trackpad besitzt eine Art „Plexiglas“ Oberfläche welche von einer LED beleuchtet wird.

Hierdurch leuchtet das gesamte Trackpad, was extrem auffällig ist. Bei sämtlichen LEDs handelt es sich natürlich um RGB LEDs, welche sich frei nach Euren Wünschen konfigurieren lassen.

You could give each LED zone its own color, give them all a common color, change colors or turn the whole thing off.

Alienware M15 R2 LED

There is also an Alienware FX integration in various games (according to Alienware in over 150), the LEDs reflect the colours of the game or your life energy etc.

With the LEDs the opinions will surely differ. But I think the lighting of the Alienware M15 R2 is so “exaggerated” that it is already cool again!

Especially in the dark the Alienware just looks cool. The LED strips are not so bright that you are dazzled by them, but bright enough to create a certain light pattern on a table.

Software

Dell naturally relies on Windows 10 Home for the Alienware M15 R2. But the really interesting thing is the Alienware Control Center, which has been completely revised.

Alienware has without question the currently most beautiful and modern notebook control software! The design is very modern, clear and simply chic. An exemplary Windows 10 application in terms of design.

But the range of functions is also top. Besides the lighting, which can be adjusted to your liking, the Alienware Control Center also offers a fan control and the possibility to overclock your notebook.

Alienware M15 R2 benchmarks

However, the latter is only possible within a very small scope, using predefined profiles.

The fan control, on the other hand, is a good deal freer, with lots of ready-made profiles, as well as the possibility to create your own profiles.

You can also link games with special profiles. So if you want to run your notebook in the “Silent” profile when running a game on your desktop, but you want to have the fans run automatically at maximum power, this is possible.

But not everything is perfect. Maybe it’s because I had reinstalled Windows and something was not set up as it should be, but partly the Alienware Control Center was a bit slow in accepting the fan profiles/OC profiles.

If you have problems in general, try running a BIOS update. With the BIOS in the delivery condition (my Alienware M15 R2 came from the first shipment) the Alienware Control Center didn’t really want to work.

Hardware

Let’s start with the Alienware M15 R2 at a very important point, the configuration! The Alienware M15 R2 is available in various versions, both in terms of CPU, RAM, GPU, memory, display and even WLAN card.

Pay close attention to Dell’s configurator! Between the version with i5-8300H and GTX 1060 and the version with i9-8950HK and GTX 1080 are worlds apart, both in terms of price and performance!

Alienware M15 R2 keyboard

However, the case and the associated components like keyboard, battery, etc. are the same in all versions.

The prices that Dell charges for memory and memory upgrades are relatively fair. There is a small surcharge, but this is within the range of what is bearable, especially since Dell usually relies on good Toshiba NVME SSDs.

However, this is not the configuration I would recommend in principle. From a price/performance perspective, I would recommend a version with i7-8750H and GTX 1070 OC. This costs a good $1600, but the performance difference is minimal.

Memory and hard disks can be upgraded very well with the Alienware M15 R2! Processor and graphic card, on the other hand, are firmly built in.

Display

You have several display options with the Alienware M15 R2:

  • 1920x1080p, IPS, 60Hz
  • 1920x1080p, TN, 120Hz GSync
  • 3840 x 2160, IPS, 60Hz, GSync

All display options have something. The standard Full HD panel is already known to me from the Alienware 15 R3 and could convince there. The Full HD IPS panel is a good all-rounder, but also not absolutely outstanding.

The “TN” panel is one of the best TN panels on the market and can keep up with the IPS panel in terms of quality, but is of course primarily aimed at gamers due to the 120Hz refresh rate. If you are an absolute thoroughbred gamer you should choose this display.

However, I have chosen the UHD display. Was this a good decision?

Alienware M15 R2 display

The UHD display of the Alienware M15 R2 is very nice, even if it’s not the high resolution. Dell doesn’t use the absolute high-end panel, for example from the XPS 15, but the display is already one of the better ones.

Subjectively, colors are clear and clean, even if not excessively rich. But this comes from the matt display coating. Matt displays are much less reflective, but colors and contrasts are sometimes a bit more matte.

Nevertheless, the whining is on an extremely high level. This is also confirmed by my measurements.

The Alienware M15 R2 achieves a 96% coverage of the sRGB color space and a 74% coverage of the AdobeRGB color space. In addition, the UHD panel is well calibrated, which makes it suitable for photo and video editing!

The contrast is solid at 1:850 for an IPS panel and the maximum brightness can even be described as very strong at 304 cd/m2.

304 cd/m2 is of course not absolutely outstanding, but in combination with the matte display it is more than usable for outdoor use. The display is still readable even in blazing sunlight.

In short, I would give the display almost full points for allround/content creation use, but I have to deduct a few points for the illumination. There are two much brighter “light spots” above the two display hinges, which can be annoying with black images.

Nevertheless I can recommend the UHD display!

Keyboard and Touchpad

Alienware relies on a pretty great keyboard in the M15 R2. It doesn’t use the currently popular “Chiclet” or island keys, for example.

The keys have a rather small distance to each other, but are very large. The layout corresponds to the normal QWERTY standard as far as possible.

Alienware M15 R2 ports

Nevertheless, it took me some getting used to be able to write on the notebook confidently and quickly. This is partly because the keys are very close together and partly because of the Marko keys.

The Alienware M15 R2 has a row of macro keys on the left edge of the keyboard, which are only a few millimeters separated from the remaining keys. This makes the Marko keys very easy to reach, but I use the lower left key as a landmark.

Because of the Marko keys, which are quite close to the keyboard, I often got a bit confused, especially with the Shift key.

But with a bit of habituation you can write very well on the Alienware M15 R2! The keys themselves can be described as good to very good in terms of pressure point and pressure felt.

The keys are relatively soft, but constantly fluid with a firm stroke. If you like, Alienware relies on a “linear switch” here. The keyboard isn’t overly “clicky” but also quite quiet due to this.

The keys’ travel distance of 2.2 mm is very pleasant! This is a bit more than in a modern Ultrabook, but also not too much that writing becomes exhausting.

I would also describe the key resistance as pleasant. This is a bit higher than in an Ultrabook, but not too high, so that writing becomes tiring.

Dell Alienware M15 R2 gaming performance

In short, a good keyboard, if not very good for gamers!

What about the trackpad? This is in itself very solid, but quite small. Tracking is good and fluid. There is no pointer jumping or anything like that on the Alienware M15 R2.

However, the notebook naturally can’t keep up with an XPS or let alone a MacBook.

Nevertheless, the trackpad can be described as well usable, I’ve seen much worse here. With an R5, however, I would like a little more surface area. Especially since the trackpad has two separate buttons on the underside, the final usable area for a 15 inch notebook is a bit tight.

Speakers

If there’s one thing about the Alienware M15 R2 that disappoints me, it’s the speakers. The notebook’s two speakers are attached to the front and sound okay.

But if you expect a rich sound from such a large notebook, you’ll simply be disappointed. Even an XPS 13 or an Apple MacBook Pro is superior to the Alienware 15, especially in terms of bass.

To be fair, it has to be said that most gaming notebooks from ASUS and MSI can’t score with incredibly good speakers either.

Dell Alienware M15 R2 keyboard lit up

But the loudspeakers are of course not bad. Watching videos, a little gaming sound, etc., but the Alienware M15 R2 is perfectly suitable for this. Just don’t expect too much from the notebook in terms of sound setup.

The Alienware M15 R2 is rather average here. This also applies to the headphone output/microphone input. A solid Realtek sound card without a special software attachment is built in here.

And yes, Realtek sound cards have become much better in the last few years. So there is no need for an external sound card.

Performance

My Alienware M15 R2 is equipped with the new Intel Core i9-8950HK as well as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080.

The Intel i9-8950HK is the bigger brother of the i7-8750H. Both processors are based on the 8th Gen Coffee Lake architecture and offer for the first time 6 cores + 6 virtual cores.

This alone provides a significant performance leap compared to the old i7-7700HQ, which only offered 4 cores.

Dell Alienware M15 R2 gaming

The i7-8750H clocks at “up to 4.1GHz”, while the i9-8950HK goes up to “up to 4.8GHz”. Dell even overclocks the i9-8950HK to “up to 5GHz”, presumably simply for the marketing of being the first 5GHz notebook in the world.

However, there are still differences between the i9-8950HK and i7-8750H off the clock rate. The most important one is the cache.

The i9 has 12MB level 3 cache, the i7 “only” 9MB. In practice this is not a huge difference, more about this later, but if you have applications that are completely CPU limited, photo/video editing etc., then this few extra % performance can be nice.

Dell has a trick with the graphics card. There is the Alienware M15 R2 with GTX 1080, but this is the MAX-Q version, which is only very hidden.

MAX-Q graphics cards are special “especially high-quality” graphics cards that can run at a particularly low voltage compared to their normal brothers.

Besides the voltage, the clock rate is also lowered a bit. This makes the GTX 1080 MAX-Q more of a GTX 1070+.

If you choose the version with GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 the world looks a bit different.

Dell even overclocks these two graphic cards a bit. Unfortunately, I don’t have a test device with GTX 1070 “OC” there, but it is very possible that the GTX 1070 option reaches almost the same speed as the GTX 1080 MAX-Q.

Let’s also get to performance. Let’s first look at the standard benchmarks.

Dell Alienware M15 R2 backside

The benchmarks already look very impressive! The Intel Core i9 achieves a solid 1251 points in the Cinebench benchmark. Compared to the i7-7820HK from the predecessor, this is an increase of 68%! Compared to the I7-7700HQ, the difference is even a bit bigger.

Thus, the i9-8950HK is rather on par with the desktop Intel Core i7-8700K.

Compared to the i7-8750H, the difference is a good bit smaller, though. The i7-8750H achieves around 1140 points in Cinebench, only about 9% less.

But the single core performance is also very interesting here. The i9-8950HK can really shine here. 207 points in the Single Core performance is world class!

In comparison, the i7-7820HK scores 160 points, the Intel Core i7-7700HQ 145 points and the i7-8750H 173 points.

Thus the Single Core performance is higher than the desktop i7-8700K!

The performance in the 3D Mark benchmarks also turns out extremely strong. In the Time Spy benchmark, which primarily loads the GPU, the M15 R2 achieves a rating about 10% higher than the R3.

It may not sound like much, but it is!

But how does it look like in games?

Gaming Performance

Compared to the predecessor, which was equipped with the i7-7820HK, not much has changed in terms of gaming performance.

With Full HD resolution you can easily see three digit frame rates even in elaborate games like The Witcher 3 or Battlefield One. Therefore I simply pinched an Overwatch or CS GO benchmark, here we would see 200+ FPS or about 300 FPS.

Dell Alienware M15 R2 gaming performance benchmarks

This looks a bit different with the UHD resolution. All games can be played smoothly in maximum quality, but for example The Witcher 3 reached “only” 40FPS on average, Battlefield One after all 54FPS.

So, it’s a tight fit even for a GTX 1080 MAX-Q. If you primarily want to play games on a notebook, you’d better choose one of the Full HD displays. Full HD is also sufficiently sharp on 15 inches and so you can be sure that you will still be able to play current titles in very high details in 3 years, which will probably not be the case with 4K.

4K gaming is currently also possible on the Alienware M15 R2, but the frame rate is barely in the green zone.

Temperature and Noise Levels

Let’s start with a few problems. Alienware advertises the M15 R2 in combination with the i9-8950HK with up to 5GHz. The i9-8950HK doesn’t have 5GHz, but only 4.8GHz.

The missing 200Mhz come from an OC mode. This OC Mode did not work for me. It is active in the Alienware control center, but the clock rate does not exceed 4.8GHz in any situation.

Until then after several reboots suddenly 4.9GHz were visible, but not the advertised 5GHz. Maybe this is because I reinstalled Windows and there is a bug here somewhere, but finally I decided that these 200MHz don’t make the roast fat.

As with all current notebook CPUs you have to be very careful with the clock. The i9-8950HK does not have 4.8GHz, but only 2.9GHz.

Everything above 2.9GHz is a bonus, depending on how many cores you load, the temperature, etc.

If you load only single cores and that only for a short time, the 4.8GHz will be reached. That’s why the single core performance of the Alienware M15 R2 is also so extremely strong.

However, if all 6 cores are fully loaded at the same time, as with a video export, the clock rate drops to 3.0-3.4GHz. The i9 reaches its 45W power limit here.

Dell Alienware M15 R2 setup

The temperature settles at 78-84 degrees depending on the fan settings. For a short time during the boost to 4.8GHz, however, just under 100 degrees are also reached. But there is no throttling in this sense!

However, the i9-8950HK usually stays in the 4+GHz range in games, as games never load the CPU 100%.

In The Witcher 3, for example, the CPU reaches 68-77 degrees, which is good considering that the GPU also produces a lot of heat.

Where we are with the GPU, what about it? The GTX 1080 MAX-Q settles down at 1450MHz to 1505MHz clock speed. It reaches just over 70 degrees.

What about the fans?

The Alienware M15 R2 is usually more or less silent in idle. It can happen that the fan turns up briefly when installing programs, etc., but this can be remedied via the “Silent” fan profile.

The fans are of course audible under absolute full load, but even then the Alienware is relatively pleasant. The fans have a quite warm tone, so they are less shrill than for example in a Razer Blade.

This makes the Alienware M15 R2 much more pleasant than many more compact gaming notebooks. In addition, the fans themselves aren’t even that loud. If you have the speakers at 50%, the fans are hardly audible.

I wouldn’t call the Alienware M15 R2 quiet under full load, but it is not disturbing.

Battery Life

If you buy a high-end gaming notebook, you usually won’t put too much emphasis on a long battery life. On the other hand, one might want to use the notebook on the couch or in the garden without dragging the charger along.

So, how does the Alienware M15 R2 perform here? This depends a bit on the configuration, of course, I have the worst case here, i.e. 4K display, the large i9 and so on. If you choose the notebook with i5, GTX 1060 and Full HD display, the battery life will be a good bit better!

All versions of the Alienware M15 R2 are equipped with a 99Wh battery, which is the maximum size. If the notebook had a larger battery, you wouldn’t be able to take it on board an airplane, for example.

Dell Alienware M15 R2 headphones

In normal office use, with a low to medium display brightness, I could achieve a runtime of around 3.5-4 hours. If you switch on the various energy saving plans, as well as the LED lighting off, the battery life can be increased to around 4.5-5 hours.

But if you use an office/webbrowsing application, the battery life should be more like 4 hours, especially when background programs are still running etc.

You do not want to play in battery mode! Under CPU+GPU full load you can easily drain the battery in less than an hour.

Thus, the battery life of the Alienware M15 R2 is of course not comparable to an Ultrabook, but acceptable for a high-end gaming notebook! There are some models which achieve considerably less.

Upgradability

Opening the Alienware M15 R2 is very easy. On the bottom side you will find 7 screws, which you only have to loosen.

After removing the bottom you will find two RAM slots, one 2.5 inch slot and three m.2 slots.

However, only two of the m.2 slots have the full length.

So it would be no problem to install three SSDs in the Alienware M15 R2, as well as a RAM upgrade. Unfortunately I could not discover the WLAN card without disassembling the notebook further.

PS. If you have the problem during the Windows installation that the m.2 SSDs are not found, set the “mode” in the BIOS from RAID to AHCI.

Verdict

The Alienware M15 R2 is a monster! By that I mean both the hardware and the packaging.

Let’s start with the exterior. I think the design of the Alienware M15 R2 is controversial, especially because of the excessive LED lighting. However, I really like the design!

The Alienware M15 R2 stands out from the crowd with its rather angular and aggressive, slightly industrial-style design. There is currently no other notebook available from any other manufacturer and I like this unique design very much. The LED strips also create a wonderful atmosphere, especially in the dark.

The Alienware M15 R2 looks just awesome on a dark desk!

In addition, there is the very massive and high-quality workmanship. I’m not aware of any more massive gaming notebook (with a plastic case). The size also fits for a notebook with this technical equipment.

Only the weight is very high with about 5.8 lbs. Taking the Alienware M15 R2 to the couch or to friends is no problem, but I wouldn’t want to carry it to school or university every day.

The battery life turns out okay with about 4 hours for the top model. The smaller versions will surely manage a bit more.

I would rate the keyboard and trackpad as good, appropriate for the price range. With the display it depends of course on which one you choose. I chose the UHD display because I want to use the Alienware M15 R2 for a mixture of productive use and gaming.

The UHD display used by Dell is good! Especially in terms of color fidelity and color space coverage it is even suitable for semi-professional photo editing! This display also looks subjectively great. Merely the illumination is moderate.

But the Full HD IPS display and the 120Hz option are also good panels. So you can’t really make the wrong decision.

With the performance it depends even more on what you choose for a configuration. The i9-8950HK is of course a monster! Especially regarding the single-core performance there are only a few CPUs even in desktops that can keep up with the i9.

However, the surcharge compared to the i7-8750H is only partially justified. If you are not looking for the absolute maximum of CPU performance, the i7-8750H is preferable from price/performance.

Nevertheless about 70% more performance than the indirect predecessor of the i9-8950HK (the i7-7820HK) is already impressive. Don’t buy a notebook without an 8th Gen Intel CPU anymore, no matter if i7-8750H or i9-8950HK!

For the graphics card, either the GTX 1060, 1070 or 1080 is used. Basically, the GTX 1060 is good enough for Full HD gaming, but if you already buy a notebook like the Alienware M15 R2, choose at least the GTX 1070 “OC”.

Similar to the CPU, the GTX 1080 MAX-Q brings a nice performance increase compared to the number smaller. However, the GTX 1070 OC is to be preferred for price/performance reasons.

Dell advertises a new “Cryo-Tech 2.0” cooling, but the Alienware M15 R2 is already at its limit with the i9-8950HK and GTX 1080. But it’s not over the limit. Both CPU and GPU can call up a good turbo performance. I would classify the volume under load as well bearable, no complaints here.

If I had to complain about something aside from the weight, these would probably be the very mediocre speakers.

But apart from that, the Alienware M15 R2 is closer to the perfect gaming notebook, but even closer is the Razer Blade 15.

Which is why the Alienware M15 R2 is ranking behind versus the Razer Blade 15, but both are awesome Gaming Laptops and the Alienware M15 R2 is cheaper, so if you want to save some money, get this one, you won’t regret it.


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