In this article, I give you my Alienware 15 R3 (2017) review with specs included. I reviewed Alienware 15 R3 2016 model recently and since then Dell has refreshed it with Intel Kaby Lake seventh-generation CPUs. That previous model had 6th generation Sky Lake CPUs. The full name of my model is Alienware 15 R3 AW15R3-10881SLV.
The overall design and many features are the same as in the previous generation but they did change a few things. For example, the display options that are available, the CPU generation change, and the updated heatsink designs. Particularly I was interested to see if it will run noticeably cooler and quieter. Well, things are looking good. This is definitely a nice generation leap.
The Alienware 15 R3 2017 model has the same exact casing as the last gen. But anyway, in this review I do cover all the basic features of this laptop. First, let’s see those inherited things, and then I’ll get to what’s different, mostly thermals and performance.
The body has a nice soft-touch finish and it does pick up some fingerprints. A backlit trackpad is with a programmable zone backlighting with any color scheme you want.
On the left side of the keyboard are the macro keys. Next to the trackpad are soft-touch buttons which means it doesn’t take much to press them down. I personally like that and I leave it up to you as to whether you do too. Still, it’s a very good, accurate, and pleasant trackpad.
Likewise, I do like the keyboard feel. I know some people don’t like anything that doesn’t look like a chiclet or island-style keyboard with space between the keys but this is a dream to type on.
Alienware 15 R3 (2017) is still very heavy thanks to the inner metal roll cage and the internal design features. This is the most organized thing and has sort of a subframe that gets in the way of upgrades but it’s very heavy as a result.
So it’s 7.7 pounds or three and a half kilograms. This is one a heavy of 15-inch gaming laptops on the planet. But it is sturdy and there’s a very limited lid flex here. They’ve changed a display panel offering it up a little bit this time around this.
You can still get the base 1080p IPS display 300 nits has. Less generation we reviewed I like that pound just fine was competitive with other gaming laptops in this price range with an IPS pal good colors matte and all of these are you know matte non-touch displays and I hear that it’s not as great looking this time around.
I haven’t seen one that doesn’t look great to me though so far. Next up in price is this one here the TN panel. It’s a fast refresh 120 Hertz refresh panel. That’s all the rage right now these fast refresh TN panels otherwise you don’t see P n anymore everything is IPS or XO these days.
I personally wouldn’t pick this one because the contrast is so weak on this. The contrast is well the black levels 0.92. It’s usually you see 0.4 that means it’s not getting very black. The blacks are really great so the contrast ratio is 422 1 it’s not great.
When you’re crawling dungeons in a game and you know I’ll take a little bit of ghosting with an IPS display any time over. It but still it’s available it is the upsell here and the score engine it’s a brightness. And lastly there’s a fork a sharp exile option which is lovely looking.
And very nice if you like good museums for pro apps – for graphics work that sort of thing. Terms of design well we still have the fan hanging over the backside kind of design here. And all the ports are on the back and strip of the USB ports which I find communion because they don’t get in my way some people like it some people don’t.
We saw the Alienware graphics amplifier port and we have Thunderbolt 3. Now I like the graphics amplifier important mostly because it’s a lot cheaper than the Razer Corey. And Rachel coarse 500 bucks and then you have to buy graphics cards.
The Alienware amplifier is typically around $250 you might even find it for less. Some stores having a sale. So it’s a cheaper way to get into external graphics card when you feel the need to update this a couple years from now. It comes with Pascal 10 series graphics cards.
We got the GTX 1050 TI 1062 1070. No 1080 and the 15 inch too much heat just nowhere they could do that. We have the 1070 model in this powerful gifts. You’ll see me playing Mass Effect Andromeda on ultra settings and it manages to keep it up at 120 frames per second which is impressive.
Of course you got killer Ethernet here it’s a 2500. You have killer Wi-Fi 1435 ac. Upgradeable internals as always bottom panel here you just remove the Phillips head screws and you have the core internals which is the SSD and the memory.
If you want to get to everything else on the hard drive to going to get to everything else you have to take off the inner subframe. Say if you wanted to repay syou’re CPU and GPU but happily with this refresh now those who’ve been following anything where you know that there was a little brouhaha with me so late 2016 edition having heat sinks that sometimes weren’t completely flat which means they didn’t rest right against the CPU and they didn’t do a very good job of dissipating heat.
And they used some several pads that weren’t exactly the right thickness they redesigned all that for the skylake Edition and then fix the ones that were out there people had problems. But from the get-go the KB Lake has all those fixes and boy does it make a difference I’m telling you.
Where the last generation was a little too noisy for me and I am she concerned buying one for myself and someone pretty enthusiastic gamer. But it was just a bit too noisy. Now my core temperatures weren’t that high the GPU temperatures are never problem on these but it was it was kind of loud.
So now they’ve fixed it and it’s just got your normal average decent sized chassis laptop rush of air. I mean here when you’re gaming no kidding but it’s not going to be loud or grading or oh my god it was like a backhand clear before.
And the core temperatures they stay very stable and I hadn’t seen it really go much above 81 degrees centigrade when gaming. And you see you got a screen capture on some core temperatures when running unigene benchmark and it it’s all good folks.
So that’s the news definitely a lot safer to buy it. So the Alienware 15 starts at 1,200 bucks that’s a core i5 at 8 gigs of ram and a gtx 1050 Ti and not too exciting. And one terabyte 7200 rpm hard drive. All these configurations have a 7200 rpm hard drive which is a good thing with a status rate interface.
More people will probably interested in the 1060 model that’s where it really starts to get good you can play pretty much all games on high settings at least. And that gets you a core i7 – 7700 HQ which is what we have in our. 16 gigs of DDR 4 Ram by the way they use 24 hundred megahertz remedies that’s about 1650.
Of course you can go look for sales and L always has good sales and try to get it for less money – but that’s the list price as of today on their website. The gtx 1070 configuration starts us under $2,000. And again we have the 1070.
The ssds just went like with the last iteration everything accepted 128 gig SSD is pcie nvme the 128 gig ma is just SATA 3. So we have a samsung PM 961 and ours into 512 gigs and that’s the fastest SSD you can get right now that’s pretty good stuff inside.
And you’d expect Alienware is a big name companies and these things are not cheap you should be getting good internals here. Thunderbolt 3 again is standard no SD card slot alas kind of hard to imagine with a big chassis like this.
Granted it’s not that big it’s one inch thick which is 25.4 millimeters but still yeah. And you still have your choice between the 68 watt hour and 99 watt hour battery options. Now that’s our battery life it really depends on what configuration.
Again obviously depends on the battery size that you pick. I think given its already pretty heavy might as well go for the 90 and 9 watt hour battery the price differential really isn’t much there. But then it depends on which display you get.
If you get the IPS 1080p based model that has optimism vidi optimist switchable graphics. So don’t you think there so that has the best potential battery life when unplugged if you’re not doing something terribly graphically demanding back that’s the one that really can be very impressive in terms of battery life.
I’m talking like easily 6 to 8 hours for light work. But the other options that don’t have optimists you’re not going to get quite that kind of battery life especially with the 4k display that consumes the most power. So I guess we mix and match battery capacity versus yeah.
Just like the last generation you get a Windows hello camera that works just fine for login and tobi eye tracking which I still find to be well pretty useless. There’s really not much in the way of any games that make good use of that feature.
You got the Alienware tactics keyboard with the multi zone backlighting and the obviously the back of a trackpad there. HDMI 2.0 which is nice to have and display point want one point to all sound. So performance on this I mean the improved thermals really do help.
The performance on this was very strong we saw better benchmarks that we saw with the skylake model just from several months ago. And it’s not because like is much faster than skylake at best is somewhere between 5 and 10% faster for cpu functions and we’ve got the same GPU in it that we have the last time.
It’s just able to run full bore better. And you can see the benchmarks on screen here I mean very very good numbers for a machine with the i7 7700 HQ and the 1070 on board. Really impressed. So if you’re looking for something that can run any pro app well one of the most powerful laptops available well this would certainly be yet.
If you’re going to be using it for Photoshop for 3d modeling that sort of thing yes it’s great. And obviously for gaming it’s fantastic right. There isn’t a game out there that you can’t play at least on high settings and many of you can play on ultra so sweet.
And it should stay that way for the next year or two before games find some new way to be even more piggish. But given the improvements with things like directx 12 performance I expect that it’s going to hold up nicely. Obviously it does VR 2.
And taking a look at the internals they’re just the same as the r3 that we reviewed in November. I’m not going to change the architecture or would be called the well r4. It’s also very similar to the Alienware 17 in terms of the layout.
So you’ve got youtube fans here CPU and GPU we have two RAM slots so next one will be 32 gigs we’ve got two 16 gig modules. This is our 7200 rpm one terabyte hard drive and here is our SSD. Again samsung SSD pcie nvme. Here’s another m2 slot right here and a third half height one.
So pretty expandable things. Go oh and under this little right here on the piece of mylar is the Wi-Fi card. So easily accessible for all the stuff that you generally want to do with it now like. Like I said if you want to go ahead and replace your CPU and GPU then you have to take off the sub frames you have to take off all the screws that retain this piece right here so you can actually get to the rest of the internals.
But given the fact that they have fixed the cooling issues it’s unlikely that you’re going to be wanting to do that any time in the near future but you can’t do it whenever you do wish to do it. So that’s the Alienware 15 r3 the early 2017 editions. Still heavy enough that you can actually develop your biceps doing this.
Is again it’s 7.7 pounds or 3.5 kilograms. It is on too heavy it’s 15 inch gaming laptops on the market. That said it’s also built like a tank it’s very durable. Necessarily I would not worry about in my backpack you might destroy anything else in the backpack.
Definitely much improved in terms of thermals it’s a lot quieter it runs a lot cooler the CPU core temperatures are very good on this. The GPU is never much of a problem and it’s nice with the other work because there are a variety of different GPU configurations you can get to fit your budget.
Of course I’m not sure that the 1050 Ti is really going to so much if you’re going in ready to spend on Alienware then getting a GPU you can get in a thousand dollar budget gaming laptop doesn’t have its appeal. But starting with the 1060 on up it’s pretty exciting stuff and it’s well made.
I particularly like so that that graphics amplifier port. The Alienware graphics amplifier port because their graphics amplifier is generally around 250 bucks so it’s not so much money as long as the range of course so that gets you into future-proofing if you want to run an external GPU. Those are some good things about it.
Alienware 15 R3 (2017)