In this article, I give you my Alienware m15 (2018) review with specs included. I’ve already reviewed Alienware 15 and Alienware 17 gaming laptops many times for every generation. You can check those reviews on this website.
Finally, Alienware 15 and 17 are smelting together to compete with MSI GS70 Stealth, Gigabyte Aero 15X, and Razer Blade 15 of the same generation.
Alienware is a brand that stands for gaming and high-performance computers. It is expected that their product is a top-of-the-line gaming machine and so is the case here.
As a fan of this brand, I was waiting patiently for this device even when competitors’ machines came out. I finally can experience this greatness.
Alienware m15 (2018) is a little bit thinner than the Alienware 15. The 15 and the 17 were slim laptops but they had really big footprints and they were inordinately heavy even for their size class. So, now we’ve got something that is 38 percent lighter and with a 30% smaller footprint.
The basic hardware inside consists of Intel eighth-generation Coffee Lake 6-core CPUs and NVIDIA GTX 1060 or 1070 Max-Q GPUs.
One surprising thing is this is actually lighter than the Alienware 13. So, in terms of weight reduction and in terms of thickness they’ve done the right things here.
Also, Alienware laptops of the newer generation kept the build quality and the design language which by the way is called Epic Industrial Design after the epic silver lid that you can still also get if nebula red is a little too blingy for you. It’s still a very rigid chassis, it still has the Alienware design aesthetic so for those who would like an Alienware this is going to be aesthetically pleasing to you.
For those of you who think that Alienware looks too out there still, even though it’s calmer than some other gaming laptops on the market, you have to look for other tamer choices like the Razer Blade 15 or the Gigabyte Aero 15X. You have to be ok with the alien design theme going on here.
There are a few things Alienware m15 (2018) lost compared to other Alienware laptops and this is not about cost reduction because this is not a cheap device. Alienware just doesn’t make cheap laptops.
The price starts at around $1350 (MSRP) for a very low-end configuration. And mine is the desirable configuration that was around $2100.
You’re gonna get Intel eighth-generation 6 Core 45-watt CPU no matter what model you pick. You also have those two graphics choices that I mentioned above. Other options you can choose from are how much RAM, what kind of SSD or hard drive, what battery, display, etc. All those are gonna be the variables for the pricing.
Anyway one thing that you don’t get is all the different lighting effects everywhere on the chassis like you do with the bigger a Lea or. Because that would add to thickness to those the light pipes that they put around the sides and all that kind of thing. So you do get the anywhere logo light up you can choose a color for that and you’ve got the power button lighting up whatever.
And you have six zones of backlighting not per key RGB back line they can choose any color in the world that you want and there’s 12 different lighting effects pulsing starlight all that. But there’s no side pipe lighting effects on this one. Also the keyboard has changed and that’s not a surprise either because it got fitted.
The key travel isn’t quite as thick as you would expect with an alienware 15. And you know the other word 15 had the old style of keyboard it wasn’t Chiclets and trendy looking but it was one of the best things to type on and is good for gaming. This one’s kind of more like your typical 15-inch gaming laptop with a decent keyboard and reasonable travel. It’s fine to type on but it’s not so awesome.
The trackpad doesn’t light up. But the trackpad is still really very excellent I love the way it behaves performs perfectly. One thing that is a downer though is they went with glossy black for those bezels. So you have these matte typical gaming non-glare laptop displays and you have this shiny blackness all around it that kind of makes it look a little bit cheaper.
The interior is still the same and that’s a good thing. That nice soft touch finish and the interior feels very nice against your hand. The lid on the nebular red that we have is also a soft touch finish which feels grippy and good. But like I said epic silver is there if you want to look a little more chill for those who are taking this to work. And usually these thin unlike gaming laptops do kind of do that crossover thing.
These are things you might actually be taking on business or to work or something like that not just a big hunk or that you have at home to game with. You three different display options because this is Dell who owns a aware and you always have options with them. So you have the 60 Hertz IPS panel.
These are 15.6 inch and these are all matte non touch the spice and. You have what we have which is the hundred forty-four Hertz IPS non-touch matte despite. Which is awesome because the fast refresh displays are a thing these days and after having used that enough and reviewed enough of them I really don’t want to go back again.
Because the frame rate is really you can run them over at 60 frames per second and have a really smooth looking experience on screen. And then we don’t have G sync it works out pretty well we have Nvidia Optimus switchable graphics for improved battery life when you’re not gaming it or unplug. But it looks pretty good.
This is not a to die for display though like on the 15-inch razor blade the higher-end model that came out earlier this year or the gigabyte aro 15 X where they sometimes but not always also use the same excellent LG panel that just makes you watch cinematic movies more than you should visit look so darn good.
This is a decent one and it is actually the same panel that the msi gs70 nice guy good color gamut coverage it’s a fine display it just doesn’t have a little of that extra special sauce. Then there’s the 4k display option which Dell usually offers and that’s nice to see here too. The gamut they don’t claim any wider gamut so you get pretty much the full srgb in around 75 percent or so of Adobe RGB on it.
But if you like more pixels typically me for if you’re buying this actually to game on I’d go with 1080p pizzette is a good compromise in terms of this probably where you’re gonna be playing the games at without having to touch the resolution and worry about scaling and all that kind of thing. And yeah if you’ve got a GTX 1060 or even a 1070 max-q in here and 1080p to 2k when really being the sweet spot not so much 4k.
But if you are buying this for content production and given the fact that it’s powerful and fairly portable and somewhat adult looking. You know if you’re doing W Premiere Pro or whatever it is that’s very demanding blender works zbrush that sort of thing then yeah you might want the 4k display. The internals on this is just an interesting thing actually you open up you take off the bottom cuz they don’t have as much room for that big plastic subframe that they use on the big bigger Alienware.
It’s actually easier to get to the internals without having a little special cutouts and pockets just to give you access. Pretty much the world’s your oyster when you open it up and you can see the the he pipes and the to fans and all that sort of thing. Tripod heatsink on the GPU but less important there because gpus don’t get so hot and the CPU has four screws in the corners so not tripods there.
It’s nice to see the fact that they have to heat pipes that are shared across and each one has its own individual heat pipe as well. So we have some isolation of the heat. Inside you’ll see a socket and Wi-Fi card the usual killer 1550 which is actually an Intel card. So for those who hate killer it’s okay thanks are good now.
And you have to em to full height slots for ssds in there and ours has a 512 gig nvme Toshiba SSD which Dells been using a lot in the XPS 15 and in the alien wares. So if you go that road then you get the 90 watt hour battery which is considered optional but it’s typically what you’re gonna get if you go with the m2 ssds. That’s a quite a big battery for a laptop in this size class.
And given the weight they’ve done a good job with them. If you go with a spinning hard drive instead which I don’t recommend because well it’s slower you know you get to be more careful with motion it takes up more space inside so you can only get a 60 watt hour battery.
So when we’re talking about the internals there is a beefy heatsink inside of here from the CPU and GPU. It looks like they’ve worked pretty hard on the thermals and that’s a good thing because the Alienware at 15 the 17 latest generations run pretty hot. And in part this is the curse of the Intel eighth generation coffee like six core CPU.
The thing just runs darn hot. 100 degrees centigrade is the maximum allowable core temperature so we’ve seen so many gaming laptops thin lights and not so thin in lights really getting close to that thermal maximum maximum and throttling a lot. Now with this one it actually the surprising thing is it doesn’t do any worse than it’s much bigger chassis cousins.
It’s about the same it’s not a physics defying let’s both that way. And raise your blade with their vapor chamber cooling still wins for cooling honestly. But the razor blade 15 uses the chassis which is all-metal as one big heat sinks which means that the razor blade 15 gets hot to the touch.
This one does not get hot to the touch. So they’ve gone for temperature isolation instead and also they’ve gone for quieter fans. I would like to actually see them change that and change the BIOS and the and profiles to make the fans come on a little more. It’s not like the razor blade 14. Maybe they saw a couple of years ago when I’ve got so much bad press for sounding like a vacuum cleaner when you’re gaming.
But you can go to the other extreme too much and I would like to see a little more fan action to keep those core temperatures down. It’s not a disaster by any means it’s just kind of typical for its class and this is where at right now we’re a little bit stuck.
So if you’re doing a Productivity work you’re not really gonna hear the fans much it will not get hot to the touch. Even if you’re editing to say 4k video and premiere naming that because it’s a pretty demanding task or maybe even doing a little bit of blend there is something like that now fans won’t come on it won’t get really loud it won’t be burning to the touch and your core temperatures won’t be that bad they’ll be in the mid-80s or so centigrade which these days is considered not so bad but we’re not.
If you’re gaming you can see on the screen what’s going on here now if you’re playing something like The Witcher 3 not the newest game anymore but still one of the most demanding and very popular. Yes the core temperatures go up into the 90s. Playing far cry 5 which is new fairly new and demanding also we’re going into the 90s to the upper 90s and seeing some occasional thermal throttling.
So this is not immune to that problem. Ports on this the world is your oyster. You have the Alienware graphics amplifier which is a very affordable way to use an external GPU versus some of the Thunderbolt 3 solutions and obviously pretty compatible because Alienware makes that as well as a laptop.
But you do have Thunderbolt 3 as well you’ve got displayport you’ve got HDMI and you’ve got killer a 2500 Gigabit Ethernet and everything but an SD card slot because the only we’re just doesn’t like SD card slots. So that part’s good what isn’t so epic are the speakers.
There’s stereo speakers down firing and they took a hit with acidification. Usually anywhere has pretty good audio. Maybe not up there with some of msi’s best offerings on a huge chassis laptops but that’s not a fair comparison.
So they sound ok but not like well man I just would like to listen to these speakers all day when I’m playing games. If you really want great sound effects you’re probably gonna go with headphones instead. Lastly there’s battery life so that does depend when you get the 60 watt hour or the 90 watt hour.
I suspect most of you were gonna go with that 90 watt hour and that means especially thanks to inventing your Optimus switchable graphics so you can use Intel integrated graphics for productivity work and not waste your battery life. Battery life on this is pretty decent.
It’s going to depend on whether you have the 4k or the 10 a screen. Really between 60 and 144 Hertz it doesn’t make much of an impact on battery life. Of for ours with the 144 Hertz full HD display the 90 watt hour of battery and ssds inside. Battery life has typically been about 6 and a half hours for a mix productivity and streaming video work a little Photoshop stuff that sort of thing a little Dreamweaver web development nothing too heavy not playing far cry 5 on battery da just probably you don’t want to do that.
One thing there’s a ding though is and they’re not the only ones that have done this. We’ve seen MSI any Manta suits do this you get a hundred eighty watt adapter in the Box even if you get the NVIDIA GTX 1070 max-q GPU which is the one that we have. And it really should be a 231 now I suspect they did this.
Again this is not a cheap laptop it has nothing to do a cost but because they wanted to give you a smaller lighter carrying package and figure this is more mobile. And I’m not so thrilled when companies make that decision for us was.
So it’s not the end of the world if you’re just using it normally it won’t lose any charge while it’s plugged in but if you’re doing something like playing Far Cry 5 again or assassin’s creed obviously or whatever the demanding game is that you love.
You’ll see about five percent battery loss per hour even when it’s plugged in. So that’s the net effect there now so far only razor blade I know I keep mentioning but they are kind of the halo brand in this space they made a 230 watt power adapter that’s about the size of 180 watt.
With all the engineering talent that Dell has I would like to see them do something similar hey it’s a charger I know you could do it. So that’s the Alienware m15 finally are relatively speaking thin and light 15 inch gaming laptop for you Alienware lovers out there.
And they did a good job certainly of identification and lyta fication without making it look any different from the rest of the Alienware series. That’s a good thing if you like the Alienware look. You got that rugged build quality you have the same design aesthetic and your choice of either out there Nebula red or the more chill epic silver. The good news and the bad news is the cooling.
The good news is it certainly doesn’t run any hotter than the full-size anywhere at 15 and the Alienware 17 is currently available. So that’s a good part but you know we’d like to see it running even cooler. They’ve obviously done some thermal magic here that’s something that’s this much smaller can run not only hotter than the big.
But the core temperatures and this is the story of Intel eighth-generation six-core cpus are still high when you’re gaming. Otherwise not so much. The other good thing is that it’s pretty cool to the touch so you’re not gonna burn yourself it’s not like a razor blade which does transfer a lot of heat to you when you’re gaming.
Alienware m15 (2018)