In this article, I give you my Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition review with specs included. So, Dell says that this is the first time they have put a Ryzen CPU and an Nvidia GPU together in Alienware since 2007.
And Ryzen is just the hotness for 2021. That is if you can get one though. Dell says that they’re pretty optimistic about their supply chain. They are a big company so they do have some strong established supply.
Obviously, the design has changed here. The Alienware legend design has another iteration. I’ll leave it up to you as to whether you like this or the older design better.
There’s no more contrasting black back like we had on the last several generations. So, all the same color for the chassis.
And, by the way, this is available only in the Dark-side-of-the-moon color mix with the latest version of their anti-stain endurance clearcoat, as they call it. It’s a dark gray so I don’t worry too much about showing stains. So, it’s pretty monochromatic looking.
There is a darker stripe on the side. I know in some of the pictures that they show on their website it looks more contrasty than it is but I think it’s nice. I’m still getting used to it though because I’m just so used to the last design.
In terms of looks, it is a little bit thinner. The weight’s not so different from the previous generation. Not that anybody was really asking for these to get so much thinner. With gaming laptops, that’s always a challenge but Ryzen helps with the challenge of thermals versus thinness and all that which we’ll get into.
Some of the ports have changed too. The Alienware graphics amplifier port is gone which totally makes sense because they have discontinued the Alienware graphics amplifier on this.
There’s no MicroSD card slot, there’s no mini DisplayPort but there is a USB-C port that does support DisplayPort out, so you’ve still got it you just need a little dongle adapter or a USB-C to DisplayPort cable whichever it is, so that’s good.
We still have the HDMI, the three USB-A, and we do have just that one USB-C port. And, no Thunderbolt 3 or 4 here because it’s AMD, not Intel, it’s intel’s intellectual property, you know that story by now probably.
Another exciting thing that we’ve seen in 2021 with Ryzen laptops and RTX 3000 series GPUs is that these are paired with QHD display options. Still 16 by 9 conventional aspect ratio unlike the 16 by 10 aspect ratio that we see on the Lenovo Legion Ryzen editions.
Dell’s website says that Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition with QHD supports both G-sync and Advanced Optimus, which means you can switch between dedicated graphics-only mode and switchable-graphics mode. That QHD display is 240 hertz in the supposed one millisecond response time.
I have the base model display however and that one is a full HD, 165-hertz, IPS display that doesn’t have G-sync or Advanced Optimus. So, it’s on switchable graphics all the time, you can’t just run on the DGPU (Dedicated GPU) mode.
Lastly, there’s also a full HD, 360-hertz refresh rate, one millisecond response time display that does have G-sync and does have Advanced Optimus or dedicated GPU-only mode if you want.
So this new legend design, the latest generation that we have now is also used for the Alienware m15 R6 which is the intel 11th gen version that was announced on May 11th, 2021.
Anything that’s a plus or minus with the Ryzen model also applies to Intel. So, for those of you who think that Dell might be giving Ryzen a short stick, not so much.
Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition that I have is equipped with the Ryzen 7 5800H with the RTX 3060. It’s a little bit of a lower-end configuration. I have the base full HD, 165-hertz display.
I wish it was the QHD display here so I could tell you about that and maybe even the 5900HX but either way you’re getting a really good CPU here.
The one thing to note is that there is no RTX 3080 option if you go with Ryzen CPU and that’s kind of a shame. That’s the only place where I would say it feels like Ryzen got the short end of the stick and I don’t know why.
Again, Intel has the same chassis, same port selection, and the same cooling solution as this Ryzen model has which means no more vapor chamber, copper pipes, all that sort of thing.
Whether you go with the Ryzen or with the Intel 11th generation CPU (that’s the R6 model) the GPU wattage has gone down from the previous generation R4 a bit. That is going to be a disappointment for some who play AAA titles and want the maximum graphics performance.
It’s 125 watts maximum for the GPU. That includes 10 watts of dynamic boost. So, it’s 115 plus another 10 watts. And that’s the way this chassis rolls.
Also, this chassis is only available in the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ color combo, no ‘Lunar Light’.
There is the Alienware x17 which is slightly larger than m15. That one has a quad fan solution and basically liquid metal encased in silicone. So that’s where the higher watt GPUs go and the overclockable i9 if you’re looking at the Intel line. So now you get the idea of what the Alienware lineup looks like.
But, back to the m15 and the Ryzen version of this laptop. So, reasons to love it include obviously the Ryzen CPUs, the 5800H, and the 5900HX. Both of those beat the pants off of Intel 10th generation 45-watt CPUs.
So, you’re getting a lot of performance with less heat. So, no more having to play with throttle stop, undervolting, all those kinds of things just because you’re thermal throttling all the time. That’s pretty nice.
Also, the architectural changes here maybe getting rid of the alienware graphics amplifier freed up the room maybe the fact that they’re not using a vapor chamber cooler here but a traditional copper heat pipe kind of design. Means there’s room for two ram slots.
So you know i’ve been complaining shall we say g-rated words here about alienware not giving us ram slots for a couple generations now. And gaming laptop people are enthusiasts they want to know they can upgrade later it’s not so much that ram fails you just want to be able to upgrade and add more. So two ram slots ddr4 3200 megahertz which is what ryzen rolls with so that’s good stuff.
The wi-fi card is socketed so you could upgrade that too in case some you wanted wi-fi 6e or whatever. So that stuff is good and are definitely pros for this as well you’re not looking for the absolute max performance like those of you who spend the higher dollar amounts on higher and Alienware machines.
Also there is no 17-inch this is just the 15-inch they didn’t announce the 17-inch. I don’t know if you’ll ever see one. Now we’ll take a look at the internals later but one thing just because you get your ram slots back in your socketed wi-fi card does not mean that we don’t have an inverted motherboard insofar as you’re going to have to take the motherboard out if you want to replace the cpu and the gpu. That still hasn’t changed.
We’ll take what we can get. So how is performance and how is cooling on this. Again we have the rtx 3060 so don’t expect us to be pushing insane frame rates and aaa titles but still. Performance on this is quite good. And in terms of temperatures as ryzen machines go this kind of reminds me of when dell started shipping the g series gaming laptops with bryson in last gen and they ran hotter than average too.
On this these this runs a bit hotter. Typically in games. We’re running around triple-a titles that is we’re running around 90 degrees centigrade for the CPU. And Verizon sometimes you know like on the Asus rogue strict scar that i review and some others granted that does cost a bit more we saw temperatures more like 80 sometimes upper 70s to 85. So this is running a little bit harder.
This does not have liquid metal for the thermal paste and again no vapor chambers. So that is what it is but still there’s no thermal throttling with this and 90 might not be my target when playing cyberpunk on ultra settings with ray tracing enabled but it’s not bad. It’s better than the intel offerings from Alienware in the 15-inch size. In terms of the fan noise, it sounds like an Alienware m15 machine.
This means if you’re playing games unbalanced or the high-performance fan modes you’ll hear plenty of fan noise and it’s a smaller chassis so a little bit higher pitch. So it this is a headphones machine if you’re playing games on. It’s not as quiet as the asus rogue strict scar. Again that one does cost more money and well does have liquid metal for the cpu cooling.
But it’s also about fan tuning and other things too so not a quiet one. But it’s not louder than the intel version from Alienware either. In terms of performance in games to talk about that a little bit more. If you’re playing like something like an esports title like cs go and you’re putting it on medium or low settings you can push those crazy frame rates in the 200s if you want even with the 3060.
Obviously, a 30-70 is going to buy you even more and in cyberpunk 2077. I mean you can see the footage running it might not always be above 60 frames per second with ray tracing ultra for your settings but it’s pretty playable and the frame times are really good which means it stays smooth even if you’re running at 45 or 48 frames per second.
Obviously, if you turn off ray tracing you’ll get a big jump. And we use the lss enabled for cyberpunk. So it’s a pretty solid performer honestly. If you’re looking at even the 1569 or 68 dollar version of this us dollar price you’re going to get aaa title performance on this. So not too bad. The keyboard on this is pretty much identical to the Alienware m15 r4.
You have your options of the zone backlit keyboard which is what we have. And the only thing I don’t like about that one is the fact that the multimedia keys and the punctuation keys up on the number row are not backlit. But anyway it’s bright. You’ve got the usual Tron lighting which is the butt light-up oval on the back of the machine you’ve got the alien headlight up if you want to be a little more chill then you can disable that stuff too.
If you go for the per-key right now there’s only the cherry mx ultra 1.8-millimeter travel mechanical keyboard. Not mechanical super loud clicky massive travel like on a desktop keyboard but that nice clicky kind of feel and it gets you a little bit more key travel than the 1.7 millimeters that you get with the four-zone traditional keyboard. It’s your choice both are available to you.
While the keyboards might not be much different from the m4 options the trackpad feels a little cheaper. It’s harder to press usually Alienware’s have a pretty light touch for the trackpad it’s harder to press and the click sounds a bit more hollow. Well, you listen for yourself you can hear the difference and obviously you have to test one in person to feel the difference.
We have 2.5-gigabit ethernet onboard which is pretty darn nice. HDMI is 2.1 which means it supports 4k at 120 hertz. For those who have your fancy pants OLED tvs that do that thing yeah. And for those of you who are worried about on this bass mod that we have with no mux switch no switching to d gpu mode only which can be a hit of 5 to 10 frames in some games, especially at 1080p resolution have no fear.
The both the HDMI port and the USB-C port with displayport support out are connected to the Nvidia RTX GPU. So you can get your max frames going that way. The laptop ships with this big honking adapter. So 240 watt that Alienware has been offering forever with their laptop. So it’s not the lightest thing and it has a pretty big footprint. It’s not very thick though you know but that’s an extra carry.
With the m15 r6 dell has said they’re going to introduce a more compact 240-watt adapter. Why they didn’t do it now. I don’t know. Will it be backward compatible with this one. Probably. But the good news is with an 86-watt-hour battery and ryzen inside if you’re in switchable graphics mostly you can use the AMD Radeon vega igpu when you’re not doing any heavy lifting with this battery life is pretty good.
Six and a half to eight hours if you’re running it in silent mode. And you drop that brightness down even further than we did. We run into 200 nits and we do office productivity software a little streaming of Netflix or amazon prime that sort of thing a little photoshop editing and I was getting about six and a half hours and 200 nits of display brightness. So for a performing gaming laptop that’s not so bad.
And like I said you could stretch that by just using a little bit more power savings. Getting inside is easy no really annoying plastic clips make it difficult. Some of the screws are captive this and those two are longer screws but those are captive so you probably won’t make the mistake of putting them back in the wrong place. Just unscrew them all and then lift up.
And as you can see it tucks under here just like Alienware’s have always done. And here’s our bottom cover which is combination magnesium and aluminum painted. Yes, this is a metal laptop i know because of the paint they put on and sometimes people think it’s plastic it’s not. So here are our internals. Our 86-watt hour battery right here are two speakers these are pretty small looking and you know they’re two-watt drivers and the sound is just okay not great you know not much bass volume is reasonable on it you definitely want to wear headphones for a more enjoyable experience there.
Underneath here is our socketed killer 1650 ax wi-fi car which is actually intel hardware and side. So that’s absolutely fine. Our m.2 boot SSD is right here. Boy that is a super shorty drive isn’t it. So there’s room for a full 2280 height obviously right here and there’s a second slot symmetrically right over here located.
And I would it’s pretty obvious you’re going to need some kind of bracket that Alienware makes so that you could actually well anchor it down tightly. You can be creative and figure out something for yourself I suppose. And our ram slots with the little dim marking right here. Here are our two ram slots.
So you can get it with 16 or 32 gigs of ddr4 3200 megahertz ram from Dell and the theoretical maximum for this should be 64 gigs if you source yourself some 32 gig modules. Under here and really not too much else to see. This is the backside of the heatsink. Again if you want to repaste it you’re still going to have to pull out this motherboard to get to the copper heat pipe.
We have a nice little graphic that Alienware dell provided so you can see what the heat pipes look like. It’s three heat pipe design two of them shared two independent. So there it is the Alienware m15 r5 the first ryzen that we’ve seen in forever in an Alienware.
I’m so glad that they did this. And obviously there’s a new chassis design that we have here as well. So I’ll leave that up to you how you feel about that. The drawbacks would be that the gpu wattage has gone down for this. And if you’re going with the ryzen you can only go up to a 30 70 not a 30 80. So if you want the truest most high-end GPU that’s available in this chassis you’re still going to have to look at intel.
The upside on this is the thermals are pretty good they’re not the best we’ve seen versus say the Asus rogue Strix or even the legion 5 pro but they’re certainly better than generally what we’ve seen from intel up to the 10th generation. When I review the 11th generation we’ll know more but that’s promising.
I’m happy to see the qhd display option on board as well because that’s a good choice when you’re looking at the CPU and GPU performance that are available here and you do get sharper visuals. You know I can see the difference and I’m not even a 20-something with the super sharpest eyes. It just looks really nice the qhd options on these ryzen laptops.
We have usbc and we have HDMI here 2.1 which is also sweet to see. And for those who do opt for the lower-end display that we have you know that you can still get d gpu mode for your games using either of those ports. So all in all it’s a nice step forward for anywhere just to have rise and they’ve done a pretty decent job here.
Alienware m15 R5 Ryzen Edition