Alienware, a legendary gamer brand, has been offering an update for its m15 for a few weeks now. On the agenda for this seventh revision is the adoption of 12th generation Intel Alder Lake processors and the latest Nvidia graphics cards, in this case the RTX 3070 Ti and RTX 3080 Ti. Discreet new features, too many to differentiate the Alienware m15 r7 from competitors now in large numbers?
Features of the Alienware m15 R7
|Screen(s)||15.6″ Full HD LED IPS 360Hz 1ms 100% sRGB 300cd/m² (1920×1080, matte/anti-glare)|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-12700H Alder Lake-H (14 cores: 6P 2.3GHz, 8P 1.7GHz, 45W)|
|RAM installed||32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4 2666 MHz, 2 slots (occupied)|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA Turing GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8GB GDDR6 Reserved, Optimus Advanced|
|Storage||2x 512GB M.2 SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0)|
|connectors||3 USB 3.2 gen1 (includes 1 PowerShare) + 1 USB 3.2 Type-C (Gen2) Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1|
|Network||Wi-Fi Ax (2×2, Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX201), Bluetooth 5.1, Gigabit Ethernet (Killer E3100)|
|Backlit keyboard||Yes, RGB, 1.8mm Stroke, Anti-Ghosting, N-Key Rollover|
|audio system||2 Nahimic speakers|
|Operating system||Windows 11 64 bit|
|Announced runtime / Battery||5 hours / Li-Ion 6 cells 86 Whr|
|Weight / Dimensions (mm)||2.5kg / 356 x 272 x 24mm|
Alienware m15 R7 – Chassis / Design
Like the brand’s latest productions, the Alienware m15 r7 is relatively discreet. After all, the logo in the form of an alien backlit is the most striking element. It is nevertheless possible to turn off the backlight for more discretion (or to change its color) and thus blend in with most environments without noticing. In any case, provided that the imposing inscription “15” on the back of the screen is treated.
The interior is just as discreet. Only the power button in Alien form will be able to attract attention. But that is, after all, the purpose of an Alienware computer. The m15 benefits from an excellent finish. The whole inspires confidence and the magnesium chassis shows excellent rigidity, even if the center of the keyboard and screen are slightly more sensitive to pressure.
The underside of the chassis matches the bonus of nice air vents. Access to the components is not a problem. RAM and SSD can be replaced if necessary.
Alienware m15 R7 – Connectors / Ports
The Alienware M15 has a well-maintained connection, distributed over the three sides of the chassis but with a preference for the trailing edge. An asset for hiding cables, but not always practical for day-to-day management, the backlight tends to dazzle when you’re trying to plug in a device. On the other hand, we welcome the presence of a 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port, a feature that is still rare on a laptop computer. A total of three USB-A ports, a Thunderbolt 4 (and Power Delivery) compatible USB-C, an HDMI 2.1 output and a jack/microphone port are available.
Alienware m15 R7 – Sound System
The two small speakers placed under the palm rest deliver a fairly satisfying sound for a laptop. The volume does not lack power and does not saturate (too much) even more than 50%. The details are well rendered, as is the spaciousness.
Alienware m15 R7 – Keyboard / Touchpad
Despite the lack of a numeric keypad, which puts some off, the m15’s keyboard is very pleasant. It benefits from keys with common dimensions (15.9 × 15.9 mm) for a 15-inch laptop. Ditto for the distance (3.2 mm). In contrast, the race (1.8 mm) stands out. The touch is very pleasant with the added bonus of good damping and a muffled sound, barely perceptible. So the keyboard is a success, but paradoxically it seems more suitable for typing than playing for hours.
The keyboard benefits from an RGB backlighting system. The Alienware logos and the light strip on the back can also be customized via the Command Center utility. The latter is still not the most intuitive out there, and therefore deserves an overhaul to offer better ergonomics.
As for the touchpad, it seems secondary here with its limited dimensions (105×60 mm), not the most practical to use. But for a gaming laptop, that shouldn’t be a problem, as the mouse is still (and will remain) the norm.
Alienware m15 R7 – Screen
Dell now offers three screens on its Alienware M15 R7. Two Full HD, 165 Hz entry level or 360 Hz 1 ms as an option, which our model was equipped with. A final panel is offered, in QHD (2560×1440) 2 ms. If gaming isn’t the only use for your future laptop, this is probably the best option to choose. The higher definition has little impact on gaming performance and provides better viewing comfort for other uses.
The AU Optronics panel (AUO8092) takes up 99% of the sRGB space (versus about 75% for RGB and DCI-P3). The maximum brightness is set at 323 cd/m2 for a contrast ratio of 979:1. Average values, enough to play, but leaving users looking for versatility (photographers, content creators, etc.) dissatisfied.
Alienware ignores the presence of a fingerprint sensor. However, the Alienware m15 r7 can at least be equipped with an infrared webcam, on models with a 165 Hz screen. A major plus to unlock your Windows session on a daily basis without having to enter your password. On the other hand, in terms of the quality of the returned images, the latter lack definition with moreover a clear noise. To the point that you wonder how it is possible to have such a deplorable webcam on a computer that sells for over 2500€! So, of course, most players have a well-made USB webcam, but still, it’s time for manufacturers to step into the age of telecommuting and remote meetings.
Alienware m15 R7 – Performance
Requiring a high-end gaming PC, Alienware has chosen to integrate the fastest processors in the Intel Alder Lake range. The m15 r7 is therefore offered with a Core i7-12700H (as on the tested model), or a Core i9-12900H. These 2 CPUs are 14 core processors (6 of which are high performance, 8 efficient – 20 threads). The difference is on the side of the TDP and the higher maximum frequency. At least in theory, because in practice, however, the differences will be minimal. Better to settle for the Core i7 and keep the budget for another upgrade.
On the graphics card side, this Alienware m15 r7 offers the whole Nvidia range, namely the GeForce RTX 3060, the RTX 3070 Ti or the RTX 3080 Ti. The tested configuration is equipped with the RTX 3070 Ti (TGP 140W), which is the best performance/lifetime/budget. The $650 requested to spend on the 3080 Ti seems unreasonable to us, except to make Ray-Tracing a priority (and again).
In practice, the performance is in line with the expectations that buyers of a high-end gaming laptop may have. To keep it simple, all current games can run in Ultra at a minimum of 90-100 FPS (without Tracing). The graphics card can also be an asset to content creators, especially those for whom video plays a central role. Davinci Resolve, Premiere Pro or After Effects can use OpenCL capability or CUDA cores to speed up certain calculations. Be careful though, don’t expect a performance gap as big as in games by going from an RTX 3060 to an RTX 3070 Ti. So depending on your gaming requirements, choosing the former can be an interesting option for mixed use.
As for the CPU power, it significantly improves compared to the previous generation. A quick reminder: Intel Alder Lake processors now include “high-performance” cores (6 in number) and “efficient” cores (8 here). It is therefore advisable not to focus only on the total number of cores. A design that could already be seen at Apple on the mobile chips of the iPhone and iPad and now also incorporated in the famous Mac M1. Without going into details, let’s say for simplicity that the goal is to provide better performance while limiting power consumption during phases that don’t require a lot of power.
Alienware m15 R4 – Noise Pollution / Noise / Temperatures
A relatively thin chassis (less than 2.5 cm) coupled with some of the most efficient components of the moment, there is no doubt that discretion will not be required. Unsurprisingly, fans of the Alienware m15 pick it up pretty quickly once the pace of games ramps up to nearly 50 dBA. A value comparable to that of its main competitors, with similar configurations. However, because the frequency of the fans has to lean towards the high tones, the m15 is perceived as louder than its counterparts.
Too bad because on the temperature side the progress is there. The processor always tends to approach 100°C, at least during the short minute before the fans kick in. Then the CPU stabilizes around 80-85°C. The graphics card fluctuates between 75 and 80°C (at an ambient temperature of 22-24°C).
Alienware m15 R7 – Autonomy / Battery
Autonomy has never been the m15’s strongest point and it’s not this seventh iteration that reverses the trend. Indeed, it is difficult to last more than 5 hours on the battery, even with undemanding use (web browsing – brightness at 140 cd/m2).
Our take on the Alienware m15 R4
Buying an Alienware gaming laptop is mainly choosing the prestige of a brand that has been dedicated to gamers for years. He also opts for a top model and therefore the buyer can expect the best. Nothing to say about the chassis, excellent. The design shows a welcome bias as always on Alienware computers. Consensus is therefore not required, but in a market where the trend is towards uniformity, it can pay off to stand out with a bit of guts.
The player who is ready to spend more than € 2500 on his future portable gaming PC expects to have the best components of the moment. This is the case with Nvidia graphics cards now in their Ti versions (Advanced Optimus compatible) and 12th Gen Intel processors. Enough to deliver solid performance, one of the best in the category.
For the rest, the Alienware m15 r7 can count on a discreet and pleasant keyboard for daily use. Temperatures are well managed and the option to opt for a 360 Hz display is a major asset for gamers. It is a pity that the frequency of the fans is not better studied to improve the user’s experience of sound. Finally, we are also dealing with an autonomy that is just acceptable in 2022, even for a game console. As for the price, with an entrance ticket of €2,200 (RTX 3070 Ti), it may seem like a premium. However, taking into account its qualities, the m15 is ultimately positioned quite close to its main competitors.
- Performance (RTX 3070 Ti 140W)
- Very comfortable RGB keyboard
- 2.5 Gbps Ethernet Port
- Look that stands out
- Limited autonomy
- Deplorable webcam quality, Windows Hello reserved for certain screens
- Perceived noise