Dell’s Alienware gaming laptops can be pretty varied. With an almost ridiculously massive range of models available, there will always be some trash that needs to be separated from the (admittedly more abundant) wheat. Fortunately, the new Alienware M15 R7 sits firmly in the cereal grain category: a 1080p gaming machine with a brilliant 12th Gen Intel processor.
At first glance, the M15 R7 is the same as just about every other Alienware laptop released in recent years; a serrated display hinge, a long ring of RGB lighting along the rear edge, and that iconic alien head logo illuminated in deep blue. It’s a tried and tested design that we can’t blame Dell for sticking with; after all, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
At first glance, there is perhaps one area where Dell could have improved things, and it’s not really in the laptop itself. The main chassis weighs around five pounds, and its 15.6-inch screen is not the most portable laptop out there, but our real problem is the vast, heavy power adapter. Since battery life isn’t impressive, you’ll need to lug this brick around with you in addition to the laptop, making the Alienware M15 R7 decidedly less than lightweight.
The overall design is a bit cheaper than other Alienware X-series laptops (such as the Alienware X14 we saw earlier this year), with more plastic used in its exterior construction, so it doesn’t feel as durable. Like other models, this does come with an associated price reduction.
Still, this gaming laptop falls into the premium product category, with even the most affordable model costing $1,499. It’s very configurable on Dell’s website, though, so you should be able to find an Alienware M15 R7 that fits your budget, as long as you can beat that entry price.
Naturally, gaming performance is excellent, thanks to plenty of RAM and an RTX 3000-series graphics card. That’s a good thing, too; One of the big draws here is the 1080p display’s super-fast 360Hz refresh rate, a love letter to esports gamers for whom frame rate is king.
Alienware M15 R7: Design
As we mentioned earlier, the overall design hasn’t changed much here. The Alienware logo is still illuminated by RGB LEDs on the back of the screen, while another double as the power button; a large ’15’ engraving dominates a quarter of the top, and the hexagonal-patterned grille for the speakers and air intake is still found above the keyboard.
This is all well and good: it’s become an iconic design for Dell’s brand of gaming laptops in recent years, and while we’d be happy to see it shaken up a bit, it’s still aesthetically solid. The all-plastic chassis feels a little cheap (a more significant problem if you opt for one of the $3,000-plus models), but the matte finish looks good and does a great job of repelling fingerprints.
Naturally, the 360Hz screen is a defining feature of the Alienware M15 R7, and we’re happy to say that it’s just a good screen overall. Peak brightness is good, and color reproduction, while perhaps not the best we’ve seen on a gaming laptop, is vivid and clear. A 1440p version with a 240Hz refresh rate is available on certain SKUs if a higher resolution is more important to you.
The keyboard is pretty good, with a good amount of travel (around 1.8mm) on the keys, meaning typos are kept to a minimum. There’s a small amount of flex in the keyboard if you press down too firmly on the keys in the center, but that’s not surprising given the plastic construction. The touchpad is a bit smaller, but it’s very responsive, and you’ll likely plug in a mouse for gaming anyway.
Unsurprisingly, the RTX 3070 Ti that powers our review model of the Alienware M15 R7 dominated. Absolutely in gaming benchmarks at 1080p Ultra settings, comfortably knocking out 60fps on everything we threw at it. Esports titles like Valiant and CS: GO should use that 360Hz refresh rate, with frame rates quickly reaching the hundreds.
Ray tracing in Cyberpunk 2077 saw our performance take a hit, but it shouldn’t take too much tweaking in settings to throttle down the graphics a bit and stay above 60fps. If you go for a model with a 1440p display, we’d recommend sticking with the RTX 3070 Ti or 3080 Ti, as lower-powered GPUs are likely to have a bit more difficulty with this resolution (although DLSS is still an option). Of course). grade).
Synthetic benchmarks also delivered a solid performance, with the RTX 3070 Ti topping the 3DMark suite of tests with excellent results. The clever design of Intel’s performance/efficiency core, found in the i7-12700H at the heart of this system, means that CPU-linked tests like GeekBench 5 also returned impressive numbers.
The thermal design at play here is solid, as the chassis never got warmer (never uncomfortably hot), and we didn’t see any significant components throttle even during stress tests. If you take care of it, the Alienware M15 R7 should last for years without thermal issues degrading the life of its internal components.
Of course, the trade-off for this top-tier heat dissipation is a pair of thunderous fans, among the loudest we’ve seen in our many years of gaming laptop testing. Setting it to “high-performance mode” had us worried that it was about to take off and blow a hole in our office wall, but the fans even kicked in with a loud whine during basic tasks like browsing Chrome or digging in Windows. . settings. Bottom line: invest in a good headset.
Alienware M15 R7: Battery Life
Good, but unimpressive. Enough to watch a movie, at least. Lots of RGB that need to be turned off
Gaming laptops are hardly known for their long battery life, but the 89Whr battery that powers the Alienware M15 R7 is decidedly lackluster. The laptop lasted just over three hours on the PCMark ten battery life test, with all the extraneous RGB lighting turned off to save power.
Video playback fared slightly better, clocking in at nearly four hours, meaning you should at least be able to watch one movie without plugging it in, as long as you start with a full charge. However, gaming is unlikely to give you anything more than 2 hours before you need to plug in that heavy AC adapter. Sure, many gaming laptops are the same, but we still see better.