REVIEW: The Alienware M15 R7 Is Top-End Gaming At A Mid-Range Price Tag

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Rating
9

The Alienware M15 R7 is the gaming laptop to buy in my opinion. Finding a laptop that boasts the same hefty specs at the same price point is going to be quite a challenge. The M15 R7 grants those with a middle of the range budget access to big budget gaming power. It does have its downfalls but, if I were in the market for a gaming laptop, this would be what I would buy.

- Amazing performance
- Not too harsh on the wallet
- Fast display
- Great keyboard
- Premium aesthetic

- Super loud fans
- Plastic body
- Terrible backlight bleed

If you ever find yourself at a LAN party or decide to head to a friend’s place with a big group to do some PC gaming, chances are you’ll find at least one person has an Alienware gaming laptop. That’s always been my experience, which despite never owning one, made me think they must have the bite to match their RGB bark.

I was fortunate enough to be sent an Alienware M15 R7 to review, and even with my expectations high, I was left extremely impressed. Juggling price, performance, appearance and feel, the Alienware M15 R7 is the gaming laptop to buy. Let me tell you why…

First Glance

Alienware’s have always been devices from another world, donned in over the top RGB the iconic Alien head logo. However, despite their massive power, I found older Alienware models like the 2014 Alienware 17 to be rather bulky and ugly.

Upon opening the box and getting my first look, I was stunned by the sleek, modern aesthetic of the M15 R7, but glad it didn’t lose its sense of childlike fun, with plenty of blue lighting and an on button in the shape of the brands logo.

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The chassis of the M15 R7 is plastic rather than aluminium like the more expensive X17, which keeps costs down and provides users access to more powerful hardware at a lower price. As a result, I was expecting the laptop to be annoyingly heavy and bulky. However, it sat at only 2.69kg with a height of only 23.95mm, which makes it plenty easy to carry around.

The mSeries keyboard was a delight to use, with plenty of added functionality and a great thuddy feel to the keypress, which had a 1.8mm travel distance.

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Display

The M15 R7 I was sent for review featured a 15.6-inch, FHD (1920×1080) with a 165Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. I feel quite confident when I say that you don’t need anything more than FHD on a gaming laptop, as you’ll find pixel density sits considerably higher on a 15.6-inch display than 2K would on a 27-inch display.

The 165Hz at my disposal, alongside a 3ms response time, competitive games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive were a dream, with super fluid movement that kept me constantly on edge.

However, the display is also one area where the budget cuts of the M15 R7 start to show a little. As is common with IPS monitors, the M15 R7 suffered from quite significant backlight bleed. This tends only to be an issue when looking at dark blacks in a dark room, but it appears as a yellowish glow in certain parts of the screen, almost like sun glare at points.

If you frequently game in the dark, this might be a small issue, however, personally it wouldn’t stop me buying this laptop, as the performance for the money is just too good.

Performance

Speaking of performance, as I said before, the Alienware M15 R7 is an absolute powerhouse, particularly at full spec. Ensuring that there is a compatible laptop for anyone at any price level, Alienware have made the laptop extremely customizable, with options for an Intel i7 or an AMD Ryzen 7 or Ryzen 9. Intel computers have GPU options ranging from an RTX 3060 to an RTX 3080 Ti, whilst AMD models also have the option for an RTX 3050 Ti.

The version I was given to test featured an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700H and 16GB of DDR5 4800MHz RAM. This puts it right in the middle in terms of available specs, which proved to be just the right amount.

I first booted up Forza Horizon 5 and bumped up the graphics to the absolute max settings. As far as racing games go, this one isn’t the easiest to run on full settings due to the need to quickly render a massive open world with incredible detail. The M15 R7 however, had no trouble.

Starting with a benchmark test, the laptop achieved flying colours, with FPS sitting at around 73 on average at the highest settings. Mind you, the benchmark test runs a race through the maps detailed city, so FPS are going to be at their lowest here.

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In terms of gameplay, driving around and racing saw FPS range from around 70 to 100, mostly sitting around 83, which was fantastic.

Elden Ring had a similar story. The games developer From Software is known for being tied to specific frame rates and as a result, V-Sync was enabled at 60Hz and couldn’t be turned off.

Fortunately though, the M15 R7 sat at 60 constantly, never dipping below 59, which suggests it has plenty more in the tank. Playing a game like Elden Ring on a device that can handle it certainly helps, and I need all the help I can get.

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Credit: PC Gamer

The biggest issue with the Alienware’s performance is the fans. A gaming laptop is always going to have loud fans, but these were next level loud. Even with closed back headphones on, the fan noise was rather irritating, with a high-pitched whine that reminded me of a cars supercharger. Still, the massive performance for the money makes it worth it.

Storage

For storage options, customers get the option between a 512GB SSD and a 1TB SSD, both M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe. I urge you to opt for the 1TB one as 512GB is just not enough for modern day games. Forza Horizon 5 alone was over 100GB, so your PC would fill up pretty fast.

Battery

If you’re after a machine with a good battery life, then general rule of thumb says don’t get a gaming laptop. I personally only used the battery for carrying the laptop around without turning it off, which would be good if you’re taking to friend’s places for LAN parties.

With general internet use, battery sat at around 4 to 5 hours but that number quickly faded to around 1 once gaming. I was constantly reminded that the laptop was unplugged too, as the little alien power button shifted from the classic fluorescent blue to a sad brownish yellow.

Performance is never at it’s best unplugged anyway, so I would recommend just carrying the adapter with you and keeping it plugged in. Think of a gaming laptop like the M15 R7 less like a laptop, and more like a portable desktop.

Other Features

Despite it being cheaper than its competitors with similar specs, the Alienware M15 R7 is hardly lacking when it comes to features.

Ports include 3 USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, one with Powershare, 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, 1 HDMI 2.1 port, 1 Rj45 Ethernet port, 1 headset port with support for headphones and microphone and of course the power adapter port. My favourite thing about these ports is that many of them are located at the back, meaning cable management is rather easy.

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The two 2.5 W stereo speakers with Realtek ALC3254 drivers provide rather deep and crisp audio considering, however I would personally invest in a good headset, as I would with any laptop or even desktop.

On top of all this, you also get a 720p webcam.

Options and Pricing

As previously mentioned, the Alienware M15 R7 can be tailored to your needs. Prices for the base model intel with the Intel Core i7-12700H, 16GB of DDR5, 512GB of storage, the FHD 165Hz display and an RTX 3060 starts at $2,639 on the Dell website.

The top spec with an AMD Ryzen 9 6900HX processor, 32GB of DDR5, 1TB of storage, a QHD (2560×1440) 240Hz display with 2ms response time and an RTX 3080 Ti tops out at $5,499 on the dell website. Considering that other 3080 Ti laptops usually cost around $7,000 or more, this is an absolute bargain.

My model, which is one I would very much recommend, will set you back $3,999. This specific model is available on the Dell website, as well as at JB Hi-Fi.

As you may have noticed, none of these price tags place the M15 R7 in the budget gaming category, and I would be lying to you if I said that it was a cheap laptop. However, considering the components fitted to the M15 R7, the price is cheap for what you get.

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Rating
9

The Alienware M15 R7 is the gaming laptop to buy in my opinion. Finding a laptop that boasts the same hefty specs at the same price point is going to be quite a challenge. The M15 R7 grants those with a middle of the range budget access to big budget gaming power. It does have its downfalls but, if I were in the market for a gaming laptop, this would be what I would buy.

- Amazing performance
- Not too harsh on the wallet
- Fast display
- Great keyboard
- Premium aesthetic

- Super loud fans
- Plastic body
- Terrible backlight bleed