Just a decade ago, gaming laptops were viewed as inferior versions of desktops. That was true in a sense. Mobile GPUs weren’t as powerful as their desktop equivalents, with end top of the line laptop hardware still playing catchup to a decently outfitted desktop. Flash forward to today, and we have the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5.
Notebooks have certainly come a long way, haven’t they? While still not up to par with desktops in some aspects (a laptop’s price for example), there’s been a noticeable decrease in the performance gap.
Does the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 fulfill its promise of being a great hardcore gaming notebook?
Find out in our review.
What is the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5?
The Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 is Full HD 15.6-inch gaming notebook from Dell. It’s their first gaming notebook since 2007 to feature an AMD CPU with an NVIDIA GPU. It’s pretty noteworthy, as most gaming notebooks use Intel CPUs. While that’s changing now with AMD finally pumping out competitively performing CPUs, they’re still the outlier.
The notebook goes for SG$3,398.99 on Dell’s local site.
It comes with a 15.6-inch 1080p display with a 165Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. The monitor is also using low blue light technology that’s TUV certified. Long story short, it’s good for your eyes and doesn’t strain them as much over long periods.
Here are the full hardware specs for the machine we got in for review.
If you look closely at the specs, you might notice that the notebook’s packing blazingly fast 3200MHz DDR4 RAM.
It’s the first 15.6-inch machine from Alienware that does so. In comparison, most other gaming notebooks are just paired with 2133Hz or even 2666Hz DDR4 RAM, so the 3200Hz in the machine is a definite step up for those of you who only want the best.
Like all modern notebooks, the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 comes with a bevy of ports to fit pretty much your every need.
There are multiple USB ports (including one for Type C), as well as HDMI 2.1 output and a LAN port. Unfortunately, the notebook is missing an SD (or microSD) card reader, so you might want to pack one if you regularly use those types of storage.
As for the dimensions and weight, here they are, right off Dell’s site.
The notebook’s 15.6-inch size means that it will fit in most bags so it’s pretty easy to lug around. It’s 2.69KG weight also means that it’s not going to break your back if you carry it for awhile. I carried it around for the review and found out that it wasn’t that noticeable at all.
Dell’s using what they call their Silky-Smooth High-Endurance paint formula on the chassis of this bad boy. The formula’s specially created to be stain resistant, while giving off a premium finish feel.
While I can’t attest to whether it’ll withstand scratches better than other notebooks, I can say that it does ward off fingerprints from touches pretty good. They do smudge the notebook’s cover, but not as much as other notebooks I’ve reviewed. A simple wipe will take care of them too, without needing for multiple, repeated swabs.
I really love the rounded edges and the raised back for the notebook. It really brings to mind the backs of supercars. The icing on the cake is how it also lights up according to what color the keyboard is, which is damn cool.
Unfortunately, the keyboard for the notebook’s a regular one. To its credit, it’s a decent one. There’s some travel and the keys aren’t as mushy as you’d expect. The LEDs are bright too and they look really good in the dark.
Still, if you’re hardcore into gaming (and you are if you’re interested in this notebook), splurge the extra SG$233.26 for the Alienware CherryMX mechanical keyboard.
I’m also not a fan of the trackpad. It’s weird off-center placement is weird and there aren’t any buttons for left and right click. It’s a bit too mushy for my taste as well.
Finally, the laptop comes with Alienware’s Cryo-Tech cooling technology. It’s supposed to keep the machine cool when under heavy load.
In reality though, the system still tends to run hot. The keyboard get noticeably warmer as you play games. Under heavy load, the system’s fans also go into overdrive. That means the notebook will sound like an aircraft readying for takeoff.
The back (where the hot air blows out) gets really warm and I really question how long whatever you plug in back there will last. All that hot air is definitely not doing what’s behind the notebook any favours.
How does the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 perform with games?
With its NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, I was really curious to how the notebook performs.
To that effect, I brought out the usual array of benchmarks and gaming tests.
It doesn’t take much to see that the scores for the notebook on PCMark 10 are pretty damn good. In all of the three categories, the machine posts scores upwards of 9000! That pretty much means that the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 performs well even if it’s not used as a gaming machine.
If you’re a content creator or streamer, the notebook can handle those duties with muscle to spare!
How about if you’re a gamer though?
Here are the 3DMark scores.
Those are impressive numbers, especially for Time Spy Extreme. That tests chucked everything in 3DMark’s arsenal at the machine. To get a score of 4562 is nothing to scoff at!
Next up, the Final Fantasy XV 4K and Full HD tests!
Final Fantasy XV, while quite a few years old already, is still incredibly demanding at higher settings. That’s why it makes for a good test for gaming notebooks. To date, NO gaming notebook I’ve tested have ever managed to get higher than a ‘Standard’ rating on its 4K benchmarks.
The Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 doesn’t manage to get into High either but it’s still in the leading pack with its ‘Standard’ rating. That’s already pretty impressive considering this is the machine running the game at 4K with everything turned up to the max!
Head on to 1080p though and it’s a different matter! On that resolution, it can run the game pretty well with all the game’s bells and whistle turned up to their highest setting!
Pretty impressive right? How does the notebook perform with an RTS though?
Here are the numbers from Three Kingdoms.
Again, the Alienware notebook continues to impress.
Going from Custom (with all settings set to High or Extreme (when possible)) at the top, Lowest at the bottom, you can see how the FPS increases with each drop in quality. However, you should be focusing on the top benchmark most of all as that’s the most important one.
An average of 50.2 frames per second is nothing to sneeze at. Three Kingdoms battles can have hundreds of units on screen at once, each doing their own thing. Add in the environmental effects, physics calculations and all that and you have a recipe that’ll bring any piece of modern hardware to its knees.
Considering that 30FPS is the best you can get for an enjoyable experience, an average of 50.2 is more than playable.
Finally, let’s take a look at Shadow of the Tomb Raider.
With Ray Tracing and all the settings maxed out, Shadow of the Tomb Raider has an average of 61 FPS on 1080p. That’s damn impressive! Considering how recent the game is and how demanding its highest settings are, achieving an average of 61 frames per second is no small feat…especially since this also includes Ray Tracing, which is a massive drain.
The Bottom Line.
The Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 has a ton of great things going for it. It looks awesome, with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from Alienware. Unfortunately, it’s not perfect.
While gaming performance is topnotch, there are curious omissions (such as the lack of SD card support) that hold back the machine being from great. The machine also could use better cooling as it gets warm after hours of use. Given the high price, it’s weird that Dell’s not chosen to go all in and include a mechanical keyboard as well, especially considering they’re an optional add-on.
Those issues aside, the notebook is a really well built system with beefy, capable hardware in it.
If you can afford it, the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition R5 is certainly a gaming notebook you should be considering.
A gaming notebook with great hardware and good looks that’s a bit too pricey.
- Great hardware.
- Sleek looks.
- Impressive performance.
- Decent display.
- LED looks damn good.
- No SD (or microSD) card support.
- Regular keyboard isn’t as good as a mechanical one.
- Gets warm after using for awhile.
- A bit pricey.