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HomeReviewAlienware 15 R4 - Full Review and Benchmarks

Alienware 15 R4 – Full Review and Benchmarks

 

Say hello to a sleeker, more sophisticated Alienware 15 (starting at $1,299.99, reviewed at $1,649). Like its bigger brother, the Alienware 17, the 15 has undergone a color change and lost just a little girth in the method. But never fear, you continue to get all of the same old Alienware goodies, including customizable LED lighting. Along with its new, intergalactic look, this beauty packs some beastly power in the shape of an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and an overclocked Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics card. While it gets a bit hot and lacks a G-Sync display, the Alienware 15 remains one among the most effective gaming laptops you should buy on this price range.

Design

A blackout never looked so good. Alienware has thrown another color into the combination, swapping out the Epic Silver paint job on the anodized-aluminum lid for the optional Epic Black. The corporate also added more lighting zones to the laptop, for a grand total of 13. However, much like what you found on the Alienware 15’s predecessor, the one lighting you will find on the lid comes from the massive alien head in the middle. The remainder of the customizable light show will be found along sides of the lid and keyboard deck.

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The laptop interior serves up much more lighting by the use of the keyboard, the touchpad, the Alienware logo inscribed on the underside bezel and the alien head serving as the ability button. The remainder of the keyboard deck is swaddled in delectable, black soft-finish.

The Alienware 15 continues to be the heavyweight on the block, because of its 7.8-pound, 15.3 x 12 x 1-inch frame. The PowerSpec 1510 (15.3 x 10.8 x 1.3 inches) isn’t too far behind, at 6.5 pounds, while the Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 (15.1 x 10.3 x 0.7~0.8 inches) weighs in at 5.5 pounds. The MSI GS65 Stealth Thin (14.1 x 9.8 x 0.7 inches) and Razer Blade (14 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches) are on the lower end of the size, at 4.1 and 4.6 pounds, respectively.

Ports

As is customary for many gaming laptops, the Alienware 15’s cup overfloweth in relation to ports, with the bulk residing within the back.

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That’s where you will find the Thunderbolt 3 port, mini DisplayPort, Ethernet, power jack and the proprietary port to attach the Alienware Graphics Amplifier.

On the suitable sits a single USB 3.1 port with another on the left alongside a USB Type-C port, jacks for a headset and a microphone, and a Noble lock slot.

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Display

The Alienware 15’s 1920 x 1080 matte panel delivers vivid color and loads of brightness. Once I watched the “Night Comes On” trailer, a Muslim woman’s magenta dress and matching head scarf took flight within the wind, offering up a fantastic contrast to the red-brick church with its light-blue doors. Detail was sharp enough that I could make out the fragile curl pattern in actress Dominique Fishback’s jet-black hair in addition to the chips and scrapes on her submachine gun.

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The screen also looks great whenever you’re gaming. I got buttery-smooth frame rates as I hunted down a goat while heading off a pack of wolves in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I used to be enthralled by the red-orange blast of flame I launched into the middle of the attacking animals, singeing fur and leaving them open to a sword attack. As pretty because the action looked, I wish the panel had Nvidia’s G-Sync technology. Syncing the display refresh rate to the GPU makes for a fair smoother render.

I got buttery-smooth frame rates as I hunted down a goat while heading off a pack of wolves in The Witcher 3.

The Alienware 15’s display can produce 119 percent of the sRGB color gamut, a score that falls below the premium gaming laptop average of 132 percent. However, the Alienware 15 did better than the Razer Blade, PowerSpec 1510 and Zephyrus, which got 112 percent, 113 percent and 120 percent, respectively. The Stealth Thin proved to be essentially the most colorful, at 150 percent.

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While the Alienware 15’s display isn’t essentially the most vivid, it’s definitely the brightest among the many competition, at 311 nits. It handily beat the 281-nit average. The PowerSpec 1510 was a detailed second, at 306 nits, while the Stealth Thin, Zephyrus and Blade posted 293 nits, 286 nits and 260 nits, respectively.

Audio

The Alienware 15’s front-firing speakers are loud, able to filling my medium-size conference room. Once I listened to The Internet’s slow jam “Girl,” the speakers produced deep bass, with crisp percussion and clean keyboards accompanied by lead singer Syd’s seductive soprano. However, there was a little bit of distortion within the highs at maximum volume.

The speakers gave a greater performance once I played Witcher 3. The lively violin was the star of the show once I battled a nest of ravenous nekkers. Geralt’s grunts and the nekkers’ beastly screeches filled the air, mixing with the tambourine and sharp claps for a symphony of destruction that was music to my ears.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Using the Alienware 15’s keyboard is like typing on a bunch of tiny trampolines. The keys have a travel of two millimeters with an actuation force of 78 grams. That’s well beyond our 1.5mm, 60g minimum. With all that bounciness, I hit 80 words per minute on the 10FastFingers test, which is considerably faster than my usual 70 wpm.

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The three.9 x 2.1-inch touchpad had loads of room for my rather spindly fingers to perform multitouch gestures, akin to pinch to zoom, three-finger press and flick. Alienware is one of many few companies that also uses discrete mouse buttons, that are almost as springy because the keys.

Alienware Command Center

For the past seven years, the Alienware Command Center has been your one-stop shop for customizing the lighting in your keyboard and LEDs, programming macros, setting power-management plans, and creating desktop shortcuts. It still does that and a lot more, all with a clean, easy-to-navigate interface.

And with its new lighting zones, the Alienware 15 allows for 80 quadrillion possible combinations.

Two of the primary changes you’ll notice in Command Center are that you possibly can access all of your games from the Home tab together with performance settings for the laptop and that you possibly can switch the software’s background from light to dark. You too can swap out the Active System Theme, the brand new term to your customized lighting profile from Home. If you are looking to get more granular, you will need to explore the opposite tabs, starting with Library.

The Library section of Command Center has some clear influences from Nvidia’s GeForce Experience. Just like Nvidia’s software, Library aggregated all of my games, irrespective of in the event that they were Steam titles, GOG or Windows. That eliminated the trouble of getting to trace down my games, allowing me to access and launch everything from one prime location.

Seeking to squeeze out more performance out of your processor and graphics card? The Fusion tab allows you to overclock both components by just adjusting a slider. And Alienware was kind enough to incorporate a test feature to make sure your new clock speeds are stable.

In fact, you possibly can still customize all of the zones and the keyboard lighting with Command Center by the use of the FX tab. However, by combining the additional zones with the 16.8-million-color palette and 12 effects, Alienware claims you possibly can create as much as 80 quadrillion combinations. After creating your custom theme, you possibly can go to the Home or Library sections and assign that theme (in addition to performance settings) to launch with individually selected games.

Gaming, Graphics and VR

Never let it’s said that the Alienware 15 suffers from middle child syndrome, especially not when it’s packing an overclocked Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM. During a romp around Velen in Witcher 3, I ran afoul of an enormous bear. I employed a reasonably successful battle strategy of dodges, sword strikes and fire spells at 64 frames per second on Ultra settings at 1920 x 1080.

The laptop was just as dynamic on our other benchmarks; on Rise of the Tomb Raider, the Alienware 15 delivered 72 frames per second on Very High at 1080p, handily defeating the 58-fps premium gaming laptop average. With their respective Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q GPUs, the Stealth Thin and Zephyrus scored 44 and 53 fps. The PowerSpec 1510 and its full GTX 1070 GPU got 56. However, the Blade, with its own 1070 Max-Q graphics card, managed 77 fps.

Once we switched to the Hitman benchmark, the Alienware 15 achieved 92 fps, shattering the 86-fps category average. The Zephyrus was a detailed second, at 88 fps, with the Blade, Stealth Thin and PowerSpec 1510 obtaining 82 fps, 79 fps and 60 fps, respectively.

In the course of the Grand Theft Auto V test, the Alienware 15 obtained 74 fps, which was a few frames in need of the 76-fps average. Still, it was enough to top the Zephyrus (70 fps), Blade (66 fps), Stealth Thin (61 fps) and PowerSpec 1510 (60 fps).

The Alienware 15 barely missed the 84-fps average within the Middle-Earth: Shadow of War benchmark, with a frame rate of 82 fps. However, that was good enough to topple the Blade’s score of 68 fps.

Be at liberty to place on whatever virtual reality headset you may have available, since the Alienware 15 easily maxed out the Steam VR test at 11, matching the PowerSpec 1510 and beating the ten.2 average. The Zephyrus, Blade and Stealth Thin weren’t too far behind with scores of 10.9, 10 and 9, respectively.

Overall Performance

Watching an episode of Luke Cage Season 2 on Netflix, while running a full-system scan in Windows Defender with a minimum of 18 other tabs open in Google Chrome? I did that and more on the Alienware 15, and it barely broke a sweat. Due to its 2.1-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of RAM, the system is a multitasking monster on a par with its peers.

The laptop notched 17,109 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, which is in need of the 20,031 average for premium gaming laptops. Armed with their very own Core i7-8750H CPUs, the Zephyrus, Blade and Stealth Thin hit 21,735; 20,256; and 18,046, respectively. Take into account that the competing rigs run at higher clock speeds.

Due to its 2.1-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of RAM, the Alienware 15 is a multitasking monster on a par with its peers.

Once we ran the HandBrake test, the Alienware 15 converted a 4K video into 1080p in 10 minutes and 28 seconds, beating the Blade (11:46), Stealth Thin (12:01) and PowerSpec 1510 (14:00). The Alienware’s score is sweet, but not ok to beat the Zephyrus’ mark (9:43) or the category average (10:17).

The Alienware 15’s 256GB PCIe m.2 SSD duplicated 4.97GB of multimedia files in 23 seconds, for a file-transfer speed of 221 megabytes per second. That’s better than the 193.3 MBps that the Stealth Thin’s 512GB m.2 SSD scored. However, it wasn’t enough to match the 472.8-MBps average, the Zephryus’ 509 MBps (256GB NVMe SSD), the Blade’s 424 MBps (512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD) or the PowerSpec 1510’s 391.5 MBps (256GB NVMe SSD).

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The Alienware 15 paired up 65,000 names and addresses in 50 seconds on the Excel test, a time that’s longer than the 0:44 average. It’s faster than the Stealth Thin’s and PowerSpec 1510’s times of 0:54 and 1:04. The Blade and Zephyrus completed the duty in 0:40 and 0:35, respectively.

Battery Life

The Alienware 15 lasted 5 hours and quarter-hour on our battery test, which consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. That was enough to beat the three:40 average for premium gaming laptops and the Zephyrus’ time of two:47. The Stealth Thin and the Blade outlasted the Alienware 15, with times of 5:40 and 5:54.

Heat

I spent quarter-hour attempting to find a goat in Witcher 3 and killing murderous nekkers. After that, I measured the touchpad, middle of the keyboard and undercarriage of the system, and got temperatures of 74 degrees, 97 degrees and 129 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. The touchpad temperature is within our 95-degree comfort threshold, but the underside was particularly toasty.

When the system cooled down, we ran a full-screen HD video for quarter-hour after which remeasured the important thing points of the laptop. The touchpad measured 86 degrees, while the middle of the keyboard and the underside measured a rather warm 102 and 113 degrees.

Webcam

The Alienware 15’s integrated webcam captures stills and video which can be pretty color-accurate. My bright red shirt popped under the fluorescent lighting within the office. There’s definitely some graininess, but not enough to hide the varied peaks and valleys within the white spray-foam ceiling.

Tobii EyeX Lite

Just like the previous model, the Alienware 15 includes Tobii’s eye-tracking technology, albeit in a limited capacity. Dubbed Tobii EyeX Lite, the technology relies on the IR tech within the webcam to manage certain functions. However, without the integrated sensors that you discover on the larger Alienware 17, you will not have the flexibility to manage your video games along with your eyes.

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But you possibly can put your system to sleep, shut off the lighting or dim the screen with a straightforward look. The IR sensor mounted within the webcam module keeps track of your gaze and executes commands accordingly. The camera can be used to unlock the laptop via Windows Hello. Establishing the facial recognition service is pretty simple; create a password and PIN first. From there, simply hit the Set Up button under Face Recognition within the settings menu and let the IR presence-detection camera scan your face, and also you’re good to go.

Software and Warranty

If it weren’t for Windows 10, there wouldn’t be a touch of bloatware on the Alienware 15. But alas, there’s plenty to be found on the system, including Drawboard PDF, March of Empires, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Disney Magic Kingdoms. Dolby Access, which boosts your audio experience via your headphones, can also be preinstalled, together with McAfee Security and McAfee WebAdvisor.

Alienware-branded software includes Digital Delivery to make sure your software is updated. SupportAssist keeps a watch on laptop diagnostics and allows you to tune performance, optimize your network and check for viruses, all on the touch of a button. The Docking Accessory apps ensure a quick connection between the laptop and any compatible docking stations, while Mobile Connect allows you to interact along with your smartphone via your PC.

Along with Alienware Command Center, the Alienware 15 features Nvidia GeForce Experience with its gamer-centric software suite, including BatteryBoost and Game Optimization. There’s also Killer Control Center, which helps you to prioritize network bandwidth in addition to test its speed and strength.

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The Alienware 15 R4 ships with a one-year hardware-service warranty with on-site and in-home service after remote diagnosis. See how Alienware fared on our Tech Support Showdown, Best and Worst Brands list and Best and Worst Gaming Brands ranking.

Configurations

I defeated scores of werewolves, drowners and noonwraiths on the $1,649.99 configuration of the Alienware 15, which has a 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor with 16GB of VRAM, a 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD with a 1TB and seven,200-rpm HDD, an Intel HD 630 Graphics GPU with an overclocked Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU and 8GB of VRAM, and a 1920 x 1080 display with a 60Hz refresh rate.

The $1,299.99 model scales down a few of that power, with a 2.3-GHz Intel Core i5-8300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB and seven,200-rpm hard disk, an Intel HD 630 Graphics GPU with an overclocked Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU and 6GB of VRAM, and a 1920 x 1080 display with a 60Hz refresh rate.

For $2,599.99, you will get the top-of-the-line version, which has an overclockable 2.9-GHz Intel Core i9-8950HK GPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD with a 1TB and seven,200-rpm HDD, an Intel HD 630 Graphics GPU with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 GPU and 8GB of VRAM, and a 1920 x 1080 Nvidia G-Sync display with a 60Hz refresh rate.

Bottom Line

It’s hard to seek out much wrong with the Alienware 15. For $1,899.99, you get a 15-inch system with a mighty Intel Core i7 CPU and an overclocked Nvidia GTX 1070, in addition to a snug keyboard, lovely display and almost 6 hours of battery life.

However, for the cash, it could have been nice to get Nvidia’s G-Sync technology and a faster SSD. The cooling may be better. If you are looking for a slimmer system with comparable power and longer battery life, you will need to take a look at the $1,899.99 MSI Stealth Thin. But in case you’re seeking a gaming rig that’s as much fun to have a look at as it’s to play on, there isn’t any substitute for the Alienware 15.

Credit: Laptop Mag

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