The new Alienware m15 is sort of presumably one of many loveliest gaming laptops I’ve ever examined. I’m a sucker for something crimson (it’s my favorite color) however if you stick it on a chassis that stands simply 21mm excessive off the bottom and weighs a relatively non-brick-like 2.16kg with a Core i7-8750H and a GTX 1070 inside it, you’ve gotten my full and undivided consideration.
It’s a stunning factor to behold and comes as customary on every mannequin with a 144Hz refresh price show, simply to make its 15.6in 1920×1080 decision really feel further particular. UK Alienware m15s have the most effective deal of all, although, as right here you possibly can deck out each configuration with this gorgeous ‘nebula red’ possibility (even saying it sounds lovely) for completely nothing. I bear in mind the times when Dell’s color choices used to value the earth on their on a regular basis laptops, so that is welcome information certainly. None of this ‘epic silver’ (i.e: gray) nonsense for us, no sir.
US m15s aren’t fairly as beneficiant with their numerous color choices sadly, however they do have the added bonus of a 3rd graphics chip possibility in comparison with UK configurations, as they’ll select between a Max-Q’d GTX 1080 along with the usual full-fat GTX 1060s and Max-Q’d GTX 1070s.
As talked about above, I used to be despatched one of many latter chips for overview, which is able to set you again not less than £1799 in the UK or $2019 in the US relying on what RAM, storage and show choices you choose. The solely factor you don’t have a alternative in is the processor, as each mannequin comes with an one among Intel’s six-core 2.2GHz Core i7-8750H processors as customary.
That’s a reasonably potent mixture if you pair it with a GTX 1070, even whether it is in its power environment friendly Max-Q kind, though I’m nonetheless unsure it’s fairly potent sufficient to essentially make use of that 144Hz refresh price. At least with regards to taking part in the newest blockbusters, that’s.
In most circumstances, as an illustration, getting a beautiful clean 50-60fps on max settings wasn’t an issue for the GTX 1070-equipped m15. Shadow of the Tomb Raider bandied alongside fairly fortunately at a median of 55fps in its robust Cozumel cave part and 51fps within the busy, crowded streets of Cozumel city sq., and that was with its prime SMAAx4 anti-aliasing possibility enabled as nicely. Knock that all the way down to single SMAA and also you’re a constant 65-80fps throughout the board.
Total War: Warhammer II put in an equally first rate common of 50fps in its Ultra-fied battle benchmark, which then rose to a good silkier 67fps after I turned the standard all the way down to High, and even Monster Hunter: World dished up a pleasingly clean vary of 45-60fps on Highest after I was jogging round its dense undergrowth. The body price didn’t falter when large monsters entered the scene both, though for the most effective body charges you’ll need to go for High the place you possibly can slice and cube up its dinos at a slick 70-82fps.
Final Fantasy XV didn’t get a lot past 60fps on both High or Highest, with each high quality settings settling across the 56-65fps mark with all of Nvidia’s fancy HairWorks, TurfEffects, Shadowlibs and VXAO results turned off. Speeds took a little bit of a tumble after I began switching on HairWorks and TurfEffects, with each high quality settings as soon as once more producing similar-ish leads to the 40-48fps area, however I’ll admit that is fairly an enormous ask for even a few of right now’s desktop-grade graphics playing cards, not to mention trimmed down Max-Q laptop computer chips.
Indeed, the one games that basically made essentially the most of that 144Hz headroom had been Doom and Forza Horizon 4, with the previous rushing alongside between 100-120fps with fleeting highs of 140-odd, whereas the latter hit a median of 82fps on Ultra and 102fps on High.
This is okay when you play a whole lot of low-intensity esports games and fast-paced shooters, as these are the kinds of games which are more likely to hit these excessive body charges in comparison with your graphically-intense blockbusters. Older games are in all probability a very good match for revisiting in 144Hz as nicely, as even the HairWorks-ified Witcher III managed a beautiful 57-81fps on Ultra.
However, when you’re trying to purchase an Alienware m15 with the newest and biggest blockbusters in thoughts, you then’d in all probability be higher off saving your self a bit of money and choosing one of many 60Hz panel specs as a substitute, as I merely don’t assume you’re going to get a lot out of it until you begin compromising on high quality (which then begs the query why you’ve stumped up the money for a GTX 1070 laptop computer within the first place).
I do have one main concern with the Alienware m15’s gaming prowess, nevertheless, and that’s how poorly it coped with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Now, that is the primary laptop computer I’ve had on my desk since Odyssey got here out, so it’s troublesome to say whether or not this can be a particular fault of the m15, or the game basically. But man alive it was like watching the game homicide itself, the body price was so unhealthy.
To have a look at the benchmark scores in isolation would recommend all the pieces’s completely high quality. After all, a median of 55fps on Ultra High is nothing to smell out. But check out its minimal body price of simply 11fps, and the alarming frequency with which it dipped that low on its last graph, and one thing is certainly rotten within the state of Ancient Greece. It occurred in-game, too, the surroundings chopping and altering like a nasty stop-motion movie each time I moved the digital camera or ran in a straight line. It’s not good.
The prime suspect on this foul deed is the m15’s Core i7-8750H CPU, which was additionally yo-yoing far and wide in time with the body price stutters. It didn’t appear to be throttling, although, because it was commonly hitting its most six-core Turbo Boost pace of three.9GHz (the 4.1GHz pace in its specs is how briskly it could go when only a single core is enabled), so it might simply be the game isn’t notably nicely optimised for laptop computer use.
Still, nothing I attempted appeared to rectify the issue both. Changing the standard setting did nothing. Opening up the laptop computer’s Alienware Command Centre software program and switching its thermal profile to Performance did nothing (and proceeded to make no enchancment to any form of body price by any means after I tried it on different games, too). Its overclocking possibility didn’t appear to do something both. Nadda. Just louder and louder followers whirring up a storm with no tangible enchancment.
With my stuttering senses heightened by this horrible episode, I’ve to say I did then discover it taking place elsewhere, too. Only a really teensy bit, similar to in The Witcher III on Ultra and a minuscule quantity in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and I believe it in all probability stems again to similar form of thriller processor woes. Thankfully, the stuttering wasn’t unhealthy sufficient to make them unplayable, but it surely was disappointing nonetheless.
After all, Intel’s Core i7-8750H is likely one of the extra highly effective CPUs you will get on a laptop computer lately, so it needs to be as much as snuff with regards to gaming. I definitely didn’t appear to have a lot downside with it for on a regular basis duties, and it put in a very good efficiency after I ran it by Cinebench R15’s benchmark as nicely, scoring 167 within the single core take a look at and 1101 within the multicore take a look at.
The solely factor that basically held me up when utilizing the Alienware m15 as an on a regular basis laptop computer was its mildly irritating keyboard format. The keys themselves are nice, and I truly infinitely desire them and their agency, tactile suggestions to the marginally naff, ineffectual, maybe-you-pressed-this-maybe-you-didn’t keys alone Dell XPS 15 that I purchased simply earlier than Christmas.
They’re nice keys for typing on, however good gravy the format. The left Shift is simply too small, which implies I preserve urgent after I need to capitalise a letter, and the Zero on the quantity pad additionally doubles up as Insert, regardless of that operate already being the secondary operate of the Delete key.
I’m certain it’s one thing I’d in all probability get used to over long-term use, however the addition of the quantity pad definitely makes it really feel a fraction extra cramped than my quantity pad-less XPS 15. Still, the necessary factor is how they keys truly really feel, and on that time I’ve no complaints in any respect.
I’m additionally happy to report that Alienware have put an honest display on the m15 as nicely this time, which is a aid after the relatively sub-par shows on Dell’s Inspiron Gaming line. It’s no Alienware 13 OLED magnificence, however with 85% of the sRGB color gamut beneath its belt (which I ought to word is so much increased than Dell’s personal 72% determine on its specs sheet), it’s up there with the HP Omen X 17 and Asus ROG GL702ZC as one of many extra correct laptop computer shows I’ve examined to this point.
Indeed, mixed with its excessive, most brightness of 312cd/m2, colors seemed beautiful and vivid in games and on the desktop alike, and its excessive distinction ratio of 1355:1 meant there was loads of element to be present in darker, shadow scenes. Said shadows had been additionally beautiful and inky because of the display’s low black degree of 0.23cd/m2 (the nearer to 0.00cd/m2, the higher), and the display’s huge viewing angles made it very straightforward to get the display in a very good place, too – which was aided in no small half, I ought to add, by its extremely versatile hinge.
As for storage, the Alienware m15 comes with a myriad of choices starting from conventional HDDs within the US to single and double NVMe SSD combos. My overview pattern got here with a pair of 512GB NVMe SSDs, offering loads of area and buckets of pace for games and pictures alike. However, when you do plump for this explicit mannequin, nevertheless, I’d suggest putting in your games on the second of its two 512GB PCIe SSDs, as this scored sooner random learn and write speeds (43MB/s learn and 102MB/s write) in AS SSD in comparison with the first drive’s 36MB/s random learn and 93MB/s random write.
Overall, there’s so much to love concerning the new Alienware m15, however I do have a few lingering reservations about it that forestall me from giving it a full thumbs up. I’m not satisfied you actually need to spend the additional getting the 144Hz refresh price panel, for instance (particularly when within the UK you possibly can nonetheless get it in that beautiful nebula crimson chassis it doesn’t matter what configuration you choose), and I fear how nicely it is going to address different large blockbusters given the horrible time it had with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
As I stated above, this could be a one-off case that’s received nothing to do with the Alienware m15, particularly when all the pieces else in my benchmarking suite ran completely high quality with out problem, but it surely’s nonetheless given me the concern nonetheless. It’s one thing I’ll be preserving an in depth eye on as I get extra laptops in for overview over the approaching months, as a result of nobody needs to spend virtually two grand on a gaming laptop computer after which discover out it could’t play all the pieces you need it to. So I’m giving the Alienware m15 a tentative thumbs up for now, which I’m sincerely hoping I’ll have the ability to improve right into a full suggestion as soon as I’ve investigated the Great Odyssey Problem a bit extra. After all, the world is a greater place when it’s received extra crimson gaming laptops in it, and the Alienware m15 is simply too beautiful and slim to shove within the gutter.