Before I got my hands on the Alienware M15 R7 Gaming Laptop, I lived in a world where I was completely happy with my desktop PC. Now, some time removed from having the laptop in my possession, I stare at my PC and think, “you need to step up your game.”
The review unit of the Alienware M15 R7 came with a 12th Gen Intel Core i7 12700H (2.3 GHz), 64 GB of RAM, a 1 TB hard drive and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti. It also came with Windows 11 Home preloaded. Just looking at the specs of this thing had me starting up a new budget for some upgrades to my PC. I knew that this was going to be a powerhouse.
The first thing you notice when you take it out of the box, however, is that it is a plastic chassis that is quite heavy. The M15 R7 weighs at least 5lbs and doesn’t even have a metal body that would help justify it. Adding to that, it has a gigantic 240W power supply. It is bulky and not a very portable option for a laptop, so if you are looking to take it around with you, you may want to rethink it.
Touring around the Alienware M15 R7, you notice some nice things right away. A lot of the ports, including the power, HDMI Out and an additional USB port, are on the back of the laptop. As a peripheral-happy boy who often outputs his laptops to extend to additional monitors, I was happy to see this because I hate when my laptop looks like a spider with cables flowing out from either side of the machine.
“The M15 R7 weighs at least 5lbs and doesn’t even have a metal body that would help justify it.”
The M15 R7’s RGB Keyboard had bright colours and was customizable with AlienFX Lightning Zones, allowing for upwards of 16.8 Million distinct colours. Additional RGB is available around the rear of the device surrounding the ports and the Alienware Logo itself lights up.
The display was a crisp 15.6” 1080p 360Hz monitor with 1ms response time and Nvidia G-Sync. The colours were vivid and accurate and the motion was incredibly smooth. Beyond the sights were the sounds with two 2.5W stereo speakers that put out some serious sound. For those of you who don’t use the speakers on a laptop because you are headphone people, the M15 R7 has a universal headset jack and also supports USB or Bluetooth headsets.
Gaming on this bad boy was a dream. On my PC, I am able to play most games at max specs and still output a frame rate that matches my monitor’s capabilities, but this monitor’s 360Hz refresh rate is beyond any of my monitors. With that in mind, I was still able to max out the settings on games like Fortnite, Apex Legends and GTA V and still crush 60 frames per second. Fortnite actually averaged over 300 fps consistently.
“Ordering the M15 R7 on Dell’s website, the whole laptop is customizable. The CPU, GPU, Storage, Memory, display, and keyboard can all be swapped out.”
If you’re someone who thinks that that jump in frame rate wouldn’t make a difference in your gaming, think again. It is like Neo discovering he is the one and seeing the Matrix for the first time. Everything is familiar, but it looks like new.
Editing is another important part of any computer for me. The ability to play unrendered content without lag and export in a timeframe that doesn’t require me to shave in between is imperative not only to my productivity, but my mental health. While loading effects and titles onto 4K content, I was able to play through my content in real time with no issues and export speeds were up from my Ryzen 5/RTX 2060 PC by about 40%.
The one byproduct of putting the Alienware’s beefy GPU to work is its incredibly loud fans. Attempts to stream on this laptop would be successful, but your audio would struggle due to the sheer volume of the laptop’s cooling system. A laptop this powerful generates a ton of heat, which you can feel shooting out of the side of the machine when those fans kick on. So the good news is that it does its job well, but the bad news is it doesn’t do it quietly.
Ordering the M15 R7 on Dell’s website, the whole laptop is customizable. The CPU, GPU, Storage, Memory, display, and keyboard can all be swapped out. While my review unit came pretty tricked out, you can have a slightly more modest, albeit still powerful version. The prices range anywhere in the $2000s depending on what components you choose. It is worth noting that choosing certain components locks you to other components (e.g. choosing a specific GPU means you have to go with a specific CPU).