The Dell Alienware m15 is a powerful yet portable 15-inch gaming laptop designed and manufactured by Dell’s premium gaming brand, Alienware. First released in 2018, the Dell Alienware m15 combines the high-end performance that the Alienware brand is known for with a slimmer, more compact chassis compared to previous Alienware 15 models.
Several generations of the Alienware m15 have been released since its initial launch, with the latest being the Alienware m15 R7 in 2022. Each new iteration has brought improvements to the display, internals, thermal design, and overall gaming experience offered by this 15-inch gaming rig.
With advanced specs like Intel Core i7/i9 processors and Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics, the Dell Alienware m15 is intended for serious gamers who want a capable and immersive gaming machine in a slimmer form factor compared to bulky gaming laptops. Its premium design and build quality also set it apart from more affordable gaming laptop brands.
This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth review of the Dell Alienware m15’s design, display quality, performance, battery life, ergonomics, software features, pricing, and more. We’ll help you determine if the Alienware m15 is the right gaming laptop for your needs and budget.
Design and Build Quality
The Dell Alienware m15 features a slim profile and angled design lines that give it an edgy, futuristic aesthetic fitting for a gaming laptop. Available color options include Epic Silver, Nebula Red, and Dark Side of the Moon (matte black).
The lid and interior surfaces use a soft touch plastic finish that feels premium and resists fingerprints. While the m15 is slimmer than previous Alienware 15 laptops, it still retains a sturdy, solid build with minimal flex thanks to its magnesium alloy internal frame.
At just 0.83 inches thin and weighing between 4.5-5.5 pounds depending on the configuration, the Dell Alienware M15 delivers impressive portability for a gaming laptop given the powerful components it packs inside.
Portability Compared to Other Models
Compared to the previous Alienware 15 R3, which measured 1 inch thick and 5.8 pounds, the m15 shaves off some thickness and weight for improved mobility. It’s also slimmer than the Alienware m17 R5 (1 inch thick, 6.1 pounds).
The Dell Alienware M15 is still slightly heavier than true ultraportable gaming laptops like the Razer Blade 15 (4.7 pounds) and MSI GS65 Stealth Thin (4.2 pounds). But it’s comparable in weight to other 15-inch gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Strix G15 (5.1 pounds) while retaining a premium, sturdy build.
The Dell Alienware M15 measures 14.3 x 10.8 x 0.83 inches in terms of dimensions. This makes it smaller than the Alienware m17 (15.7 x 11.6 x 1 inch) but slightly larger than the more compact Razer Blade 15 (13.98 x 9.25 x 0.68 inches).
Overall, the Dell Alienware M15 hits a good balance between portable dimensions and sturdy construction that can handle moving around and taking trips. Gamers prioritizing premium build quality in a slim form will appreciate the m15’s design.
Display and Visuals
The Dell Alienware M15 is equipped with a bright and vivid 15.6-inch display available in various resolutions and refresh rates to match different budgets and preferences.
Configuration options include:
- Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 165Hz
- Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 360Hz
- QHD (2560 x 1440) at 240Hz
- UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 60Hz
The panel used is an IPS display which provides wider viewing angles and better color accuracy compared to cheaper TN panels. AMD FreeSync or Nvidia G-Sync technology can be configured for smoother variable refresh rate gaming depending on the graphics card selected.
Out of the box, the Dell Alienware M15 covers close to 100% of the sRGB color gamut which is great for gaming. Higher-end configs with OLED or IPS panels can reach 100% DCI-P3 coverage for more vivid and accurate colors.
Image Quality and Viewing Experience
With brightness levels exceeding 300 nits, the m15’s display is bright enough for comfortable viewing indoors and outdoors. The anti-glare coating also helps minimize reflections.
Colors and contrast are excellent thanks to the IPS panel. Games really come alive with deep blacks and vivid, accurate colors like the neon lights of Cyberpunk 2077. HDR content also looks great with support for Dolby Vision on higher tier configs.
The high 165Hz or 360Hz refresh rate options enable extremely fluid, tear-free gaming by syncing the display’s refresh rate with the GPU’s frame rate. Fast-paced competitive esports titles really shine on the m15 thanks to the buttery smooth visuals from the high refresh rates.
Viewing angles are also wide thanks to the IPS panel so colors don’t shift when viewing the screen off-center, which is useful when gaming with others.
Overall, the Dell Alienware M15 provides an immersive, responsive, and bright display that brings games and media to life. Gamers who want fast refresh rates for competitive gaming or a 4K panel for maximum details will appreciate the display options available.
Performance and Hardware
To deliver an exceptional gaming experience, the Dell Alienware M15 is equipped with high-end specs including Intel Core i7 or i9 processors and Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics.
CPU options consist of:
- Intel Core i7-12700H (12th Gen)
- Intel Core i7-11800H (11th Gen)
- Intel Core i9-11900H (11th Gen)
For graphics, you can configure the m15 with:
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 6GB
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti 8GB
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 16GB
These new RTX 30-series GPUs provide incredible performance thanks to new RT cores for ray tracing and AI-powered DLSS for boosted frame rates.
The Dell Alienware M15 also comes equipped with fast DDR5 4800MHz RAM up to 64GB and speedy PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDs up to 4TB. There are two RAM slots and two M.2 slots for storage expansion. Killer Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 6 connectivity ensures low latency wireless gaming.
Real-World Gaming Performance
With the RTX 3070 Ti graphics and Core i7 processor, the m15 delivers well over 60fps on max settings in demanding AAA games like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p.
Esports titles easily surpass 144fps, enabling high frame rate gaming on 165Hz or 360Hz displays. Performance is on par with or exceeds comparable gaming laptops like the Razer Blade 15 and Asus ROG Strix.
Ray tracing is also handled admirably thanks to the dedicated RT cores in the RTX 30-series GPUs. Frame rates remain very playable in ray traced games like Control and Watch Dogs Legion with DLSS enabled.
Overall, the Dell Alienware M15 provides exceptional 1080p and 1440p gaming performance capable of high frame rates across modern titles. It can even handle 4K gaming at medium to high settings.
To keep temperatures in check, the Dell Alienware M15 utilizes upgraded Cryo-Tech cooling with turbo fans, pipe heat exchangers, and vapor chamber technology. Performance remains high under sustained loads.
Fans can get loud when gaming, but usually a pair of headphones will drown them out. The optional liquid metal thermal compound on higher-end configs further boosts cooling capacity for enhanced performance.
With its cutting-edge RTX 30-series graphics, latest Intel processors, high-speed memory and NVMe storage, the Alienware m15 delivers incredible gaming power in its thin yet strongly built chassis.
Battery Life of the Dell Alienware m15
For a powerful gaming laptop, the Dell Alienware M15 delivers surprisingly solid battery life thanks to its large battery capacity.
The Dell Alienware M15 is equipped with either a 56Wh or 86Wh battery depending on the configuration. The higher capacity 86Wh battery provides significantly longer run times away from an outlet.
In tests, the Dell Alienware M15 lasted almost 8.5 hours in light web browsing and video streaming with the screen at 50% brightness. This beats out competitors like the Asus ROG Zephyrus, which last under 3 hours in similar tests.
Real world battery life while gaming is closer to 2-3 hours with the 86Wh battery, but still enough for some casual gaming away from the charger. Lowering screen brightness and enabling battery saver modes can further extend unplugged gaming time.
Gaming does drain the battery rapidly, but just for everyday work and productivity away from your desk the m15 has enough juice to get through most of a work or school day without issue.
The beefy 240W power brick can fully charge the m15 in just over 2 hours when you do need to top up. But the long-lasting battery means you don’t always need to carry the charger which is a nice benefit for a gaming laptop of this caliber.
If you want a gaming laptop that can actually be used away from a charger for things like web browsing, video streaming, and office work, the Dell Alienware M15 is a great choice compared to many competitors.
Keyboard, Touchpad, and Speakers
The Dell Alienware M15 offers a comfortable, responsive keyboard for gaming or typing. The keyboard features per-key RGB backlighting that can be customized through Alienware’s Command Center software.
Key travel is deep at 1.7mm with a tactile feel that provides satisfying feedback. The keys are evenly spaced in a standard layout with large letter keys. Common gaming keys like WASD stand out with a unique font. A full numeric keypad is omitted for a more compact layout.
The glass precision touchpad is equally responsive for controlling games and Windows navigation. Gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger swiping work flawlessly. With dedicated left and right click buttons, the touchpad provides a great mouse alternative when not gaming with a dedicated gaming mouse.
The audio quality from the dual speakers is surprisingly good with clear sound and audible bass. Volume can be cranked up very high without distortion. Sound profile presets are available through Command Center software to tailor audio to different game genres.
The HD webcam and integrated microphone pick up clear audio for voice chat or in-game communications. An external gaming headset can also be plugged into the 3.5mm combo audio jack or USB-A ports for upgraded voice and in-game sound.
Between the satisfying keyboard, accurate touchpad, and solid audio hardware, the Dell Alienware M15 provides a great interface for both gaming and productivity. Everything from in-game controls to typing up paperwork is a seamless experience.
The Dell Alienware M15 comes pre-installed with Windows 11 Home to provide the latest gaming-optimized features from Microsoft. Alienware’s Command Center software is also bundled to enable customization and system monitoring.
Command Center gives you granular control over RGB lighting across multiple zones, allowing complex lighting effects to be set. Performance profiles can be created to customize power delivery, fan speeds, overclocking and more for individual games.
An integrated game library automatically tunes performance profiles when specific game titles are launched. Hardware monitoring lets you track temperatures, clock speeds and other vital system info.
Dolby Atmos spatial audio software is included for immersive sound when using headphones or speakers. The AlienFX SDK allows other apps like Razer Chroma to sync lighting effects with Alienware devices.
McAfee LiveSafe provides security features like antivirus scanning, firewall protection, and data encryption out of the box. This can be extended or swapped for other antivirus software if desired.
Optional software like Photoshop Elements for media creation can be added for additional cost. Clean Windows 11 installation without bloatware allows you to customize the m15’s software loadout based on your needs.
The Alienware m15 pairs Windows 11 with useful gaming-centric utilities for customization and performance tuning without unnecessary bloat hampering the out-of-box experience.
Pricing and Configurations
The Dell Alienware M15 starts at an MSRP of $1449.99 but can go up to $2,800+ for fully loaded configs. Here is a rundown of the key hardware differences between configurations:
- Intel Core i7-12700H
- Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti 4GB
- 16GB RAM
- 512GB SSD
- 165Hz 1080p display
- Intel Core i7-12700H
- Nvidia RTX 3060 6GB
- 16GB RAM
- 512GB SSD
- 165Hz 1080p display
- Intel Core i7-12700H
- Nvidia RTX 3070 Ti 8GB
- 32GB RAM
- 1TB SSD
- 240Hz 1440p display
- Intel Core i9-12900HK
- Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti 16GB
- 64GB RAM
- 4TB SSD
- 360Hz 1080p display
As you scale up in price, you get access to better displays, faster RAM and storage, and more powerful graphics. Side-by-side comparisons on Dell’s site make it easy to weigh different configs.
Compared to alternatives like the Razer Blade 15, Asus ROG Strix G15, and Acer Predator Helios 300, the Alienware m15 is priced competitively for the premium quality and performance provided.
Our Verdict on the Dell Alienware M15
The Dell Alienware M15 earns its spot as one of the best high-end 15-inch gaming laptops on the market today. It packs the latest Intel and Nvidia components into a uniquely styled yet slim chassis while retaining Alienware’s signature build quality and extras.
- Excellent 1080p and 1440p gaming performance
- Premium, futuristic design with a thin profile
- Vivid high refresh rate display options
- Surprisingly good battery life
- Robust port selection with the latest connectors
- Top-notch keyboard, touchpad and speakers
- Expensive, especially for higher-end configs
- Design may not appeal to all gamers
- Fan noise under heavy loads
- Limited to 1080p webcam
For gamers who want a stylish, capable gaming rig with plenty of power, the Dell Alienware M15 is a top choice. Competitive esports players will love the buttery smooth visuals from the high refresh rate screens. The m15 can handle any modern AAA game while also doubling for productivity and content creation.
Shoppers on tighter budgets may want to consider mid-range options like the Asus TUF Dash F15 or Acer Nitro 5. But the m15 stands out with its premium materials, excellent performance and highly customizable configurations to match your budget.
Overall the Dell Alienware M15 maintains Alienware’s reputation for excellence, now in a more portable package ideal for gaming on the go. It’s a worthy investment for serious gamers who like Alienware’s unique aesthetic and top-tier hardware.