Laptop maker Dell has already upgraded its gaming line-up of products with the latest processors and more. These include the Dell G5 15 series and the top of the line Alienware laptop in India. This updated line-up has been around in the Indian market for some time now. However, the device has not been out there in the limelight due to the scene around the global pandemic. As per the announcement, the company has priced the base model for the Dell Alienware m15 R3 at Rs 1,99,990. Looking at the specifications on paper and the outgoing model R2; m15 is meant for hardcore gaming. Also Read - CES 2021: Dell Alienware m15 R4, m17 R4 refresh; Aurora Ryzen Edition R10 desktop announced
The m15 R3 features the latest 10th generation Intel Comet Lake chip with Nvidia GeForce RTX 2000 Super series cards. In addition, the company also claims that it has improved the cooling solution on the laptop to fix past concerns. Dell shared its top-of-the-line Alienware m15 R3 for review. Looking at the segment, Dell will compete with recently launched offerings from Asus, HP, and more in the market. Here is our review for the Alienware m15 R3 with the 10th generation Intel Core i9-10980HK processor. Also Read - Dell G5 15 5500 review: One for casual gamers
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Specifications, and variants of Dell Alienware m15 R3
Before the review, let’s talk about the specifications, pricing in India, and design on the Dell Alienware m15 R3. As noted above, the gaming laptop features up to 10th generation Intel Core i9 10980HK processor with 8 cores. The company also noted that the processor can hit up to 5.3GHz with the help of Turbo Boost 2.0. It also comes with up to 32GB DDR4 RAM at 2,666MHz clock speed and up to 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD. Moving to the GPU, we get up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super with 8GB GDDR6 memory and Max-Q design. Also Read - Best 5 laptops under Rs 30,000 to buy in India in Jan 2021
Our top-of-the-line review unit features a 15.6-inch OLED screen with UHD (3,840×2,160 pixels) resolution, 1ms response time, and 400-nits brightness. It also sports a 100 percent DCI-P3 color gamut with Tobii Eye-tracking technology and a 60Hz refresh rate. We also get a two-way woofer and tweeter setup. As part of the audio setup, Dell has also added a dedicated “Smart Amp Woofer” technology. The company has also upgraded its Alienware Cryo-Tech solution to keep thermals in control.
Talking about the ports, we get a power button on the back, an RJ-45 port with 2.5Gbps speed, and two Type-A ports with USB 3.2 Gen 1 protocol. Other ports include one Type-A port with USB 3.2 Gen 1 protocol and power share technology and one thunderbolt 3 port with DisplayPort 1.2 and 40Gbps bandwidth. The company has also added one “Alienware Graphics Amplifier”, one HDMI 2.0b port with HDCP 2.2 output, one mini-display port 1.4, one Audio Out port, and one microSD 5.1 care slot.
This laptop also features a per-key AlienFX RGB keyboard, Alienware HD webcam with dual-array microphone, trackpad, Killer Ethernet E3000, Killer Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth v5.1. Finally, it also features an 86Whr battery with up to 240W power adapter.
Design and build quality
Dell has not made any changes to the R3 when compared to Dell Alienware m15 R2. Overall, the exterior of the device is identical to the previous generation. But, regardless of the identical design, Alienware m15 R3 manages to hold its own in a crowded gaming laptop segment. The highlight of the design is likely the “Lunar Light” paint along with “High endurance clear coat” to prevent stains. This white paint works well with the RBG lighting around the device. These include the glow up “Alien” logo on the top of the laptop.
The second Alien logo located on the top right corner of the keyboard also serves as the power button. Other RGB elements include the per-key RBG and the RBG lighting line on the backside of the laptop. All these things make Alienware m15 R3 quite unique. Though, I wish the bottom bezel of the screen was slightly thinner for a more for an even more refined look.
Beyond the design, the laptop also comes with significant heft at about 2.1 kg. One can attribute this weight to the Magnesium alloy used to craft the device. Other factors include beefy, and improved heat pipes inside the machine. The laptop is extremely sturdy and does not offer any flex. You won’t be disappointed by the build quality of the laptop. Though the weight does make it somewhat less ideal for portability.
Dell Alienware m15 R3 Performance
As per the claims, Dell seems to have made some significant improvements to the performance of the m15 R3. To clarify, it is worth noting that the R2 also offered good raw performance. However, as per multiple reports online; one thing that pulled down the entire device was its cooling performance. The cooling solution was not able to cool down the components for consistent performance over extended periods of time. However, now, the company seems to have improved everything with larger fan blades for the CPU and GPU cooling fans. This also backs up its built-in ability to easily overclock the CPU and GPU of the laptop. Beyond this, the R3 features the latest 10th generation Intel Core processors. During the briefing, we got to know that Dell is aiming at maximum performance without compromise on the m15 R3. Let’s see how it performs here.
Jumping in the first aspect, looking at daily use, you won’t face any problems when it comes to the Alienware m15 R3. The latest Intel processor along with 32GB RAM and more than 5GHz single-core speed ensures smooth operation across multiple tasks.
Considering Alienware, we obviously need to check out the gaming performance of the device. We tested a multitude of AAA games and the laptop did not disappoint. These titles include Crysis Remastered, Far Cry New Dawn, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Borderlands 3, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Doom Eternal, Control, and GTA V. Alienware m15 R3 got through all these games without any issues. The laptop did get quite hot with average temperatures reaching more than 99 degrees Celsius. However, even after thermal throttling as per HWInfo, the device managed to offer impressive performance.
You can control the thermal and power profiles of the laptop from the Alienware Command Center app. By default, both the thermal and power profiles were set to “Balanced” with no over-clock out-of-the-box. We did not change the settings though we are sure that the numbers will vary in the “Performance” or “Full Speed” thermal profile or “High performance” power model.
Another thing regarding the thermals is that we did not observe any discomfort from the heat as all the regular spots maintained decent temperatures. However, the bottom side of the laptop did get quite toasty. This means that like the recently reviewed ROG Zephyrus S17, the m15 R3 is also limited to tables for extended gaming sessions.
Frames and benchmarks
Inspecting the benchmarks, we got 1,083 in the single-core test and 7,134 in the multi-core CPU test on Geekbench 5 Pro. Moving to PCMark 10, we got 5,155, 1,508 in the Cinebench R15 CPU test, and 122.37 fps on the OpenGL test. We also got 3,428 in Cinebench R20, 8,291 in Time Spy, 27,777 in Sky Diver, and 18,244 in Fire Strike on 3DMark.
As for the games, we got an average fps of 59 in Far Cry New Dawn at high settings, 67fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at high in FHD resolution. We also got 76fps in Borderlands 3. The m15 R3 also showed 45fps in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, 60fps in Doom Eternal, and 50fps in GTA V.
Display and speakers on Dell Alienware m15 R3
Beyond the performance and design, one of the highlights of the device is likely the display. The 4K OLED panel offers stunning color reproduction along with impressive viewing angles. Design-wise, as mentioned above, I do wish that the bottom bezel was a bit smaller but the “Alienware” logo does an okay job of occupying the space. Our review unit came with 4K at 60Hz refresh rate which is ideal for content creation. But, if you want to go all out regarding gaming, get the FHD at 300Hz panel. Though, considering the brand, I do wish if the company could pack a high refresh rate IPS display on the higher-end model.
In addition, the company has also added IR sensors for its Tobii eye-tracking technology. Beyond selective support, while gaming, one of the most impressive uses that I have seen is the automatic brightness control. As part of the feature, the Alienware m15 R3 keeps track of your eyes and pushes the brightness level lower if you are not looking at the screen. As soon as you turn back to the screen, the brightness goes to its default. This helps the device save some amount of battery.
Talking about the speakers, we get decent bottom-firing speakers, but they are not as impressive to drown out the relatively loud noise of the fans while gaming. Instead, we would suggest you use a dedicated pair of in-ear or over-ear earbuds or headphones. For content consumption, it is best to use Bluetooth speakers. The device also features an okay enough webcam for video calls and more.
Keyboard and trackpad
Dell packs one of the best keyboards and trackpads in its laptops in the market. Even though the keyboard is not as impressive as the one we get on Lenovo ThinkPad laptops, it sure seems identical to the ones on its XPS lineup. However, the chiclet keyboard design offers an impressive amount of key travel along with a decent actuation force. I do wish that the keys were a little bit spread out to make the experience the best from the bunch. Beyond this, we also get one of the best trackpads with Windows precision drivers and a glass-like surface.
Software on Alienware m15 R3
Alienware m15 R3 comes with Windows 10 Home and a number of in-house apps from Dell. These apps include My Alienware, Alienware Command Center, Alienware Customer Connect, Alienware Digital Delivery, and Alienware Mobile Connect. It also includes Alienware OnScreen Display, Alienware Update, Intel Graphics Command Center, and Intel Optane Memory and Storage Management. Other apps include Killer Control Center, Realtek Audio Console, SupportAssist, Tobii Experience, and Thunderbolt Control Center. Here, My Alienware works like the one-stop app to handle every aspect of your laptop. Alienware Mobile Connect works similar to the “Your Phone” app allows users to easily transfer images and mirror their smartphone display and notifications on the laptop. Beyond this, Alienware Command Center allows users to customize the lighting of the laptop along with CPU, and GPU overclocks, and more. All the features work as intended though I would appreciate if the lighting control section was a bit more simplified with some built-in themes.
Finally, similar to most gaming laptops, there is nothing extraordinary about the battery on the Dell Alienware m15 R3. The laptop offers about 2.5-3 hours of battery backup on regular use. It is worth noting that Dell has also added Nvidia Optimus technology This number is about 1 hour if I am playing a game. However, to get the best performance, it is always advised to play games while the laptop is plugged in. It took about 1.5 hours to charge back the battery from 0 to 100 percent. It is also good that the company has note used the Type-M or “Power Plug” along with the massive 240W power adaptor.
Verdict: Should you buy the Dell Alienware m15 R3?
Looking at the hardware, the Dell Alienware m15 R3 is not very different from the m15 R2 that launched last year. However, the R3 takes care of one of the major complaints regarding thermals and fixes it. The company tweaked its cooling system to make sure that the laptop can provide impressive performance. The cherry on the top is the fact that the device also allows overclocking support out-of-the-box. Beyond this improvement, the company struck to its strengths of a great finish, RGB, impressive display, and built quality. I do hope and wish for some tweaks in the design including the keyboard, and bottom bezel of the display. However, beyond all this, the m14 R3 is a great machine.
Looking at the price, our review unit is priced at Rs 3,39,990 which one can get the Core i7 model with GeForce RTX 2070 at Rs 2,64,590. Considering that the laptop starts at Rs 1,99,990, I feel that the price premium is well worth what you are getting. Get this if you want absolute performance along with overclocking support at the cost of heat and weight. However, if you want something light and cool then better look at other options.