There are a lot of enhancements to the Alienware 15 over the previous models, both for style and substance. Especially substance -- it's got lots more metal.
The big angled edges have been replaced with a "front-forward" hinge.
The cover's essentially the same (although the reflection of the crossword in the alienhead here is a little freaky looking). Alienware has swapped some connectors and moved them around; in this case, more are on the back where they're less likely to get tangled up with your corded accessories, like the mouse.
We've lost the SD card slot. instead, there's a dedicated connector for the Alienware Accelerator, the company's external GPU unit. The Mini DisplayPort connector supports an external G-Sync monitor.
Left side connectors
This USB-C/Thunderbolt connector supports an external display, though not with G-Sync. There's also a second Type-A USB 3, microphone and headphone/headset connectors.
Now the right side has just a single USB port.
Same keyboard layout
However, it's now steel reinforced with better travel and more flexible programmable lighting. It's really quite nice to use for both gaming and writing, though it feels more membrane than mechanical. And it seemed to handle concurrent input for running, jumping, firing and eviscerating pretty well.
We tested the model with the 120Hz, G-Sync compatible TN+WVA HD display, which is bright and fast, with a tested 93 percent coverage of the sRGB color gamut.
It also retains the light-up strips along the sides.
It's not an atypical or new feature, but it's one of my favorites since I work and play in the dark.
It weighs a hefty 7.8 pounds/3.5kg.
With its processor and GTX 1070 GPU, the laptop is VR ready. However, it doesn't have quite enough USB Type-A ports for the gear. You can use USB-C to Type-A adapters for that, though.
There's a built-in mic, IR camera for Windows Hello and a 75-degree 1,280x720 webcam. In addition, an IR emitter is used for sensing, and the Tobii Aware software uses it to detect your presence and change power-saving settings when you're not in front. The 15-inch doesn't have Tobii Eye Tracking, though; only the Alienware 17 does.
The Alienware TactX software and keyboard supports more zones, and customizable profiles for supporting software.
The touchpad is about average for a gaming laptop; that is, it's hit-or-miss for sensing gestures.
LIke a lot of gaming laptops, the Alienware 15 has a set of programmable macro keys down the left side of the keyboard.
The keys are flat but still provide a decent amount of travel and bounce.
Because it houses a full GTX 1070, it's a bit thick and requires a lot of airflow.
The front-firing speakers are more powerful than the earlier model's.
It never got too hot to put on my lap.
The updated model has a lot more venting for better airflow. The company also says it's been treated to resist fingerprints and smudges.
It retains the alienhead power button.