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Alienware m15 R2 review: Sublime style and speed for gamers on the go

For gaming, you can use its eye-tracking-enabled tools to learn which areas of the screen you're focusing on too much or not enough and improve your response times. If you stream your gaming, it'll let you show viewers where you're looking and, on Twitch, you can just glance to switch between visualizations like heatmaps, shadow and spotlight.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The keyboard and glass touchpad have the feel and performance that you'd find on one of Dell's premium XPS laptops. The keyboard has a fair amount of travel considering the shallow deck and I didn't experience any ghosting or rollover issues. For gaming laptops, I still prefer to have discrete touchpad keys for casual point-and-click games when I don't have a mouse, but the one here is otherwise great. 

The system's speakers sound good, too, but to really enjoy the gaming experience you'll want to put on some headphones. There's no bass here to speak of, so things like explosions and soundtracks are lacking a bottom end. Also, like on last year's m15, the power and display outputs as well as the connector for the external Alienware Graphics Amplifier are on the back. This at least makes it slightly tidier when connecting to peripherals for a more desktoplike experience. 

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In addition to the rear ports there are three USB-A ports, a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port and a headphone jack on the sides.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Hertz so good

Alienware offers four display options for the m15: 60Hz, 144Hz and 240Hz full-HD panels and an ultra-HD-resolution OLED with a 60Hz refresh rate. That last one seems best suited for those who plan to do both content creation and gaming with the m15. I tested the 240Hz panel and if you've only ever played on a 60Hz display, the high refresh rate here makes a big difference, especially for fast-paced first-person shooters. 

With the components in my configuration you can take advantage of the refresh rate speed in games like CS:GO, Fortnite and Overwatch. If those are key games for you, you might want to spend more for the faster panel. Otherwise, go with the 144Hz panel for titles like Far Cry V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Battlefield V because you're just not going to hit those superhigh frame rates with this mobile GPU. Graphics performance is pretty great from this laptop with the RTX 2080 in it and the smoothness from the faster refresh rate makes the experience more immersive. It's one of those things you don't notice until you switch back to a 60Hz display.

Battery life was decent as well for a gaming laptop, clocking 4 hours, 25 minutes in our streaming video playback test. However, you can expect significantly less while gaming. Still, you'll be able to head to a coffee shop and get a few hours of work done in between plugged-in gaming sessions. 

Overall, Alienware's m15 R2 is a beautiful thin-and-light gaming laptop. If you're concerned less about its looks than about getting more for your money, consider getting the older m15 instead. 

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

Origin PC Evo 16-S
23251
Alienware m15 R2
21592
HP Omen X 2S
21352
Razer Blade (2019, OLED)
19641

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

Origin PC Evo 16-S
1241
Alienware m15 R2
1158
Razer Blade (2019, OLED)
1073
HP Omen X 2S
1010

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Video playback battery drain test (streaming)

Origin PC Evo 16-S
321
Alienware m15 R2
265
Razer Blade (2019, OLED)
174

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Alienware m15 R2
5013
Origin PC Evo 16-S
4548
Razer Blade (2019, OLED)
4330
HP Omen X 2S
4106

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Far Cry 5 gaming test

Origin PC Evo 16-S
108
Alienware m15 R2
90
HP Omen X 2S
82
Razer Blade (2019, OLED)
82

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (fps)

Shadow of the Tomb Raider gaming test

Origin PC Evo 16-S
88
HP Omen X 2S
84
Alienware m15 R2
82
Razer Blade (2019, OLED)
82

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (fps)

PCMark 10 Pro Edition

HP Omen X 2S
6194
Origin PC Evo 16-S
5953
Alienware m15 R2
5746
Razer Blade (2019, OLED)
5649

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (fps)

3DMark Time Spy

Alienware m15 R2
7892
Origin PC Evo 16-S
7346
Razer Blade (2019, OLED)
6634
HP Omen X 2S
6304

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Port Royal (RTX)

Alienware m15 R2
4870
Origin PC Evo 16-S
4322
Razer Blade (2019, OLED)
4198
HP Omen X 2S
3904

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Alienware m15 R2 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design; 1TB Intel Raid 0
Origin PC Evo 16-S Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design; 512GB SSD + 2TB HDD
HP Omen X 2S Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design; 1TB SSD
Razer Blade (2019, OLED) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,667MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 with Max-Q Design; 512GB SSD

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