REVIEW OF THE ALIENWARE M15 R5: “UNBEATABLE PERFORMANCE”
It’s been a long time since Dell introduced an Alienware laptop with an AMD CPU, but the new M15 R5 ‘Ryzen Edition’ promises a return to the heady days of AMD processors with Nvidia GPUs. Our review model comes with a brand-new Ryzen 7 5800H processor and one of those elusive RTX 3060 GPUs we’ve been looking for on eBay, turning it into a full-fledged RTX 3060 laptop, which is something many people want.
Design and features
The M15 R5 is an Alienware gaming laptop with a hefty price tag. This model costs about $1,500 / £1,500, with the highest-spec variant easily breaking the two-grand barrier. It’s not a cheap asking price for a gaming laptop, but if it’s one of the finest, with one of the greatest graphics cards and CPUs for gaming, it could well be worthwhile. Let’s take a closer look.
Dark Side of the Moon
This R5 is only available in ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ which is just a fancy way of saying ‘matte black.’ It complements the bright RGB lighting nicely. The keyboard includes customizable four-zone LED illumination beneath it, in addition to the illuminating stadium ring and Alienware logo on the back. However, the matte texture attracts smudges and fingerprints, so be careful.
Not fragile or shoddily built
In terms of construction quality, we’d say the M15 R5 meets industry standards. It’s not fragile or shoddily built in the same way that Razer laptops are, but we’ve seen laptops with sturdier construction. A slightly more robust hinge would have done wonders in this situation.
A fast 165Hz refresh rate
The M15 R5 features a 1080p display with a fast 165Hz refresh rate, which is perfect for twitch shooters like Valorant. Although the color reproduction isn’t the greatest we’ve seen, it’s clearly better than average. The screen is brilliant, and the 720p camera is housed in a tiny bezel (for a fifteen-inch gaming laptop). A pair of integrated speakers manage sound, and they do a good job – but they’re no match for a PC gaming headset or some of the greatest computer speakers, to be sure.
The most interesting components
Our review model’s 512GB SSD and 16GB of RAM aren’t exactly the most interesting components, but we were ecstatic to discover that both can be readily replaced by the user with a simple screwdriver. Too many gaming laptops glue their components to the motherboard, making upgrades impossible. The current RAM runs at a fast 3,200MHz, which really helps the Ryzen CPU.
Uninspiring physical connectivity
The physical connectivity is uninspiring, with only USB-A, USB-C, and HDMI connectors to choose from. For no apparent reason, ports like the SD card reader have been removed from this variant of the M15. Three ports (together with the AC charger socket) are situated on the laptop’s back edge, which is a plus for neat freaks but a disadvantage for those with limited work space. The Alienware Command Centre comes pre-installed on the M15 R5, but you can save yourself some time and ignore it because it is truly awful. It’s not uncommon for proprietary software to be used for system tuning, but it takes a lot of guts to do it this badly.
You may think that the RTX 3060 GPU, which drives this laptop’s gaming skills, is the star of the show, but that isn’t the case. The 5800H CPU is the true star of this system, with computing capability comparable to Intel’s but at a cheaper cost-per-part and longer battery life. While this is convenient for using your laptop while traveling, gaming without access to mains power will result in considerably worse performance owing to GPU wattage throttling. This is true of almost every gaming laptop, so it’s not a problem unique to the M15.
Both single-core and multi-core processors are available.
The 5800H is capable of handling a wide range of tasks, as seen by its ability to chew through our processor benchmarks with ease. The RTX 3060 delivers respectable, though not remarkable, performance in most games at maximum settings, with good 1080p performance in most titles. Thanks to the 5800H, CPU-intensive games (such as the Total War series) performed far better on average.