Alienware’s m15 is a shocking new take on the humongous laptop: it’s not humongous. It’s still a powerhouse that handles 1080p gaming with apparent ease. But now it fits in a backpack.
I’ve only spent a couple of days with the m15, but my experience so far has given me a few early impressions. Alienware is here to take some risks with the new m15, and chief among them is the aesthetic. This includes less lighting, a smaller body, and new color schemes.
The m15 comes in two finish options: Epic Silver and Nebula Red. The silver is elegant, classy, and wouldn’t look out of place on your office desk. The red, on the other hand, is a bit different. It’s so gorgeous, I heard Etta James’ “At Last” playing in my head as I unboxed it.
I’ve made it my personal quest to criticize gadget makers, designers, and engineers for the overwhelmingly dark, gray, and black aesthetic that seems to encompass tech (with the exception of Apple’s products).
It’s a thankless crusade but pulling Alienware’s Nebula Red m15 out of its box, with it’s slim new design and delightful soft-touch finish, made it all feel worthwhile.
Right off the bat it’s apparent that things have changed. Alienware didn’t wave a magic wand (obviously it beamed the designs down from the mothership) to accomplish the much reduced footprint without losing power.
The m15 has a new cooling system featuring a dual intake and exhaust port system. In my limited experience the fans aren’t any noisier than previous models, but I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison yet.
I tested it with State of Decay 2, which can get fairly taxing on lesser systems. I’m happy to report that after staying up far too late killing zombies … Microsoft has finally fixed the game and it’s a delight.
But, as far as the laptop is concerned, the news is even better. The GTX 1070 card, Intel 8th gen i7 processor, and 16 GB of RAM (in the version we’re reviewing) ensured my gaming experience was silky smooth. The m15 performed perfectly in my limited testing.
I maxed out the settings, kicked back, and didn’t so much as experience the tiniest stutter in framerate. It’s a dream machine for gaming, so far, and I look forward to testing it with more taxing AAA titles and as many Rift and Oculus VR titles as I can find time for.
I have mixed feelings about the new keyboard. Alienware laptops have always had excellent keys but this year they’re a few millimeters shallower. It’s not ideal for typing, if you’re used to keys with more travel.
And, the entire keyboard layout is shifted to the left a bit (compared to previous Alienware models) to make room for the first full size number pad on a 15-inch Alienware laptop. I love the number pad, but setting my hands in the right spot is going to take some practice.
In summation, the m15 hits all the right notes up front and doesn’t appear to have lost a lick of power in the transition from behemoth to something more portable.
A full review with a deep dive into all the m15’s bells and whistles is forthcoming, but for now it’s pretty easy to recommend the m15 to pure gamers.
I’m not sure if it’ll have the range to be your everyday machine. But I have no qualms saying anyone who wants a top-notch gaming machine that’s actually convenient to travel with shouldn’t be disappointed.
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