PROS

+ New GeForce RTX 3070 GPU is capable of 60fps ray tracing

+ Long battery life for its laptop class

+ Standout aesthetic

+ Attractive 4K OLED display in our review configuration

+ 1TB of SSD storage

+ Plenty of useful ports

+ Customizable keyboard (Per Key) and chassis lighting

CONS

– 60Hz 4K display a debatable choice for gaming

– Achieving 60fps at 4K with ray tracing enabled is still a bridge too far for this GPU

ALIENWARE M15 R4 SPECS

Laptop ClassGaming
ProcessorIntel Core i7-10870H
Processor Speed2.2 GHz
RAM (as Tested)16 GB
Boot Drive TypeSSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested)1 TB
Screen Size15.6 inches
Native Display Resolution3840 by 2160
Touch ScreenNo
Panel TechnologyOLED
Variable Refresh SupportNone
Screen Refresh Rate60 Hz
Graphics ProcessorNvidia GeForce RTX 3070
Graphics Memory8 GB
Wireless NetworkingBluetooth, 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
Dimensions (HWD)0.8 by 14.19 by 10.86 inches
Weight4.65 lbs
Operating SystemWindows 10
Tested Battery Life (Hours)6 Hours 46 Minutes

One of our favorite gaming laptops of 2020 was the Alienware m15 R3, which stood out for its distinctive design and powerful hardware. The m15 R4 is a component level redesign that keeps the same chassis but includes Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30 Series “Ampere” GPUs, which were recently introduced for laptops at CES 2021 earlier this month. It is priced starting at $2,149.99 ($2,499 as tested). The RTX 3070 in our test unit provides observable frame rate improvements over its predecessors, particularly at higher resolutions, and enables 60 frames per second (fps) ray tracing on laptops.

Alienware M15 R4 Image

Even if it isn’t as much of a step forward from the GeForce RTX 20 Series as it was on the desktop, the m15 R4 is a promising first look at what should be standard in high end workstations by the end of the year. Our specific m15 setup adds extra expense with a 4K OLED display and 1TB of solid state storage. The main takeaway? Alienware’s lower-resolution, higher refresh rate screen alternatives will be superior choices for serious gamers. Thanks to the newest silicon from Nvidia, one of our favorite laptops is now even quicker. It continues to be our Editors’ Choice for premium gaming laptops.

Style (Design)

This version of the m15 is identical to the previous one in terms of size and design. The new GPU is the highlight of the internal improvements. I won’t spend too much time on the design because this isn’t a better build, but here are the essentials.

Rear lights for the Alienware m15
The chassis weighs 4.65 pounds and has HWD dimensions of 0.8 by 14.19 by 10.86 inches. That results in a laptop of average size, which is suitable for a powerful gaming computer. In a way, the fact that the body hasn’t altered is equally impressive given the increased GPU power that is being added internally.

The styling has a unique sci-fi aesthetic that stands out and may cause controversy but adds some distinctive flair. Ours is the primarily white Lunar Light color scheme, although the laptop is also available in the largely gray Dark Side of the Moon color scheme. A few programmable LEDs on the keyboard’s back border and some honeycomb ventilation complete the design. Check out our mid 2020 review of the m15 R3 for additional opinions on the build, particularly the keyboard and touchpad.

The display is the one feature that clearly distinguishes this device from the previous one, however, this is a configuration difference rather than a redesign. In addition to the RTX 3070 GPU, the m15 R4 shown here has a 4K OLED display. The OLED panel was an option for the R3, but the model we tested had a high refresh (300Hz) full HD screen instead. This variant forgoes a high refresh rate in favor of an OLED display with a 3,840 by 2,160 resolution and deeper colors (60Hz only). Although this may not be as good for gaming, some customers may prefer the raw panel resolution more.

CPU And GPU

The 8GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 GPU, as previously indicated, is the main attraction. After the laptop components made their highly anticipated debut at CES 2021 following the success of the GeForce RTX 30 Series on the desktop, this is one of the first laptops we’re testing with an RTX 30 Series GPU. The benchmark results section below will compare it to some RTX 20 Series GPUs to determine how big of an improvement it makes. It should be emphasized that this is the full power laptop version of the RTX 3070; Alienware added additional cooling to handle it. This is not a tuned-down Max-Q version of the GPU.

Productivity and Storage

image of Alienware M15 R4

PCMark 10 and 8 are wide performance suites created by UL’s PC bar experts (formerly Futuremark). We mimic many real world productivity and content production routines in the PCMark 10 test. We utilize it to evaluate the overall performance of the system when performing office related operations including word processing, spreadsheet manipulation, web surfing, and video conferencing. In the meantime, PCMark 8 has a storage subtest that we utilize to evaluate the system’s boot drive’s speed. Higher scores are preferable for both tests, which each produce a unique numeric score.

Conclusion

Alienware M15 R4 backside

The Alienware m15 R4 isn’t substantially different from its ancestor possibly a re design will appear with the expected R5 update—but giving a gaming computer additional power is always a good idea. This laptop will be moved deeper into the glory of high refresh rate and fluid 4K gaming by the RTX 30 Series. In the most difficult games, the RTX 3070 still falls short of 60 frames per second ray tracing, but changing settings makes it much more usable than before.

Owners of RTX 2080 laptops aren’t tempted to hurry out and get the new machine, but being able to play around with ray tracing more realistically might be appealing to some. And those who are returning an outdated gaming rig should be genuinely thrilled. This laptop, while not extreme in and of itself, is nonetheless a system we can heartily suggest has been improved.

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