Alienware x15 R2 Review: Lots of gaming power in a small package
If you’re looking for a gaming laptop that’s powerful, but is also thin and light, look no further than the Alienware x15 R2. With a new quad-fan thermal design, it weighs five pounds and it’s under two thirds of an inch thin, and yet it still comes with up to a Core i9 and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti.
There are a few flaws, one of which is that it does get hot enough to affect performance after a time at heavy load. Also, while I love the design, I don’t like the way the ports are laid out, as they’re hard to see on the back with the lighting around the perimeter.
Navigate this review:
- Alienware x15 R2 pricing and availability
- Alienware x15 R2 specs
- Design: It’s under two-thirds of an inch thin
- Display: QHD, 240Hz, and quality
- Keyboard: It has all of the RGB lighting
- Performance: It’s crazy powerful for how thin it is
- Should you buy the Alienware x15 R2?
Alienware x15 R2 pricing and availability
- The Alienware x15 R2 is available now, and it starts at $2,149.99
The Alienware x15 R2 is available now, and you can find it at the usual places. Obviously, Dell.com is offering it, and it’s also available on Best Buy and Amazon. However, Best Buy and Amazon both have a much more limited SKU selection than Dell does.
It starts at $2,149.99, and that will get you an Intel Core i7-12700H, 16GB LPDDR5 memory, a 512GB SSD, a 15.6-inch FHD 165Hz display, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060. While the base model is fairly expensive, it’s still pretty beefy, which is nice. Other gaming laptops will start at 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, and a GTX 1660, but not this one.
The model that Dell sent me packs a Core i7, 32GB LPSSR5, a 2TB SSD, a 15.6-inch QHD 240Hz display, and an RTX 3070 Ti. That model, priced out on Dell.com, is $2,909.99.
Alienware x15 R2 specs
|Processor||12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700H (24 MB cache, 14 cores, 20 threads, up to 4.70 GHz Turbo)|
|Graphics||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, 8 GB GDDR6|
|Display||15.6″, QHD 2560×1440, 240Hz, Non-Touch, 2ms, Advanced Optimus, ComfortView Plus, NVIDIA G-SYNC|
|Memory||32 GB, LPDDR5, 5200 MHz, integrated, dual-channel|
|Storage||2 TB, M.2, PCIe NVMe, SSD|
|Ports||1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 port with PowerShare
1 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port with DisplayPort and Power Delivery
1 Thunderbolt 4 port with DisplayPort and Power Delivery
1 Universal Audio Jack
1 HDMI 2.1 port
1 power-adapter port
1 microSD-card slot
|Battery||6 Cell, 87 Wh, Lithium Ion, Alienware Battery Defender|
|Camera||Alienware HD (1280×720 resolution) camera with dual-array microphones and Windows Hello IR support|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, stereo tweeter 2 W x 2 = 4 W total|
|AlienFX Lighting Zones||Programmable with up to 16.8 million distinct colors|
|Input||Alienware xSeries keyboard with per-key RGB LED AlienFX lighting
Includes N-key rollover technology
Multi-touch gesture Premium Precision glass touchpad with integrated scrolling
|Connectivity||Killer Wi-Fi 6 (6E* Pre-certified) AX1675 802.11ax 2×2 Wireless LAN and Bluetooth 5.2|
|Case and color||Lunar Light with High Endurance Clear Coat designed for stain resistance|
|OS||Windows 11 Home|
These are the specs for the unit that Dell sent me. The base model is $2,149.99.
Design: It’s under two-thirds of an inch thin
- The Alienware x15 is designed to be thin and light
- It has RGB lighting framed around the rear ports
Like most of the Alienware lineup, the x15 R2 has a unique and futuristic feel about it. It comes in a color called Lunar Light, with an off-white lid and black sides. There’s a stenciled ’15’ on the bottom-right corner of the lid, and you’ll find an Alienware logo right in the middle that lights up with RGB lighting.
It’s also designed with thermals in mind. This thing is 0.63 inches thin and it weighs just five pounds, and that’s all while not sacrificing power. Under the hood, it actually has four fans, using a dual opposite outlet design, so the air is passing through the internals to through the chassis. There’s also a new Element 31 thermal compound that’s meant to provide a 25% boost in thermal resistance.
Aside from the power jack, which is on the right, and the headphone jack, which is on the left, all of the ports are on the back. There’s just one USB Type-A port, there are two USB Type-C ports (one of which is Thunderbolt), HDMI 2.1, and a microSD card slot. The whole panel is bordered by an RGB light strip that wraps around it.
Honestly, I hate all of it. The RGB lighting is pretty for sure, but functionally, it’s a mess. Let’s go down with the list. Ports on the rear make a lot of sense when you’ve got things plugged in all of the time, such as an external monitor. Most companies do this leave a port or two on the side so you can plug in occasional peripherals like a controller, headset, or something else that you might not use constantly. What I absolutely don’t understand is having the power port on the side. It gets in the way, an issue that wouldn’t exist if the port was on the back.
Moving back to the ports on the rear, that RGB lighting, while pretty, is a problem. One issue with having ports on the back of a laptop is that you have to know where they are. Lenovo solves this by putting labels above the ports. Not only are there no visible labels, but the light makes the ports hard to see. You just have to sort of feel around back there to find the hole that’s shaped like the one you’re looking for.
Other than that, I absolutely love the design. It’s just a pleasure to experience, and having a gaming laptop that’s so thin and light is fantastic.
Display: QHD, 240Hz, and quality
- The display is excellent for a gaming laptop
- The webcam, unfortunately, is 720p
The 15.6-inch 16:9 display comes in three options. You can get it at 1080p 165Hz, 1440p 240Hz, or 1080p 360Hz. Dell sent me the 1440p 240Hz model, and I really do like it. I feel like 1440p is the sweet spot for a 15.6-inch screen. At this size, you’ll see pixels with 1080p resolution; however, there are two reasons you might still get FHD. One is that it’s in the least expensive model with a 165Hz refresh rate. The other is that it’s in the model with a 360Hz refresh rate. Indeed, many serious gamers might want to sacrifice resolution for frame rate, and that’s totally understandable.
Personally, I like monitors that look pretty, as well as offer that performance you want for gaming. That’s what I’m finding from the screen on this unit, and it’s something that I’ve found to be a rarity in gaming laptops. Gaming laptops typically sacrifice everything in the name of performance and responsiveness, but this is actually a really good display, even if you’re not gaming at all.
From my testing, it supports 100% sRGB, 90% NTSC, 92% Adobe RGB, and 97% P3. Those are really great results, even for a non-gaming laptop. That means that this is an excellent PC for creators that might be doing photo or video editing, at least as far as the display goes.
Brightness maxed out at 417.9, which is solid, although the contrast ratio only maxed out at 860:1, which definitely seems low.
The screen has narrow bezels on three sides, and unfortunately, the webcam is still 720p. If you’re planning to do a lot of streaming, or even if you might use this laptop for video calls, it’s going to be an issue. After all, you probably won’t have separate laptops for gaming and work. It’s just always a shame to see 720p webcams in laptops still. It does, however, have an IR camera for facial recognition, which is awesome. Any kind of biometric authentication seems to never make its way into gaming laptops, so it’s nice to see.
Keyboard: It has all of the RGB lighting
- The keyboard comes with per-key RGB lighting
The keyboard uses standard 1.5mm Chiclet-style keys, and that’s fine. It doesn’t feel like it’s designed for typing, so much as gaming, although I am typing this review on it, of course. It feels fine. The big thing to note about the keyboard is the per-key RGB lighting.
Like I said earlier, it really feels like the RGB lighting is just in enough places to feel good about it, but it’s not overkill. There’s the Alienware logo on the lid, the perimeter of the rear ports, and there’s the keyboard. You can control all of this via the Alienware Command Center application, which oddly didn’t come pre-installed. I had to get it from the Microsoft Store.
You can also use Alienware Command Center to make custom power profiles, overclocking the CPU and GPU when you’re playing power-hungry games.
The clickable touchpad is a bit small, and it actually feels undersized for such a large laptop. I’m a big fan of touchpads that make use of all of the available real estate, and this doesn’t really do that. It’s a good touchpad though, and it’s fine.
Performance: It’s crazy powerful for how thin it is
- The unit that Dell sent me packs a Core i7-12700H, an RTX 3070 Ti, and 32GB RAM, but it maxes out with a Core i9 and an RTX 3080 Ti
There is a lot of power under the hood of this laptop. And like I said earlier, you can boost the performance even more through Alienware Command Center. I’ll also say that the performance in this laptop is actually better than other similarly specced laptops.
While photo and video editing is fantastic, as you’d expect, I’ll talk about gaming. The main game I played on this unit was Forza Horizon 5 with its new Hot Wheels expansion pack (to be clear, it’s awesome and you should play it). My main issue was sustained performance. Upon launching Forza Horizon 5 for the first time, it suggests extreme graphics, which is no surprise given how powerful this laptop is, and when I first started playing, it was fantastic.
After about a half hour, I ran into significant issues. The game froze and said that it didn’t have the CPU resources to play, a major issue on a gaming laptop. After all, if you’re trying to win, the last thing you want is this kind of disruption. After maybe 30 seconds of a frozen screen, I’d be able to drive again for a short period of time, but once it started, it didn’t stop. By this point, touching any part of the rear section of the laptop is super-clear that this thing is hot.
While I could replicate that issue in Forza pretty easily, I didn’t experience it in other games, as I randomly decided to play through all of the campaigns in Halo: The Master Chief Collection again.
The bottom line on performance is that it’s phenomenal, but under heavy load for a period of time, you might have to make some adjustments.
|Alienware x15 R2
Core i7-12700H, RTX 3070 Ti
|Lenovo Legion 5i Pro
Core i7-12700H, RTX 3070 Ti
|MSI Raider GE76
Core i9-12900HK, RTX 3080 Ti
|3DMark Time Spy||10,443||10,391||12,287|
|Geekbench 5 single/multi||1,768 / 13,200||1,787 / 9,209||1,774 / 12,630|
|Cinebench R23 single/multi||1,776 / 16,182||1,714 / 9,549||1,833 / 14,675|
|VRMark Orange/Cyan/Blue||11,066 / 8,834 / 3,073||13,593 / 9,480 / 3,176||11,452 / 11,542 / 3,815|
|CrossMark overall/productivity/creativity/responsiveness||1,830 / 1,670 / 2,123 / 1,543||1,817 / 1,738 / 1,943 / 1,702|
As you can see, it outperforms a similarly specced Lenovo Legion 5i by a bit.
From a CrystalDiskMark test, the Micron 3400 SSD was a bit slower on read speeds than other PCIe 4.0 SSDs that I’ve seen in laptops, and the write speeds were right in the middle. Either way, with PCIe 4.0, you’re really not going to go wrong. It’s way faster than what we’ve seen in the past with PCIe 3.0, and you can look forward to short loading times.
Should you buy the Alienware x15 R2?
The Alienware x15 R2 is a fantastic gaming laptop if you’re looking for something thin and light.
Who should buy the Alienware x15 R2:
- Gamers who want power, but are frequently on the go
- Gamers that want a laptop with a unique and futuristic design
Who should NOT buy the Alienware x15 R2:
- People that want to game on their PC, but won’t be taking their computer on the go much
- Anyone that doesn’t need this kind of power
The key benefit to the Alienware x15 R2 is that you get a lot of power that comes in a thin and light package. That means that this laptop is for gaming on the go. If you’re gaming from one place all of the time, you’re probably looking more toward a tower or build.