Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition review: the right parts at a high price

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition review: the right parts at a high price
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Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition review: the right parts at a high price

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition assessment: the right parts at a high price

The brand new Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition is a slight undoing of progress, relying on the way you look at it. As many gaming laptops are going thinner, this one is heavier and thicker than earlier generations. Its design has been tweaked barely in methods each good and unhealthy, and it has fewer ports than earlier than, too.

Regardless of all of that, it’s a trigger for a small celebration due to the Ryzen processor it makes use of, marking AMD’s return to Alienware merchandise after a 14-year hole when the model solely used Intel CPUs. And it’s a welcome return, even when this laptop computer gained’t attraction to everybody. AMD’s high-end cell processors have been a boon to gaming laptops for the final couple of years, bringing lengthy battery life and quick efficiency that generally outpaces and undercuts laptops which have competing Intel processors.

The Ryzen 7 5800H processor brings that magic to the M15 R5 Ryzen Edition, and gaming efficiency with its RTX 3060 doesn’t battle to get above 60 FPS in graphically-demanding video games — all due to being a high-wattage element. This R5 that I examined has 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD for a whole price of about $1,616 presently, which isn’t low-cost regardless of being near the most inexpensive model that Alienware makes. If cash isn’t a problem, it may be upgraded to the extra highly effective Ryzen 9 5900HX with Nvidia’s RTX 3070 and extra storage and RAM for $2,379.

The high price is one thing that I couldn’t ignore whereas reviewing this laptop computer, particularly since Dell (Alienware’s mother or father firm) makes a $1,225 G15 Ryzen Edition that has related GPU specs that ought to come near what this pricier M15 R5 can do. And, when you can accept a barely lesser processor, there’s a $900 mannequin in the works that has the RTX 3060, however it isn’t out there but.

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition

Alienware ditched the shiny bezels for an all-matte look that I favor.

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition

This mannequin is available in a single colorway. It’s a darkish gunmetal gray.

The worth doesn’t fare nicely outdoors of Dell’s world both. Asus is presently the go-to model for wonderful AMD-based gaming laptops which are simpler to advocate for individuals who need one thing extra moveable and feature-packed, with out sacrificing battery life. In comparison with a related M15 R5 configuration, the ROG Zephyrus G15 provides a QHD show, extra storage, a higher processor and a highly effective RTX 3070 (albeit a lower-powered GPU than you’ll discover in the M15 R5) for a few hundred {dollars} much less. The brand new Strix G15 Benefit Edition appears to be like extra garish subsequent to Alienware’s laptop computer, however it additionally has quick gaming efficiency and high-end options for a decrease price. Neither of those fashions characteristic a webcam, however that is perhaps one thing you’ll be able to dwell with out.

The M15 R5 is nineteen.25mm (0.75 inches) thick for many of the machine (thinner at the entrance, however barely thicker in the again) and it weighs 5.34 kilos. Some configurations weigh extra, going as much as 5.93 kilos. Its heft is jarring when you’ve picked up an ultrabook not too long ago, however it’s an asset in serving to its high-wattage RTX 3060 graphics chip (125W most graphics energy, 1,702MHz enhance clock) to carry out equally to a low-wattage RTX 3070. In comparison with thinner laptops which have a low-powered 3070, like Asus’ TUF Sprint 15, Alienware’s laptop computer makes up for the distinction in CUDA cores with sheer energy. It can possible be a stable performer nicely into the future — maybe longer than some lower-powered 3070s — regardless of having a technically lesser element. It’ll simply be extra of a chore to lug round.

The M15 R5 Ryzen Edition fared nicely whereas operating some demanding video games at their highest settings. Crimson Lifeless Redemption 2 managed to succeed in 63 frames per second. Shadow of the Tomb Raider ran at about 80 frames per second with its ray tracing shadows characteristic and DLSS switched on. Horizon Zero Daybreak ran at a median of 68 frames per second. None of them got here shut to completely benefiting from the default 1080p show’s 165Hz refresh price, however most individuals possible have older video games of their library that ought to have the ability to show at very quick body charges on this laptop computer.

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition

The very best parts of Alienware’s styling have been preserved from earlier generations.

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition

Although, the keyboard structure has gotten a little extra cramped with this technology.

It didn’t take lengthy for this laptop computer to make a good impression with gaming efficiency. It took even much less time to be taught that it will get heat to the contact even whereas idling with no apps, and that when video games (particularly graphically-demanding ones) are operating, it could actually get very loud. A quick and quiet gaming laptop computer is an oxymoron, and the M15 R5 is absolutely simply one among many offenders. However I didn’t discover indicators of thermal throttling after lengthy intervals of gaming, nor did I encounter unexplainable slow-down. You simply may wish to put on some headphones whereas gaming. The audio system shoot sound out of the sides of the laptop computer. It’s serviceable for YouTube movies or video calls, however it doesn’t ship sufficient depth or bass for leisure functions.

This Ryzen-based gaming laptop computer can deal with any form of informal browser-based workflow with ease. It shouldn’t have shocked me that the M15 R5 has nice battery life, since AMD’s processors have confirmed to convey effectivity to different gaming laptops, however it nonetheless did. This one’s 86Wh battery lasted for about seven hours of combined use, by means of sustained use of Microsoft Edge with 10 or so tabs, Spotify, Slack, and a few video calls. That’s nice for an Alienware laptop computer. The M15 R3 that I reviewed final yr clocked in at only one hour. Although, different AMD-based gaming laptops have the M15 R5 beat. The Strix G15 Benefit Edition lasted over 9 hours for my colleague Monica Chin.

One space the place the Ryzen Edition acquired a little hung up is with a video export take a look at in Adobe Premiere Professional. Our video group’s five-minute, thirty-three second 4K file took simply over seven minutes to complete exporting. That’s not a unhealthy end result, however it’s not going to be quick sufficient for creators to rapidly flip round tasks and never practically as quick as laptops with Intel processors can handle.

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition

The show has beneficiant viewing angles and a satisfying quantity of distinction.

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition

Not like some gaming laptops, this one has a webcam (although it’s not nice).

The M15 R5’s design is completely different from earlier fashions in minor methods. Typically, it’s for the higher. For example, this newer mannequin is matte-textured throughout, together with on its display bezels, which appears to be like higher than the shiny bezels utilized in earlier generations. Some folks may like the M15 R3 and R4’s two-toned coloration design, however the R5 is available in a gunmetal silver coloration that’s putting, and the black plastic protecting the keyboard is comparatively freed from distractions, other than the backlit keyboard and illuminated Alienware emblem. Certainly one of my favourite adjustments is within the laptop computer: Alienware helps you to simply improve the RAM and storage if you’d like. Some earlier fashions had RAM soldered onto the motherboard, however this one’s extra futureproof.

Alienware shuffled round the keyboard structure, although, and it’s worse off than earlier than. The M15 R5’s keys are nonetheless gratifying to sort on, however I make extra typing errors as a result of the quantity keys have been delegated to the right facet of the keyboard as an alternative of the high. Additionally, the arrow keys have been beforehand positioned a little decrease than the remainder of the keyboard to make them simple to seek out, however these have been shoved up on this mannequin, leading to a smaller right shift key. This may not be a downside when you get accustomed to typing on the M15, however it nonetheless seems like a step backwards.

The port choice isn’t as beneficiant, both. The Ryzen Edition options three USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, an HDMI 2.1 port (able to 4K output at as much as 120Hz), a headphone jack, and a 2.5Gbps ethernet port. It’s not a unhealthy lineup, however it may very well be higher.

Lacking from this mannequin, and all different new fashions that Alienware not too long ago unveiled, is the proprietary amplifier connector for its exterior GPU enclosure, which has been formally discontinued. Intel-based variations of Alienware’s latest laptops, like the M15 R6, X15, and X17, will assist Thunderbolt eGPUs, however the M15 R5 gained’t as a result of it lacks a Thunderbolt port. So, you’re simply caught with the GPU that’s inside. Fortunately, the graphics efficiency is nice by default, however there’s a lot of unused house on the R5’s rear the place that amplifier port was. It will have been good if Alienware had stuffed it with an SD card reader and an additional USB-C port.

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition

Alienware ought to have put extra ports the place its GPU amplifier port (RIP) was situated.

Alienware M15 R5 Ryzen Edition

This Alienware emblem is only one of a few parts that glows when the laptop computer is powered on.

The M15 R5’s efficiency didn’t come into query throughout my testing. I don’t suppose I’ll ever tire of seeing the nice battery life AMD’s processors convey, and it’s nice that this GPU can maintain its personal subsequent to pricier elements like the RTX 3070.

However as a entire, Alienware missed the touchdown in the case of worth. If you need extra options in your cash, even when it entails swapping a few of the M15 R5’s energy for a QHD display and higher portability, it’s best to look elsewhere. The M15 R5 isn’t the jaw-dropping worth that it wanted to be (and that I’d hoped it could be) to steer everybody away from the 2021 gaming laptop computer frontrunner (to date), the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15.

Pictures by Cameron Faulkner / GadgetClock

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