Alienware m17 R2 Review – Worth Buying Laptop?

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Welcome to GamingExpert’s Dell Allienware m17 R2 review. In the last few years gaming companies have come up with advanced gaming laptops that offer laptop designs with better airflow and seconds screen options. Dell’s Alienware also entered in the arena but with different style and have set traditions for upcoming generations. In 2019 the company launched Alienware m17’s revised version. The laptop with its finest design is proving to be the thinnest gaming laptop in 17 inch display.

Alienware m17 R2 (Check Price) is actually a satisfying portable laptop which in a very small design offers larger specifications such as a whopping Core i9 CPU, and most demanding RTX 2080 GPU. Though this is one of the highest priced laptop, its premium specifications, excellent performance and better battery life make it one of the best gaming laptops. After spending many hours using this laptop, we have tried hard to compile the review for our readers.

Dell Alienware m17 R2 front

Alienware m17 R2

Mathew Bradford

Alienware m17 R2 sideview
Dell Alienware m17 R2 offers excellent performance, nice display, impressive keyboard and battery life.
Design
Features
Gaming Performance
Price

Summary

The Alienware m17 R2 is a nice gaming laptop that offers excellent performance and comes with great display, impressive keyboard and long battery life.

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Alienware M17 R2 Specifications

ManufacturerDell
ModelAlienware m17 R2
CPU2.4GHz Intel Core i9-9980HK
GPUIntel UHD Graphics 630 + NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q
RAM16GB DDR4-2666
Display17.3-inch 1080p FHD IPS 144Hz
PortsRight: Ethernet USB 3.1 Gen 1, audio jack
Left: 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1
Back: Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port, Thunderbolt 3 Port, Mini-DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0b
Connectivity Killer Networks E2600 Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi ; Bluetooth 5.0
Storage512GB PCIe Gen 3 x4 NVMe SSD
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery76Wh
Dimensions20.5mm x 399.8mm x 295.5mm (HxWxD)
Weight2.63 kg

Alienware m17 Config. and Price

The Alienware m17’s original edition comes with Intel Core i5-9300H CPU, a dedicated 256GB SSD, 8GB of DDR5 RAM, and Nvidia 1660 Ti Graphics card. However, those who are looking for more power, another edition with Core i7-9750H processor and an RTX 2060 graphics card is also available at $1750.

The revised version, that we reviewed, Dell Alienware m17 R2 costs more than $2200 and packed with powerful Intel Core i9-9980HK processor,  and an Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU. The next specifications and performance metrics that we are going to discuss are about this laptop. (See best graphics cards for gaming)

Alienware m17 R2 sideview

Alienware m17 Design and Features:

Like other popular gaming laptops Alienware is also changing its attitude and developing compact gaming laptops in red and black color. The minimal design can be seen from the fact that, in a coffee shop, the people having MacBook Air will definitely notice this machine and appreciate its compactness, sturdiness, strength and performance. I mean to say, for gamers the Alienware m17 R2 will surprisingly look like a Porsche 911. As it comes with 17-inch display, it is bigger than standard laptops, with large air vents for proper airflow.

The beauty and durability of machine are unquestionable. Wrapped in white color and equipped with magnesium alloy, weighing 5.8 pounds, the chassis is a bit heavyweight, but looking at the powerful features the weight seems acceptable. The features are large enough that they can be easily packed in a desktop gaming PC such as Dell G5 gaming desktop.

In connectivity and ports options the laptop comes with one USB 2.0 port, 2 USB 3.1 ports, one USB Type-C port, a mini DisplayPort 1.4, an HDMI 2.0 port, a headphone jack, an Ethernet port, and an Alienware Graphics amplifier port (for an external GPU). The connectivity options are much appreciable and enough to support a futuristic gaming laptop.

Alienware m17 Display

Every good gaming laptop much offer best display, smooth cursor movement and advanced hardware. This is where Alienware m17 won’t make you feel regret. The laptop has a 144Hz display, with brightness upto 300 nits, and resolution at 1920 x 1080. See Best gaming monitors by Our staff picks.

The downside of m17 revolves around the color reproduction in which some dark edges can be noticed that is mainly due to its non-OLED panel. As compared to the Microsoft Surface, which has a more accurate and fine color distribution, the m17 lagged in providing extraordinary display, although I didn’t see noticeable differences.

While watching 1080p videos at YouTube and Netflix, the display was clear, and appreciable. We noticed 72% reproduction of sRGB color gamut, which is actually acceptable for a 144Hz display, butunacceptable for video and photo editing purposes.

Alienware m17 keyboard and touchpad

What makes m17 different from other laptops is the excellent key feedback of its keyboard. The keyboard is mechanical type and RGB enabled in rainbow pattern. Though Alienware’s Command Center software is user-friendly, customizing rainbow pattern is still a hurdle and frustration, let alone other settings and options such as turning on a light switch.

Alienware m17 R2 keyboard

However, we became used to the software’s navigation after some attempts and then it was fine to use this software. The keyboard showed some bends when pressed hard that means it is not as powerful as MacBook Air. The bend, in my point of view, was due to the fact that it is a large keyboard. Besides, the keyboard is equipped with a complete numeric-keypad which is a nice addition for those who do office work as well.

The touchpad of m17 R2 is slightly pushed toward the left. In first few hours it was a real pain but after a while I got used to this arrangement and didn’t feel much problem. The touchpad was much responsive to every finger movement and gestures I made while playing or typing. I didn’t feel to use an additional mouse due to the smooth movement of the touchpad and Windows Precision Drivers. Though the touchpad is not as big as MacBook, it is big enough to compensate your daily gaming needs.

Alienware m17 Gaming Performance

What makes this monster laptop different from the other best gaming laptops is its Intel Core-i9-9980HK CPU and 16GB DDR4 RAM, and an RTX 2080 Max-Q Graphics card that is enough to run a 1080p display. All the games that we ran at its Ultra settings gave excellent performance.

The laptop reached at 111 and 110 frames per second in Hitman and Blade Pro respectively, at its max settings and 1080p. Besides, the Batman Arkham Knight, and Metro: Exodus yielded extraordinary performance, while we noticed GPU at 165 and high temperature of processor at 280 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat was considerably high, granted the giant system like this releases heat at such extent.

Aside from GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, the m17 is also equipped with an integrated Intel UHD 630 graphics card that lets you improve frame rates per second when you are in the battlefield and need something extra to fire beyond imagination. This is what I saw in Far Cry New Dawn when the laptop was producing graphics at 95fps while my enemies were retreating in different directions.

m17 R2 Gaming Benchmarks

When I launched Rise of the Tomb Raider the benchmark reached at more than 100 fps which was really impressive and beat performance benchmark of many gaming laptops such as MSI GS75 Stealth and Lenovo Y740. Similarly, the laptop could reach 80 frames per second in GTA V test, a little bit behind MSI GS75 Stealth (that reached 77fps).

Now set aside the real gaming world and move to the virtual world where the m17 won’t disappoint you. The laptop supports VR and yielded SteamVR performance benchmark at more than 10 that is much more than average performance of most of the gaming laptops.

Alienware m17 Overall Performance

If you think this is one-dimensional laptop that is only suitable for gaming, you are 100 percent wrong. The laptop offers excellent performance for day-to-day tasks. Whether you are streaming videos, browsing websites, writing documents on MS word, or doing other tasks, the laptop can easily handle multi-tasks simultaneously.

We didn’t saw any lags in performance or heating up of the CPU even when we were running more than 40 tabs on Google Chrome, streaming YouTube videos on Microsoft Edge and playing Far Cry New Dawn in the background. This is really impressive as only a few laptops have yielded as best amazing results as given by Alienware m17.

Dell Alienware m17 R2 review

For office tasks the laptop, too, gave smashing results as we opened the Microsoft Word and Excel in less than three seconds. In every aspect, other than gaming, the laptop has overwhelmingly exceled the competition. In Geekbench 4.3 test the m17 scored 30,200 which is surprisingly greater than Legion Y740’s 22,250 score.

Even more than that, the m17 encoded 4K video to 1080p in less than 7 minutes. In File Transfer test, we observed that the m17 duplicated 4.97GB of file in about 5 seconds at a transfer rate of 1017 MB/s, which was higher than average 750 MB/s.

Webcam

Other than these features, the m17 like its competitors comes with 720p webcam that can perfectly capture the pictures with higher than expected details and rich colors. Indeed, it can capture most of the colors with nice level of differentiation; it still failed to differentiate some of the secondary colors. This is where it lagged behind Legion Y740 which gives better picture density and color distribution than it.

Eye Tracking

The Alienware has added Tobii eye-tracking sensor to control your laptop. Placed in the hinge, the tracker lets you completely control the machine using your eyes. The notification appears on your screen after you have calibrated the feature according to your eyes.

m17 R2 Tobii Eye tracking

With multiple uses, ranging from controlling the camera, to unlocking the laptop the feature is really impressive and worth noting for any laptop user. The feature allows you to wake up the laptop, to dim the display and to work as a mouse for launching apps when stare at them. The Tobii sensor can also be used in streaming games on Twitch to allow your viewers watch your quick movements while playing games.

In addition, the sensor allows you to control the camera while you are playing and need to adjust the camera for a particular position whenever need be. For instance, while playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider, in most of the times, I adjusted the camera by just staring at that location.

Heat

The most important thing that gamers note while playing game is how the machine keeps itself at an optimum temperature at highest performance without getting heated up. Temperature is actually a major hurdle for those who want a high performance gaming laptop. Alienware m17 keeps itself cool through its Cryo-Tech 3.0 technology that is equipped with bigger fans for more cooling, even at high-performance gaming or office tasks.

The bigger the fans, a gaming machine has for cooling, the greater the noise will be; and this is what happens with Alienware m17 R2. The powerful fans will even keep your lap cool, provided that they are properly ventilated. Yet, the system still gets heated up after a long gaming session. We observed heat in the range of 85-94 degrees Fahrenheit during multiple sessions. Though it is higher than average temperature, it is acceptable considering the monstrous specs the laptop is equipped with.

Alienware m17 Battery Life

Sadly, the battery didn’t perform as we expected from this giant machine. In battery tests we noticed that its battery drained completely after continuous use for 4 hours and 20 minutes. But looking at its specs and other performance features, the battery is still better than its competitors GS75 and Legion Y740 that was appreciable. The battery, however, could be improved, if Dell decides to further improve the machine in its future update.

Reasons to Buy

  • Impressive key feedback
  • Excellent performance
  • Sturdy design
  • Excellent Turbo Boost

Reasons to Avoid

  • RAMs are not upgradable
  • Very Expensive
  • No 4K UHD option

Bottom line

The Dell Alienware m17 R2 is an impressive gaming laptop that comes in a compact design, but at relatively higher price. The design is inspiring and the performance is extraordinary even beating its competitors in most of the benchmarks. From everyday task to the long gaming sessions, you will really love this monster packed in a small yet attractive frame.

Despite some downsides, the Dell Alienware m17 R2 is a worth buying laptop for gaming purposes as well as daily office and home work. If you are looking for a premium laptop packed in minimal design that gives impressive performance and looks beautiful in its shape, this is one of the best gaming laptops that must be on your radar.

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