Alienware 15 R3 review

Not-so-mobile gaming monster

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Our Verdict

The Alienware 15 R3 is an incremental update over the previous generation but offers the power and refinement that gamers on the go will love. It’s a big and heavy beast but, if you don’t mind the weight, it’s a potent laptop that can do it all.

For

  • Impeccable build quality and design
  • Massively powerful
  • Excellent cooling

Against

  • Expensive
  • Big and heavy for 15-inches
  • Average battery life

Over the years, the 15-inch gaming laptop has become the sweet spot for gamers, and the Alienware 15 has been a top choice for its design and powerful specs. The 15-inch size is big enough to enjoy games on a built-in display while not being too cumbersome to carry around. 

With the latest third-generation model, the Alienware 15 R3 offers incremental bumps in specs with relatively unchanged design. New for this year’s model are Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors and Nvidia’s new graphics chips that are as powerful as their desktop counterparts. 

But today, the Alienware 15 R3 is up against stiff competition from the likes of Origin with its compact EVO15-S and the even slimmer Razer Blade (2016). While the Alienware 15 R3 can’t match the size and weight of its competitors, it can more than keep pace in terms of pure performance.

Spec Sheet

Here is the Alienware 15 R3 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad-core, 6MB Cache, up to 3.8GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 (8GB GDDR5); Intel Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,400MHz, 32GB max)
Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS, 120Hz, Anti-Glare, G-SYNC enabled
Storage: 512GB M.2 SATA III SSD, 1TB HDD (7,200 RPM)
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 x USB-C port, 1 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, HDMI 2.0, Mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet, Graphics Amplifier port, headphone jack, microphone jack
Connectivity: Killer Wireless-AC1435 IEEE 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet, Bluetooth 4.1
Camera: Front-facing 1,280 x 720 webcam with Windows Hello
Weight: 7.69 pounds (3.49kg)
Size: 1 x 15.3 x 12 inches (25.4 x 389 x 305 mm; H x W x D)

Price and availability

The Alienware 15 R3 is available now with a starting price of $1,100 (£1,349) but can be configured up to a whopping $2,050 (£1,849), with options for more storage and RAM that will further bump up the price. In fact, configured with triple storage drives (including two 1TB SSDs and a 1TB HDD) and 32GB of memory, the Alienware 15 R3 came out to a ridiculous $3,500 (about £2,737).

The Alienware 15 R3 is by no means a cheap laptop but its configurability lets you choose the options that you value the most. However, the processor choices are limited to the latest Intel Kaby Lake Core i5-7300HQ or Core i7-7700HQ. For graphics, you can choose between the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, 1060 or 1070. 

Design

The Alienware 15 R3 is a striking laptop, thanks to its imposing size and RGB LEDs that are just about everywhere on the laptop. Seriously though, just about everything on this laptop lights up from the Alienware text, logo and even the trackpad. 

While the Alienware 15 R3 is unabashedly a gaming laptop it doesn’t beat you over the head with superfluous fins, red accents or overly aggressive design. We found the laptop handsome with its metal, plastic and rubber construction. 

Although the Alienware 15 R3 sports a 15.6-inch screen, its size is more fit for a 17-inch with beefy bezels around the display. The bottom display bezel is particularly large and houses the light-up Alienware logo. Compared to the Origin EVO15-S, which also has a 15.6-inch screen, the Alienware looks like a laptop from the early aughts in terms of size and weight. 

Speaking of weight, you’ll want to hit the gym if you plan on taking the Alienware 15 R3 anywhere. The laptop weighs in at a whopping 7.69 lbs (3.49kg) and its massive power brick adds a couple of more pounds in your backpack. 

The pay off for that big size and weight is great thermal performance and a spacious, 10-keyless keyboard. While some may miss having a numberpad, the spacious keyboard makes typing a pleasure, and there are macro keys for gaming which can be configured in software.

You can configure the laptop’s slew of RGB LEDs via the AlienFX software. There are presets that look great but you can customize every LED to your liking to match your peripherals or even team colors.

Looking at the top of the display, you’ll notice the dual cameras for Windows Hello support and Tobii eye tracking. Windows Hello works great for quickly unlocking the laptop without ever having to type a password. Tobii eye tracking works fine as well, which we’ll get into more in the performance section.