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Updated September 2022
Best Alienware Laptop Review by BestReviews
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best Alienware laptops

Founded in 1996, Alienware has long been the gold standard for gaming laptops. These powerful machines feature top-of-the-line graphics, processors, and cooling systems, making Alienware a brand of choice for serious gamers.

In 2006, Dell purchased Alienware with the understanding that Alienware would remain an independent subsidiary, free to pursue its own design and marketing. As a result, Alienware laptops are powerful, convenient, and packed with the latest technology.

Alienware offers thin, lightweight gaming laptops with stylish branding designed to compete with similar offerings from other top manufacturers, such as ASUS, Razer, and Omen by HP.

Gamer playing a game on a laptop
One of the reasons Alienware laptops are so big is to allow room for empty space between the components. This more closely mimics the benefits of desktop designs in terms of allowing room for heat to dissipate.

Key considerations when choosing a Dell Alienware laptop

How will you use your Alienware laptop?

It’s important to consider how you plan on using an Alienware computer. These laptops are designed for serious, dedicated gamers, including those who play professionally as well as anyone eager to play the newest games. Casual gamers may be better served by a laptop in Dell’s G-Series line. This line is similar to options by Lenovo or HP’s Pavilion series, which are designed for less intensive play. Like the Dell gaming PCs, Alienware laptops run on Microsoft Windows 11 or Windows 10 Home.

How much you play, as well as what you play, will influence what model you should get. While any Alienware will likely have an advantage over comparable laptops, there is a difference in capability from one to the next. For example, the Alienware m15 and m17 thin laptops, while still far more capable than competing thin-profile laptops, will not be as well-suited to long hours of heavy-duty gaming and similar tasks as the powerful Alienware Area-51m, with its larger vents and more powerful fans.

Size

Dell Alienware laptops are offered in two sizes: 15 inches and 17 inches. Size is measured from once diagonal to the other; thin bezels on Dell’s laptops means that the size of the display is almost the same size as the laptop itself.

Size influences weight and portability. The larger option is typically heavier and bulkier, making it more difficult to take with you. Consider your gaming setup as well: for those who will be playing with a larger monitor, there is better value and convenience to be had with the smaller option.

RAM and storage

Most Alienware laptops start with eight or 16GB of RAM, the latter of which is well-suited to moderate multitasking. RAM may be upgraded to 32GB or 64GB, depending on the model, which will allow for a smoother performance when using demanding programs.

Concerning storage, Alienware laptops all come with PCIe SSDs rather than traditional spinning hard disk drives (HDD), further amplifying their performance. Alienware laptops offer a range from 256GB SSD up to a 1 or 2TB drive. A larger drive will increase price and weight, but the newest games, particularly vast online and open-world content, require a lot of space.

On some high-end models, you can also opt for a RAID, along with a hybrid drive that combines the speed of an SSD with the large storage of an HDD.

In addition to laptops, Dell Alienware also offers a line of professional-grade gaming accessories, including keyboards, mice, headsets, and monitors.

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Features of the best Alienware laptops

Processor

Alienware gaming computers feature the latest in CPU processing power, with a choice between the two most popular options in AMD and Intel. Most gamers likely have made their mind up between the choices, although each has their benefits and drawbacks. AMD tends to be more powerful, but Intel is faster. The latest AMD Ryzen 9 processor tends to outperform the latest 10th gen Intel and 11th gen Intel cores, including i9 and i7. The AMD Ryzen 7 processor offers plenty of value as a recent CPU.

These chips are designed to run at full power — or even be overclocked to run beyond specifications — unlike many mobile chips that are throttled due to heat concerns.

Resolution

There are three different resolution options, all of which are fairly standard across gaming laptops. Full HD is a common and inexpensive choice, though it doesn’t offer the best detail, particularly in new games. 4K resolution is increasingly becoming the standard for new films, TV series, and games. However, the increased detail raises the price and power required.

A middle ground is QHD, or quad high definition, which is sought after by gamers who want a better image but don’t want to worry about a potential lag in online gameplay that could come with 4K resolution.

Graphics cards

In order to render a virtual environment quickly and faithfully, Alienware gaming laptops come equipped with some of the latest graphics cards. New models feature NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30 series, while some slightly older options offer NVIDIA GeForce RTX 20 Super, including RTX 2070 Super or RTX 2080 Super, which is more than a worthy investment for most gamers.

Some high-end laptops are compatible with virtual reality (VR) applications or can be upgraded for those games in the future. Some models feature G-Sync connections that allow for a compatible monitor to be connected and offer seamless gameplay.

Ports and connections

High-speed ports allow you to connect all your important tech accessories and devices, preventing competitive gamers from losing a step when they’re playing. While Alienware laptops offer widely used HDMI and USB ports, a popular feature among gamers is a Thunderbolt 3 port for rapid transfer of audio and video.

The Killer Ethernet port is also a feature of select laptops, including the Alienware Area-51m R2, which offers a high-speed wired connection. They also feature rapid Wi-Fi 6 to maintain a quality wireless connection.

Personalization

Like most gaming keyboards, Alienware laptops allow for lighting schemes and personalized touches. Gamers have the option of a four-zone RGB configuration or opting for a per-key lighting system. Color choices for the laptop itself are lacking, though, with a choice of neutral gray or black available.

The new Alienware Command Center lets gamers easily catalog their library of games as well as progress and awards. Controls can be personalized and settings toggled to optimize performance.

copper
DID YOU KNOW?
Alienware laptops use heavy-duty copper fin stacks to help manage the heat. Because copper is an excellent heat conductor, the copper fin stacks help the machine draw heat away from the critical components.
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Alienware laptop prices

Inexpensive

The least expensive option is actually the middle option in terms of performance. The Alienware m15 R3 and Alienware m17 R3 models strike a balance between raw performance and manageable size. Although further development of these models has been discontinued in favor of the newer Area-51m, these are still powerful machines at a good price. These models start at $1,300 and can be customized for up to $3,300.

Mid-range

Either the Alienware m15 R6 or the Alienware m17 R4 are thin, relatively lightweight, and designed for on-the-go use. These models start at $1,400 and can be customized all the way up to $4,000.

Expensive

The most expensive model is the flagship Area-51m model. This laptop is designed to be the best on the market, ideal for heavy-duty professional use, gaming and VR. It starts at $1,950 and tops out at just over $4,300.

Despite being a thin laptop, the m15 and m17 are surprisingly rigid with no flex for those who like to pick up their computer with one hand. This is, in large part, thanks to the magnesium alloy chassis.

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Tips

  • Because Alienware is owned by Dell, you benefit from Dell’s customer service and support.
  • Since Alienware laptops focus on performance above all else, they generally have limited battery life. If you plan on using your laptop for hours on the go, consider bringing a portable battery pack to help top off your charge.
  • Be sure to keep your laptop clean and free of dust. Given how powerful it is and the need to keep heat as low as possible, you don’t want dust building up and choking airflow.
Keyboard, headset, and mouse on desk
Some models, like the Area-51m, offer advanced eye-tracking to increase the immersion factor when gaming. User interface elements will stand out or fade away depending on if you’re looking at them and other characters will know and respond when you’re looking at them.

FAQ

Q. How does the look of Alienware laptops compare to competitors?

A. Like most gaming laptops, Alienware models are designed to come across imposing and stylish with an industrial look and feel. Color is limited in new models to silver or gray, though some older options offer a red exterior. Alienware’s logo, the traditional alien head, is present on their laptops, though they don’t quite have the bright, sleek look of Razer and MSI.

Q. How important are refresh rate and response speed?

A. The number of times a second that the screen refreshes its image is known as refresh rate. A high refresh rate allows busy content, including live sports and online video games, to avoid blurring, lagging or shadowing on screen. Especially for gamers who play competitively in online environments, a high refresh rate is important. Gamers tend to prefer a minimum of 144Hz, but higher-end Dell Alienware options offer up to 360 Hz refresh rate.

Respond speed is measured in milliseconds; most gamers seek out at least a 3ms response time, while 1ms is the best offered.

Q. What do the letters and numbers mean in the name of the laptops?

A. Most Dell Alienware gaming laptops feature the letter ‘M’ followed by a number in their name as well as the letter ‘R’ also followed by a number The number after the ‘M’ is the size while the number after the ‘R’ is the model or revision. Alienware m15 R6 features a 15-inch screen and is the sixth revision, which is newer than the Alienware m15 R4 of the same size.

 

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