Introduction & Closer Look
Alienware isn’t just one of the most well-known brands in the world of PCs and laptops, but they are one of the most widely known entities in PC gaming period. Having a long time stigma for producing high end, overkill and extravagant systems/solutions, but with an equally extravagant pricing structure, they have long been the butt of people’s jokes in regard to overspending unnecessarily. Roll back to 2006 however and something big happened which not only changed the landscape of Alienware but changed the industry on the whole; Dell bought out and acquired Alienware for an estimated $300 million.
So what does that mean for you, the consumer, the gamer, and the regular user? We recently did an interview with Daniel Charbitt ( Dell/Alienware UK brand manager) and he gave us an interesting insight. With this, also came opportunity…the opportunity to take a look at one of Alienware’s latest gaming solutions; the Alienware 15 R3.
So what makes the Alienware 15 R3 so special? Well it’s their most powerful 15” gaming laptop (according to themselves) and this particular model does feature NVIDIA’s GTX 1070 graphics card, whilst being powered by Intel’s Core i7 7700HQ processor; this is also complemented by 16GB of DDR4 laptop memory too!
The general frame and casing on the Alienware 15 R3 gaming laptop has a unique design in comparison to most gaming notebook manufacturers on the market. With this, however, is one of the most identifiable logos in the world; the Alienware Alien. The Alienware 15 R3 has been designed in such a way that as a high-performance portable gaming solution, it boasts a massive footprint but with a depth of just 1”, it’s certainly on par with other brands slim designs such as MSI, ASUS, and AORUS too.
Upon opening the ‘lid’, it opens up to expose the 15” FHD 120Hz display. This is designed to provide the smoothest possible gaming experience and should play very nicely with the NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card that this particular model of Alienware laptop comes supplied with. If you look just below the screen, you can see the Alienware TactX keyboard. This features 4 customisable zones which can be edited/manipulated with the AlienFX lighting controls; in the Alienware software bundle this gaming laptop comes pre-installed with.
Also included is a very uniquely designed mouse trackpad. It may look very normal from first glance, but this also features a customisable RGB lighting zone which is touch activated.
In terms of connectivity, the Alienware 15 R3 actually comes fully loaded which is especially great for such a slim high performing option. The connections/inputs include:
1 x Power/DC input
1 x RJ45 Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet port
2 x USB 3.0 Type A ports
1 x USB 3.0 Type C port
1 x Thunderbolt 3 port (USB Type C/DisplayPort)
1 x Alienware Graphics Amplifier port
1 x HDM1 2.0 port
1 x Mini-DisplayPort 1.2 port
1 x Audio out 3.5mm jack
1 x Headphone 3.5mm jack
1 x Noble Lock port (cable and lock available to purchase separately)
Plenty of connections and I’m especially pleased to see a Thunderbolt 3 port; this adds another dynamic for those wanting the best of the best. The Noble lock is similar to a Kensington lock in function and can really be a saving grace when it comes to gaming on the go. The last thing you want is your brand new gaming laptop and investment going walkabout at a LAN, or any other type of event.
What top quality gaming notebook wouldn’t be equipped without a good quality webcam? If you’re into streaming your gameplay on Twitch.tv or you simply want to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, the 15 R3 comes equipped with one; it even supports Alienware HD+IR presence detection.
Overall the Alienware 15 R3 gaming laptop with GTX 1070 weighs around 3.5KG which for a 15” screen size, is relatively heavy and I’ll make no secret to hide that fact. If you look at the thick bezels around the screen, it could have even been possible to fit a 17” screen onto this notebook due to the way the back of the notebook sticks out at the rear.
That being said, the 15 R3 is one of the most sophisticated gaming laptops on the market and with such a penance on high-end performance, I think we should look at the official specifications and see how it performs…
Ashes of Singularity
Tom Clancy’s: The Division
Total War: WARHAMMER
First of all, I’m going to address the big elephant in the room (my room anyway) and that’s the price. For you to own one of these Alienware 15 R3 gaming laptops and more specifically this particular model, you’re looking at around £1800 direct from Dell/Alienware. When you compare some of the competition on the market, the Alienware 15 R3 may appear a little expensive. The ASUS ROG Strix L502VS features a better spec including the same processor and graphics card, and whilst missing the 120Hz screen, it makes up for it in being GSync enabled. This comes in at a lower price of £1672. When you take all of that into consideration, you have to ask yourself if all of the features Alienware have on offer (such as the very extensive AlienFX 13 customisable lighting zones via the included software) is worth the extra cash. Personally, this particular feature really does make the Alienware 15 R3 unique in terms of design and I really love the aesthetic of the RGB touch activated trackpad; absolutely gorgeous implementation. If those are the kind of things you’re looking for, then the price is pretty reasonable, especially adding the pedigree name tag premium you’re paying for.
With a lot of different gaming laptops on the market, from virtually all of the top major brands, a lot of the features I feel are just added for the sake of marketing and to remain ‘competitive’ with other brands. That being said, Alienware do have some very nice features including the TactX keyboard. Whereas I don’t personally like the feel and touch of the keys (too soft in my opinion), I know a lot of people who will like this particular set of keys and with full support for n-key rollover, Alienware have done a good job with its integration into the laptop. The Alienware command centre offers software including AlienFusion which helps in reducing the overall power consumption, and AlienAdrenaline which contains game profiles and adjusts system performance accordingly based on the game. On top of this, OC controls are also available which includes options for CPU and memory; perfect as the 15 R3 doesn’t run all too hot in all honesty.
Looking at the overall design and aesthetics, the thing that makes this gaming laptop stand out from the rest is the AlienFX lighting customisation; you can select 20 different colours which is essentially RGB to a degree, but not quite full RGB in my opinion. It’s still a good effort and with 13 different zones available to customise, the sky is the limit. It has an obvious feel of premium quality and so it should, it’s Alienware after all. Like them or loathe them, they really do know how to create a top quality gaming laptop and the 15 R3 is exactly that; in my humble opinion of course.
To sum up the Alienware 15 R3 gaming laptop with GTX 1070, it’s a solid option for those looking for a portable powerhouse for gaming. The only caveat and issue for me is the 120Hz screen wasn’t really stretched in our testing; not one of the games we tested managed to hit 120fps at maximum settings. This makes the 120Hz a little pointless in games other than those less intensive and having a Gysnc enabled screen makes all the difference to those wishing to avoid screen tearing. Everything was great in all honesty and the Alienware 15 R3 is a solid option for those wanting a GTX 1070, but still want all the benefits of being able to game on the move!
I would like to thank Alienware/Dell for sending the 15 R3 gaming laptop in for review.
- Looks fantastic
- Very slim with a thickness of 1"
- Plenty of software to optimise your overall experience
- AlienFX and 13 customisable zones make for many different design combinations
- Good overall performance, including great cooling performance
- None of the games in our testing managed to make the most of the 120Hz screen