How a lot does two inches matter? You wouldn’t suppose it’d be an enormous issue, however after I reviewed the Alienware 17 I known as it “staggeringly big” and stated it was “time to hit the fitness center” for those who needed to hold one round. Since then, I’ve spent a couple of weeks utilizing the Alienware 15—a laptop computer with the potential to be simply as highly effective, however in a barely lighter bundle.
And it seems that’s ok.
This one is good
Don’t get me incorrect: The Alienware 15 continues to be a large laptop computer, particularly for those who put it up in opposition to competing 15-inchers. This isn’t a Razer Blade-style gadget, and portability suffers. Alienware may actually use a light-weight line in its place—and possibly we’ll begin seeing these quickly, as the road between Alienware and Dell begins to blur.
However I felt just like the Alienware 17 was fully unmanageable. It was a set-it-and-forget-it laptop computer, one you plop on the desk after which by no means transfer. With the Alienware 15 you would possibly wish to bulk up your again muscle groups, however carrying it’s undoubtedly doable.
How do I do know? I gave the Alienware 15 the complete backpacker therapy, utilizing it as my essential machine for 3 weeks or so whereas I used to be on trip and hauling it between resort rooms, packing and unpacking it from my bag, placing it within the bin for airport safety screening, and even reviewing video games on it within the late-night hours.
So yeah, I wouldn’t name it straightforward per se, but it surely was actually doable. After I introduced the Alienware 17 on the street (for a a lot shorter journey, I would add) I struggled each day. The Alienware 15 was a welcome companion, highly effective sufficient to sport on by evening with out throwing out my again by day.
Would I settle for barely worse efficiency for a thinner laptop computer? Completely. For many who want true desktop energy on the street, two inches could make one hell of a distinction, although.
And that’s actually the one distinction. The Alienware 15 measures 15.three x 12 inches, is an inch thick when closed, and weighs in at 7.6 kilos (in comparison with 9.6 for the Alienware 17). The ability adapter can be smaller, measuring in all probability half the thickness and weighing 1.eight kilos as a substitute of two.5 for the Alienware 17’s brick.
Aside from that, the Alienware 15 and 17 are twins. Each sport the identical 1080p show operating at 120Hz. The velocity is a welcome characteristic, although colours wash out at full brightness and viewing angles are a bit slender—similar because the 17, although it’s mercifully much less noticeable on the 15’s smaller display screen.
The entire thing is encased in a chrome and black chassis, emblazoned with the Alienware emblem on the surface and the smooth typelogo beneath the show. Alienware’s lighting is simply as spectacular and over-the-top on the 15, with RGB gentle channels operating down both sides of the show, on the lid, and even beneath the trackpad. That final has actually grown on me throughout my time with first the 17 and now the 15, and I’ve come to seek out it nearly as helpful as keyboard backlighting at evening.
My largest criticism with the 15 is similar as with the 17: The hinge. Fairly than becoming a member of on the rear, the monitor is as a substitute set ahead about an inch. That leaves a hunk of plastic protruding behind the monitor, which is the place a lot of the followers vent.
The Alienware 15’s hinge is proportionately smaller than the 17’s, but it surely’s nonetheless an eyesore. It’s additionally simply annoying, particularly on a aircraft or in equally tight quarters the place the hinge takes up much-needed desk house.
The hinge problem is compounded by the truth that the laptop computer’s ports are nearly all positioned within the rear: Energy, HDMI out, ethernet, USB-C, and Alienware’s proprietary Graphics Amplifier port. Not solely is it exhausting to plug within the laptop computer in when you’ll be able to’t see the port, its rear location additionally additional limits how shut you’ll be able to set the Alienware 15 to a wall, as a result of the cable stands proud a minimum of one other two inches.
Placing ports on the rear of a laptop computer isn’t distinctive to Alienware. It’s not a really user-friendly design, although, and it doesn’t take portability into consideration in any respect—underscoring the fact that these are extra “Desktop Replacements” than laptops.
The advantages: It’s sturdy, for one. Additionally, you’ll be able to lay the show fully 180-degrees flat, although I can’t think about a scenario once you’d need or want to take action.
Sadly, having the followers vent behind the display screen doesn’t minimize down on noise as a lot as I anticipated. I assumed that is likely to be one motive for the design, however like its bigger sibling, the Alienware 15’s followers are distractingly loud at full load, whether or not hidden behind the show or not.
These on the lookout for moveable desktop energy are effectively served by the Alienware 15. Not solely is it a extra moveable gadget than its 17-inch peer, it may pack simply as a lot energy inside. The Alienware 17 we checked out was outfitted with an Intel Core i7-7820HK and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080. With deep pockets you’ll be able to put the identical configuration into the Alienware 15.
Our Alienware 15 was one step down, each in worth and energy, with an Intel Core i7-7700HQ, a GTX 1070, and 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. Storage took the type of a 512GB SSD and a 1TB exhausting drive.
Not too shabby. As I stated, I did a number of sport evaluations on the Alienware 15 and it ran with no hitch, normally on a mixture of Excessive and Very Excessive settings. Digging into our tried-and-true benchmarks, you’ll be able to see that the Alienware 15 managed 93.9 frames per second in Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1920×1080 on Very Excessive, and 130.9 frames per second in Center Earth: Shadow of Mordor at 1920×1080 on Extremely with the 4K texture pack put in.
That compares favorably with different 1070-equipped laptops in addition to slower 1060 models. The HP Omen 17, as an illustration, scored 95.5 and 118.9 respectively on the identical benchmarks with an i7-6700HQ and a GTX 1070.
As for the way it stacks up in opposition to the likes of a 1080-equipped Alienware 17, you’re taking a look at 102.2 and 154.9 frames per second in Tomb Raider and Shadow of Mordor— undoubtedly a spot, although not an enormous one.
The Alienware 15 even stacks up favorably in opposition to 1080 Max-Q laptops, which is to be anticipated—our testing has usually proven a Max-Q 1080 places out efficiency corresponding to that of a well-vented 1070. This sample doesn’t actually present up in gaming benchmarks, largely as a result of gaming benchmarks are typically only some minutes lengthy. Thus, the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 scored 104.eight in Rise of the Tomb Raider and 136.eight in Shadow of Mordor, corresponding to the Alienware 17.
If we soar over to 3DMark, although, the place the exams are typically longer, we see that the Alienware 15 scored a four,097 in FireStrike Extremely. Evaluate that to four,091 for the GX501 and you may see that as warmth builds up, the Max-Q 1080 throttles at proper across the similar efficiency stage because the Alienware 15’s better-vented GTX 1070—and the Alienware 15 is cheaper. Spectacular. The HP Omen 17 scored a three,837 and the Alienware 17 posted four,960, for the curious.
As for the CPU, the Core i7-7700HQ efficiency is fairly customary. That’s a extremely popular laptop computer half, and certainly in our Handbrake check (the place we convert a 30GB MKV file to the Android Pill preset) the Alienware 15’s 45 minutes and 43 seconds is available in proper according to the GX501’s 46 minutes and 23 seconds, the Gigabyte Aero 15’s 46 minutes and 15 seconds, and so forth. (By comparability, the Alienware 17’s i7-7820HK did the job in a bit over 38 minutes.)
It is a very strong laptop computer. The one weak level is the battery, coming in at an ever-so-average three hours and 45 minutes in our customary rundown check, the place we set the laptop computer’s show to 250-260 nits in brightness and loop a 4K video till the battery goes useless. Lifespan is even worse whereas gaming: Anticipate 1.5 to 2 hours in that situation, and even much less.
Hey, as I stated earlier: At the very least the ability adapter’s smaller for the 1070 mannequin.
Two inches makes a world of distinction, although. I couldn’t see utilizing the Alienware 17 as my day-to-day laptop computer. All 17-inch machines are big, however a 17-inch machine that’s nonetheless over an inch thick and weighs 9.5 kilos? No means.
The Alienware 15 in all probability wouldn’t be my first alternative, but it surely places out unbelievable, desktop-level efficiency. Even with a GTX 1070 the Alienware 15 dealt with all the things I threw at it with aplomb, and did it whereas nonetheless becoming inside a normal-size backpack. Barely becoming, however come on—I’m attempting to be charitable right here.