Alienware 15 (GTX 1070) Gaming Laptop Review

Gaming Benchmarks

Alien: Isolation

To ease our way into the gaming benchmarks, we have Alien: Isolation, in which just about any modern gaming system can succeed. The GTX 1070-based laptops produce a tight performance spread, with the Alienware 15 scoring about 2% slower than the Asus Strix GL502VS-DS71 and about 6% slower than the EVGA SC17. The 5 FPS discrepancy between the Alienware and Asus are easily chalked up to margin of error, but the EVGA's 10 FPS lead is much more substantial, and likely due to the overclocked i7-6820HK. The Sager NP8156 trails by about 23%, but 140 FPS is nothing to scoff at.

Ashes of the Singularity

In Ashes of the Singularity, the Alienware laptop takes third place yet again by a handful of frames, but all three of the GTX 1070 laptops will require an extra ounce of performance to surpass the 60 FPS threshold; even the EVGA i7-6820HK only provides an additional 3 FPS. To achieve 60 FPS, you'll have to dial back a few settings, such as anti-aliasing. The same can't be said for GTX 1060-based laptops, however. The Sager delivers 10 FPS less than the Alienware system, which amounts to about 21% less performance. The graphical compromises the Sager will require to reach 60 FPS will be greater.

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite is similar to Alien: Isolation in that high frame rates are easy to achieve, so your biggest bottleneck will be your CPU. The Alienware and Asus Strix produce virtually identical results, but the EVGA SC17 pulls a 7 FPS lead. It should be noted that the GTX 1070 provides just enough performance for the Alienware laptop to match its 120Hz refresh rate.

DiRT Rally

DiRT Rally tells a similar story, with the Alienware 15 taking second place and the Asus trailing by a hair's width. The EVGA SC17 takes the lead once more because of its more robust processor, but only by a couple of frames. On the other hand, the NP8156 and its GTX 1060 score between 26% and 28% slower than the GTX 1070-equipped competition, which pulls its performance below 60 FPS. It can easily surpass that with light tweaking.

Grand Theft Auto V

During our review of the Acer Aspire VX 15, we introduced test results based on reduced graphical settings if a laptop failed to achieve an average FPS of 45. GTX 1070-based laptops usually pass this minimum requirement in our benchmarks, save for one game.

Grand Theft Auto V has the distinction of being one of the most demanding games in our suite, and even the most powerful laptops will have to cut back on graphics settings to maintain a solid 60 FPS. In most scenes, the Alienware, Asus, and EVGA systems maintain above 45 FPS, but during the Vinewood Sign scene, their averages fall well below that. This is because the scene renders many distant objects and landscapes, which taxes resources considerably. By reducing the benchmark settings to the normal preset, we're able to breeze by 45 FPS. Unfortunately, we don't have reduced setting data for the SC17 or NP8156, because we've sent them back.

GRID Autosport

GRID Autosport performance is platform-based, but oddly enough, it gives systems with high GPU clock rates a slight edge. The Alienware manages to maintain over 90 FPS average, and never dips below 60 FPS. However, the Sager NP8165 comes dangerously close to matching it; in fact, it scores only about 7% slower than the Alienware. By comparison, the SC17 scores about 8% higher than the Alienware, or about 15% higher than the Sager. If titles like GRID are your games of choice, there isn't much incentive to consider a GTX 1070 laptop, especially when a GTX 1060 laptop nearly matches it.

Hitman

Hitman is another fairly platform-based title, but it places more emphasis on CPU prowess. The Alienware and Asus land in the same territory, with the performance difference between the two essentially negligible. However, the i7-6820HK-based EVGA scores between 15% and 18% higher than either the Alienware or Strix. If you need as much power as possible and money isn't a major issue, an overclockable mobile processor might just be your ticket. If you don't need as much power, the Sager performs admirably, maintaining a 60+ FPS average.

Metro: Last Light Redux

The next three titles are heavy hitters, and you'll need all of the system resources you can muster to maintain an optimal frame rate. In Metro: Last Light Redux, the Alienware 15's configuration is capable of at least as much, maintaining 60 FPS with some performance to spare. If you need an extra ounce of performance, the EVGA SC17 will push the frame rate past 70 FPS. We should note that you'll need at least a GTX 1070 to maintain 60 FPS at high settings; unfortunately, the Sager and its GTX 1060 don't quite cut it unless you're willing to drop anti-aliasing.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Similarly, Rise of the Tomb Raider is an incredibly taxing game, but it's more GPU-heavy than Metro. As such, the Alienware, Asus, and even EVGA score within less than a frame of each other. The GTX 1070 doesn't have the GPU horsepower necessary to bring your frame rate past the 60 FPS threshold; you'll need a laptop with at least a GTX 1080 for that. Luckily, the GTX 1070 has enough horsepower to reach 60 FPS with only minor tweaks to settings. The same can't be said for the Sager, which falls well below 45 FPS. You can certainly achieve 60 FPS, but the visual degradation will be more noticeable than in a system such as the Alienware 15 laptop.

The Division

Performance in The Division relies heavily on GPU horsepower as well, although it isn't as taxing on your GPU as Rise of the Tomb Raider. This allows a system with an i7-7700HQ and at least a GTX 1070 to shine. If you're working with a budget, the Asus might be your best bet; the Alienware and EVGA come at a price premium due to their additional features and build quality. Considering how even the three laptops are, neither of the more expensive laptops will be worth the price if this game is your favorite. If you're really short on change, the Sager will produce decent results, but not within the coveted 60 FPS range that the GTX 1070 can offer.

Thief

To finish our gaming benchmarks, we have Thief, whose workload is relatively lax compared to some of our previous titles. Once again, the performance difference between the GTX 1070-equipped laptops is negligible. Unlike our results in The Division, Thief proves easy enough for systems with GTX 1060s, so the NP8165 proves to be a compelling alternative.

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  • cknobman
    Alienware the pinnacle of overpriced 15 year old styled laptops.

    For such a huge laptop you get such a tiny screen with large bezels.
    Its thick, heavy, and expensive.

    The market has moved so far beyond this, Alienware really needs to get some new designers.
  • computerguy72
    I have the previous version of this laptop - one thing to mention is the plastic case is pretty brittle in places. Even with a thick neoprene case I have cracks and the speaker area in the front cracked off. Just worth mentioning. It is indeed quite heavy for the features as well.
  • MrRockliffe
    Strange - here in the UK, the alienware is the cheapest option for a GTX 1070 laptop by a long way (1600 GBP)!
  • Nicolas_40
    This laptop is garbage, there are more flaws than pro's of having it; such as: corners will crack, bulky and very heavy, huge outdated bezels, NO 4k screen, lights all over that give the impression of a 5 year old using this and last of the least the Achilles blow, the power cord placement and design, it simply is horrendous and given time will start falling of it's slot. Shwitware go to bed, you're drunk. Never again!
  • chill1221
    Would love to see a review of the Eluktronics gaming laptops done!
  • Randall_Lind
    Take that $2k+ and build a awesome desktop it will be better. I love my Dell N5110 but it is a pain in the butt to repair.
  • TMTOWTSAC
    Almost 2 inches of space on both sides of a cramped keyboard with no number pad?
  • g-unit1111
    At what point does a laptop get too big to become a laptop? That thing is so ridiculously huge that there's no way I would possibly consider it. Weight was one of the biggest factors for me in choosing my current laptop, which is why I went with MSI.
  • 10tacle
    I will never again buy a "gaming" laptop. The last one I bought was a Dell E1705 decked out with max specs (CPU, GPU, 17" 1920x1200, etc.) and ran $2,800. That was in 2006, and in today's dollars that's about $3,200. It lasted about two years as a desktop replacement gamer until the newer games started coming out in DX10 taking a big hit on it. By DX11, it was useless without seriously cranking down quality. Never again.

    After that, I switched to a PS3 and PS4 for my portable gaming needs and never looked back. Most of my portable needs are either work travel or family travel. Hotels have had 1080p HDTVs for years now. In 2006, most were still using tube 480p TVs.

    In any event, what is up with the horrid minimum frame rates in so many games? I've never seen dips that low before.
  • emike09
    OMG the bezels on that thing are huge! And the system so plasticity. Reminds me of a fisher price toy my nephew just got.
    Besides the decade old styling, this laptop is priced too high to be competitive with other systems that look better, have the same hardware, and a much lower price point. I'll pass on this one.
  • g-unit1111
    202972 said:
    I will never again buy a "gaming" laptop. The last one I bought was a Dell E1705 decked out with max specs (CPU, GPU, 17" 1920x1200, etc.) and ran $2,800. That was in 2006, and in today's dollars that's about $3,200. It lasted about two years as a desktop replacement gamer until the newer games started coming out in DX10 taking a big hit on it. By DX11, it was useless without seriously cranking down quality. Never again. After that, I switched to a PS3 and PS4 for my portable gaming needs and never looked back. Most of my portable needs are either work travel or family travel. Hotels have had 1080p HDTVs for years now. In 2006, most were still using tube 480p TVs. In any event, what is up with the horrid minimum frame rates in so many games? I've never seen dips that low before.


    Gaming laptops are generally hose jobs. I just bought a new laptop and I think this is the second most I've ever paid for a laptop as this one was $1500. I usually don't play games on my laptop apart from maybe a couple of rounds of Civilization or something non taxing. I have my desktop for games and anything that requires serious horsepower.
  • Sam Hain
    The ASUS ROG GL502VS-DS71 15.6" w/1080p 120Hz G-Sync IPS screen (better color/contrast), comes in at just over 4 lbs., better sound, better performance and can be configured (RAM, Storage, GPU, etc.) the same as this Alienware for the same or less price.

    1440p would be great to see on these "gaming" laptops and there are some out there, through boutique build sites. Somebody mentioned 4K... I guess if you were doing photo/video edits/work on a mobile workstation that would make sense, but not on a gaming laptop, not enough single GPU-horsepower to push the pixels.

    Those SLI laptops w/4K displays (and are only 60Hz mind you) are monstrosities and make this Alienware look and feel like a cell phone in comparison and M-GPU support is deep-six anyhoo for many existing and forthcoming DX12 titles.
  • rizzo183
    Whether you want your laptop to look better or not is a personal choice. I'd rather pay an extra $100 for a better looking machine.

    It's heavy because it's meant to be. I'm pretty sure Alienware isn't packing it with rocks. With the build quality you get, the weight should be negligible. Of course, if you want something lighter, Alienwares aren't for you. If you can't drive a truck, buy a sedan.

    The 120hz TN panel is just an OPTION. Nobody ever mentions that. You can always go for the FHD or UHD 4k IPS panel, if you don't mind the 60hz refresh rate.

    And for God's sake, the lights can be TURNED OFF.

    I hate the bezels as well.
  • g-unit1111
    1306537 said:
    The ASUS ROG GL502VS-DS71 15.6" w/1080p 120Hz G-Sync IPS screen (better color/contrast), comes in at just over 4 lbs., better sound, better performance and can be configured (RAM, Storage, GPU, etc.) the same as this Alienware for the same or less price. 1440p would be great to see on these "gaming" laptops and there are some out there, through boutique build sites. Somebody mentioned 4K... I guess if you were doing photo/video edits/work on a mobile workstation that would make sense, but not on a gaming laptop, not enough single GPU-horsepower to push the pixels. Those SLI laptops w/4K displays (and are only 60Hz mind you) are monstrosities and make this Alienware look and feel like a cell phone in comparison and M-GPU support is deep-six anyhoo for many existing and forthcoming DX12 titles.


    The thing that drives me away from Asus laptops is that they have those ugly bright red WASD keys. Yeah I get that these laptops are meant to be used for gaming, but at least make them look presentable so you can use them in other environments. I really wanted to get an Asus ROG laptop because I heard good things about them, but I couldn't get past the bright red WASD keys.
  • Kunra Zether
    I think it looks ver nice on the outside but just terrible and out dated on the inside. My favorite laptops this gem so far is gigabytes, I love there look and they really standout from the competition but really wouldn't it be best to just build a 1070 PC and buy a 1050ti laptop it would be around the same price or little less and you get the best of both worlds.
  • Sam Hain
    537231 said:
    1306537 said:
    The ASUS ROG GL502VS-DS71 15.6" w/1080p 120Hz G-Sync IPS screen (better color/contrast), comes in at just over 4 lbs., better sound, better performance and can be configured (RAM, Storage, GPU, etc.) the same as this Alienware for the same or less price. 1440p would be great to see on these "gaming" laptops and there are some out there, through boutique build sites. Somebody mentioned 4K... I guess if you were doing photo/video edits/work on a mobile workstation that would make sense, but not on a gaming laptop, not enough single GPU-horsepower to push the pixels. Those SLI laptops w/4K displays (and are only 60Hz mind you) are monstrosities and make this Alienware look and feel like a cell phone in comparison and M-GPU support is deep-six anyhoo for many existing and forthcoming DX12 titles.
    The thing that drives me away from Asus laptops is that they have those ugly bright red WASD keys. Yeah I get that these laptops are meant to be used for gaming, but at least make them look presentable so you can use them in other environments. I really wanted to get an Asus ROG laptop because I heard good things about them, but I couldn't get past the bright red WASD keys.


    I know which ones you are on about and yes, those are gawdy to say the least... This is the version I am referring to: https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834234458&cm_re=asus_gaming_laptop-_-34-234-458-_-Product

    The WASD buttons are a little less prominent (lit only), than on the GL702 and other models where they are actually brightly colored red and not sure about backlighting as well; that would be unbearable!
  • g-unit1111
    1306537 said:
    I know which ones you are on about and yes, those are gawdy to say the least... This is the version I am referring to: https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834234458&cm_re=asus_gaming_laptop-_-34-234-458-_-Product The WASD buttons are a little less prominent (lit only), than on the GL702 and other models where they are actually brightly colored red and not sure about backlighting as well; that would be unbearable!


    That one is definitely slightly less obnoxious than some of the ones Asus has. But they can't advertise that as being a full backlit keyboard when only the WASD keys are backlit. You can have a laptop aimed at the gaming market without it being completely obnoxious. That's why I went with the MSI. Although I am really interested to see what Asus' Ryzen laptop brings to the table.