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Alienware x15 R2 Review: Sleek Design, Stunning Display

The subtle RGB lighting is a nice touch.

Alienware x15 R2
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Tom's Hardware Verdict

The Alienware x15 R2 has a thin, sleek design with premium laptop appeal and just a touch of RGB lighting. But you can get better performance for less if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of style.

Pros

  • +

    Fantastic design

  • +

    Beautiful 1440p display

Cons

  • -

    Weak battery life, even for a gaming notebook

  • -

    Small touchpad

  • -

    Too much pre-loaded software

Alienware's X-series laptops are thin, with a sleek design, straddling the line between subtle (for a gaming laptop, anyway) and stylish thanks to some well-placed RGB lighting. Think of the line as gaming laptops for those who prefer a more mature, muted design.

The Alienware x15 R2 ($2,890.99 configured, $2,106.99 to start) follows suit and also sports an attractive 15.6-inch, 2560 x 1440 display option with a 240 Hz refresh rate for esports players using high frame rates and more intensive games with detailed graphics.

Although the x15 R2 has a relatively clean and thin design for a gaming laptop, its Intel Core i7-12700H and Nvidia Geforce RTX 3070 Ti utilize the laptop’s quad-fan cooling system and its Element 31 thermal interface material to improve the cooling efficiency. But despite everything it has going for it, the laptop’s performance falters against some of its competitors, and the laptop still gets toasty

Design of the Alienware x15 R2

The Alienware x15 R2 has a sleek design with an all-white exterior, and a thin, 0.62-inch chassis. Despite its clean, nearly professional appearance, a large, stylized “15” and medium-sized RGB alien head on the lid remind you it's a gaming rig. When you lift its spacecraft hatch of a top, the exterior is flipped from white on the lid to all-black on the inside, with a soft-touch wrist rest and slight bezels surrounding the 15.6-inch display. 

The keyboard features per-key RGB lighting, and there’s another alien head that lights up on the top-right corner of the laptop that serves as a power button, amidst the honeycomb ventilation cutouts. There are also two slim vents on each side, going down the length of the keyboard.

Despite its slim profile, the Alienware x15 also features a quad-fan cooling system that pushes air out of its side and rear honeycomb vents at independently-controlled speeds. Alienware also utilizes a thermal interface material called  "Element 31," which claims to let gamers enjoy consistent frame rates over extended periods of playtime. We'd love to be able to compare Element 31 to see if it compares to the best thermal paste and other thermal interface materials in our testing, but Alienware doesn't offer Element 31 as a standalone product.

The Alienware x15 R2's weight and measurements are identical to the previous model at 14.16 x 10.97 x 0.62 inches and 5.18 pounds. The 16-inch Acer Predator Triton 500 SE measures 14.11 x 10.3 x 0.78 inches and weighs 5.29 pounds. Meanwhile, the Razer Blade 15 is 13.98 x 9.25 x 0.67 inches at 4.4 pounds, and the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro measures 14.17 x 10.4 x 1.05 inches at 5.49 pounds.

Most of the ports are on the back of the laptop next to the vents, surrounded by a giant RGB light ring.  The power jack is the only port on the laptop's left side, and on the right, there’s a 3.5 mm headphone jack. In the back, there’s a USB Type-A port, a Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB Type-C port with PowerDelivery and DisplayPort capabilities, a microSD card slot, and an HDMI 2.1 port. How much it matters that nearly all the ports are on the back will largely depend on how you use your laptop, but it's certainly convenient at times to have some ports on the side, where they're found on many other gaming laptops.

 

Alienware x15 R2 Specifications

CPUIntel Core i7-12700H
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti Laptop GPU (8GB GDDR6) 1,200 MHz Boost Clock, 140W Max Graphics Power
Memory32GB LPDDR5-5200
Storage2TB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD
Display15.6-inch 2560 x 1440, IPS, 240 Hz
NetworkingKiller Wi-Fi 6E AX1675, Bluetooth 5.2
PortsThunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, MicroSD reader, 3.5 mm headphone jack, HDMI 2.1
Camera720p webcam
Battery87 Whr
Power Adapter240W
Operating SystemWindows 11 Home
Dimensions (WxDxH)14.16 x 10.97 x 0.62 inches (359.70 x 277.33 x 15.90 mm)
Weight5.2 pounds (2.36 kg)
Price (as configured)$2,890.99 (as configured)

Gaming and Graphics on the Alienware x15 R2

Our configuration of the Alienware x15 has an Intel Core i7-12700H and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti with 8GB of GDDR6. The GPU has a max of 140W of power. In our testing, these components allowed for strong gaming performances --although not the best-- in 1080p and the screen's native 2560 x 1440 resolution (1440p).

While playing Control (highest settings) with Ray Tracing settings high at 1440p, the x15 wavered around 53 to 60 frames per second, zooming around the Central Executive area and tilting the camera in the opposite direction. When I turned on DLSS with V-Sync, I stayed at a consistent 60 fps in that location with little to no screen tearing while running and rotating the camera. Without DLSS and V-Sync activated, the game suffered screen tearing.

When we ran Grand Theft Auto V’s benchmark at very high settings, the Alienware x15 R2 played at 76 frames per second at 1080p and 66 fps in native 1440p. The Acer Predator Triton 500 SE (outfitted with a stronger RTX 3080 Ti and i9-12900H) underperformed with 70 fps in 1080p and 66 frames in its native 2560 x 1600 resolution (1600p). The Razer Blade 15 has the same RTX 3070 Ti as our review unit, with an Intel Core i7-12800H, and it reached 83 fps in 1080p and 69 fps in 1440p. Lastly, the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro, outfitted with both the same CPU and GPU as our Alienware review unit, achieved 88 fps in 1080p and 70 fps in its native 2560 x 1600 resolution.

During the Far Cry 6 (ultra settings) benchmark, the Alienware x15 R2 reached 66 fps at 1080p and 44 fps at 1440p. These were the lowest frame rates in the test group. The Acer Predator hit 70 fps at 1080p and 46 fps at 1600p; the Razer Blade was just a few frames below that in both resolutions. The Lenovo Legion outpaced them with 81 fps and 53 fps at 1080p and 1440p, respectively.  

On the Red Dead Redemption 2 benchmark (medium settings), we saw the Alienware x15 R2 output 66 fps at 1080p and 44 fps at 1440p. Although competitors weren't too far ahead, the Alienware once again was the slowest here.

When we ran the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark (highest settings), the Alienware x15 R2 reached 84 fps at 1080p and 56 fps at 1440p. The Acer Predator played at 96 fps at 1080p and 62 at 1600p. The Razer Blade 15 got 90 fps at 1080p and 61 fps at 1440p. And the Lenovo Legion hit an impressive 110 fps at 1080p and 69 fps at 1600p.

Finally, on the Borderlands 3 benchmark (badass settings), the Alienware x15 R2 reached 82 fps in 1080p and 57 fps at 1440p. This time, the Predator and Razer Blade underperformed, both hitting 76 fps at 1080p, with the Acer hitting 52 fps and the Razer managing 58 fps at their native resolutions. 

On gaming laptops, we stress-test by running the Metro Exodus benchmark on RTX settings 15 times, simulating about half an hour of gameplay. The game ran at an average of 57 frames per second, fluctuating between 48 and 60 frames per second throughout.

During the stress test, CPU speeds came in at an average of 3.5 GHz on the performance cores and 2.8 GHz on the efficiency cores. The temperature of the CPU averaged 80.2 degrees Celsius (171.14 degrees Fahrenheit), and HWInfo reported some CPU thermal throttling in the middle of the test. The GPU ran at an average of 1,098 MHz and a temperature of 78 degrees Celsius (172.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

Productivity Performance on the Alienware x15 R2

We tested the Alienware x15 R2 with an Intel Core i7-12700H, 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. Although the Alienware x15 didn't rise to the top in most of our gaming tests, it did well on our productivity benchmarks.

On Geekbench 5.4, an overall performance test with a focus on the CPU, the Alienware x15 R2 earned a single-core score of 1,751 and a multi-core score of 13,749. Meanwhile, the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE ( with a higher-end Intel Core i9-12900H) reached a single-core performance score of 1,878 and a 14,155 multi-core performance score. The Razer Blade 15 (Intel Core i7-12800H) hit 1,765 single-core and 9,263 multi-core scores. Finally, the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro (i7-12700H) achieved a 1,595 single-core score and a 13,008 multi-core score.

When we tested video transcoding with our Handbrake test, the Alienware x15 R2 and Lenovo Legion 5i Pro were the fastest to convert a 4K video to 1080p, both taking the same 4 minutes and 29 seconds. The Acer Predator wasn’t too far off at 4:32. However, it took the Razer Blade 15 7:25 to get the same job done.

The Alienware x15 R2 copied 25GB of test files at an average speed of 1,353.66 MBps. The Acer Predator was once again right behind at 1,280.49 MBps. However, the Razer Blade 15 and Lenovo Legion lagged at 932.1 and 925.46 MBps, respectively.

Display on the Alienware x15 R2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Alienware x15 R2 has a 15.6-inch display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution, Nvidia G-Sync support, and a 240 Hz refresh rate.

When I watched Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, I almost lost myself in the film thanks to how great it looked. Despite just watching the movie over the weekend on my 48-inch LG CX, I felt like the visuals held up almost as well on the 15.6-inch display, which is a testament to this non-OLED laptop monitor. The colors during the bombastic, neon-skewed opening action scene were vivid. The nits elevated the bright scenery during the wedding scene, and the visuals were sharp.

I had an equally excellent gaming experience with the x15's display. The illumination from the display elevated the game’s ray tracing when I played Control. The Central Executive area’s lights and reflections looked superb. The colors were rich, and my movements were buttery smooth with the game capped at 60 frames per second, and V-Sync turned on. (If you have a game that doesn't suffer from tearing --or you can ignore it-- you should be able to get a nice smooth frame rate up to 240 fps.) The anti-glare screen effectively prevented distracting reflections, too.

The Alienware x15 R2’s panel covers 75.6% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and 107% of the sRGB color gamut. Competitors like the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE covered 111.6% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and 158% of the sRGB color gamut. The Razer Blade 15 and Lenovo Legion 5i Pro slightly exceeded the Alienware's numbers. Although the Alienware’s display has impressive brightness at 388 nits, the Acer Predator Triton and Lenovo Legion are brighter at 460 and 474 nits, respectively.

Keyboard and Touchpad on the Alienware x15 R2 

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The keys on the Alienware x15 R2 are snappy, if not a bit stiff for typing. Although keystrokes are responsive, the keys quickly pop back up after each input. That makes the keyboard more fit for gaming than it is typing. Regardless, I felt comfortable clacking away on the keys and hitting 53 words per minute with 92% accuracy on 10fastfingers, which is around my usual score on laptops.

Although the touchpad was responsive to all my Windows swipe gestures and felt cool and sleek to the touch, I would prefer if the touchpad were bigger. Compared to many other modern laptops, the touchpad area is shockingly tiny, and it was one of the first things I noticed, despite the otherwise beautiful design. While most gamers will use a mouse for gaming, having a roomy touchpad for productivity use on the go is still nice, and you don't get that here.

Audio on the Alienware x15 R2 

The speakers on the Alienware x15 R2 produce great volume, but their emphasis on vocals drowns details out when listening to music. When I played “Texts Go Green” by Drake, the synths and percussion took a backseat to the vocals, which were much more prominent than usual. The rest of the instrumentation lacked range and detail. When I played "Deep Down" by Josh Gabriel and Winter Kills, the kicks were audible, as were the vocals, but the small ambient details I love about the song were not as noticeable.

However, when watching movies, the focus on voices comes in handy. While watching Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, the high volume and emphasis on speaking gave the film a theatrical feel. When the action got loud, the speakers got loud. But sometimes, audio became cracked or distorted, like when America Chavez shouted a warning about an attack from fake Shuma-Gorath to Doctor Strange early in the film.

Dolby Access offers balanced, warm, and detailed options for music and movie presets that even out, deepen the bass, and raise the treble, respectively. But the app also offers dynamic and voice options that make each respective effect sound worse once activated. And outside of the Realtek Audio Console, there’s no software installed to improve the audio.

Upgradeability on the Alienware x15 R2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

I used a  Phillips head screwdriver to take five of the six screws out of the Alienware x15 R2. One of the screws, I realized, was captive. I needed a pry tool to get it and the lid off completely. Besides the alien head at the center, I immediately noticed the empty SSD slot, which means you could add more storage later. Whether this is empty on your unit will depend on the configuration. The laptop’s network card was accessible, and the battery could be removed. Unfortunately, the computer has soldered RAM, so that can't be upgraded. Get this laptop with as much RAM as you think you'll need.

Battery Life on the Alienware x15 R2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

On our battery test, which involves streaming video, browsing the web, and running OpenGL tests over Wi-Fi with the display at 150 nits of brightness, the Alienware x15 R2 ran for an abysmal 3 hours and 27 minutes. Although I don’t expect many folks to be gaming without plugging in, that's low when compared to some other recent 15-inch gaming notebooks. The Acer Predator ran for 8:19, the Razer lasted 4:54, and the Legion clocked in at 7:30. Be prepared to make space for the power adapter in your bag if you’re carrying an Alienware x15 R2 around, but thankfully the brick isn’t too big.

Heat on the Alienware x15 R2

During our Metro Exodus stress test, we take skin temperature measurements to see how hot the system gets to the touch. At the center of the keyboard, between the G and H keys, the Alienware measured 41.5 degrees Celsius (106.7 degrees Fahrenheit), while the touchpad was a cooler 30.4 degrees Celsius (86.72 degrees Fahrenheit). At the bottom, the hottest point reached about 46.7 degrees Celsius (116.06 degrees Fahrenheit), a toasty temp I could definitely feel while playing Control.

Webcam on the Alienware x15 R2

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The 720p webcam in the Alienware x15 R2 is terrible. When I turned it on initially, I had a visceral reaction at how pixelated I looked. After quietly cracking a few jokes about myself, I noticed the lack of detail around my facial hair. I couldn’t see strands of my hair, which looked like black chicken feathers stuck on my face. I have a neon sign in my room that reads “zero in,” but I can’t distinguish a single letter through the webcam. 

The webcam has IR sensors to use with Windows Hello, which lets you sign in to your device using facial recognition. Despite this, we had some bugs saying it wasn't available for use during our testing. It's unclear if this was just a quirk of our review unit, but it's safe to say if you care about image quality in your Zoom calls, you should plug in one of the best webcams we've tested instead. 

Software and Warranty on the Alienware x15 R2

The Alienware x15 has far too much pre-loaded software. Some of it is useful, like Alienware Command Center, a hub app that lets you control lighting, audio, and change power profiles. My Alienware lets users look into system details and warranty information. But Alienware Customer Connect asks users to fill out surveys about other Dell products, which is unnecessary.

Alienware Update checks for the latest BIOS, drivers, firmware, and application updates. Alienware Digital Delivery is an app that delivers software purchases you may have made at the time of sale. Lastly, there’s Alienware OnScreen Display, an app that directs you to the notification section of Windows 11’s settings to adjust how you want Alienware notifications to appear.  Some of this doubles up on features in Windows 11, so it seems like a lot.

On the Windows side, there’s the usual Microsoft cruft that many will never use: an Xbox and Xbox Game Bar app, Spotify and Microsoft Teams. 

Dell sells the Alienware x15 R2 with a 1-year warranty, but you can pay extra for extended coverage.

Alienware x15 R2 Configurations

Our $2,890.99 configuration of the Alienware x15 R2 came with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti and an Intel Core i7-12700H, with 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 2TB of SSD storage. Ours also came with a 2560x1440 resolution display with a 240Hz refresh rate.

The base model comes with an RTX 3060, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage and a 1920 x 1080 resolution display with a 165 Hz refresh rate for $2,106.99. From the base model, you can upgrade the GPU to a 3070 Ti for $2,449.99 total, and jack up the RAM to 32 GB for about $200 extra. 

Steping up from FHD to our 2560 x 1440, 240 Hz refresh rate display costs $50, and upgrading to the 1080p 360Hz refresh rate panel costs $100. The storage can also be upgraded from the base 512GB to a 1TB M.2 or two 512GB RAID 0 SSDs for $50. 2TB of SSD or two 1TB RAID 0 SSD cost an extra $245 and 4TB or 2 RAID 0 SSD is an extra $539.

There’s a high-end configuration with an RTX 3080 Ti GPU, an Intel Core i9-12900H CPU and 32GB of RAM. That model, as of this writing, starts at $3,282.99 with a 512GB SSD and a 1080p display with a 165 Hz refresh rate. It’s customizable with any display or storage option mentioned above, just as long as you’re willing to pay those extra costs. You could max the Alienware x15 R2 out with the Core i9, 32GB of RAM, RTX 3080 Ti along with 4TB of SSD storage in RAID0 and 1080p display with a 360 Hz refresh rate for just under $4,000.

Bottom Line

The Alienware x15 R2 remains a slim, sleek beauty with just the right amount of RGB. The black-and-white exterior looks superb, as does the backlit keyboard. And that’s before mentioning how much I enjoyed the visuals from its 15.6-inch,1440p display (even if others did better on some measurements)

But despite the Alienware x15 R2’s strong performance in both gaming and productivity, its competitors often outpaced it in gaming.

Suppose you don’t mind dropping a bit of flare. In that case, the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro is a competitor that excels at gaming and productivity, battery life, and has a screen with better sRGB and DCI-P3 color gamut percentage. (It should be noted, however, that it may be difficult to find the exact configuration we reviewed right now). 

But if you need a stylish laptop and don't mind sacrificing a bit of gaming performance for some cool design, the Alienware x15 R2 is a solid choice with a bevy of ports and upgradability options to meet your needs. 

Isaac Rouse
Staff Writer

Isaac Rouse is a staff writer at Tom's Hardware. He reviews laptops and various gaming peripherals.

  • cknobman
    Would not buy anything made by Dell.

    Had been using an XPS 15 for several years and it was great but after getting my Lenovo ThinkPad I wont ever be going back to Dell.
    They run way too loud, keyboard is inferior (IMO) to my Lenovo, and battery life was never very good.

    When it comes to Alienware you are just paying for overpriced and poorly engineered products cleverly advertised.
    Reply
  • saunupe1911
    cknobman said:
    Would not buy anything made by Dell.

    Had been using an XPS 15 for several years and it was great but after getting my Lenovo ThinkPad I wont ever be going back to Dell.
    They run way too loud, keyboard is inferior (IMO) to my Lenovo, and battery life was never very good.

    When it comes to Alienware you are just paying for overpriced and poorly engineered products cleverly advertised.

    Lenovo has dropped some duds as well. The Intel mobile CPUs are to blame not Dell.

    There's absolutely zero reason to buy an Intel powered laptop right now. Their inefficiency is just unexplainable.
    Reply
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    Dang, the battery life is a bummer on an otherwise decent laptop that is also repairable.

    I guess that if you're going to keep it in a desk, it's at least something to consider.

    I strictly look at Alienware laptops because some of them have mechanical keys as an option, which is something very few have, and their newer designs are solid.

    I do agree that they do include too much software, I'd remove most stuff that is not support software, or at least disable it, and as for others mentioning Dell quality, absolute insanity, you can get replacement parts from them directly for years after they've stopped selling a model, and they're incredibly good with the BIOS firmware updates.
    Reply