Price Analysis And Conclusion
When gaming laptops come to mind, this particular configuration of the Alienware 15 R3 is an oddity. Some might say that the gaming on a mobile system requires an i7 at the absolute least, and they might be right. The Alienware 15's Intel core i5-6300HQ proves itself to be a major bottleneck during CPU-intensive synthetic benchmarks and a handful of titles. And even in workloads where strong multi-core performance isn't paramount, the extra ounce of performance that an i7 provides is just enough to pull certain systems ahead of our Alienware.
At $1,350 (this was its price when we acquired it, and Amazon still shows under $1,400 at publish time for this configuration), the Alienware 15 R3 squares off directly against the MSI GP62MVR Leopard Pro-218, which costs the same amount. The main differences between the two are the Leopard Pro's Intel Core i7-6700HQ, 16GB of DDR4-2133 memory (vs. the Alienware's 8GB), and the smaller GTX 1060 module. More platform-demanding metrics and games, like Bioshock Infinite or GRiD Autosport favor the Leopard Pro considerably. On the other hand, games that devour VRAM, like Grand Theft Auto V and Rise of the Tomb Raider, illustrate the Alienware laptop's strengths. If you have less than $1,500 to spend, and pure gaming performance is your concern, now you know the trade-offs between these two choices.
However, we can't judge the Alienware 15 based on its CPU alone. It has many merits (some of them subjective) that set it apart from the MSI Leopard Pro, the Asus Strix 15, and even the Gigabyte P37X. For one, the Alienware has the most impressive build quality. The laptop is built solidly, has no flex, and the overall finish screams "premium," whereas its direct competitor, the Leopard Pro, feels . . . less premium. The Alienware laptop also exhibits the best cooling solution out of the four, keeping well under 70°C even after a 15 minute Furmark GPU stress test. Finally, the Alienware Command Center gives you comprehensive lighting controls, which usually aren't found in systems around this price point.
Not everything about the Alienware 15's body is perfect. Its keyboard, for example, has an incredibly cramped layout with virtually no space between each individual key. Comparitively, the Leopard Pro, Strix 15, and P37X v6 all have adequately spaced keys that provide a comfortable typing experience. Additionally, the Alienware's display suffers some big grayscale and color accuracy deficiencies, not just in the reported metrics, but also visible to us.
Perhaps if we were to upgrade the Alienware 15's i5-6300HQ to an i7-6700HQ, the system would be much more compelling. Customizing our current configuration with an i7 bumps up the price on Dell's website to $1,500, pitting it against the Strix 15, which sits at $1,400. An i7-equipped model would likely deliver just as much performance as the competition, perhaps even more due to its robust cooling solution, while having better build quality and impressive backlighting. This would easily place it at the top of the list for gaming laptops priced at $1,500 and below.
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