Alienware m16 R2 (2024) Review – Their Cheapest Gaming Laptop 🤔

Look, Alienware is known for being a more premium brand, which is just code for you have to pay more money. But the new m16 R2 is their cheapest gaming laptop, so let’s find out if that’s still the case or if this is worth it in this review! The

m16 R2 comes in Alienware’s dark metallic moon finish with an anodized aluminum build. The interior has a black soft touch finish, which attracts a little more fingerprints than the lid, but both were easy to clean with a microfiber cloth. There’s only a little flex to the keyboard when

pushing down hard. The lid wasn’t too bad in that regard, but it can wobble a bit when using it. So say I accidentally bump the table as I get up, it’s still wobbling, still wobbling, still wobbling and it’s stopped. It’s definitely not as bad as some others that

I’ve had, but yeah it’s definitely noticeable and not ideal. There’s a groove along the entire front, making it easy to get your finger in and open. The screen goes back the full 180 degrees, and the hinges feel smooth. But they could probably be a little tighter to reduce

some of that screen wobble. This year’s new R2 version has a 15% smaller footprint compared to last year’s R1, as they chopped the back section off. The only

downside is there’s no RGB light ring on the back anymore, so now you’re not able to flex on people walking

by. How are they going to know you’ve got an Alienware? It weighs about 2 and a half kilos or 5 and a half pounds, increasing to just over 3kg or almost 7 pounds with the 240 watt charger included. My configuration has Intel’s new Ultra 9 185H Meteor Lake

processor, Nvidia RTX 4070 graphics, 32 gigs of RAM, and a 16 inch 2560 by 1600 240Hz screen. But it’s available for less money depending on how you configure it with the link below. The per-key RGB keyboard that mine has is a $50 upgrade over the single zone keyboard,

for example. All keys and secondary functions get lit up, and brightness can be adjusted between 2 levels or turned off with the F7 shortcut key. This does not affect the Alienware logo on the lid or the lighting around the touchpad. Those are controlled separately through the AlienFX section

of Alienware’s Command Center software. The touchpad looks kind of cool, but we didn’t like using it. It feels mushy and harder to press up the top half, making it feel awkward to use. The power button is separate to the keyboard and lights up. The AlienFX software shows you

what the different colors mean. As for ports, the left side has a 2.5 gigabit ethernet port and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. The right has a MicroSD card slot and two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports. The rest is on the back, from left to right there are

two Type-C ports, the first on the left is Thunderbolt 4 while the second on the right is USB 3.2 Gen 2, followed by a HDMI 2.1 output, and the power input on the far right. Only the Thunderbolt 4 port can be used to charge the laptop, but both

Type-C ports have DisplayPort 1.4 support for connecting monitors. The Thunderbolt port always connects to the Intel integrated graphics, while the other Type-C port always connects to the Nvidia discrete graphics. And that’s the case whether optimus is on or off. HDMI always connects to Nvidia, and it could run

our LG B9 TV at 4K 120Hz 12-bit with G-Sync. Getting inside requires unscrewing 8 Phillips head screws, all the same length. The two down the front corners don’t come out and instead lift the panel up a bit, making opening easier. I still had some difficulty opening it, even

with pry tools – I’ll leave a link to these ones I use below. Inside we’ve got the battery down the front, two memory slots in the middle, two M.2 slots with the included SSD to the left, and the Wi-Fi 7 card on the right. The speeds from the

1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD were great, and the MicroSD card slot was fast too. It clicks in and sits most of the way in, but can still be removed without longer fingernails. Despite having a Wi-Fi 7 card, latest drivers, and Windows saying it’s using Wi-Fi 7 over 6GHz,

it seems to be running at last gen 6E speeds. Dell’s website says this is expected behavior until some unknown later time in 2024. The upgradeability score is good for a 16 inch laptop with no major drawbacks. Both memory slots can be upgraded, Wi-Fi can be swapped, and both

M.2 2280 drives support double sided SSDs with chips on both sides. The speakers are found underneath on the left and right sides towards the front. They sound alright, a solid average with a little bass while remaining fairly clear at higher volume. The latencymon results weren’t great, similar to

most other laptops tested this year. The m16 is powered by a 6-Cell 90Wh battery. But battery life isn’t great, lasting for less than 5 hours at stock with the screen running at 240Hz. Dell’s laptops don’t seem to have any way of automatically lowering the screen’s refresh rate when

the charger gets unplugged, which would probably give us an extra 30 to 40 minutes. Of course you can do that manually, but I doubt most people will go out of their way to change it manually every single time, so we’ve tested with default here. Battery life while running

a game was excellent compared to others though, lasting for over 2 hours. Let’s check out thermals next. The m16 r2 has 2 fans inside with heatpipes shared between the CPU and GPU. There are holes in the bottom panel above the fans for air intake, as well as intake

holes in a honeycomb pattern above the keyboard. Air gets exhausted out of the left and right sides and out from the back corners. The Alienware Command Center software lets us change between different performance modes, which from lowest to highest are quiet, balanced, performance, and overdrive. There’s also custom

mode which gives us a little control over the maximum GPU temperature and GPU overclocking. You can also press the F1 key to enable high performance mode, which maxes out the fan. Performance, High Performance, and Overdrive modes automatically apply the following overclocks to the GPU. These can only be

controlled in Custom mode. The internal temps were fine when sitting there idle. The rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU stress tests which aim to represent a worst case full load scenario. Despite the higher CPU temperatures in high performance and overdrive modes, thermal throttling was

not being hit, power was the limit. The cooling pad I test with, linked below, was able to lower the temps a bit, but closing the lid resulted in lower temps too. Clock speeds were barely any different with the lid closed either, so no problems if you want to

dock the laptop. High performance and overdrive basically perform the same, with the CPU maxing out with a 50 watt power limit. Nvidia’s control panel says the RTX 4070 can go up to 140 watts with dynamic boost, but the real limit in most games is 100 watts, which is

completely normal for a full powered 4070. Here’s how an actual game performs with the different performance modes. Overdrive was ahead of high performance mode. Even performance and balanced modes were, despite what we just saw in the stress tests. Regardless, there’s not much of a difference between them all

at the QHD+ resolution the screen comes with. The CPU can use much more power if the GPU is idle, like in Cinebench, but again there wasn’t that much difference between the different performance modes. This is the first time I’ve had a gaming laptop with Intel’s new Meteor Lake

processors, and it’s doing fairly well considering that most of the laptops above it have higher core and thread counts. The 155H in Dell’s much smaller XPS 14 is basically the same processor, just with a slower single core boost, so this difference just goes to show how much more

performance we can get from a bigger laptop with higher power limits and more cooling space. Performance lowers if we unplug the charger and instead run off of battery power, but not as much compared to most other laptops, so the m16 moves up a few positions out of the

same selection. Basically performance shouldn’t be that much worse with the charger disconnected. Most laptops I test are in the low 30 degrees Celsius range on the keyboard at idle, and the m16 was in line with this. It warms up with the stress tests running, but the middle of

the keyboard only feels a little warm, the hot spots on camera are between the key caps. Balanced mode is similar, the middle looks warm but it feels alright and the WASD area feels fine. Performance mode isn’t too different either, the wrist rest area was always cool. High performance

mode with the F1 key maxes out the fans, so it’s a fair bit cooler to the touch now. Overdrive mode is similar, but again the fans are maxed out and quite loud now, let’s have a listen. The fans were completely silent when sitting there idle, and then got

louder under load with the higher performance modes. Overdrive and high performance were quite loud, as the fans got maxed out. Considering game FPS wasn’t much lower in performance or even balanced mode, at least when GPU bound, you could definitely have much quieter fans without losing too much FPS.

This year’s m16 only has one screen option, so you can’t customize it. But fortunately it’s mostly good. The screen has decent colors for gaming, but content creators might want better. It’s still above 300 nits bright, but that’s the minimum I want to see and not amazing. At least

it’s brighter compared to last year’s more expensive x16, but as we can see, brightness seems to be an area where Alienware laptops aren’t competitive. Backlight bleed wasn’t amazing, but I didn’t actually notice the top patches during normal use. This will vary between laptops though. Screen response time is

good. Ideally a 240Hz screen needs transitions to occur within a 4.17ms refresh window, and most of the transitions are below this, so no ghosting. It’s a great result compared to most other laptops tested, only clearly beaten by OLED screens. The total system latency is the amount of time

between a mouse click and when a gunshot fire appears on the screen in Counter-Strike 2. The m16 R2 is the fastest RTX 4070 result recorded so far. Generally higher CPU and GPU specs result in a higher frame rate and less latency, so not bad for a 4070. The

m16 has a MUX switch, but it’s a little hidden in the software. That needs a reboot to use, so you’d be better off using advanced optimus instead through the Nvidia control panel, as that does not need a reboot. G-Sync is available when optimus is off, and adaptive sync

when optimus is on. There’s a 1080p camera above the screen and it has IR for Windows Hello face unlock. Here’s how the camera and microphones look and sound, and this is what it sounds like while typing on the keyboard. Now let’s find out how well Alienware’s m16 R2

performs in games. We’ve tested it with these settings for best results. Cyberpunk 2077 was tested with our own custom test run, and I’ve got the m16 shown by the red highlight. It’s one of the lower results from an RTX 4070 laptop at 1080p, similar to their Dell G16,

with HP’s thinner Omen Transcend 16 a little further behind. The m16 is comparable to most of the other 4070 laptops tested at the higher 1440p resolution. The only way to get a massive improvement is to spend more for a laptop with RTX 4080 graphics, which is not an

option for the m16. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested with the game’s benchmark. At 1080p the m16 was beaten by a number of lower specced laptops. Lower tier RTX 4060 laptop GPUs were easily ahead. I double checked the results and it seems to be a limit of the

lower powered Meteor Lake processor. I thought things might improve at the higher 1440p resolution, as more of the workload gets shifted over the RTX 4070, but that was not the case. Cheaper RTX 4060 laptops are still doing better, while the other 4070 laptops are clearly ahead. Most of

which are cheaper too. But this is just one game. Control is a GPU heavy game, and the m16 was doing much better here by being one of the best RTX 4070 results, and it’s the same deal at 1440p too. Though the cheaper 4060 isn’t really that far behind,

while the more expensive 4080 is able to offer a big improvement. Here are the 3DMark results for those that find them useful, now for some content creator tests. Like the majority of the games, the m16 performs similarly to other laptops with the same RTX 4070 GPU, despite the

processor difference. Dell’s BIOS is only second to MSI when it comes to customization. There are way more options available here compared to most other laptops, like ASUS’s Scar 16 or Acer’s Helios 16. MSI’s laptops offer much more tuning for enthusiasts, but you can still do a bit with

the Alienware m16. Linux support was tested with an Ubuntu 24.04 live CD. By default the keyboard, touchpad, camera, speakers, ethernet and Wi-Fi 7 all worked fine, but I’ll note that Wi-Fi and speakers didn’t work with the older 23.10. Keyboard shortcuts for adjusting screen brightness, keyboard brightness and volume

all worked, but the F1 high performance shortcut does nothing. Pricing and availability will change over time, so check the link below the video for updates and current sales. And if the m16 R2 does have a good sale, we’ll be sure to add it to our website. We

update that everyday to include all of the latest sales, so make sure that you check it out regularly to save money on your next gaming laptop. At the time of recording, the m16 R2 starts at $1550 USD for the lowest spec RTX 4050 config without any sales running

– quite expensive considering we’ve had RTX 4080 deals on the site for similar money – granted they are rare, but this is still more expensive than many RTX 4070 laptops out there. The configuration that we’ve tested in this video goes for $2100, which is well into RTX

4080 territory, and as we saw earlier in the game game benchmarks, those offer significant FPS improvements for gaming and other tasks. You could save $100 to $150 easily by changing the processor from Intel’s Ultra 9 185H to the Ultra 7 155H. I doubt the Ultra 9 is worth

$100 for most people. From our testing, the 185H gets you maybe a 6% boost to single core performance, while multicore will be even smaller as that depends more on maximum power limit. $2000 for an RTX 4070 gaming laptop is a tough pill to swallow. Of course the Alienware

brand is positioned as more premium, which in other words means they charge pretty much whatever they want. But this is Alienware’s entry level gaming laptop option. It feels more like a Dell G16 with a slightly nicer chassis. I mean we don’t even get their famous RGB light ring

on the back anymore! There’s just nothing in particular that the m16 R2 really shines at. I think that it’s average at best and ideally should be $500 to $600 less, putting it more in-line with other 4070 laptops that offer better features. Without a good sale it’s just too

hard to justify this compared to say Lenovo’s Legion Pro 5i, which has a better touchpad, more powerful processor, less screen wobble and a much brighter screen compared to the m16 R2. Plus it’s been on sale for weeks on our website, and went as low as $1299 a

couple of weeks ago. So before spending your hard earned money, check out my full review of Lenovo’s Legion Pro 5i to get all the details. I’ll see you in that one next!

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