Gaming

Stylish gaming laptop that tracks eye movement

Gaming Laptop.
Gaming Laptop.

There is something about the Alienware m15 R2 gaming laptop that pulls you in.

Perhaps it is how it walks the line between gaudy and tasteful. Or it could be its cool and contemporary vibe with futuristic hints.

It has softer and more modern curves in place of its predecessor's sharp and angular lines. Alienware's iconic and illuminated alien head logo is still plastered on the lid, but overall, the m15 R2 has a clean design.

True to Alienware's style, there are no lack of LEDs. At the back of the laptop is a rounded elongated light bar that, like the alien head logo, keyboard backlight and power button, can be customised to display your preferred colours using the Alien Command Center app.

At around 20mm thick, the 15.6-inch m15 R2 is Alienware's sleekest gaming notebook yet. Its magnesium alloy chassis weighs 2.16kg, which is much lighter than older Alienware notebooks. Its build quality is good, without any signs of flexing when typing or pushing down on the notebook.

Design-wise, my only gripe is the hinge, which does not open as fluidly as I would like.

You cannot open it with one hand either. Alienware could have done more work on adjusting the resistance of the hinge.

Also upgraded is the laptop's cooling system, which comprises two fans, copper heatsink fins and heat pipes. Cool air is pulled in through vents above the keyboard and expelled from the sides and back.

The fans get very loud in the laptop's Performance mode, but that is par for the course for most gaming laptops. However, while the palm rest is relatively cool, the keyboard feels warmer in my testing. This could be a problem during long gaming sessions.

  • FOR

    •Stylish and unique design

    •Excellent build quality

    •Good gaming performance

    •One of the few gaming laptops to offer Tobii eye tracking

    AGAINST

    •Expensive

    •Mediocre battery life

    •Fans are noisy

    •Thermal performance could be better

    SPECS

    PRICE: $4,498

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-9750H (2.6GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB GDDR6 (Max-Q)

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: Thunderbolt 3, 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, Alienware Graphics Amplifier port, 2.5Gbps Ethernet port, audio jack

    BATTERY: 76 watt-hour

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 2/5

    OVERALL: 3.5/5

My review unit has a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel 144Hz display with a peak brightness of 300 nits. It is brighter than the screens on most other gaming laptops. Colours appear vivid and punchy.

It also has a feature you will not find on most other laptops - Tobii eye tracking, which tracks the movement of your eyes to enable features such as turning on the display when you are looking at the screen.

A gaming-specific use - Tobii can tell you which areas of the screen you are looking at. This information can be used to assess if you are focusing too much on one area, which could be invaluable for improving your gameplay.

The keyboard has been upgraded. It is now slightly concaved for greater comfort and offers slightly better key travel than the one on the previous model.

Many of its connectors are found at the rear, which makes cable management slightly tidier. Notable ports include a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port, an HDMI 2.0b port and a Thunderbolt 3 port.

Alienware's proprietary graphics port, which lets the laptop connect to the firm's external graphics enclosure with a powerful desktop-class external graphics card within, is also present.

With its high-end gaming hardware, such as an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q chip, the m15 R2 breezes through the latest games at 1,080p without a hitch.

For instance, it scored 102 frames per second (fps) in Far Cry 5 at high settings at the 1,080p resolution. This is comparable with the 98fps managed by the Razer Blade 15, which has similar specifications.

But its battery life is mediocre. Both the Aftershock Vapor 15 and the Razer Blade 15 lasted over an hour longer than the m15 R2's three hours and 21 minutes in the PCMark 10's Modern Office battery life benchmark.

The Alienware's uptime dipped further to just over an hour in the PCMark 10's Gaming battery life test.

Alienware has produced one of the better-looking gaming laptops today with the m15 R2.

But design aside, its gaming performance is not significantly better than the competition. It could also be improved in terms of noise and heat.

In addition, it is priced far higher than its rivals.

If price is no object, you will be pleased with Alienware's unique look and build. But if you are looking to get a more well-rounded laptop for your money, the m15 R2 is not quite it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2020, with the headline 'Stylish gaming laptop that tracks eye movement'. Print Edition | Subscribe