Alienware m15 R6 laptop review: More efficient, but the RTX 3080 is slower than in the predecessor

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Alienware m15 R6 laptop review: More efficient, but the RTX 3080 is slower than in the predecessor

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Processor

Intel Core i7-11800H 8 x 2.3 – 4.6 GHz, 90 W PL2 / Short Burst, 50 W PL1 / Sustained, Tiger Lake H45

Memory

32768 MB 

, 2x 16 GB PC4-25600 DDR4 SDRAM SK Hynix

Display

15.60 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 141 PPI, AU Optronics AUO9092 (B156HAN), IPS, glossy: no, 360 Hz

Storage

Samsung PM9A1 MZVL21T0HCLR, 1024 GB 

, 2 x PM9A1 NVMe Samsung 1024GB = 2 TB, 1782 GB free

Soundcard

Intel Tiger Lake PCH-H – cAVS (Audio, Voice, Speech)

Connections

3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 Thunderbolt, USB-C Power Delivery (PD), 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm audio port

Networking

Killer E2600 Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000/2500/5000MBit/s), Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650i 160MHz Wireless Network Adapter (201NGW) (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5/ax = Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth Bluetooth 5

Size

height x width x depth (in mm): 22.85 x 356.2 x 272.5 ( = 0.9 x 14.02 x 10.73 in)

Charging

fast charging / Quickcharge

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 11 Home

Camera

Webcam: Alienware HD camera (1280 x 720 resolution) with dual-array microphone

Primary Camera: 0.9 MPix

Additional features

Speakers: stereo speakers, Keyboard: Alienware M series with 4 zone AlienFX backlight, Keyboard Light: yes, 12 Months Warranty, 1 Year premium support and onsite service

Weight

2.529 kg ( = 89.21 oz / 5.58 pounds), Power Supply: 955 g ( = 33.69 oz / 2.11 pounds)

Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

Alienware laptops are known for their large cooling system in the back, so it is hardly surprising that the current model also is significantly deeper than the competitors from other manufacturers. But at least it is slightly slimmer than the Schenker or the Aorus, even though none of the models is able to beat the Razer Blade in this regard.

With a weight of 2.5 kg (~5.5 lb), the Alienware laptops are also 200 – 500 g (~7 – 18 oz) heavier than the comparison devices.

In contrast to the m15 R5 AMD version, the m15 R6 now supports Thunderbolt 4 thanks to the Intel CPU, and the corresponding USB-C port also supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 instead of Gen 1. In addition, the USB-C port now also supports Power Delivery, which means that it can be used for recharging, but only at up to 15 watts. Otherwise, the connections remained the same.

The PCMark 10 benchmark doesn’t differentiate the competitors very well from each other, at least not in the overall score. The Razer Blade seems to be slightly ahead in the sub tests, but the Alienware is challenging it, remaining about 5% behind only in the Essentials benchmark.

Dell has equipped the m15 R6 with two 1-TB NVMe SSDs from Samsung, so there is ample amount of storage with a total of 2 TB. Even though the Samsung PM9A1 occupies the third place in our SSD database, it is unable to even come close to its theoretically high speeds in the R6. There is some wasted potential here, but the speed still isn’t bad by any means.

The R6 contains an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Mobile GPU that is able to consume 125 watts, including 10 watts dynamic boost. Considering the fact that some RTX 3080 laptops are configured with up to 165 watts, this seems fairly low, particularly for an Alienware laptop. For example, even the R6 with the RTX 3070 option is able to use 130 watts.

In the 3DMark tests, the Alienware’s performance corresponds fairly exactly to the average, in terms of its RTX 3080. However, the “old” R4 with the RTX 3080 and Intel Core i9-10980HK Comet Lake CPU is noticeably faster most of the time. This is not a surprise, since the GPU in the R4 is able to use 140 watts.

In battery mode, running the 3DMark 11 results in only 16,083 points instead of the 30,178 points before, which corresponds to a decrease of 47%.

Despite the slightly throttled RTX 3080, the Alienware is able to display all the modern games at maximum detail and in Full HD resolution, and there should even be sufficient reserves for 4K resolutions.

Overall, the R6 performance is again fairly close to the average of other laptops with an RTX 3080 from our database. However, most of its direct competitors are still faster, with the old m15 R4 at the top. It seems a bit strange that one would limit the performance compared to the predecessor, possibly to be able to provide better cooling of the system.

The fan modes appear to have only little influence on the performance. In Performance mode, many games will only hardly or not at all benefit from the theoretical additional cooling (GTA V), but in some games we can see a minimal advantage (Strange Brigade, + 3-5%).

During one hour of running The Witcher 3, the frame rate only drops slightly, so the performance is fairly constant, and outliers or drops remain the exception.

During idle operation, the fans in the 6 often remain turned off, at least in Balanced or Quiet mode. In Performance mode, they are also loud during idle operation, and likewise in the “Cooling” mode. In Full Performance mode, they become even louder.

In Balanced mode, the fans can even rev up from time to time in maximum idle operation, up to a noise level of about 30 dB. Under average load (3DMark06, first benchmark), the R6 now remains even quieter than some of its competitors.

On the other hand, the fans rev up quite a lot under heavy load. But at least they aren’t louder than the Aorus or the Schenker here as well. However, this is not the case when you use the Full Performance mode. So every user has to decide for themselves whether a few frames more are also worth the increasing noise level.

Under some types of load (3DMark06), we can hear an electronic noise in form of a hum. Probably it is only noticeable under medium load level, and after that it will be drowned out by the fan noise.

In idle operation, the R6 now remains cooler than the R4. However, under load it gets just as hot again, and that although at least the 3D performance is slightly lower.  

Under heavy stress, the surfaces on the top and bottom can reach temperatures of around 60 °C (140 °F), which is definitely not suited anymore for operation on one’s lap. On the other hand, those who live in a cold garden hut can profit from the R6 in some other ways: While gaming, the temperature around the WASD keys still reaches a cosy 40 – 45 °C (104 – 113 °F), but at least the palm rests remain relatively cool.

Interestingly, the R5 with the weaker RTX 3060 and Ryzen 7 5800H becomes similarly hot. However, the rest of the competitors remains noticeably cooler.

  54 °C

129 F
61 °C

142 F
61 °C

142 F
 
  45 °C

113 F
49 °C

120 F
43 °C

109 F
 
  37 °C

99 F
39 °C

102 F
38 °C

100 F
 
Maximum: 61 °C = 142 F

Average: 47.4 °C = 117 F
49 °C

120 F
55 °C

131 F
52 °C

126 F
51 °C

124 F
58 °C

136 F
51 °C

124 F
40 °C

104 F
44 °C

111 F
40 °C

104 F
Maximum: 58 °C = 136 F

Average: 48.9 °C = 120 F

Power Supply (max.)  50 °C = 122 F | Room Temperature 20.5 °C = 69 F | Fluke t3000FC (calibrated), Fluke 62 Mini

(-) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 47.4 °C / 117 F, compared to the average of 33.7 °C / 93 F for the devices in the class Gaming.

(-) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 61 °C / 142 F, compared to the average of 40.1 °C / 104 F, ranging from 21.6 to 68.8 °C for the class Gaming.

(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 58 °C / 136 F, compared to the average of 43 °C / 109 F

(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 29.6 °C / 85 F, compared to the device average of 33.7 °C / 93 F.

(-) Playing The Witcher 3, the average temperature for the upper side is 40.7 °C / 105 F, compared to the device average of 33.7 °C / 93 F.

(±) The palmrests and touchpad can get very hot to the touch with a maximum of 39 °C / 102.2 F.

(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 29 °C / 84.2 F (-10 °C / -18 F).

The positive aspect is that the speaker can become fairly loud. But unfortunately, they lack bass, and we also heard better models in terms of the mids. Because of the loud fans, the use of headphones is recommended anyways, and there is an audio port for this. 

Thanks to the Optimus switching, the R6 now consumes noticeably less power than the R4 at least during idle operation. Under load, the consumption is also slightly lower than that of the competitors, but this might also be due to the lower 3D performance.

We measure a maximum consumption of just above 200 watts, which means that the 240-Watt power supply should be sufficient to be able to recharge the device reliably in any situation.

Despite its more powerful GPU, the R6 isn’t equipped with a larger battery than the R5 with the RTX 3060. However, this doesn’t appear to necessarily have a negative effect on the battery life, since during our battery tests, the integrated GPU is active most of the time. The WLAN test results are at eye level, and only when playing videos, the R6 lasts noticeably less time with 5.5 hours than the R5 with 8 hours.

Christian Hintze

A C64 marked my entry into the world of PCs. I spent my student internship in the repair department of a computer shop and at the end of the day I was allowed to assemble my own 486 PC from “workshop remnants”. As a result of this, I later studied computer science at the Humboldt University in Berlin, with psychology also being added to my studies. After my first job as a research assistant at the university, I went to London for a year and worked for Sega in computer game translation quality assurance. This included working on games such as Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed and Company of Heroes. I have been writing for Notebookcheck since 2017.

Mark Riege

Translator: Mark Riege – Translator – 266 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018

Having worked as a programmer for 20 years (medical devices, AI, data management systems), I’ve been following the computer scene for many years and especially enjoy finding out about new technology advances. Originally from Germany but living in the US, I’ve been working as a translator more recently, with Notebookcheck allowing me to combine my interest in new devices and translation. Other interests include Buddhism, spending time in Tibetan monasteries, and translating ancient Tibetan texts.

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