Alienware x16 R2 review: A gaming champion with a few gaps in its armor

The gaming laptop crown is heavy, but can Alienware manage it?

Alienware x16 R2 review
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Future/Rami Tabari)

Laptop Mag Verdict

The Alienware x16 R2 champions your copious cash with powerful performance, an excellent mechanical keyboard, and a relatively long battery life.

Pros

  • +

    Impressively thin design

  • +

    Excellent keyboard & touchpad

  • +

    Strong performance and graphics

  • +

    Solid battery life

  • +

    Great thermals

Cons

  • -

    Price-to-performance ratio is rough

  • -

    Display isn’t the best for a $3K+ gaming laptop

  • -

    Messy audio

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When I think “Alienware,” I think “monster.” 

But those days are behind us, with gaming tech manufacturers pushing thinner and lighter products. The new Alienware x16 R2 still has some heft, but you'll be surprised what lies under that 0.7-inch thin hood.

The Alienware x16 R2 boasts powerful Intel Core Ultra 9 185H and Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 performance, a stunning mechanical keyboard, and solid battery life packed into a cleverly cooled chassis. However, the price is steep, coming in at $3,199. Quality costs, that's just a fact, but it's disappointing that the 16-inch display and speakers didn't live up to the premium standards I expected at that price.

Despite that, the Alienware x16 R2 is not easy to toss to the side. There are quite a few features to love about the machine, which is why I'd even consider it for our best gaming laptops page. But does it make the cut?

Alienware x16 R2: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Price$3,199
CPUIntel Core Ultra 9 185H
GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 4080 12GB
RAM32GB
Storage1TB SSD
Display16-inch, 2560 x 1600, 240Hz
Battery6:32
Size14.4 x 11.4 x 0.7 inches
Weight5.9 pounds

Alienware x16 R2: Price and configurations

I received the $3,199 Alienware x16 R2, which is outfitted with an Intel Core Ultra 9 185H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 GPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, a 16-inch, 2560 x 1600, 240Hz display, and a CherryMX mechanical keyboard.

If you want the most affordable x16 R2, you can drop down to an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, an RTX 4060, and 16GB of RAM for $2,099. That price-to-performance ratio is so skewed that you’d think you’re buying from Apple. But if you want to take out a loan for a gaming laptop, you could get the $4,199 model, which upgrades our review unit to an RTX 4090 and two 4TB SSDs.

Not looking for your life savings to get swallowed up? Check out our best cheap gaming laptops page.

Alienware x16 R2: Design

A silver gaming laptop is the last thing I expected to jump out of an Alienware box. The brand’s Lunar Silver color scheme encompasses the lid, accompanied by an RGB-lit Alienware logo toward the top and a stylishly carved-out “X” in the bottom right. The hinge sports that soft-touch spaceship-esque white paint. It surrounds the gorgeous RGB-lit infinity loop that houses the ports walled in by neat honeycomb vents.

Alienware x16 R2 review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

The interior of the Alienware x16 jumps in with a soft-touch black deck housing an RGB-lit touchpad and stylish mechanical keyboard walled in by horizontal and honeycomb vents. The chin of the display is a little large, but the rest of the surrounding bezels are thin. Alienware left enough room for the webcam on top.

At 5.9 pounds and 14.4 x 11.4 x 0.7 inches, the Alienware x16 R2 is thinner than most 16-inch gaming laptops. The HP Omen 16 (5.3 pounds, 14.5 x 9.7 x 0.91 inches) and Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (5.5 pounds, 14.3 x 10.25 x 0.86~1.05 inches) couldn’t get that low, despite both weighing slightly less. The MSI Titan 18 HX 2024 (7.9 pounds, 15.9 x 12.1 x 1.3 inches) lives up to its name as a chunky beast.

Alienware x16 R2: Ports

Look, no ports — well, kind of. All of the ports are located on the backside of the Alienware x16 R2. It’s really nice seeing a full Mini DisplayPort, which is convenient for gaming monitors and VR headsets.

Alienware x16 R2 review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

From left to right, we’ve got the headphone jack, microSD card, one Thunderbolt 4 port, one USB Type-C/DisplayPort, an HDMI port, two USB Type-A ports, a Mini DisplayPort, and the power jack.

I doubt you’ll need more ports, but if you do, check out our best USB Type-C hubs and best laptop docking stations pages.

Alienware x16 R2: Display

Coming in with a 16-inch, 2560 x 1600, 240Hz display, I expected to be blown away by the Alienware x16 R2. The display is well-lit and decently colorful, but it’s not what I expected for a gaming laptop that costs over three grand.

Alienware x16 R2 review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

I took a vacation to Far Cry 6 and found that the crispy blue sky and ocean in the background weren’t quite as alluring as the brochure made them out to be. It’s far from dull, but there’s not that pop you’d expect from a luxurious display. I raided a fuel depot in the dead of night and I struggled to spot some of the baddies on patrol, but the balanced contrast made it a little easier to see the foes marked with a red outline.

Unfortunately, the corners of Cate Blanchett’s stylish vest disappear in the Borderlands trailer, as the screen isn’t bright enough to pick it up. The contrast also struggled to balance the mountains in the distance with the cloudy sky — parts of the screen were just pure white. Blanchett's vibrant red hair looked warmer than when I’d viewed the trailer on other displays, with more orange than expected.

According to our colorimeter, the Alienware x16 R2 covered 78.9% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is duller than the average premium gaming laptop (90.2%). It’s comparable to the HP Omen 16 (78.1%) and the Legion 5 Pro (82.4%) — both of which are much cheaper. Meanwhile, the all-mighty Titan 18 HX scored 112.4%.

At 334 nits of brightness, the Alienware x16 R2 is by no means dim, but there are some contrast balancing issues I’ve noticed, and it’s also dimmer than the category average (436 nits). However, it is brighter than the HP Omen 16 (305 nits) and Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (319 nits). But once again, the MSI Titan 18 HX (559 nits) came out on top.

Alienware x16 R2: Keyboard and touchpad

Ooo baby I love a crunchy little snack of a keyboard — the Alienware x16 R2 is decked out with a CherryMX ultra-low-profile mechanical keyboard. Gaming laptops are getting more mechanical keyboards and it’s the best trend I’ve seen in the past few years. (Note: the function row is not mechanical but a typical membrane.)

Alienware x16 R2 review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

I knocked out 88 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, speeding past my usual 81-wpm average. The keys produced a satisfying click followed by a sturdy bounce which kept my fingers dancing along the keyboard.

You can customize the RGB lighting of each key on the keyboard as well as the touchpad, logo on the lid, and the infinity loop on the hinge within the Alienware Command Center app.

Alienware x16 R2 review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

The 4.4 x 2.5-inch touchpad reminds me of premium business notebooks like HP’s EliteBook or Lenovo’s ThinkPad, offering a smooth service and a pleasant click. Except this touchpad is blinged-out with RGB lighting.

Alienware x16 R2: Audio

The Alienware x16 R2’s top- and side-firing speakers are too loud for their own good. At 100%, the sound is distorted and whiny, but turning it down to 50% makes it more manageable. However, the audio is still bombastic.

Running down a mountain in Far Cry 6 proved to be noisy — the local fauna sang their little hearts out, but the mids and highs were so unbalanced that the sound muddled together. The dialogue sounded heavy and shook the speakers, like the bass and treble were artificially maxed out. Ironically, my gunshots were quieter but sharper than the rest of the sounds. That’s a rather unsatisfying audio profile for a first-person shooter.

I listened to ROOS+BERG’s “No One Left To Love,” and the explosive opening that usually highlights all the instruments before the vocals kick in sounded… well, explosive. The electric guitar, bass guitar, and percussion muddled together into a mess of sound that I didn’t even want to listen to. When the vocals finally kicked it, the speakers spat out a sharp, scratchy sound.

Alienware did ship the x16 R2 with Dolby Access, but when I bounced between Dynamic, Music, and Game settings, none of them satisfyingly tuned the speakers.

Alienware x16 R2: Gaming and graphics

Powered by an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 graphics chip with 12GB of VRAM, the Alienware x16 R2 acted as my sniper, picking off fools at 85 frames per second at Ultra, 1600p settings in Far Cry 6.

Alienware x16 R2 review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Highest, 1080p), the Alienware x16 R2 scored 117 fps, which matches the HP Omen 16 with the same GPU. However, the average mainstream gaming laptop scores 141 fps. Meanwhile, the Legion 5 Pro got 122 fps with an RTX 4070 and the Titan 18 HX hit 190 fps with an RTX 4090. At its native resolution, the Alienware managed 96 fps.

The Alienware x16 R2 nailed 139 fps on the Borderlands 3 benchmark (Badass, 1080p), skidding past the category average (130 fps). It crushed the HP Omen 16 and Legion 5 Pro, which both scored 110 fps, but fell behind the Titan 18 HX (181 fps). Set to its native resolution, the x16 R2 scored 94 fps.

On the Cyberpunk 2077 benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), the Alienware x16 R2 kept up with Johnny Silverhand at 52 fps, not far from the 55-fps average. It once again trampled the HP Omen 16 (41 fps) and Legion 5 Pro (43 fps), while falling to the Titan 18 HX (69 fps). The Alienware kept above the minimum threshold at its native resolution, averaging 31 fps.

Reaching for the sky, the Alienware x16 R2 scored 90 fps on the Red Dead Redemption 2 benchmark (Medium, 1080p), trailing shortly behind the average premium gaming laptop (95 fps). And it still defeated the HP Omen 16 (85 fps) and Legion 5 Pro (78 fps). However, breaking through the stratosphere is the Titan 18 HX with 135 fps. At its native resolution, the Alienware scored 58 fps.

Alienware x16 R2: Performance

Packed with Intel’s shiniest new Core Ultra 9 185H processor and 32GB of RAM, the Alienware x16 R2 juggled a couple dozen Chrome tabs and a handful of YouTube videos without a single drop in performance.

HP Omen 16 (Laptop) (), MSI Titan 18 HX 2024 (), Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (Jul 2023 LTP) (

On the Geekbench 6.3 overall performance test, the Alienware x16 R2 scored 13,874, destroying the average premium gaming laptop (10,469). It just climbs over the Legion 5 Pro (13,525, AMD Ryzen 7 7745HX), but gets walloped by the HP Omen 16 (14,515, Intel Core i7-13700HX) and the Titan 18 HX 2024 (16,501, Intel Core i9-14900HX).

When transcoding a 4K video to 1080p on our HandBrake benchmark, Alienware x16 R2 sped through the task in 3 minutes and 33 seconds — 2 seconds faster than average. It surpassed the HP Omen 16 (4:29) and Legion 5 Pro (4:05), but still couldn't outpace the Titan 18 HX (2:33).

Alienware’s 1TB SSD scored a transfer rate of 1,776 megabytes per second. The HP Omen 16 (1,990 MBps), Titan 18 HX (2,664 MBps), Legion 5 Pro (2,150 MBps), and average premium gaming laptop (1,929 MBps) are all faster. However, the Alienware is still pretty fast compared to most laptops.

Alienware x16 R2: Battery life

The Alienware x16 R2 scoring solid results on the Laptop Mag battery test is not something I expected. Typically, these gaming laptops are power-hungry demons, but Alienware pulled it off. 

On a single charge, the Alienware x16 R2 survived 6 hours and 32 minutes, outlasting the average premium gaming laptop by nearly 2 hours (4:38). The competition, HP Omen 16 (4:08), Titan 18 HX (2:40) and Legion 5 Pro (4:38), couldn't even surpass the average.

Alienware x16 R2: Webcam

Rocking a 1080p webcam isn’t enough to make me look my best.

Alienware x16 R2 review

(Image credit: Future/Rami Tabari)

The test shot highlighted the strands of hair on my head with an impressive amount of detail for a laptop webcam. However, the unbalanced contrast blew out half of my screen due to the window behind me (the blinds were even down). Meanwhile, my blue shirt came off a little darker than it should have. Overall, I’d check out our best webcams page if I were you.

Alienware x16 R2: Heat

I prepared myself to burn some fingers handling the Alienware x16 R2, but the thoughtful design actually helped keep the laptop cool. The highlight is the underside, where you'll find a rectangular rubber piece that lifts the laptop. This ensures the underside does not come in contact with any flat surface it rests on and allows the vents to do their job unimpeded. And then there's the honeycomb vents scattered all across the machine.

After gaming for 15 minutes, the underside climbed up to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which is well below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard and touchpad measured 99.5 degrees and 83.5 degrees, respectively. The machine hit its hottest temp on the underside near the center where the vents start, registering 102 degrees.

Alienware x16 R2: Software and warranty

The app that brings the Alienware x16 R2 all together is the Alienware Command Center. Here you can adjust and monitor the performance of your CPU, GPU, and fans. As I mentioned earlier, you can adjust the RGB lighting via the AlienFX tab. There's also a game aggregation tab, so you can see all your PC games in one spot. The app also offers system and warranty details, alongside access to community and support tabs.

The Alienware x16 R2 comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how Dell performed on our Tech Support Showdown ranking.

Bottom line

Alienware pumps out champions, and most of the time those champions cost thousands of dollars. The Apple-esque tax aside, the Alienware x16 R2 shows its worth with incredible performance, a clicky keyboard, long battery life, and stable cooling. However, the price gives me pause when I see a display that resembles one on a machine that costs roughly $1,800 less.

No, seriously, you can get the Legion 5 Pro for under $1,400 and it features a nearly identical display (165Hz instead of 240Hz). It’s slightly dimmer but more colorful. One of the most important parts of a gaming laptop is the display, so it's sad to see that the Alienware couldn't impress with the one it offers.

But overall, if you've got the money to spend and you don't mind a below-average display, the Alienware x16 R2 is an excellent gaming laptop. It'll tear through your games while plugged in, and get most of your work or schooling done while unplugged (if you work fast).

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Rami Tabari
Editor

Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.