Laptop Mag Verdict
The Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition delivers good overall and graphics performance in a stylish chassis with a gorgeous display and comfortable keyboard.
Sleek, attractive design
Solid overall and gaming performance
Pretty display with high refresh rate
Below-average battery life
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CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5800H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060/AMD Radeon graphics
Storage: 512GB PCIe m.2 SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 165Hz 3ms
Size: 14 x 10.7 x 0.5~0.9 inches
Weight: 5.4 pounds
It’s an AMD party and you're invited, courtesy of Alienware. Now granted, this isn’t the exclusive all-AMD party many fans would like, but the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition is a great start. The laptop marks the return of AMD, which has been making its impact felt in several gaming laptops as of late, to one of our perennial favorites.
In Alienware’s capable hands, the AMD Ryzen R7 processor shines, delivering great overall performance with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU putting in solid work in the gaming realm. It’s a sleek head-turning rig that manages to keep the price below $2,000. My only real gripe is the battery life, which is way short of what we’ve seen on other AMD systems. But Alienware and AMD fans may have just found their match in the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition pricing and availability
I gamed, worked and relaxed with the $1,779 version of the Alienware m15. It has a 3.2-GHz AMD Ryzen R7 5800H processor with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe m.2 SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU with 6GB of VRAM, AMD Radeon Graphics and a 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display with a 165Hz refresh rate.
The $1,429 base model has the Ryzen R7 processor with half the RAM and storage with an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti with 4GB of RAM. The $2,209 iteration gets you 1TB of storage, an RTX 3070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 2560 x 1440-pixel panel with a 240Hz refresh rate. The $2,509 top-of-the-line model bumps you up to a 3.3-GHz AMD Ryzen R9 5900HX CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe m.2 SSD, an RTX 3070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM, and a 1080p screen with a 360Hz refresh rate.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition design
Hmmm. Perhaps, I’ve been singing the praises of Alienware’s Lunar White stain-resistant finish a little too loudly. Because when I look at the Alienware m15 in Dark Side of the Moon, I found myself captivated by the stately grayish-black finish. It’s got a touch of shimmer that raises the intrigue level with a blocky “15” embossed in the bottom-left corner of the magnesium alloy lid. And with the alien’s head glowing turquoise, it’s a fresh take on the company’s Legend design. The rear vent punches up the flair with a large customizable LED strip surrounding the honeycomb-shaped vents.
If you want more of that honeycomb pattern, just open the lid and the top-mounted vent is there serving up more of that funky hexagon. A small glowing alien head crashes the party and serves as the power button. Below the vent in more of that Dark Side of the Moon finish on the keyboard deck and palm rest. The deck houses a full-sized keyboard glowing in the default turquoise. The touchpad rests below the keyboard, centered beneath the G and H keys.
Weighing 5.4 pounds, the 14 x 10.7 x 0.5~0.9-inch Alienware m15 is on the heavier side of the equation. At least it is when compared to the Razer Blade 15 Advanced Edition (4.4 pounds, 14 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches). However, neither is as heavy as the 6.6-pound Asus ROG Strix Advantage G15 (13.9 x 10.2 x 1.1 inches).
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition ports
The remaining ports, including another USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, an HDMI 2.1 port and the power jack are embedded in the rear vent.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition display
Just because it’s not super high-res, doesn’t make the Alienware m15’s glossy panel any less pretty. When I watched the trailer for Good, I could see all the delicate striations in renowned actor Keith David’s light tan linen jacket. Actress Nefetari Spencer’s red blazer and ruby red lips popped against her caramel brown skin.
I wanted to stop and take in the gorgeous backdrop when I played Ori and the Will of the Wisps. However, I was being chased by a massive inky black wolf and had to run for my life. That was until I grabbed a piece of burning wood whose flame was a menagerie of deep oranges and reds that leapt at my attacker, driving it back. Despite all the swinging and dodging, the action remained smooth thanks in part to the panel’s 165Hz refresh rate and 3-millisecond response rate.
When we measured the panel’s color reproduction capabilities, the m15 hit 87.3% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, surpassing the 84.8% premium gaming average and the Strix’s 76.7%. However, the Blade 15 was just a few tenths of a point better at 87.8%.
During our brightness test, the m15 was unparalleled, scoring 328 nits. It outpaced the 321-nit category average, the Strix’s 280 nits and the Blade 15’s 244 nits.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition audio
The Alienware m15’s bottom-firing speakers are powerful and capable of delivering clear audio. That is, of course, as long as you keep anything from potentially blocking them and muffling the sound. I found this out when I was listening to H.E.R.’s “Damage” and the already spacey synths sounded like they were distant and underwater. After realizing the throw pillow on my lap was in the way, the sound filled my smallish living/dining room space. The rich alto spun a tale of wistful love that was music to my ears. The bass didn’t have that expected thump, but few laptops pull it off.
During my battle with Howl, the massive wolf boss in Ori and the Will of the Wisp, the monster’s growl was intense. As it chased me to the fight zone, the cracking of the dry wood was thunderous and the strings were tight and tenuous, further heighting the anxiety.
There are six audio presets (Com, Movie, Racing, Shooter, Role Play and Music) in Alienware Command Center designed to give you the best sound depending on the situation. I used Music as my default and switched to Movie when I was gaming.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition keyboard
Clicky and bouncy. The perfect combination for a keyboard, gaming or otherwise. The Alienware m15’s island-style keyboard was really comfortable to type on, delivering strong springy feedback with a satisfying click. My fingers never felt like they were bottoming out, which is always a good thing. I hit 75 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test, surpassing my normal 70 wpm.
My only gripe with the keyboard is the LED customization, or lack thereof. While you have access to 16.8 million colors with five effects (Breathing, Spectrum, Pulse, Morph and Color), everything is relegated to four zones instead of per-key lighting. Considering the price, I understand the restriction, but it would be nice if I had control to pick every color for every individual key.
The 2.4 x 4.1-inch touchpad performed Windows 10 gestures perfectly, quickly transitioning from pinch-zoom to two-finger scroll to three-finger tap.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition gaming, graphics and VR
The Alienware m15 is outfitted with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 with 6GB of VRAM which allows the laptop to play most AAA titles at medium settings with a high frame rate. I made my way through the dark forest in Ori and the Will of the Wisps, finally beating back Howl with a flaming stick at 172 frames per second on High at 1080p.
The m15’s RTX 3060 GPU held its own on our benchmarks, starting with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey where the gaming laptop reached 57 fps. That’s below 64 fps premium gaming laptop average, but better than the Strix’s (AMD Radeon 6800M GPU) 49 fps. Neither were a match for the Blade 15 (RTX 3080) which notched 74 fps.
When we ran the Shadow of the Tomb Raider test, the m15 obtained 73 fps, missing the 81-fps average. The Blade 15 and Strix were tied at 88 fps. During Grand Theft Auto V, the m15 produced a respectable 82 fps. However, it couldn’t match the 95-fps average nor the Strix or Blade 15 which got 98 and 107 fps, respectively.
Things started looking up for the m15 on the Metro: Exodus (Ultra, 1080p DirectX 11) benchmark with it achieving 82 fps, crushing the 68-fps category average. The Blade 15 got 74 fps while the Strix pulled 71 fps.
On the Far Cry New Dawn test, the m15 captured 79 fps, missing the 88-fps average. The Strix got a few frames higher at 81 fps while the Blade 15 earned 95 fps. During the Borderlands 3 benchmarks, the m15 picked up 66 fps. The category average, Strix and Blade 15 hit 74, 79 and 81 fps, respectively. Running the Red Dead Redemption 2 test, the m15, got 53 fps, which is short of the 63-fps average. The Strix and the Blade 15 were tied at 70 fps.
In case you want to hook up a VR headset to the laptop, rest assured that you can play Beat Saber or Tetris Effect with the best of them. When we ran the VRMark Orange test, the Alienware m15 scored 9,265, clearing the 8,806 average and the Blade 15’s 8,341. It couldn’t best the Strix however, which hit 10,045.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition performance
It’s Ryzen time! The Alienware m15 has a 3.2-GHz AMD Ryzen R7 5800H processor with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB PCIe m.2 SSD. It’s a surprisingly sturdy workhorse. I launched 45 Google Chrome tabs, some of which were running Twitch, YouTube, Tweetdeck, Google Docs, Google Sheets and a fair amount of shopping and news apps. The notebook kept plugging along without breaking a sweat.
The notebook also performed well on our synthetic tests including Geekbench 5.4, our overall performance test, where it achieved 7,288, rolling past the 6,823 premium laptop average. The Blade 15 with its Intel Core i7-10875H CPU hit 6,531 while the Strix, with its AMD Ryzen 9 5900X processor, was the overall winner with 7,746.
During the Handbrake test, the m15 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 7 minutes and 5 seconds, outpacing the 7:39 average and the Blade 15’s 9:57. However, the Strix still came out on top with a time of 6:57.
When we ran the File Transfer Test, the m15’s SSD got a transfer rate of 874.1 megabytes per second when duplicating 25GB of multimedia files. It was faster than the 865.8MBps average as well as the Strix’s (512GB SSD) 340.7MBps. However, the Blade 15 with its 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD was the fastest at 890.2MBps.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition battery life
When I saw that the Alienware m15 had an AMD processor, I was expecting some stellar battery life. Boy, was I disappointed! The m15 lasted only 3 hours and 29 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test which consists of web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. That time is below the 4:12 premium gaming laptop average. The Blade 15 lasted 5:14 while the Strix tapped out after 10:14.
During the PCMark 10 UL battery test, which loops a 3D-render scene until the laptop conks out, the m15’s battery life dropped to 1:18.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition heat
I ventured through dark, creepy woods during Ori and the Will of the Wisps for 15 minutes. After, the touchpad, center of the keyboard and undercarriage were measured and we saw temperatures of 101, 85 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. The touchpad and undercarriage exceeded our 95-degree comfort threshold but never got concerningly hot.
We let the system cool down and ran a fullscreen HD video on the laptop for 15 minutes and measured again. The touchpad measured 81 degrees while the middle and bottom reached 96 and 91 degrees, respectively.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition webcam
One thing’s for sure, the Alienware m15’s 720p webcam has great color reproduction. It captured the exact electric blue of my tank tool as well as my chocolate complexion with its red undertones. And while there was some visual noise, I could still make out the individual blue sequins on my top. You can definitely use the m15’s webcam to stream, but if you want crisper details, I’d recommend checking out the shooters on our best webcam page.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition software and warranty
As usual, Alienware outfitted its notebook with its typical suite of branded software. We’ve already discussed Alienware Command Center. But the m15 also features Alienware Mobile Connect, which lets you access your smartphone from the laptop’s screen.
Alienware Update keeps your BIOS, drivers and firmware up-to-date while Digital Delivery keeps your Alienware and Windows 10 software updated. There’s also My Alienware, which has Alienware Support, a tool that puts you in touch with a tech support representative in case you’re experiencing any problems.
Third-party gamer-centric apps Killer Control Center and Nvidia GeForce Experience round out the experience and let you prioritize network bandwidth and optimize your games' settings for gameplay.
There are, of course, a few pieces of bloatware, including Microsoft Solitaire, Hidden City: Hidden Objects Adventure and Dolby Access.
Alienware and AMD make a good team as evidenced by the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition. The laptop delivered impressive overall performance and respectable gaming performance thanks to its AMD Ryzen processor and Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU. Plus, you get a beautiful display, powerful speakers and a comfy keyboard, in an all-too-stunning package.
And while I’m pleased with the $1,779 price, I really would like to see this configuration with an RTX 3070 so it can give competing laptops more of a fight. As it stands, it can play games at playable frame rates, but it wasn’t blowing out the competition. And the battery life leaves much to be desired. If you’re looking for high frame rates, the $2,999 Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model is the way to go. If multitasking power and endurance is your thing, then the incredibly affordable $1,499 Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition is your laptop. But if you’re a fan of Alienware and AMD, the Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition in its stylish glory is a great choice.
Alienware m15 Ryzen Edition Specs
|14 x 10.7 x 0.5~0.9 inches
|15.6-inch, 165Hz 3ms
|AMD Ryzen 9 5800H
|Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060/AMD Radeon graphics
|512GB PCIe m.2 SSD
Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.