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Best Alienware laptops in 2021

Included in this guide:

Alienware m17 R4
(Image credit: Future)

The best Alienware laptops showcase the dedication of Dell’s subsidiary to create some of the most premium gaming devices on the market. Alienware has been a constant presence in the gaming laptop scene since its inception, and few others have been as consistent in offering the type of quality that Alienware has become synonymous with. Dell’s acquisition of Alienware in 2006 hasn’t hindered that reputation and has instead seen the manufacturer trim up the form of its previously chunky machines — blending style and power with impressive results. These are the best gaming laptops around. 

If you’re in the market for a new gaming setup, we’ve drawn together our best-reviewed Alienware laptops to help narrow down your shortlist. It’s worth noting that while Alienware laptops are often jam-packed with cutting-edge tech, such things don’t come cheap. This isn’t some form of marketing tactic though, as Alienware laptops are well received for their premium components and build. 

Alienware’s laptops cater towards serious gamers and enthusiasts who are ready to invest a fair amount into a device that will perform at peak levels for a long time. If you’re more of a casual gamer, or looking for something on a budget, check out the best cheap gaming laptops. But if it’s epic performance, gorgeous displays and stylish designs you’re after, look no further than the best Alienware laptops.

What are the best Alienware laptops?

The best Alienware laptop is also our current pick for the best gaming laptop this year; the Alienware m17 R4. There’s some serious power packed inside this laptop thanks to an overclockable Intel i9-10980HK CPU and Nvidia’s awesome RTX 3080 GPU. Pair that with the vivid picture and super high refresh rate of its 17.3-inch display and you have a seriously impressive piece of gaming hardware on your hands.

While the Alienware m17 R4 makes for a fantastic gaming laptop, it’s the Alienware Area-51m and its subsequent revision that has the most potential for being a true desktop replacement. Capable of receiving upgrades to both CPU and GPU, our review model was fitted with an impressive Intel Core i9-9900K and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics. It resulted in impressive performance across a range of titles, and its FHD 17.3-inch display was crisp and clear — benefiting greatly from Nvidia G-Sync tech and a 360-Hertz refresh rate.

The best all-around Alienware laptop has to be the Alienware m15 R4. Our review saw Alienware’s laptop outfitted with a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce 3070 GPU, which promptly made short work of every task we gave it. Regardless of which display configuration you go with, both Nvidia G-Sync and Optimus tech combine to deliver some of the most crisp and smooth visuals that you’ll find in a gaming laptop. 

(Image credit: Future)

1. Alienware m17 R4

The best Alienware laptop

CPU: Intel Core i9-10980HK
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
Storage: x2 1TB PCI m.2 SSDs
Display: 17.3-inch, 4K @ 60Hz, FHD @ 144Hz/360Hz
Dimensions: 15.7 x 11.6 x 0.7~0.9 inches
Weight: 6.6 lbs.
Reasons to buy
+Excellent graphics and performance+Customizable keyboard+Bright, vivid, high-refresh rate display+Attractive chassis
Reasons to avoid
-Poor battery life

Alienware’s latest revision of its mighty m17 laptop is one of the best bits of gaming hardware you can lay hands on. A blistering 10th Gen Intel Core i9 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPU with 16GB of VRAM place this device somewhere in the same power bracket as Doom’s BFG 9000, a fitting comparison considering how it blew away so many other laptops in our benchmark testing across the best PC games.

That’s not all, the Alienware m17 R4 is also in possession of an incredibly vibrant 17.3-inch FHD display with a super-fast refresh rate of 360Hz. Pairing such a display with Nvidia’s G-Sync software delivers sharper images and smoother gameplay. It also eliminates a myriad of technical hurdles like screen tearing and minimizes display stutter and input lag.

It might be pricey, but this gaming laptop is the very definition of “bang for your buck,” and should be on any buyer’s shortlist. Alienware’s m17 R4 is our current top pick for the best gaming laptop available and could make for a fantastic device to rely on for years to come.

See our full Alienware m17 R4 review.

(Image credit: Rami Tabari)

2. Alienware m15 R4 (RTX 3070)

Best 15-inch Alienware laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-10870H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, 3070, 3080
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 4K OLED/4K @ 60Hz, FHD @ 144Hz/300Hz
Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.9 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 5.3 lbs.
Reasons to buy
+Awesome performance+Gorgeous 4K OLED display+Stylish design
Reasons to avoid
-Short battery life-Expensive

While the Alienware m15 R4 isn’t quite the powerhouse that the m17 R4 is, the apple certainly hasn’t fallen far from the tree. Powered by a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10870H CPU, the m15 R4 comfortably excelled when it came to our overall performance testing. Our review model was sporting the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, though configurations including the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 are available for even more oomph. However, the m15 R4 still performed above average across our benchmarking tests in games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. 

Not only did these games play well, but they also looked amazing thanks to the vivid 4K OLED display. Not only was the display bright, but the Alienware m15 R4 also covered an incredible 149.5% of the DCI-P3 color gamut, which is leagues ahead of the premium gaming laptop average of 89.9%. For those who prefer speed when it comes to displays, the m15 R4 also has a configuration available with a 1080p, 300Hz display. When paired with Nvidia’s Optimus and G-Sync tech, it delivers one of the smoothest gaming experiences available.

The latest revisions of the m15 come in the form of both the m15 Ryzen Edition R5 and the m15 R6. The m15 Ryzen Edition R5 is powered by AMD’s powerful Ryzen 7/9 processors (AMD hasn’t been in an Alienware laptop since 2007). On the other hand, the m15 R6 features an 11th Gen Intel Core i5/7/9 processor. Both revisions feature Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series GPUs, but the m15 R6 exclusively features a Thunderbolt 4 port.

See our full Alienware m15 R4 (RTX 3070) review.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Alienware Area-51m

Best Alienware desktop alternative

CPU: Intel Core i9-9900K
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
Storage: x2 1TB PCIe M.2 SSDs
Display: 17.3-inch, FHD @ 144Hz
Dimensions: 16.1 x 15.9 x 1.2~1.7 inches
Weight: 8.5 lbs.
Reasons to buy
+Great aesthetic+Excellent graphics and performance+Lightning fast SSDs+Upgradeable components
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive

The Alienware Area-51m is so packed with power we’re surprised that the rear honeycomb vents didn’t spew out flames. Armed with an overclockable desktop Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM, and a mighty Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, it demolished everything we placed before it. Whether it was cranking out incredible frames in Battlefield V, or transcoding a 4K video to 1080p, the Area-51m left the competition in the dust.

Everything within the rounded corners and silky smooth finishes of the sweet and subdued Legend aesthetic was enough to melt more faces than the Ark of the Covenant. But really, is there such a thing as enough power? This is Alienware’s high-spec desktop alternative, and one thing desktops have always had in their back pocket is the fantastic levels of upgradeability. While it’s not uncommon for laptops to allow RAM and storage upgrades, the Area-51m goes a step further, allowing both the CPU and GPU to receive the same treatment.

The most recent revision of the Alienware Area-51m was released in June of 2020 and it brought a slew of new improvements and configurations. The Area-51m R2 features a 10th Gen Intel Core i9 10900K CPU, refresh rates of up to 360Hz, an optional 4K screen, and improved graphics performance thanks to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU. The Area-51m is a genuine all-gas-no-brakes type of machine and has people eagerly anticipating a potential third revision.

See our full Alienware Area-51m review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

4. Alienware m15 OLED (2019)

Best lightweight Alienware laptop

CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
Storage: 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD
Display: 15.6-inch, 4K OLED @ 60Hz
Dimensions: 14.3 x 10.8 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 4.8 lbs.
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful OLED Display+Good gaming and overall performance+Sleek, lightweight design
Reasons to avoid
-OLED severely impacts battery life-Runs hot

The 2019 revision of Alienware’s m15 laptop is light, bright, and packed with premium might. It’s the first to add a 4K OLED display into the mix and takes the m15’s 15.6-inch display to a whole other level. At 376 nits of brightness, this screen sailed past the 286-nit premium gaming average at the time, and is one of the best 4K laptops available. The m15 OLED registered an awesome 256% on the sRGB gamut, resulting in some of the most incredibly vibrant images we’ve seen on a laptop.

While the 4K OLED screen definitely steals the show, there’s more to this laptop than its ability to put on a pretty show. Aside from its lightweight build, the m15 OLED is also one of the last Alienware laptops to adorn itself in the aluminum and black magnesium of Alienware’s Epic industrial design.

What’s inside Alienware’s sleek chassis might not be the most cutting edge tech, but the Intel Core i7-8750H CPU and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU performed well enough on our gaming benchmarks. The m15 OLED was able to keep up with the premium gaming average in various titles including Grand Theft Auto V, and the 8th Gen Intel processor similarly met with averages during our synthetic performance tests. The m15 OLED is a great laptop for consuming multimedia or getting stuck into your Steam library. Though, if you want the best performance possible in games, it may be best to stick to the later revisions of the m15.

See our full Alienware m15 OLED (2019) review.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

5. Alienware m17 R3

Best Alienware RTX 20-Series laptop

CPU: Intel Core i9-10980HK
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070, 2080 Super
Storage: x2 1TB PCIe m.2 SSDs
Display: 17.3-inch, 4K @ 60Hz, FHD @ 144Hz/300Hz
Dimensions: 15.7 x 11.8 x 0.7~0.8 inches
Weight: 6.6 lbs.
Reasons to buy
+Attractive design+Impressive all-around performance+Beautiful 4K display
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive-Below-average battery life

You would be forgiven for thinking that Alienware’s impressive fourth revision of the m17 seals the deal and completely overshadows everything that came before it. However, the m17 R3 is still a fantastic gaming laptop and one of the best you can buy. With its beautiful 4K display and attractive Legend design packed with premium high-performance components, there’s life in the old dog yet.

The m17 R3’s overclockable 10th Gen i9-10980HK processor is still a sizable amount of power for any device. In testing, it breezed past the premium gaming laptop average in our Geekbench 4.3 performance tests. When putting the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super through its paces, we saw the m17 R3 consistently exceed the premium gaming laptop average in a number of demanding titles, including Metro: Exodus. Performance across the board was impressive, to say the least.

As is customary for most Alienware computers, there’s a decent number of configurations to explore. Our review model featured a 4K panel, but other options include FHD panels with up to 300Hz refresh rates. We were more than impressed when it came to the crisp vividness of the m17 R3’s display, and its impressive 591 nits of brightness.

Read our full Alienware m17 R3 review.

Looking ahead: Alienware X-series gaming laptops

Alienware is looking to completely shed its past reputation of delivering powerful yet chunky laptops by venturing deep into thin and light territory. While devices like the m15 and m17 have already done so much to dispel a history of shapely shells, Alienware’s new x15 and x17 models are set to take things a step further — in both style and power.

Not content with simply thinning down its impressive gaming laptops, Alienware has also managed to beef up what's inside of them. The X-series of laptops features the latest 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11980H Intel CPUs, Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series graphics, Cryo-Tech cooling, improved Quad-fan airflow and refresh rates of up to 360Hz across both the 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch models.

As we haven’t yet had a chance to get our hands on Alienware’s latest line-up (due to their release just last month), neither the x15 nor x17 is featured in our best-of list. However, they are (on paper at least) fantastic additions to Alienware’s somewhat slim catalog, and will likely find a home on this list in time.