The Alienware m16 R2 feels like a fresh start for the brand’s gaming laptops. In the era of compact, discreet laptops like the Razer Blade or ROG Zephyrus G14, Alienware laptops haven’t always followed the trend. The m16 laptops, in particular, were the defiantly chunky ones in the lineup.

But with the Alienware m16 R2, many of the hallmarks of the company’s designs have been traded out for something that looks and feels more conventional. The end result is an overall better gaming laptop that fixes some of its predecessor’s design problems. It’s a bit too expensive compared to previous-gen laptops, but some recent changes to pricing make it worth considering.

MSRP: $1,850.00

“The Alienware m16 R2 fixes many of its predecessor’s flaws and performs well too.”

Pros:

  • Smaller footprint, streamlined design
  • Nice touches of RGB
  • Great gaming performance
  • Convenient ports
  • Upgradeable

Cons:

  • Limited configurations
  • Lackluster screen
  • Flimsy touchpad

Alienware m16 R2 review update

Alienware m16 R2 review
Image source DigitalTrends

Alienware m16 R2 Review Update

Our initial review of the Alienware m16 R2, published on February 15, 2024, by Luke Larsen, gave the laptop a 6 out of 10. It did not earn a Recommended badge mainly due to its pricing issues. The limited configurations available were significantly overpriced compared to competitors, making the lackluster screen and touchpad even harder to accept.

Recently, Dell introduced a more affordable starting configuration for the Alienware m16 R2, priced at $1,500. This base model includes an RTX 4050 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. Upgrading to the RTX 4060 costs only an additional $100, a highly recommended move for anyone considering this laptop, as it greatly boosts performance. The higher-end model with an RTX 4070 is priced at $1,900. Compared to other 2024 Intel Core Ultra gaming laptops, these prices are now more competitive.

Currently, you can purchase the RTX 4060 model for $1,400, an excellent value. This price has been stable for almost two months, making this gaming laptop a worthwhile investment.

However, a quick search for RTX 4060 gaming laptops reveals that other 16-inch models are available at even lower prices. The issue lies in performance parity with 2023 models, which likely explains why many manufacturers chose not to update lower-tier or midrange gaming laptops this year. Buyers need additional reasons beyond performance to justify spending extra on this laptop. For instance, the ROG G16, priced similarly, offers a high-end OLED screen and a considerably thinner chassis.

Despite this, the RTX 4060 model at $1,400 is enough to raise the review score to a 7 out of 10 and earn a Recommended badge. We hope this configuration remains available and that we see further price reductions on the RTX 4070 model in the future.

Specs and pricing

Alienware m16 R2
Dimensions 0.93 x 14.33 x 9.81 inches
Weight 5.75 pounds
Processor Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
Graphics RTX 4060
RTX 4070
RAM 16GB (2x8GB) GDDR6
Display 16-inch 2560 x 1600 240Hz 3ms
Storage 1TB SSD
Touch No
Ports 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1x USB-C Thunderbolt 4
1x HDMI 2.1
1x RJ45 Ethernet
1x MicroSD card slot
1x 3mm headset jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1
Optional WWAN
Webcam 1080p at 30 fps
Operating system Windows 11
Battery 90 watt-hour
Price
$1,449+

Alienware m16 R2 Configuration Overview

Currently, Alienware offers only a single configuration for the m16 R2, but this won’t be the case forever. Future plans include up to a Core Ultra 9 processor, 8TB of storage, and 64GB of RAM. Additionally, a more affordable RTX 4050 configuration starting at $1,449 is expected.

At present, the available configuration for the Alienware m16 R2 includes an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage, and a choice between an RTX 4060 or RTX 4070 GPU. This setup also features a 2560 x 1600 resolution, 240Hz IPS display.

The starting price for the RTX 4060 configuration is $1,650, with an additional $200 required for the RTX 4070 model, which was the version reviewed. This pricing is just $50 less than the Alienware x16, although pricing for the 2024 R2 model has yet to be announced. Comparatively, the Dell G16 is priced $300 lower for a nearly identical configuration.

Notably, the Alienware m16 R2 is the first Core Ultra gaming laptop we’ve reviewed, so it will be interesting to see how its pricing compares with similar gaming laptops as more models become available.

Design

The second generation of the Alienware m16 is a comprehensive redesign, which is notable given how new the line is. The chassis has been slimmed down to 0.94 inches, shedding 1.42 pounds from its overall weight. Despite being a large 16-inch laptop, it remains thicker than models like the Razer Blade 16, Alienware x16, or MacBook Pro 16.

Key updates include a more conventional hinge, a significantly reduced bottom bezel, and a centered touchpad featuring an RGB outline. These changes modernize nearly every aspect of the laptop’s look and feel.

The most significant change is the removal of the “thermal shelf,” the large protrusion on the back of the hinge area, previously marketed as a feature for enhanced ventilation and better port positioning. While Lenovo Legion laptops use a similar design, Alienware pioneered it as a key element of their design philosophy. This change also means the disappearance of the Tron-like ring of light, another distinctive Alienware feature.

This shift aligns with the m16 R2’s goal of blending in more seamlessly, a feat Alienware has achieved without sacrificing too much of its distinctive style.

That said, the design still retains many signature Alienware elements. The light-up Alienware logo remains, now centered above the keyboard, along with the honeycomb pattern on the top vents and the “racing stripe” name on the lid. However, the overall aesthetic feels more like Alienware branding on a more generic, midrange gaming laptop. The build quality is decent, but the materials used remind you that it’s not a high-end model.

One of the most significant improvements is the keyboard’s positioning. The original m16 had an awkward layout, with a large footprint but little space for palms or a larger touchpad. The m16 R2 addresses this by reducing the overall footprint by 14% and increasing the size of both the touchpad and palm rests, enhancing comfort and usability.

Keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard is one of the standout features of the Alienware m16 R2. With the enlarged palm rests, the keyboard can be fully appreciated. The 1.8mm key travel provides a luxurious feel, and the keys remain snappy and accurate, making typing a pleasure. Each key features RGB backlighting, which can be customized through the Alienware Command Center. The layout is practical, offering useful function keys on the right side and reserving the full number pad for the larger Alienware m18 model.

The touchpad has been repositioned closer to the center, giving it a more balanced and less awkward appearance. It features a subtle RGB outline, in contrast to the fully lit touchpads found on other Alienware models. This nuanced lighting complements the overall design theme of subtlety.

However, the touchpad itself leaves something to be desired. Its plastic surface doesn’t provide the best tracking experience. While it’s functional, it doesn’t match the smoothness of a glass touchpad like the one on the Alienware x16. This can make the touchpad feel somewhat underwhelming compared to the otherwise high-quality build of the laptop.

Despite the removal of the thermal shelf, the Alienware m16 R2 still features several ports on the back. Here, you’ll find the power connector, an HDMI 2.1 port, one Thunderbolt 4 port (with 15-watt power delivery), and a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port with DisplayPort 1.4. While you can charge through the Thunderbolt 4 port, it’s not recommended for gaming. The placement of these ports is convenient for quick access to power and external display connections.

On the sides, there are two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, an RJ45 Ethernet jack, a microSD card slot, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Unfortunately, both USB-A ports are located on the right side, which can be inconvenient for right-handed users who use a mouse. Ideally, one port on each side would have been better.

The switch from a full-size SD card slot to a microSD card slot is also a letdown, following a similar trend seen in Dell’s new XPS machines, which many users, including myself, find disappointing.

Display

Currently, the Alienware m16 R2 offers only one display option: a 2560 x 1600 resolution, 240Hz refresh rate IPS panel with a 3-millisecond response time. It also supports Nvidia G-Sync and Advanced Optimus.

Alienware has chosen to stick with conventional IPS panels for its gaming laptops, while many competitors, like Asus, Razer, MSI, and Lenovo, are moving towards OLED or mini-LED displays. For instance, the new ROG Zephyrus G16 uses a glossy panel to enhance visual clarity. In contrast, Alienware continues to use standard matte LED panels, even for its premium models, which is a missed opportunity.

Although an OLED option might not be expected for the m16, considering it’s not the highest-end model, it’s worth noting that similarly priced models, like the 2023 ROG Zephyrus G14 with a mini-LED screen, offer better options. The old Alienware m15 even had an AMOLED option.

OLED or mini-LED displays would provide superior HDR and color accuracy. The Alienware m16 R2’s screen has a Delta-E of 2.19 and a maximum brightness of only 289 nits, making it relatively dim. The Alienware x16 offers a better IPS screen with higher brightness and improved color coverage.

Overall, the display is solid for gaming with its speed and sharpness, but it could benefit from increased brightness and better color accuracy.

Performance

The Alienware m16 R2 is among the first gaming laptops to feature Intel’s new Meteor Lake Core Ultra chips, specifically the Core Ultra 7 155H. While this chip is also found in less powerful laptops like the Asus Zenbook 14 and Dell XPS 14, the Alienware m16 R2 runs it at 45 watts, offering better performance.

Dell appears to reserve the 14th-gen Raptor Lake Refresh HX 55-watt chips for its higher-end, larger laptops. Notably, the m16 R1 included a 55-watt HX chip with an alternative AMD option, but the m16 R2 offers only one chip choice.

The Core Ultra 7 might not excite with NPUs, but it performs well for gaming, productivity, and content creation, making it a versatile choice for most users.

Geekbench 6
(single/multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R24
(single/multi)
PCMark 10
Complete
Alienware m16 R2 (Core Ultra 7 155H) 2366 / 12707 63 103 / 1040 7028
Asus ROG Strix 18 (Core i9-14900HX) 2946 / 17622 65 124 / 1533 7621
Framework Laptop 16 (Ryzen 7 7840HS) 2470 / 11484 70 99 / 876 n/a
HP Omen 16 (Ryzen 9 7940HS) 2692 / 12137 n/a 105 / 937 n/a
Alienware x16 (Core i9-13900HK) n/a 57 n/a 7948
Asus Zenbook 14 2024 (Core Ultra 7 155H) 2270 / 12149 86 103 / 493 6348

 

First and foremost, the Alienware m16 R2 is a gaming laptop, and in this realm, it performs solidly. It outperforms other laptops we’ve tested with the RTX 4070 in the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, including the HP Omen 16, Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, and MSI Creator Z17 HX Studio. This ensures you’re getting the most out of this GPU, resulting in decent frame rates even in the most demanding games. For instance, Cyberpunk 2077 runs at 1200p Ultra Ray Tracing with an average of 61 fps using DLSS 3. For a smoother experience, you can achieve up to 117 fps at 1200p Medium with FSR 2.1, making good use of the fast refresh rate screen. However, an RTX 4080 laptop, like the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i, performs up to 33% faster.

In Red Dead Redemption 2, the Alienware m16 R2 averages 69 fps at native resolution and Ultra settings. This impressive performance comes without excessive surface temperatures, despite the reduced chassis size.

The trade-off is fan noise, which can get quite loud, comparable to a jet engine. While this may not bother those using headsets, it can be distracting to others nearby. Although “stealth mode” is an option, it’s not ideal for gaming.

Currently, there’s only one memory and storage configuration available: 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. However, the m16 R2 offers accessible and expandable storage, with an extra m.2 slot for easy upgrades. Although the two corner screws on the unit can be tricky, with careful handling, the bottom cover can be removed without damaging the screws.

Battery life is another consideration. The 90-watt-hour battery offers around six and a half hours of video playback but significantly less for work or gaming. Nvidia Advanced Optimus helps, but don’t expect extensive battery life away from a power source.

Webcam and Speakers

Gaming laptops often compromise on features like webcam and audio quality, and the Alienware m16 R2 is no exception. The speakers are subpar, unsuitable for video calls, watching videos, or playing music.

The webcam, although 1080p, struggles in anything but perfect lighting conditions. Even in well-lit environments, the picture quality is blurry and lacks detail.

A positive note is the inclusion of an IR camera for Windows Hello facial authentication, a feature that works well and is convenient even on a gaming laptop, ensuring you’re not stuck logging in with just a password.

Improvements Aren’t Enough

The Alienware m16 R2 is in an awkward spot. It’s an attempt to modernize Alienware’s most affordable laptop and compete with stealthier competitors. While it’s mostly successful, it doesn’t quite challenge the likes of Razer or ROG’s new releases. Functionally, it’s more compact, and the enlarged palm rests are a welcome change.

The redesign to a more conventional model is somewhat perplexing, especially given its pricing compared to the Alienware x16. The x16 emphasizes a sleek profile and modern design, offering a more premium feel and a wider variety of configurations, including up to an RTX 4090. Despite only a $50 difference between the Alienware x16 R1 and the m16 R2, the m16 R2 feels somewhat redundant at its price point, unable to drop lower without encroaching on the Dell G-series laptops. Offering a cheaper configuration, like a 512GB model, would have been a smart move, even with the anticipated cheaper RTX 4050 configuration.

Overall, the Alienware m16 R2 sets the foundation for future improvements but hasn’t quite hit the mark yet. If you find it discounted by a couple of hundred dollars, it might be a solid pick-up, especially for Alienware fans. It addresses many issues of the original model but, at this price, better options are available, including last-gen gaming laptops that perform just as well. Amazon and Best Buy currently offer several RTX 4070 gaming laptops at significantly lower prices.

While it’s not the m16 R2’s fault that no new mobile GPUs have launched in 2024, the performance parity with last year’s laptops means new devices must make a statement with their design, display, or price. The Alienware m16 R2 just barely misses the mark in balancing these elements.

By Tips Clear

Meet Thiruvenkatam, a professional blogger. With a keen interest in diverse subjects spanning technology, business, lifestyle, and more, He brings a unique perspective and wealth of knowledge to our platform. Drawing from years of experience and a passion for sharing insights, his articles and blog posts offer readers engaging and informative content that enriches their understanding and enhances their lives. Explore the world through his eyes and discover the depth of expertise they bring to our multi-author website

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