Alienware X15 R1: the power and finesse of this gaming PC comes at a high price

A PC that combines power and finesse, this is the new Holy Grail for gaming pc manufacturers. Many are now innovating in this niche, such as Razer… or Alienware. With its X series, the computer brand for gamers from Dell offers a chassis that impresses from this point of view.
Gone is the massive carcass of the “R” series machines. Just compare the new box with the old one to see how far you’ve come. But he has lost considerable weight, with a maximum thickness of 2 cm. And it is striking when you take the machine in hand, almost magical. The beast weighs its weight, with 2.31 kilos on the scale. It must be said that despite its weight loss treatment, it still has a shock configuration, and with the cooling that goes with it, Alienware obliges. Either, in the configuration of our loan model, a Core i9 11900H, associated with an RTX 3070 (8 GB of RAM), 32 GB of RAM, and 1 TB of SSD storage. A beautiful baby, in short.


Screen: fluidity above all


This is the 1080p version of the computer we had in our hands. Color fidelity is excellent, with a Delta E 2000 we measured at 1.53, as are viewing angles.
However, there is a black point on this screen: the contrast, which is far from being great. Our measurements indicate it – the screen was tested by our probe at 861: 1 – and our handling confirms it: the blacks lack depth.


Ergonomics: part of the connector goes by the wayside


An ultrathin gaming machine, what difference does it make? Admittedly, it is a little easier to store this machine in a backpack than a “traditional” gaming PC, which is often much thicker… But the imposing dimensions of the device and its weight prevent it from being a true nomadic machine, of course.
Still, this new chassis has forced Alienware to largely review the connectors of the device. Which keeps only one USB-A, located at the back, and two USB-C, including a Thunderbolt 4, in the same place. On the right and left edges, there is nothing left, apart from the headphone jack and the power supply… The other side of the coin of finesse, and of the new Alienware ventilation system, which expels heat from the case by fins located on the sides.
This connection is actually a bit light for a gaming machine, on which many peripherals are often connected, starting with an essential mouse. Their arrangement on the back is certainly practical, but Alienware is a bit sparse, and you will probably need to acquire a hub to feel comfortable with all of your accessories. However, we appreciate the existence of the microSD port, which is always practical for transferring photos or videos quickly.
The keyboard, obviously backlit and with customizable LEDs, is to our great surprise excellent, quiet, and responsive, even if it does not equal in comfort the mechanical keys of the Alienware M15 R4 that we tested the last year. In-game, however, the short travel of the keys could annoy the purists!
As for the touchpad, it is once again far too small, and you will quickly swap it for a mouse, if possible.
No fingerprint reader on this machine… But Alienware has integrated an infrared camera, allowing you to unlock the computer with your face. A good idea, but the module, unfortunately, lacks precision and does not recognize the user every time. As for the webcam, confined to 720p, it is unworthy of a machine of this price.

The sound is flat, the treble screaming, the bass cruelly absent. Play with headphones!

Performance: It’s excellent, but…


Such a configuration, which combines a powerful Core i9, a GeForce RTX 3070, and 32 GB of RAM, obviously suggests the best from a performance point of view. Unsurprisingly, they are there. We stuffed its SSD with recent games to find out what this computer had in store. It is also quickly filled, given the size of current AAA games. Fortunately, we can quite easily open the machine to add a second one, if necessary.
If the machine runs the most demanding titles without worry, the 3070 that it embeds will not however allow you to activate all the graphic options, on all the games, including pushing the hardware to the bottom through the software. provided by Alienware.
Like Cyberpunk 2077, for example. Freshly updated to 1.5, the title of CD Projekt Red does not reach the sacrosanct 60 FPS permanently with all options at full speed (1080p, RTX Ultra, DLSS activated). But it comes close, with an average of 54 FPS observed during our test game. To be more comfortable, you will have to opt for RTX Medium (59 FPS observed on average), or even RTX Low (64 FPS on average).

On an equally beautiful, but less demanding game like Forza Horizon 5, the X15 does much better, since you can play the prettiest mode (called Extreme) without any problem while flirting with the average 88 FPS. Ditto for an Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, magnificent on the screen of the machine, which runs, all options activated, at an average of 90 FPS.
These great performances in-game are however to be put in perspective with the price and the technologies embedded in the computer. And that’s where it gets a little stuck. Even on less technically demanding games, like Fortnite, we were unable to exceed 150 FPS.

but less expensive. However, we see that our Alienware does not particularly stand out. Yes, the Omen is a “tank”. But it is also much cheaper…


Heating and noise: good performance, given the case


What is Alienware’s new cooling system worth, which offers unparalleled finesse, and now relies on four fans and an in-house material applied to the processor, “Element 31”? Well, it does pretty well considering the thickness of the case.

Admittedly, at full throttle, the PC is slightly noisier and slightly warmer than the machines we’ve tested recently, but that’s nothing significant, or problematic. Success for a first model, which suggests the best for the transition from this chassis to 12th generation Intel chips.


Autonomy: do not expect miracles


But if you want to use this computer on the move, be aware that its autonomy is not great.
We measured an autonomy of 4h05 in video streaming and 4h18 in “versatile”, which simulates classic use. This is between 15 and 20% worse than the gaming machines we have tested recently.

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